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machine brains

ambrosia food at gods.com
Sat Feb 6 22:34:49 EST 1999

Parasite, et. al:

I agree: It seems logical that the exponential growth of computing power
will eventually bestow us the storage and processing capacities required to
model a human brain.  This may take the form of "bottom-up" Artifical
Intelligence: creating software "agents" which behave as individual neurons
making logical connections one another.  The obvious question will be: "Can
it support consciousness?"  The more daunting delimma will be how to define
and measure "consciousness."  Feel free to try your luck:

I've read philosophical fantasies regarding the mind as both fugue and
machine.  One such article proposed that each neuron, if equipped with
electrochemical transceiver / transmitters (and some kind of life support),
could survive a scattering to the four winds.  Provided these transmitters
could accurately abstract the original proximities of each neuron, the brain
should continue to function (as normally as it would in any "out of body"
experience)!  This argument served only to postulate the existence of
consciousness without a soul -- a kind of shell game where thought exists
beyond the cohesion of a physical body, where the "soul" might be thought to
reside.  This game is already in play today in client-server computing and
in the ever-elusive Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM -- describing
how software is fragmented into upgradeable modules which may reside in
physically separate locations on a network).  It seems only a matter of time
before the mind follows suit to break the surly bonds of its biological

With all this cerebral talk, one might think that a purely physical
existence offers nothing beyond the discovery of its "mechanical" secrets.
In anticipation of a backlash from any theists in the group, I'd like to
offer an excerpt from alt.athiesm (appended below Parasite's original
message).  Thanks to Parasite for his thoughtful perspective.


Parasite wrote:

>This is about where you should have started your post. I don't know which
>philosophers you mean, but I don't think of my soul as a ghost but rather
>as a psychic faculty, like my mind and other faculties. Soul is about
>your quality rather. Would you prefer to have a girlfriend with no
>emotions and whom was as cold as ice? Well, guess what? That's how she
>doesn't want you either!
>...skipped, sorry...
>Even if you did build yourself a brain, what would you do with it? Put it
>in a robot and teach it to be like you? If this brain was any good, it
>would look at us and jump into the nearest junk yard.

Well, looks like you perfectly know what soul is. Honestly I couldn't
understand from the discussion. So you say that human consists of some
matter PLUS the soul. And you say if we could even put a human together
perfectly (to the last molecule) it won't work, because we cannot give him
soul. I wish to make clear that I don't accept such things nor God nor other
unprovable interesting ideas, because the next step is to BELIEVE and pay
money to build churches and give everything we have and let the priests
control us and so on... (too dramatic, but history points out this happens
sometimes). You can't accept that there is nothing after life but the
NOTHING. There is NOBODY who controls us and takes responsibility for every
move we take here, in our world. There is NOTHING predefined, and we are all
some matter, NOTHING else...
I think a machine brain CAN be built. With the tools of philosophy, physics,
mathematics, biology, chemistry - the tools of science. It will think,
decide and do whatever our brain does. Maybe more. And it will be so similar
to our brain that we can implant it to a human body and WALAA!... You cannot
tell it is a robot. And you will say it has soul. And this is the point what
I wanted to say, we didn't give him soul and it has soul... how can it be? I
tell you. There is no soul. I have no soul, you have no soul, there is no
soul anywhere in the world. The soul is only the result of the human fear:
we don't want to be similar to another human being, we don't want to accept
that we aren't unique, we are replaceable. This is my opinion. And I
apologise if I offend you, I didn't want to address it directly to you, but
all the people out there who believe the 'soul' thing.
What would we do with a brain that thinks? Hmmm... I think not
androids/cyborgs. Maybe computers? Which forecast weather? Or the field of
space-exploration: in the far distance who will tell the space-probe what to
do? The probe will decide. More efficiently than a human. Maybe we can build
navigation systems into the cars: what way to choose? There will be the
military application of course. Many-many useful applications there are. And
the progress cannot be stopped, science discovers and develops newer and
newer things. And when discovers something, when explains something what was
only explained by the priests before, the Church is not pleased. It is
natural. Just think of it.


alt.athiesm thread

Ambrosia wrote:

Perhaps 'true religion' -- in the context we now regard religion -- is a
contradiction.  However, even athiests may choose from an endless variety of
differing cosmologies.  Some will not rest until every scientific theorem is
integrated into a single "whole" view.  Others are content to experience
life completely through their senses, living only in the moment.

Wherever we may choose to live between these extremes, how tremendous it is
that our consciousness awakens from such a splendid dance of transforming
energies as our universe!  Without any doctrine to limit us, we are free to
reach for understanding in any form -- and still take time to bask in being
what we are (whatever that may be).

I enjoy feeding my cerebral appetites.  But I also crave listening to heron
calls and watching mullet break the calm sun-lit waters of early morning.
To a greater, or lesser, extent, I think we all share a need for
'spirituality.'  Having lived through an existensialistic adolescence, I
embrace the romantic possibilities of a "bottom-up" world -- where we're
nature's latest casting from the molds of our invented 'creators.'

Sure, we may be reducible to mere biological "machines," still competing for
survival.  Yet, the very concept of "machine" is grounded in the human
experience.  Competition may itself largely extinguish in the wake of
growing symbiotic relationships.  Centuries from now, the lines between
intelligent life and machines may blur beyond the grasp of definition.  We
may even realize the possibility of existence beyond our biological shells
(not a bad deal, considering our consciousness arose from nothing more than
elaborate gene protection systems).

If we think we athiests have an identity crisis now, imagine what life might
be like within a vast artifical network supporting countless minds?  After
we've explored every horizon and integrated every discipline of knowledge,
what will be left, but to simply BE?  And if so then, why not now?

One day, technology may serve to better connect us with our natural roots,
rather than dividing us, as it does today.  It seems to me we are strangers
in our own world.  Perhaps its time we athiests re-defined religion?



Raoul wrote in message <7952bl$2c4$4 at news5.svr.pol.co.uk>...
>jroussel wrote in message ...
>>Ok, my jackass principal at high school got in front of the entire
>>body at mass one day and told us that it was scientifically proven
>that the
>>bread and wine was actually scientifically proven to be the actual
>flesh and
>>blood of Jesus.
>In which case Jesus would have gone soggy and mouldy in the rain.
>Which probably explains why god sent him to a nice dry country in the
>Middle-east and not a driech, wet part of the world like Scotland.
>>Immediately I just got up and left the church because I
>>could not believe this bullsh*t they are trying to teach these idiots
>>Catholic school.
>Good for you.
>>Anyway, a week later my Chem II Honors class went to a
>>blood bank and the dude giving the tour told us that the there were
>>of the bread actually bleeding in Rome or some bullsh*t like that,
>but then
>>said it was really a bacterial build-up on the bread.  Immediately my
>>principal got up and got in a f*cking argument with the guy.
>>    Anyway, the point I'm getting at is that Catholics go far beyond
>>teaching false religions to giving flat-out lies to the students.
>A 'false religion' supposes that there is a 'true' one out there
>somewhere.  I would argue that all religions are false.  Therefore the
>Catholics at your school are 'giving flat-out lies' from the word go
>not just whenever they come across some 'evidence' for their bizarre
>Keep thinking.
>PS Fucking is still spelt with a 'U' in Britain.  When did they change
>it to an * in the US?
>"There are more questions than answers...
>The more I find out, the less I know" - Johnny Nash

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