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machine brains

Joe Kilner jjmk2 at hermes.cam.ac.uk
Thu Feb 11 15:58:44 EST 1999

>> ....- I don't think we
>> need to get bogged down in trying to understand conciousness before we
>> to build a mechanical brain for the simple reason that we have a model to
>> work from.
>Hm. Well, one function of a model would be to try to understand how
>arises. But then, would we be able to recognize it?

No but, if we make a perfect replica of a human brain (and it worked as we
expected it to) then our inferance that it was concious would be every bit
as (un?)justified as our inference that other humans are conscious.

>Wittgenstien says that you can't have language without a community of
>exchanging symbols about a common experience- so if you have one smart
>how would it tell you it was?

Exactly the point I am making elsewhere in this thread.  Without a common
experience we are talking about a "private language" and as no one can check
that you are using this language correctly it is, technically, meaningless.

>>  We can replicate human brains without necesarily understanding
>> *how* they work, and through this replication may gain more insight than
>> ever could through direct study.
>How do you suppose we do that? We can't even replicate a human heart, a
>simpler device, despite 50 years and countless millions of dollars. You
have to
>understand all the functions of the brain to replicate it. We're just now
>learning about the function of nitrous oxide as a wide-area
>There may be other communication modes in the brain we have yet to

I am talking in terms of possibilities here not practicalities.  I am saying
that you do not have to understand all the functions of a brain to replicate
it - just the physical ones.  My implication here is that there are
functions arising due to the network aspects of the brain which we do not
need to understand in order to replicate (in the way that you do not need to
understand C++ code to copy it out).  I agree - without understanding the
physical aspects of the brain we can not replicate it - but it is possible
to understand the brain completely at a physical level (maybe not in the
near future) and so it is possible to replicate the brain, potentially
without a full understanding of the "software".

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