IUBio Biosequences .. Software .. Molbio soft .. Network News .. FTP

machine brains

Ray Scanlon rscanlon at wsg.net
Fri Feb 12 09:51:10 EST 1999

Joe Kilner wrote in message <79qo6a$t6r$1 at pegasus.csx.cam.ac.uk>...

>Firstly - why eschew anthropocentrism?  We are the only animals that show
>definite signs of conciousness.

I like to feel that I'm a little more broadminded than that. My dog claims
he is conscious, I tend to agree.

>In my view the mind does not sit on top and watch the brain processing
>data - the mind _is_ the process itself, or at least part of it.  This is
>why I don't think you can have a full understanding of the brain without
>understanding the mind

>But we can never _understand_ how our brains work without accounting for
>conciousness because conciousness is the only internal experience we have
>brain function

There's the rub, why are so many hung up on their internal experience of the
brain? I believe it is because it is all they have. Neuroscience is not part
of the common knowledge of all people who feel driven to speak of that which
thinks. Knowing nothing of the brain, they shift the subject to the soul

Rather then starting out with the soul (mind), let us leave that for last.
"How does the brain come to think?", that is our question. When we have that
in hand we may turn to religion and discuss the soul (mind).

Eschew anthropocentrism, forget "only man is self aware", "only man has
language". These are the opening moves of one who wishes to talk about the
soul (mind) rather than the brain. The soul (mind) has been talked to death.
The thread is machine BRAINS, not machine souls, not machine minds, not
machine self-awareness. Leave the soul (mind) to religion.

I ask three questions:

1. How does the brain work as a meat machine?

2. How should we emulate the brain using neuromimes?

3. How should we simulate the construction of neuromimes with a computer?

Note that she soul (mind) is not involved and should not be allowed to enter
and confuse.

On the first question, I see three sub-headings:

1a. How does the brain learn, how do the neurons alter their response to
afferent signal energy in light of past experience.

1b. How does the brain come to interpolate additional synaptic events before
producing motor output (think).

1c. How does the brain cease this interpolation and proceed to motor output

These are questions of neural activity and my own first, tentative essay is
found at www.wsg.net/~rscanlon/brain.html  I would be happy if anyone would
tear into the six hypotheses presented and straighten out my thinking.

On the second question:

This involves all the questions as to whether we may think of the neuron as
an electrochemical device. We know that the neuron is an assortment of
molecules and that many of the molecular interactions can be characterized.
(See The Neuron, Levitan and Kaczmarek.) But may we lump this myriad into a

On the third question:

This involves the programming of simulation and is a major field in itself.

---  ---

Why don't we forget the soul (mind) for a while and concentrate on the
brain. Let us talk about neurons rather than "how I decided to turn on the

Those interested in how the brain works might look at

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net