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machine brains

Jim Balter jqb at sandpiper.net
Fri Feb 12 15:40:03 EST 1999

Joe Kilner wrote:
> Michael Edelman wrote in message <36C4327C.F824987 at mich.com>...
> <SNIP>
> >> As you see, I'm arguing that what we might conceive as naiive copying of
> the
> >hardware still involves assumptions about function.
> >
> >
> I agree with you and your arguments have made me think about the problems in
> a way I hadn't quite looked at it before.  I was only saying that in theory
> that if we made a perfect replica of the brain that we need not understand
> all of it's intricasies to make it functio (i.e. we copy the green paper,
> punch holes, paper fibers etc. just to make sure).  And I also thought that
> the process of replication may allow us to pick up on things - i.e. we get a
> working artificial brain and then we can tinker with it more effectively
> (and less imorraly?  that's a tricky one...) than we could a human brain.
> But I see your point that the sheer volume of potential for missing the one
> important feature in a sea of coincidence makes this task virtually
> impossible.

Indeed; the notion of replication creates a false image.  There is no formal
blueprint for "the brain".  Which brain?  At what point in time?
What *exactly* is the difference between all brains in coma from all brains
not in coma?  Without knowing that, we should not be surprised if no copy
we create (as if this were at all feasible by any technology we can imagine)
ends up as more than a useless hunk of grey foo.

> As such the only way forewards would seem to be through
> neuroscientific understanding of the brain, but I just don't feel that that
> can give us enough of an understanding to get at how the brain works (see
> long and reather tedious messages elswhere in thread....).  However we may
> be able to learn enough through neuroscience to get a replica to work (maybe
> the brain is not as complex as we fear, maybe we can learn what is redundant
> and what is salient through failures in replicating the brain?) and then,
> who knows where our ingenuity may take us?

Perhaps you have a truncated understanding what neuroscience consists of;
I certainly don't see much in these "rather tedious messages" that indicates
that the posters are well-read in neuroscience.

<J Q B>

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