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machine brains

RogueMind at AOL.com RogueMind at AOL.com
Sun Feb 21 14:35:12 EST 1999

Humans are receptor driven and as such we have developed the marvelously to
travel the planet and transduce this and that. The brain is a seeker of
experiences and our receptors deliver these in great hoards, both internally
and externally (although I believe the internal receptors are simply there to
keep the overall organisms in top functioning order so that the brain can
continue to experience the world through its receptors.  I have no experience
with machines seeking to gather experiences governed by their own mandate. If
a machine seeks experience through receptors it is because there is a 'man'
asking it to do so.

In article <36ce1387.0 at ns2.wsg.net>,
  "Ray Scanlon" <rscanlon at wsg.net> wrote:
> Michael Edelman wrote in message <36CD92D9.16F2B716 at mich.com>...
> >
> >
> >Ray Scanlon wrote:
> >
> >> ...Rather than purpose, say "function". The central function of the brain
> is
> >> to
> >> maintain homeostasis of the DNA in an unfriendly universe. To this end it
> >> seeks food and water and a safe resting place. It avoids the predator
> and,
> >> in the interest of long term homeostasis, it seeks a mate. If these needs
> >> are satisfied, the brain is idle.
> >
> >The brain is *never* idle.
> Agreed. All the neurons are alive and working at all times. Would it be
> better to say that the brain is temporarily not needed by the organism for
> important work?
> >> It's output, such as metaphysics or
> >> mathematical demonstrations, are pretty but unneeded.
> >
> >Yet they exist, and if they are unneeded, why would an organism directed
> towards
> >homeostasis expend energy on unneeded activities? That would be the
> equivalent
> >of an animal running in circles when it's not hunting or feeding.
> Exactly. Many people would lay this tail-chasing to the advent of
> agriculture.
> >> In my opinion the purpose of the model is to show that a brain without a
> >> soul (mind) is possible in a materialistic universe. I think this will be
> >> carried out in the first half of the next century. When this project is
> >> complete, man will say, "This is not enough, there is a spiritual
> universe
> >> to consider". Man will turn to religion.
> >>
> >> My complaint is that you are premature by fifty years.
> >
> >So you're actually a hard-edged dualist. You're looking to show that living
> >organisms are all automotons, and only privileged ones- humans- may be
> inhabited
> >by souls. Or so it seems.
> You overreach slightly. I am more or less a soft dualist, ready to shift my
> ground if needed for the argument.
> On one thing I am firm, I am NOT an anthropocentrist. I argue against this
> position at all times. I feel that soul (mind) goes wherever there are
> neurons. Ant, turtle, rat, all are aware, the degree of awareness is another
> matter.
> >> >That's silly. We're all self-aware. You aren't an automoton. Who am I
> >> >debating
> >> >with? What are dreams?
> >>
> >> If you were debating with a machine brain, such as Hal, how could you
> >> possibly tell the difference? This is just Turing's Test.
> >
> >You cite Turing's thought experiment as if it were some proof of
> intelligence.
> >It's not. It's just an idea he came up with that defines intelligence
> >operationally, which does fit in with your notion of brain.
> I hold no brief for Turing's Test.
> >> A dream is a
> >> sequence of constellations that shows up under long term activation of
> the
> >> reticular nucleus by the locus coeruleus.
> >
> >That's like saying life is a continuous autocatylizing reaction, or that a
> car
> >is a large metal device that turns hydrocarbons into heat and complex
> compounds.
> >It descibes some aspects of intelligence without identifying what's
> important
> >about those aspects. Why is it meaningful to have certain nuclei active?
> Suppose
> >I say that language is a series of arbitrary symbols with production rules.
> Does
> >that tell you what language actually is?
> >
> >> >You'll never explain brain without explaining mind. Can you describe the
> >> >function of a computer in the absence of the existence of any software?
> >>
> >> A properly designed computer simply spins on a no-op sequence in the
> >> micro-program, awaiting the arrival of an instruction. In earlier times
> >> (prior to the middle fifties) there were no micro-programs. The computer,
> on
> >> being powered up, simply stood by until an instruction was keyed in. This
> >> can be embroidered but I think you get the point.
> >
> >Yes, but I think you're glossing over mine. Computers were designed with
> the
> >idea that they would run programs. What is the meaning of a computer in a
> >universe without a program?
> I think it a mistake to use the computer as an analogy. But if you insist,
> the neurons are the computer, the strength of the synapses is the software.
> What of the wiring, the interconnections? Shall we have this as part of the
> computer or part of the software.
> Those, who would say that the software is the mind, waste their breath.
> The main thing is that when we look at the neurons we have no need of soul
> (mind).
> Ray
> Those interested in how the brain works might look at
> www.wsg.net/~rscanlon/brain.html

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