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machine brains

Bloxy's Bloxy's at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 21 19:52:22 EST 1999

In article <36d055d3.0 at ns2.wsg.net>, "Ray Scanlon" <rscanlon at wsg.net> wrote:

>Eugene Leitl wrote in message <7and36$fcn$1 at mserv2.dl.ac.uk>...
>>Michael Edelman writes:
>>While a MD level simulation of the brain is no small beer even with
>>hitherto hypothetical molecular circuitry, one should point out that
>>(short) 1 billion atom MD simulations were feasible in 1995. That's
>>not too far from a cubic micron. However, femtoseconds are not

>The ability of computer engineers to continually improve on the capabilities
>of the digital computer is incredible. But in my opinion, we should lump all
>the marvelous molecular happenings in the neuron into a simple electrical
>device that uses weighted inputs to produce an output. I, personally, find
>this enough. A synaptic junction may be strengthened, how this is done
>molecularly is another story.

>> > Your model may work for the mechanistic model of mind you propose, one
>that has
>> > no place for conciousness, but it may not be complete enough to model
>aspects of

>>'Consciousness' is a high-level description of a large number of
>>low-level phenomena. There is nobody else at home.

>Consciousness has two aspects: One, objective, is alertness; the other,
>subjective, is awareness.

>To conjugate:

>I am aware.
>You are alert.
>He exhibits intelligent behavior.

>You say you are also aware. I believe you.

>In the brain we find alertness, in the soul (mind), awareness. Let us keep
>our eye on alertness when we discuss the brain and leave awareness to

Sorry, you can't.
It is not a matter of belief.

>> > mind that many of us think are central to the brain's purpose.

>>A brain has no purpose. It is an evolved, not a designed structure.

>We are moving into the twenty-first century and people must still be
>reminded that in a materialistic universe a structure has no purpose.
>Purpose belongs to teleology and thus to religion.

Good luck.

------------------ end of input -------------------

>>Far enough so that you can't implement it in semiconductor photolitho.

>> > What I'm objecting to here is your conception of the brain as a device
>with a
>> > very predictable, top-down sort of structure. Of course my central issue
>here is
>> > your rejection of mind, putting you solidly in the

>>The word 'mind' is not very meaningful. It smacks too strongly of 'soul'.

>Soul (mind) belongs to religion. I would say that most biologists think of a
>molecule as a deterministic structure of atoms, Molecules make a neuron,
>neurons make a nervous system. May we think of the brain as a deterministic
>structure? Why not?

>> > your model, and how does it differ from an ordinary computer, apart from
>> > size?

>>There is no such a thing as an ordinary computer, nowadays. Computers
>>control military systems, recognize faces, drive a car from coast to
>>coast. With evolvable hardware, there's no telling what they are going
>>to be able to do tomorrow.

>The wiring, as set up by the DNA, follows a different plan. But if you are
>familiar with digital circuitry at the gate level it is possible to get some
>carry over. Of particular use is a good knowledge of the interplay between
>positive and negative logic. Neurons elsewhere activate neurons in the
>reticular nucleus of the thalamus. These, in turn. inhibit neurons in the
>thalamus, thus halting the flow of signal energy on its way to the neocortex
>and also halting motor programs form the basal ganglia and the cerebellum on
>their way to the motor and pre-motor cortex. The relationship between
>activation and inhibition on the one hand and positive and negative logic on
>the other and is fruitful.

>If your only knowledge of a computer is through a GUI (graphical user
>interface) there is no way for you to make the jump.

>> > To equate soul and mind is to claim questions about mind are
>metaphysical ones-
>> > but they're not. One can investigate the nature of conciousness through
>> > controlled and repeatable experiments. You can't do that with the soul.

>The word "mind" is only a euphemism for "soul". It is for the use of people
>who are too nice to say "soul" in mixed company. One may investigate
>alertness through experiment. Awareness is for religion.

>> > You'll never explain brain without explaining mind.

>>Uh, isn't this the other way round?

>That's the way I look at it. Except I should be satisfied if I could explain
>brain. Let others take on the soul (mind).

>Those interested in how the brain works might look at

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