machine brains

lesterzick at lesterzick at
Sat Jan 30 14:50:09 EST 1999

Why term the posting Machine Brains unless the point is to highlight the
differences? I know of no one who calls computers Turing brains or Turing
minds. Turing machines are apparently the paradigm of machines generally,
but that is not to suggest that we fully understand all of the mechanical
implications that it is the paradigm of.

It is as if we understand the possibility of a lathe but do not understand
what a lathe might actually be. Obviously, the mind and its material
substrate, the brain, require much further delineation, especially in
architectural terms. To suggest that a brain is conceivable in the absence of
a mind is incorrect. The Turing test interface of a teletype illustrates the
problem exactly: why not an interface of newsgroup postings. It would rapidly
become apparent which side of the interface was actually thinking and
innovating conceptually and which was simply manipulating words. Of course,
there are many minds which do exactly that, but the possibility must present

Are machine minds and brains possible? Yes, because the conscious mind is a
determinate environment in conceptual terms. Are computers brains just
because they are computers? No, because they do not mechanize minds of their
own; they mechanize the ideas of others and manipulate thoughts that have
no bearing on their own being.

Regards - Lester

In article <36a5d8ea.0 at>,
  "Ray Scanlon" <rscanlon at> wrote:
> We ask for a materialistic explanation of how the brain works based on the
> neuron and the anatomy of the nervous system. We ask that the explanation
> pay attention to those aspects of the nervous system that are reflected in
> the subjective view of the brain as experienced by the soul (mind).
> As a starting point we take the position that the soul (mind) has no causal
> powers. The soul is completely extraneous to our explanation of brain
> activity. The brain would act just as well with no soul present, but an
> explanation of brain activity that ignores the soul will not satisfy many
> people. We wish to say, "When these neurons are active, we have decided". We
> have not decided, our brain has decided but we experience the active neurons
> and say  we did.
> Our answer to the soul (mind)/body problem is that a material universe has
> no need of soul. We leave that to the philosophers, they may worry it to
> their heart's content. Our position for purposes of brain explanation is
> that there is soul (mind) but it has no part to play in a material account
> of brain action.
> We direct our attention to the nervous system and, in particular, the
> mammalian nervous system The brain is an artifact of anatomy, the nervous
> system is the basic reality. We exempt from consideration those primitive
> neural structures that lack interneurons. At the same time we insist that
> all those neural structures that include interneurons are members of the
> club, they differ only in complexity.
> Why such an explanation? Because it is a common complaint of
> neurophysiologists that no such overall explanation exists to serve as a
> guide.
> Since the very beginning, since 1955, AI has been bedeviled by the mind.
> Anyone who put forward a design for an intelligent machine was asked, "Can
> it think?" They said "think" but what they meant was, "Is there something
> inside that machine that is aware?" In place of "mind" put the word "soul"
> and we will have the raw question, does the machine have a soul? This
> belongs strictly to religion. If this is what they mean, why don't they say
> so? They don't because they are afraid of appearing soft on religion.
> At the same time the philosophers are very self conscious about their lack
> of technical knowledge. They know nothing of neuroscience, they know nothing
> of computer engineering. But they are very confident (and rightly so) of
> their ability to spin word castles in the air. So we have Turing's Test, so
> we have Searle's Chinese Room.
> As Turing originally posed his test, it was a simple engineering answer to
> the philosophers. If you can't tell the machine from a human through a
> teletype interface you might as well agree that it has a soul (mind). But
> Turing's Test can be described with words and the philosophers have had a
> field day with it.
> Searle said, "You can't put a soul in the machine using syntax." (His
> thought. my words) In another place he says, "A soul needs a carbon
> substrate, it rejects a silicon substrate." (Again, his thought, my words)
> Of course he didn't use the word "soul", he too is afraid of being accused
> of being soft on religion.
> We should leave soul (mind, self, intelligence, whatever) to the theologians
> and proceed with the design of a machine that can think and decide using
> only neuromimes. As a first step we examine the brain to see how the neurons
> do these things. If we can explain the how the brain thinks, how it decides,
> we shall know how to design the machine.
> Ray
> Those interested in how the brain works might look at

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