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machine brains

dmb106 dmb106 at york.ac.uk
Thu Mar 4 08:17:16 EST 1999

On Thu, 4 Mar 1999, Malcolm McMahon wrote:

> On Wed, 03 Mar 1999 21:39:01 +0000, Simon Kesenci <tomega at earthlink.net>
> wrote:
> >Michael Edelman wrote:
> >
> >> I think you may be perhaps begging the question here. What does it mean to
> >> "think"? The brain is hardware. By itself, it does nothing. Does a computer
> >> "compute", or does the program?
> >>
> >> By "mind" we generally mean the self-aware entity, that which can introspect.
> >>
> >> -- mike
> >
> >I think your analogy with computer hardware and software is appropriate.  I think
> >of the mind (teehee!) as a set of programs, and the brain as the hardware.  You
> >can always change your mind, upgrade it even.  And you can tune your brain with
> >drugs and sensory deprivation.
> It's important to remember though that the "wetware" actually changes
> the topology of the brain. It's more like an analogue than a digital
> computer in this respect, it rewires itself all the time.
> There isn't the clear distinction between hardware and software that
> characterises the digital computer.

Sounds like a Field Programmable Gate Array. Basically a chip which
can be programmed to be any chip you want, but it can also run the
program to decide what chip it is. Reserchers at IBM hooked up
thousands of defective chips, and made a totally reliable FPGA, which
was fast. 

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