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machine brains

Malcolm McMahon malcolm at pigsty.demon.co.uk
Mon Mar 8 13:17:07 EST 1999

On Mon, 08 Mar 1999 15:01:46 GMT, ZZZghull at stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull)

>>No, I'm not talk about thoughts "hidden" in other thoughts. Consider a
>>plan as a particular class of idea. A complex plan will usually involve
>>sub-goals with plans to achieve them. The plan, in effect, is
>>hierarchically constructed from sub-plans. I think all ideas are like
>>that, at least to some degree.
>It should be obvious that there is little in common between "composition" in
>the sense in which water is composed of hydrogen & oxygen, and the relation
>between plans & subplans. 

Should it? Please elucidate.

> And no, all ideas are not "like" plans.  I have the
>idea of redness.  There's no plan in it.


1) I said "like" plans, not "are" plans.
2) the idea of redness is probably an elementary sort of idea, but it's
only a useful idea when combined into more complex ideas.

>>It seems to me that the distinction between mental and brain functions
>>is two sharply drawn here and that mental process is just another way of
>>looking at brain function. It still seems to me that you're calling the
>>same processes mental when they are observered by consciousness that you
>>would not call mental when they weren't.
>Some people purport to derive minds from brains.  They make the same mistake
>you are making, confusing a logical relation with a causal relation.

What I'm claiming is a lot closer than a causal relationship. I'm saying
that mental activity is simply one way of describing brain activity.

>  Mind
>does not ESSENTIALLY have anything to do with brains.

I suspect you're using insider philosopher vocabulary here.

>  I have no idea what
>processes you are refering to in the remainder of your remarks.

I've already been through that.

>>>You assume you know how the brain stores information; I believe this has not
>>>yet been settled.
>>It's not settled but I think that the sytematic alteration of properties
>>of the pre-synaptic vesticle and membrane, together with the actual
>>rewiring of neural processes is a pretty convincing, and widely popular
>>candidate. Such changes have only actually been measured in very simple
>>animals but, as far as I know, everything tested so far is consistent
>>with than picture.
>Only when it's settled, will you be able to even address the 'technical"
>problem of recording & sharging thoughts.

Not at all - I can suggest a technical solution predicated on what is
presently the most credible theory proving correct - in fact all
technological plans are made on that basis.

But I said nothing about sharing thoughts. I suspect that would be _far_
harder. I was talking about duplicating a mind, which can be done
without understanding the way a photocopier can copy the meaning of a
document without the least capacity to understand it.

>  & there's no more guarantee that
>knowing the biological nature of thought will be any aid to recording or
>sharing thought, then knowing the factors involved in weather enables us to
>control hurricanes.

Do you believe that if we duplicate a brain on a molecular level we'll
duplicate the mind?

>>>  Certainly there must be SOMETHING in the brain, &c. that
>>>contains ALL the information involved in any given thought, but since we have
>>>not yet nailed that down, it's hardly simply a TECHNICAL problem.
>>If you can actually copy the brain then you can preserve these thoughts
>>and memories without having the least idea how they are organised.
>And if wishes were horses, nobody would walk.

Do you think the brein will turn out to have some kind of copy

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