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machine brains

Jerry Hull ZZZghull at stny.lrun.com
Mon Mar 8 10:01:46 EST 1999

On Sun, 07 Mar 1999 23:15:26 GMT, malcolm at pigsty.demon.co.uk (Malcolm McMahon)

>On Sun, 07 Mar 1999 16:01:57 GMT, ZZZghull at stny.lrun.com (Jerry Hull)
>>The only sense in which one thought can be "composed" of another thought, is
>>to find that other thought hidden in it.  This kind of composition was
>>distinguished by Kant as "analytic", as opposed to "synthetic".
>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.  And no, all ideas are not "like" plans.  I have the
idea of redness.  There's no plan in it.

>>You are fighting with your own idiosyncracies of language.  I know of noone
>>who regards "mental" as the name of a certain kind of processing, as OPPOSED
>>to consciousness.  Since you are using words in a peculiar way, it's hard to
>>know exactly what you believe.  I AGREE that there can be isomorphisms between
>>what a computer algorithm is doing and what the brain is doing, when it e.g.
>>processes vision.  But such algorithms are certainly not part of the MEANING
>>of 'mental' or 'vision' for me and I suspect most speakers of the English
>>language.  You are using the word 'mental' to describe things that are
>>conventionally understood to be 'PHYSICAL', i.e., what is going on in the
>>brain, &c.
>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.  Mind
does not ESSENTIALLY have anything to do with brains.  I have no idea what
processes you are refering to in the remainder of your remarks.

>>>Because thought is what we (and especially philosohpers) think we excell
>>>at we tend to exagerate it's significance. We'd like to believe that
>>>consciousness in things exists in direct proportion to their
>>>ressemblence to us.
>>Who believes that?  & if so, so what?
>I feel that that lies, to a degree, beyond the belief that consciousness
>is just meta-logic or some kind of special reasoning process.

You are babbling.

>>>You'd inject vast numbers of nano-machines into the CS fluid. These
>>>nanites would spread throughout the CNS, following and tagging neural
>>>processes, examining the state of pre-synaptic membranes in order to
>>>measure the "gain" on the different synapses. Each nanomachine would
>>>record a few neurons in detail together with information about other
>>>nano-machines and their tags encountered. When they'd been in for long
>>>enough you'd "lure" them out of the body with some kind of marker
>>>chemical. Between them they'd cary an almost complete picture of the
>>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.  & 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.

>>  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.

"However far you may travel in this world, you will still occupy 
the same volume of space".  Traditional Ur-Bororo saying.

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