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Experimentation vs. Theory in Soft/Wetware

Eli Meir meir at zoology.washington.edu
Thu Jul 6 19:34:29 EST 1995


Are you claiming that GENESIS is a replacement for wet experiments? 
This is dubious at best.  If we want to find out how living things
work, we need to look at living things.  No computer program is going
to tell us very much more than we already know.  Models are useful for
synthesizing data, and for making predictions that we can then test,
but, except in physics, the model will never tell us whether we figured
things out correctly.  For that we have to ask the beast in question. 
Neural networks are a case in point.  I think it still remains to be
seen whether the guts of our brain operates at all like today's
computer neural networks, except on the very gross level that both are
made of elements that are cross-connected to each other.  Although you
might do a lot of neat modeling with neural networks, this won't answer
the biologists question of whether that's the way the world really
works.

Not that I'm knocking models.  I am a half-time modeler myself.  I just
think you can get caught up in the math and programming and forget that
you're not dealing with the real thing.  Probably we could use one or
two modelers per 10 experimentalists, not more.

(I apologize if I'm coming in the middle of some other discussion that
the previous author was replying to).

Eli Meir
Dept of Zoology, Univ of Washington
meir at zoology.washington.edu



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