[FoRK] Brain mapping and the connectome

Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo ken_ganshirt at yahoo.ca
Tue Nov 10 09:57:04 PST 2009

--- On Tue, 11/10/09, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

> On Sat, Nov 07, 2009 at 09:48:11AM
> -0800, Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo wrote:
> > to result in the reproduction of human intelligence. That 
> > assumes all the intelligence is inherent in the hardware. 
> Of course it's in the hardware. Where else is it supposed
> to be?
> > Worse, it seems to assume that you'll get human intelligence 
> > from that mechanical hardware.
> You seem to assume that you can get human intelligence
> from a blob of organic tissue between our ears. Now that
> is a far more absurd proposition, if you think of it. 

Yeah, I really did a bad job of articulating that, didn't I? I now see why Jeff was skeptical of my claim to not be religious. 

It comes, as Jeff rightly said, from not being conversant with even the basics in the field. It must be difficult for someone who is familiar with the details to have the necessary patience to discuss with someone who is not.

I was refering, essentially, to the problems you described with non-invasive techniques. Specifically, their inability to show what's "inside" the more gross things they are able to show: the chemical composition; whether there is "more" inside that may be crucial.

Further, you also need to chart such things as flow of electrical current(s) and chemicals. That was the source of my misspeaking. My pea brain does not view electrical currents and chemicals as "hardware". 

That's why I said it can't all be in the hardware. In my uneducated state, that's as silly as thinking the laptop is useful without supplying the necessary electrical voltages and loading some software -- the rough equivalent of all that Stuff that's running around inside that blob of tissue; Stuff that's not, in my mind, "hardware".

I also have not used other words well in this context. For instance, Jeff had issues with my comment about consciousness. I did not use it in any rigourous sense. I just wanted to capture the essence of all that other non-hardware stuff like self-awareness and autonomy. Again, not a reference to anything religious or spiritual. Simply a misguided attempt to label a broad area that I think is part of a complete human analogue but I'm not sure we have any sort of handle on yet.

So, even if we ultimately map the hardware and the wiring and the electrical and chemical flows and figure out their what/where/when/why and manage to construct something that we think ought to work, when we flip the On switch will it have some useful equivalent to our self-awareness and autonomy? Have we made similar progress along those lines?

Is consciousness/self-awareness/autonomy or Thought itself something that can only be dealt with as religious/spiritual? Is that why Jeff was skeptical of my claim?

Will he be even more skeptical if I ask questions about whether someone is deconstructing/reverse-engineering Thought? Including things like empathy, ethics, etc.? I don't mean from a purely philosophical viewpoint but from a very practical perspective of producing a human analogue?

And all of that really begs the question of whether we *want* to be able to scale ourselves! But that's definitely crossing over into the realm of philosophy.

Thanks for not simply putting me on your Ignore list.


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