[FoRK] Brain mapping and the connectome
jbone at place.org
Tue Nov 10 10:33:52 PST 2009
> 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?
Here's the leap-of-faith / assumption that's causing the problem:
> I just wanted to capture the essence of all that other non-hardware
> stuff like self-awareness and autonomy.
There's no sound evidence to suggest at this point that there is
*actually* ANY "non-hardware" stuff *AT ALL.* And, in fact, evidence
mounting quite rapidly --- non-linearly at this point --- to suggest
the contrary. I.e., it's looking increasingly likely that it's *all*
just emergent behavior of the machine in operation and in interaction
with its environment*; complex networks and dynamics and most likely
*nothing else at all.* The only real arguments in the space at this
point, as simply as I can put them and as far as I can tell, are:
(a) does it require some kind of non-deterministic quantum-level
interaction with the environment, ala Penrose?
(b) will high-fidelity biochemical / electrical / molecular-scale
emulation be necessary?
My own point of view is (a) absolutely not (general consensus) and (b)
maybe but probably not (far less consensus) --- IMHO, perhaps
initially we'll need this in smaller-scale animal models but I suspect
shortcuts and abstractions will quickly obviate the need for it.
Those, however, are the kinds of things that folks actually working
fruitfully in this area are debating these days, *not* theories of
Mind, Thought, Conciousness, Self-Awareness, Soul, Spirit, other
highly-suspicious Capitalized Terms and Philosophickal Geegaws,
Mystickal Whirlygigs, or Mysterian Tsotchkes. ;-)
(I could be reacting a hit harshly -wrt- one of those; self-awareness
has a fairly tangible, physical, neurophysiologically-meaningful
definition. Cf. "mirror neurons" and perception-action coupling.)
As for the patience... but of course. We're nothing if not patient
around these parts! (Snicker. Seriously, I think you're
underestimating your own patience in dealing with this curmudgeonly,
highly opinionated and fractious collective, myself included. :-)
PS - if you want to get really outre, you need to start looking at the
algorithmic information theoretic-cosmologists. They're going to tell
you that *you don't even need the hardware or its environment* (and in
fact, even those don't exist.) And then we've come full-circle....
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