Anything But Human

109


In this philosopher, we have the non-scientific mind — actually in his case the anti-scientific mind — displayed in all its lack of glory. He misses one important point after another. He seems to go out of his way to achieve a clean sweep of scientific ideas to misunderstand. If a philosopher is determined to remain ignorant of science and wantonly to misread science so comprehensively, what on earth is the point of him and his philosophy? Very depressing.
Richard

Wherever I turn, the popular media, scientists and even fellow philosophers are telling me that I’m a machine or a beast. My ethics can be illuminated by the behavior of termites. My brain is a sloppy computer with a flicker of consciousness and the illusion of free will. I’m anything but human.

While it would take more time and space than I have here to refute these views, I’d like to suggest why I stubbornly continue to believe that I’m a human being — something more than other animals, and essentially more than any computer.

Let’s begin with ethics. Many organisms carry genes that promote behavior that benefits other organisms. The classic example is ants: every individual insect is ready to sacrifice itself for the colony. As Edward O. Wilson explained in a recent essay for The Stone, some biologists account for self-sacrificing behavior by the theory of kin selection, while Wilson and others favor group selection. Selection also operates between individuals: “within groups selfish individuals beat altruistic individuals, but groups of altruists beat groups of selfish individuals. Or, risking oversimplification, individual selection promoted sin, while group selection promoted virtue.” Wilson is cautious here, but some “evolutionary ethicists” don’t hesitate to claim that all we need in order to understand human virtue is the right explanation — whatever it may be — of how altruistic behavior evolved.

Written By: Richard Polt
continue to source article at opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com

109 COMMENTS

  1. Quite right. I can’t believe I read through it. Might I suggest that we collectively pass on refuting this article – such as Dawkins has above? It is almost too easy, and has been done – and for whose benefit would we be doing it anyway?

  2. All that nonsense to promote a religious point of view? Just proselytize and be done with it. I do not really want to hear your confusion, Polt, between the proximate reason for these things and their ultimate reason for being. If I wanted to do that I would find a sociology major to expound on this confusion and save newsprint!

  3. “While it would take more time and space than I have here to refute these
    views, I’d like to suggest why I stubbornly continue to believe that
    I’m a human being”

    Poor strawman, never getting a break..

    And yes, post comments on that article, not here.

  4. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it’s a rejection of any kind of explanation of human behaviour and thinking.  The complaint seems to be about the description of the human mind as the activity of a ‘soggy computer’, but it’s easy to see that the same complaint would apply to the description of the human mind as anything that we can comprehend.  It’s really nothing more than a rejection of explanation.  That’s a combination of bad philosophy and intellectual cowardice.

  5. I feel excited about explaining things from its parts. Every stable or unstable equilibruim in Novak’s “Evolutionary dynamics” book can give me thrills. And I fully understand that these are just simple models which only give hints about the world, but it’s such a magic. I would feel depressed if someone convinced me there is a “taboo zone”, where one can “explain” things only by fuzzy mumblings. I’m not saying we need to push math everywhere else – not now maybe never, but do not tell me there are limits because you are afraid of being a machine.

  6. So he is unhappy with the computer as an analogy of the human brain. As a human brain created the computer in its own image, the analogy is surely justified, however far it falls short of the latter’s complexity and sophisitication.

     

  7. Simon and Newell’s work on human cognition and artifical intelligence springs to mind.  

  8. “While it would take more time and space than I have here to refute these
    views, I’d like to suggest why I stubbornly continue to believe that I’m a human being “

    What a nonsense.
    It takes one sentence: As I refute anything that s contrary to religion and bible, I rather not put my faith on science based on evidence.

  9.  Xavier University ( /ˈzeɪviər/ zay-vee-ər) is a co-educational Jesuit, Catholic university 

    You can stop reading at the word Jesuit.   You don’t need to even continue on to Catholic.

    This reminds me of the old “atheists think we are just evolved pond slime”.  The careful insertion of the word “just” means they don’t understand the word “evolved”. 

    Michael

  10.  

    Wherever I turn, the popular media, scientists and even fellow
    philosophers are telling me that I’m a machine or a beast. My ethics can
    be illuminated by the behavior of termites. My brain is a sloppy
    computer with a flicker of consciousness and the illusion of free will.
    I’m anything but human.

    In the case of this individual, a very sloppy computer, with much flickering from failed connections, and ignorant enough to use “the popular media” as a scientific data-source!

    While it would take more time and space than I have here to refute
    these views, I’d like to suggest why I stubbornly continue to believe
    that I’m a human being — something more than other animals, and
    essentially more than any computer.

    Fingers now in ears and blinkers now in place!

    I have no beef with entomology or evolution, but I refuse to admit that they teach me much about ethics.

    Ah! The substitution of confirmation-bias for learning!  The well preserved ignorance of the unteachable!

    But since the human race has evolved to be capable of a wide range of
    both selfish and altruistic behavior, there is no reason to say that
    altruism is superior to selfishness in any biological sense.

    Therefore:-  any unevidenced theistic crap can substituted for psychology, neurology and ethical debate! (allegedly)

    – Finally, with a nice picture of a computer thinking of sky-fairies to demonstrate the level of rationality supporting this claim!

  11. I think Ralph Wiggum said pretty much everything in this article with his comment:

    “I’m special!”

  12. This Heidegger expert conflates understanding of humans with denial that they are humans and evolution explaining the prevalence of altruism with evolution justifying altruism. He claims without proof that humanacts of altruism demonstrate properties of us that non-human animals’ acts of altruism don’t demonstrate in them, then hides behind such a claim being “debatable”, and conflates contesting human meaning with contesting the uniqueness of that meaning to humans.

    He thinks the description of the brain as a computer is only an analogy, conflates philosophers attacking that description with them refuting it, and conflates such a factual description with the metaphorical description of contemporary artificial computers’ activities as thought processes. He conflates human brains differing from such CACs with them not
    being any kind of computer, and his account of what it is to be human always emphasises value judgements as opposed to, say, intelligence. He also thinks the fact someone has to be able to read letters on a screen for them to communicate anything means there’s not really any information on the screen at all. He dismisses AI just because it’s not yet produced “intelligent” machines, a bar such critics set so high they can’t admit it is being progressed to.

    He literally claims only caring qualifies as thinking; does he think none of the objective, value-free inferences in STEM subjects are examples of thought? And his claim no algorithm could make things “matter” to a machine raises the question; if an algorithm publishes evaluative language, as could easily be arranged, who is Polt to say he knows it doesn’t
    count as things “mattering” to the hardware? Yet he is confident ants *do* care about things; what evidence convinced him of this, and is it really evidence inapplicable to every CAC we have?

    He asks to be shown a computer that can feel pain; clearly he denies brains are computers, and whatever we showed him from CACs would probably lead him to say, “that’s not pain – no, I won’t say why not”. And, of course, he conflates what CACs can do with what computers can in principle do. I don’t know why philosophers bother having thought experiments if they make mistakes like that.

    Without a brain or DNA, I couldn’t write an essay, drive my daughter to school or go to the movies with my wife. But that doesn’t mean that my genes and brain structure can explain why I choose to do these things — why I affirm them as meaningful and valuable.

    Why not?

    His discussion of bees indicates his way of telling which entities can care is behavioural. But why is protesting for your own self-interests and different from collecting honey for them?

    [In the lifeworld] concepts such as virtue and vice make sense.

    But not in a way you could get a piece of silicon to figure out in the way 7 billion pieces of wet carbon already can? CACs can already prove nontrivial theorems.

    We try to explain the whole in terms of a part.

    What parts, besides a brain, does a mind have? Whatever answer you give, evidence it too.

     religion has survived the assaults of reductionism because religions address distinctively human concerns

    That doesn’t prove the existence of the entities those human concerns care about are real, or that those entities which are scientifically known to be real aren’t all there is to discuss on the subject of those concerns. Religion has “survived” its criticisms for one reason only: a bunch of irrational people won’t admit it’s been proven wrong. Does Polt care to say why climate change denial has “survived the assaults of evidence”?

     nature is far richer than what so-called naturalism chooses to admit as natural. Nature includes the panoply of the lifeworld. The same scientist who claims that behavior is a function of genes can’t give a genetic explanation of why she chose to become a scientist in the first place. The same philosopher who denies freedom freely chooses to present conference papers defending this view.

    Name a specific thing naturalists deny exists which you can evidence exists. Don’t pretend genes are claimed to uniquely determine behaviour; like environmental factors, genetic factors contribute to it. Don’t pretend choices are necessarily free.

  13. Professor of philosophy Polt has no ‘beef’ with evolution. Well, some time ago there were no ‘human beings’, but there were evolving ancestors. Now we have professor Polt, who calls himself a ‘human being’. My question to professor Polt would be, “What happened to one of our ancestors that turned him into such a ‘human being’, other than evolution of his ‘soggy computer’ ?

  14. I used to think philosophers, almost by definition, had to be clever. Artcles like this, and Mary Midgley’s spectacular misunderstanding of the idea of the ‘selfish gene’ a while back, suggest otherwise.
    I recently stumbled upon a den of amateur philosophers in the comments section of a Youtube video. I was surprised at the level of invective, and the sheer dumbness of the arguments.

  15. @rdfrs-94eef595516e850328cbd8c1aced7f1f:disqus
    Or put briefly:  He has no understanding whatever of nature or reasoning, but thinks using the word “HUMAN” with a smug grin, is a “profound” trumping of science!

  16. Oh dear, someone’s needle is stuck on the LP “Group selected p-zombies”. 

  17. Strikes me some philosophers are as stupid as the religious! More proof of Bertrand Russell’s opinions-
    1.“Philosophy,
    from the earliest times, has made greater claims, and achieved fewer
    results, than any other branch of learning.” 

    2. “Science
    is what you know, philosophy is what you don’t know” 

  18. I once thought that about all highly qualified people until meeting my sister’s hubby- Ph.D, university lecturer and all round dum-bass. Made himself all but unemployable due to his crazy ideas, informed me that Venus was actually Sirius and when challenged his proof was… “because I say so”. Great example of another of Russell’s statements, 
    “Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.” 
    Might also apply to this Polt chap.

  19. I just read Polt’s article I must confess that I got thoroughly lost. I’m afraid there aren’t enough bread crumbs in the world for me to find my way back home.

  20. “every individual insect is ready to sacrifice itself for the colony”

    Not really. But the way they write science articles you can excuse him for thinking this.

  21.  The greatest Philosopher I ever met served us quickly, accurately and with a smile. He even made sure my burger had no pickles.

  22. It is always important to prick the bloated pretensions of a pseudo-intellectual like Mr. Polt.  That said, you’re right, commentators have already weighed in with most of the obvious replies.

    The only thing that sprang immediately to mind was that no-one had said Mr. Polt’s column can be read from beginning to end like a long piece of wishful thinking.  It is hardly worth the effort of creating (yet another) on-line account to make such a point.

    Peace.

  23. If a person cannot appreciate how powerful a computer he is and how intelligent an animal he is, he’s definitely got a lot of catching up to do. Ultimately, everything can be “explained away” in terms of the interaction of physical forces and particles, and that prospect should excite us, not make us feel inferior.

  24. This man is employed as a professor of philosophy?

    The essay betrays no analysis, nor even understanding, of the subject he purports to address. He seems to be simply arranging words to suit his position.

    We could program a machine that do that.

  25. “I have no beef with entomology or evolution, but I refuse to admit that they teach me much about ethics”

    I stopped reading right there.

  26. On occasions such as this, Richard Dawkins breaks out of the slips as the Usain Bolt of science; god bless him; he he! 

  27. What do you expect from the New York Times? It’s America’s equivalent of the Guardian. If you are willing to skew your view of politics so as to be able to portray yourself in a positive light (defender and patron of the world’s ‘vulnerable and disadvantaged’), why not do the same with science (tolerant, moderate, man-with-an-overview)?

  28. I’m very willing to concede that Polt is indeed a “human”, as am I. What puzzles me more is what Polt’s Jesus was;  A man? A god? A mixture of both? A computer programme? Maybe just a fictitious character based on a legend?

    Polt is treading on melting ice when he appears to claim that because something is not fully understood today, that, therefore it will be forever unknown. But then that’s what the religios love: “mystery” in all its unfathomable deepityness!

    A typical theologian’s weather forecast:  “constant fog in all directions for the foreseeable future”.

     But a theologian and a philosopher,…….no please, my brain will blow a fuse!

  29. Just what I was thinking of.

    It’s almost as if you had access to my neural network.

  30. Perhaps it’s rooted in the psychology of disgust, or at least it originated from something like that? It’s a bit fringe, but I notice the parallels in the thought patterns whenever someone writes about that special something humans have that defies explanation and justifies religion (like souls, spirits, humanness, potential, life force, whatever it manifests as).

    Let me explain. The whole point behind disgust is to distance oneself from immoral, undesirable, or unsanitary things (like torturers, social outcasts, and corpses) and to let everyone else know about it. The fact that he invokes a “Humans are more than (other) animals” argument has more than a few parallels with ideas of social and ethical hierarchy (being “better” than other people).

    It was only 150 years ago roughly when Victorian white people baulked at the suggestion that other races were more closely related to theirs than they thought.

    Reductionistic explanations probably trigger similar thinking. Reductionistic explanations of human beings are like dissecting a real corpse; they take something the brain is used to dealing with and turn it into something less familiar, more alien, and yet with features that still remind us of its familiarity, creating conflicting signals. For example, people may be reluctant to concede that chimpanzees and gorillas are our evolutionary cousins because apes (in their minds) are horrible caricatures of humans, and they resent being associated with them, especially as distant kin.

    People also don’t like to see signs that they are being sussed out because in the past, ancestors were more successful at reproducing if they were able to suppress attempts at being socially analysed and manipulated.

    The net result is that people – humans – pretend they have a secret (and priceless) ingredient that makes them human, that creates an impenetrable barrier between them and the undesirables, and that defies all logical explanations (and thus any attempts to break it down).

    It does the latter largely by declaring that it defies all logical explanation without proving as such, and often in the face of evidence that suggests it doesn’t defy logical explanation at all. It’s a side-effect of the psychology of social hierarchy, disgust, denialism, and social status applied where it’s intellectually unhelpful. In other words, it’s wishful thinking disguised as intellectual thinking.

    That’s my current pet hypothesis for why, as you say, no scientific explanation of humans would ever satisfy this guy: because he thinks they’re the “undesirable”.

  31. You continue to amaze me with the depth of analysis you always provide. Well done, and thank you.

  32. Jos Gibbons said:

    Quoting Polt: “Without a brain or DNA, I couldn’t write an
    essay, drive my daughter to school or go to the movies with my wife. But that
    doesn’t mean that my genes and brain structure can explain why I choose to do these
    things — why I affirm them as meaningful and valuable. “

    Gibbons: Why not?

    Me: Indeed, Why not? Simple; because
    no one HAS ever explained why people choose such things! Oh, they’ve done a lot
    of hand-waving and, as Polt suggests, relied on analogies with computers and
    whatnot. But no one has ever offered a detailed explanation – neuron by neuron,
    synapse by synapse – of which exact neural  activities in that specific individual’s brain
    led that individual to the specific choice to drive a daughter to school, et
    al. And until that IS done for choices of a specific brain of a specific
    individual, I’m skeptical that it CAN be done.

    Those commentators who accuse Polt
    of religiosity of various sorts (no doubt he is religious) overlook this
    statement of his:”But
    in order to reject reductionism, we don’t necessarily have to embrace religion
    or the supernatural.” In other words – as Raymond Tallis insists – a brain,
    DNA, etc. are necessary conditions for normal human thoughts and choices; but
    whether they are also sufficient conditions has not been scientifically
    demonstrated.

    So the reasonable
    response is a Socratic one: I don’t know, and no one else does either; but by
    all means let the neuroscientists, biologists, et al. keep working on it. Maybe
    one day they’ll figure it out!

  33. Well……I read the article, and then I read the 41 comments here in which not one person specifically showed what Mr Polt said that was wrong.

  34. phiwilli01
    Those commentators who accuse Polt of religiosity of various sorts (no doubt he is religious) overlook this statement of his:”But in order to reject reductionism, we don’t necessarily have to embrace religion or the supernatural.” In other words – as Raymond Tallis insists – a brain, DNA, etc. are necessary conditions for normal human thoughts and choices; but whether they are also sufficient conditions has not been scientificallydemonstrated.

    But there is a total lack of evidence in physics or neurology that any other non-physical / non-biological factors exist, so claims that such “supernatural” factors exist are religious.  There is no scientific evidence for such claims, so what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.  There is however considerable evidence that hormones, enzymes, an biochemical reactions are the mechanisms of brain-function.  Any effect on the material brain would be detectable.

    Me: Indeed, Why not? Simple; because no one HAS ever explained why people choose such things! Oh, they’ve done a lot of hand-waving and, as Polt suggests, relied on analogies with computers and whatnot. But no one has ever offered a detailed explanation – neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse – of which exact neural  activities in that specific individual’s brain led that individual to the specific choice to drive a daughter to school, et al.

    No doubt, no one has explained atom by atom or circuit by circuit how an individual  car takes an individual daughter to school.  That does not mean the process cannot,  or is not, understood.

    And until that IS done for choices of a specific brain of a specific individual, I’m skeptical that it CAN be done.

    Most of the evidence is there for study.  The rest is being worked on.  There is no evidence of non-natural forces being involved.

    So the reasonable response is a Socratic one: I don’t know, and no one else does either; but by all means let the neuroscientists, biologists, et al. keep working on it. Maybe one day they’ll figure it out!

    Made up wild unevidenced speculations based on bronze-age writings, cannot be substituted for evidenced research indicating high probabilities.  Personal ignorance cannot be projected on to others as “reasonable”.  The material nature of evidence is not “unknown” to science.  It is merely unknown to uneducated individuals such as the author of the OP.

  35. So are you saying that Jos Gibbons and Alan4discussion did not specifically show that Mr Polt was incorrect by quoting passages out of his essay and pointing out the errors? And what is wrong with a general indication of why his sayings are wrong?

    In any case, if you think his views have credibility, please do not hesitate to explain why in more depth. For my part, a person who thinks that the history of the evolution of altruism has no bearing on ethical discussion is someone who isn’t interested in exploring ethics at all, akin to a political scientist ignoring the history of politics.

    For instance, he seems to think the “ought” is a self-evident counterpoint. Moreover, he seems to think that our notion of should had nothing to do with our evolved psychology, as though the transcendent notion of “should” was injected from outside at the last minute. Frankly, people going on about there being something “more than evolution”, and then citing something that depends on an evolutionary explanation as though it were a counterpoint, are muddle-headed.

  36.  “This man is employed as a professor of philosophy?”- yep-
    but he’s employed by a religious cult, so I dismiss his thoughts.

  37. To take just one point. His claim that he is ” essentially more than any computer “

    The whole notion of ‘the brain is just a computer’ is utterly ass backwards logic.
    How can the brain be ‘just a computer’ when it is the brain that invented the whole concept of computer in the first place ? 

    Logically, in order for A to create B, A has to be more complex than B……….that is to say A must be ‘more than just’ B. 

    People don’t seem to have any problem refuting God on the very same basis that God must be more complex….more than…..what he created. And yet, use that exact same reasoning to argue that the brain must be more than what it creates…..and people balk at the idea !!

  38. I don’t see why the whole backlash here…Indeed, noone has ever come close to actually predicting all of human actions by using physics or chemistry…on the other hand nobody denies that there is a strong physical component to the human psyche. That’s the thing though, we don’t have to fall back to some magical incoroporeal ‘soul’ or anything…thoughts may be dependent on physical components entirely, but I don’t see how we are so sure that those physical components are purely driven by mathematics…is there any actual reason for that? Of course, they very well may be definite mathematical entities; but OTOH they maybe they’re not. That’s usually what wappens when…you just don’t know. That’s what it comes down to; if you claim that you can build a mathematical model that models with 100% accuracy a human being(doesn’t even have to be human, could be an ape or a dog), you better prove it by…doing it, I think. Until then, the answer is unknown, surely we won’t say ‘yeah, it’s only mathematics, because we can’t imagine what else it could be’. We can simply say ‘we don’t know yet, but we keep trying to find out’.

  39. A more complex computer builds a simple computer. Easily resolved. The more complex computer, however, was set up over hundreds of years of natural selection on genes with phenotypes.

    Invoking the designer argument to suggest double standards doesn’t work as an analogy because humans are ultimately explicable by evolution, which creates complexity out of simplicity, thus terminating the infinite regress of ever-increasing complexity.

    I know what your views are about the brain-computer analogy, but even supposing for a moment that I agreed with you, I’d have to point out that Polt’s reasoning is very different from yours.

    For instance, he thinks evolution is irrelevant to ethics because it cannot say what we “should” do. Yet, where else is this “should” supposed to have derived from, if not from the evolved psychology and neurology of hominids, the logic behind its evolution (both for individual organisms and for long-term evolutionary trends), and from the physical properties of the arrangements of matter in the brain? During our most recent discussion on the brain-computer thing, you at least had the virtue of sticking to non-ethical arguments.

  40. The problem is that this is false modesty. Drugs reliably reproduce similar effects on the behaviours of others and on their nervous systems, and these can be traced to the chemical and physical activities of neurons, synapses, neurotransmitters, and molecules at the active site. The basic chemistry of neurotransmitters and neurons, and  the electrical properties of nerve signals, are well understood. The gross features of the brain, including specific lobes and ganglia, have already been isolated as places where to look for specific features of behaviour, rather dramatically accounted for in popular science books which detail mental disorders traced back to peculiar brain features.

    True as it is that there are still specific questions, the same could be said for evolution by natural selection. I cannot explain with 100% accuracy how magpies or crows evolved their specific physiologies, but that does not excuse me from saying their physics or chemistry is not like we would predict it based on the model. My ignorance of crows and magpies is proof of nothing about the crows. All it proves is my own ignorance.

    The main reason we don’t have encyclopaedic knowledge of every little thing to do with behaviours and brains is simply that they are extremely complicated things, highly dependent on huge chains of connection and networking, and the relevant fields are quite new compared with other scientific disciplines. We don’t need to suggest that they defy mathematics, and really that argument can only be held up by an argument from ignorance. If it has physical properties, by definition it can be measured and treated mathematically.

  41. I agree. Especially when I read this sentence: “I have no beef with entomology or evolution, but I refuse to admit that they teach me much about ethics” what an incredibly anti-intellectual attitude. As if one can just choose to not believe that entomology can teach us about ethics simply by fiat rather than evaluating the evidence.

  42. As a philosopher you can say what you like, Since it s not a science, you cannot, or hardly, be refuted. 
    Besides, someone with a title,whatever he or she spouts, gets more credit than the wise man in the street.

  43. “He dismisses AI just because it’s not yet produced “intelligent” machines, a bar such critics set so high they can’t admit it is being progressed to.”  And the critics keep moving the bar. When I first studied AI there were many philosophers who claimed a computer would never be able to play a decent game of chess. Then they claimed a computer could never play grand master level chess. People who work in AI aren’t bothered by this, they actually have a saying “once you can do it its not AI anymore”. 

  44.  JoxerTheMighty

    but I don’t see how we are so sure that those physical components are
    purely driven by mathematics…is there any actual reason for that?

    It’s a bit like computers and the internet.  You don’t have to understand every bit of code, and every device, to know that they work by using physical materials, light, electromagnetic waves and electricity.  No “magic stuff” required!

  45. It’s not ‘like computers’. We can predict the behaviour of a computer with near 100% accuracy, given that we know its hardware and software components and their states. I can even do it by hand, if I wanted, it would just take a lot of time. We are nowhere near that with the human brain. I wish we were, as doctors then could cure my OCD(not to mention far more severe and less-understood disorders) simply by rewiring my neurons or something, like I correct a faulty program by writing a patch, but…we’re not. As of now, I take meds that kinda treat it somewhat if I’m lucky, with some side-effects, but not cure it.

    If you state ‘tool X is capable of accurately modelling system Y’, you kinda have to prove it. You can’t really say ‘tool X works for simpler systems A,B,C, thus it works for Y too’.

  46. You’ve completely missed the point. It is brains that decide what computers are…NOT computers that decide what brains are.

    Computers are devices invented by brains. To argue that the brain ‘is’ a computer is about as getting the cart before the horse as it gets !

  47. I don’t see Polt actually arguing for magic, even if that is ultimately what he believes in. I read the entire article as more of precisely the gripe against the use of ‘nothing but…..’ that was made by Zeuglodon in another thread and which I agree with. It’s a semantic argument against ‘nothing buttery’ that I hold to be valid even though I think group selection is bollocks and the supernatural even more so.

    I just happen to think that the language used is vitally important…especially if one is going to win people over.

  48. What’s that? I can’t hear you over all this computational neuroscience!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C… 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C… 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C… 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C… 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C… 

    Computers are devices invented by brains.

    This isn’t actually in the definition of “computer”, which you assume as part of your argument. To quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C

    A computer does not need to be electronic, nor even have a processor, nor RAM, nor even a hard disk. While popular usage of the word “computer” is synonymous with a personal computer, the definition of a computer is literally “A device that computes, especially a programmable [usually] electronic machine that performs high-speed mathematical or logical operations or that assembles, stores, correlates, or otherwise processes information.”[51] Any device which processes information qualifies as a computer, especially if the processing is purposeful.

    Brains no more decide what is a computer than they decide whether one plus one equals two. And devices of any sort can be built up by genetic evolution, given enough time. Technically, everything a human invents is a product of evolution, albeit a second-order one, so there’s no problem saying genes could give rise to computers. Even the process of natural selection is an algorithm.

  49. This is false comparison. Nobody I know of knows every little thing about computers. You have to be a specialist to know about the coding and software, especially when they get more complex than usual. But even if they did, this is still pandering to an argument from ignorance. I don’t know everything that goes on in my head, true, but since the computer analogy has proved so useful in understanding it so far, it’s reasonable to guess it will continue to be so.

    As I’ve already mentioned, brains are incredibly complex and our studies of them have only been done fairly recently compared with other scientific disciplines, which is explanation enough for our ignorance of how exactly to treat them. Why do you think neurosurgery is such a difficult subject?

  50. A team of experts can accurately predict the behaviour of a computer system given the initial conditions, and appropriately rewire it to achieve whatever result they wish, given it is possible with that system. No team of experts can do that for a brain, we know things and we can make assesments, but nowhere near that accurate, and we are nowhere near of curing many diseases by manipulating the physical components of the brain(I mentioned my OCD, it’s not even that severe, but still it’s merely treated with some varied success, and side-effects, and not cured).

    I’m not saying it’s not possible, I’m saying make the claim that you can do something, when you actually do it, or come very close. What is being said here is that basically, let’s say in a very advanced future in 5K years or something, we could put people in an installation, scan their every molecule, run a mathematical simulation and predict exactly what they will think, do, and feel, and when. Excuse me, that’s a pretty bold statement for a lot of reasons, and I want to see it happening before I accept it. It’s not impossible that any mathematics comprehensible to humans fall apart over some threshold of physical complexity. It’s not that unthinkable, great scientists like Hilbert shouted from the rooftops “In Mathematics there will never be an Ignorabimus” until Goedel came along. It doesn’t have to be “magic”, just mentally unapproachable. I’m not saying that’s what happens, I’m saying I don’t know. And I’m not convinced by those that say it’s self-evident that we can reach to 100% because we already have gotten to 1%.

  51. Neuroscience is not guesswork. It requires years of specialisation, not because brains are inherently capricious like quantum particles, but because brains are so complicated that to keep up with the maths is impossible for a lone human, so compromises need to be made. Computer systems also require compromises because you need specialists for any particular field.

    Much as I’m a fan of pedantry, setting your goalpost to 100% is not exactly scientific. Virtually everything we do know about the brain is predictable because the whole field of neuroscience is based on straightforward chemistry, electronics, and physical matter. In fact, chemistry and electronics are not even 100% predicted with certainty, as the relevant fields still churn out new discoveries that are nearly limitless.

    How many times can it be emphasized? The brain is incredibly complex. We still don’t know much about how neural nets specifically function simply because we haven’t done the relevant research and currently have technical limitations. We can’t yet isolate the specific threads and webs that correspond to exact thoughts either. But none of this suggests it’s unpredictable in principle, and only an argument from ignorance can take this as proof that it defies mathematics.

  52. You are missing the point.  Understanding that brains work by physics and electrochemical reactions – hormones – enzymes – synapses firing -does not need need output details.  It is physics and chemistry.  Any other properties would be detectable if they existed.

    We can predict the behaviour of a computer with near 100% accuracy, given that we know its hardware and software components and their states.

    This looks very dubious!  Perhaps you should explain this to my son!  – The one who is a software developer writing large expensive commercial programmes which run database management systems for multinational operations world wide!  He spends hours sorting out unpredictable bugs.

    Like computers, their predecessors – mechanical calculators, were made of mechanical gears and number displays.  – No “magic numbery” stuff!
    – Just the normal physical working of the universe. If humans were unable to crack an enigma code, this was irrelevant to recognising the mechanical nature of the machine.

  53. That’s a better way of putting it. The problem is that, if you’re going to make “more than” claims that aren’t borne from simple cautiousness, you need an example or some sort of evidence that you can present. Not an example of neuroscientist’s ignorance, either. I mean something proven. Positive evidence, say, that the brain works by mysterious “physical-chemical properties” (whatever their details are).

    After all, if souls existed, they would be mysterious physical-chemical properties, too. However much Polt might not be explicitly calling for souls to fill the gap, his case is as empty as though he had done.

  54. I think you are missing my point. I didn’t say that there are any incorporeal components that we can’t detect. We can detect them alright. Whether they follow mathematical laws of any kind that will be ever understood by humans is another question. They might not. I never claimed they ‘defy mathematics’, as Zeuglodon said, on the opposite, I said we don’t know. The onus of the proof is on the one who is making the claim that the complexity of the brain in its entirety can be “harnessed” by a specific.tool, in this case mathematics.

    As for the second part of your questions, maybe then you should tell your son to come the debate, since we’re both programmers that work on large database systems, as I doubt he has imparted you with knowledge simply because he is your son… I think he’d agree with me that we can indeed predict with very large accuracy the behaviour of a well-known computer system given enough time and resources and of course competence, within the limitations that math impose on us of course(there is the halting problem for instance); In practical situations of course, bugs always exist, but we always know the behaviour can be corrected with algorithms/mathematics, simply because we know computers and software are algorithmic, simply because we made them. We didn’t create the brain, we didn’t weave its complexity. Claiming that, because we can understand a very poor -for moment, at least- analogue of the brain we ourselves created, means we can also understand with the same accuracy the brain itself is unfounded; we may or we may not. The “computer analogy” is really good only up to a certain point.

  55. In principle, yes. But then, in principle, I could predict the weather. In practice, the weather is too complicated for me to do it without a computer.

    Whether they follow mathematical laws of any kind that will be ever understood by humans is another question.

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and suppose you just mean that the mathematics would be very complex – perhaps too complex for a person to physically compute without a sufficiently advanced calculator handy. But again, this is a problem in practice, not in principle.

    The “computer analogy” is really good only up to a certain point.

    What’s beyond that point? Give an example of something proven by neuroscience that yet doesn’t submit to the computer analogy.

  56. JoxerTheMighty

    You are still missing the point and side-tracking the issue.  We do not need to understand all the complexity to recognise the mechanical nature of enigma machines, the electronic nature of computers and communication systems, or the bio-electrical nature of the brain.

    That’s the thing though, we don’t have to fall back to some magical incoroporeal ‘soul’ or anything…thoughts may be dependent on physical components entirely, …

    That is correct, … but then you go on to speculate…..

    but OTOH they maybe they’re not. That’s usually what happens when…you just don’t know.

    But we do know that it is just chemistry and physics.  The fact there may be some unexplained calculations makes no difference to these physical properties.  It is only a difference in the details of output.

    I didn’t say that there are any incorporeal components that we can’t detect. We can detect them alright. Whether they follow mathematical laws of any kind that will be ever understood by humans is another question. They might not

    You are asserting there are some “detectable incorporeal components” ? 

    This sounds like an unevidenced oxymoron!  If they are detectable, they are natural and follow natural laws, so how can they be “incorporeal” or not capable of being understood by humans?

    You would need to produce evidence that such features existed. There are no verified records of any.

    Whether they follow mathematical
    laws of any kind that will be ever understood by humans is another question. They might not

    First you would need to produce evidence that such “incorporeal” features exist, and then show why mathematics would be different in any way in relation to such speculative phenomenon. It looks as if you just made this up!

  57. Ehm, I didn’t say there are are any incorporeals elements, I said that the whole thing could be corporeal(you know, photons can bounce off of it), but not follow, in its entirety, laws that the human mind can ever analyze and understand. I said I don’t know. Is it somewhere written that everything in the universe must necessarily be able to be entirely understood by the human mind and I missed the memo? I’m not making unverified claims here, you are. If you say ‘tool X can do job J’, you must be able to prove it, no? Excuse me that I just don’t take your word for granted. You just say ‘tool X can do job J because I can’t see what difficulties could probably make this an impossibility’ which is an argument from incredulity(“I can’t possibly see how math would fall apart, therefore they will not”). 

    I hope I don’t have to repeat *again* that I’m not the one making claims here.

  58. That’s certainly not the vibe you were giving off. You seemed to be under the impression that the “backlash” was excessive because we don’t know all of what goes on in the brain “with 100% accuracy” because we can’t predict anything. Far from being some insightful contribution, that’s basically true of every science field you care to name. It’s old news. It also smacks of argument from ignorance because you haven’t provided any suggestion of what else there is. You don’t even seem very clear yourself, given the contradictions Alan4discussion keeps pointing out.

    Given your first comment, what would a physical entity with no mathematical law attached to it even look like? The whole brain works like a computer – it has inputs, processing units, and outputs – and so do the individual neurons that make it up. None of it escapes mathematics. How could it possibly? The main topics of interest are the neurotransmitters and the neural networks, how all these physical parts are arranged and how they interact. Those interactions are mathematical and logical ones because maths is simply a way to find patterns numerically in real life. You would have been better off saying the mathematics would be incredibly complex, as they no doubt would be for brains.

  59. Philosophers should be wary about using computers as an analogy
    unless they are familiar with the technology and are aware when the analogy
    breaks down, and it will, because a computer is not a “brain” even though the
    two might perform computation, the principals involved are quite different, the
    most obvious difference is the simple fact that one is digital and the other is
    analogue, this is not a trivial difference, for reasons I will detail later.

    I think it’s useful in this debate to consider the concept
    of universal computation, a concept proposed by Alan Turin (I believe), the
    concept itself is really quite simple; he proposed that any computer given
    enough resources could simulate any other computer, I suggest this is demonstrably
    true, a desktop PC today can easily emulate a commodore 64 for instance, so you
    have in effect a computer operating with a computer.

    Now, in theory the brain can be considered as a
    computational device, so could we emulate a “brain” using existing technology? The
    concept of universal computation would suggest it’s possible, but in my opinion
    this would be extremely unlikely, because to emulate an analogue “Brain” on a
    digital computer would be extremely resource intensive, exponentially so,
    depending on the complexity of the brain, the resources required to run a human
    brain within existing digital systems, would I think, be prohibitively
    expensive computationally.

    I should explain my understanding of why this might be the
    case, digital systems operate by switching between discrete states, zero and
    one, on or off and so on, analogue system can have many significant states, the
    amount of resources required by a digital system to emulate the significant
    states even while ignoring the intermediary transitional states would be
    considerable, there is not a one to one correlation between the two systems
    being considered here, you would not simply require a machine with the same
    capacity plus operational overhead, you would require a digital system that had
    many times the capacity of the brain it was emulating.

    So philosophers beware, there be dragons…

  60. I disagree strongly with your comparison. My criticism of “merely” and “Nothing buttery” was about people trying to imply that scientific explanations automatically devalue the things they explain, as though any reductionistic attempt to explain something was proof that it didn’t exist. I consider this muddle-headed because being able to explain, say, how people make decisions in no way devalues that decision’s impact or logic. If anything, the scientific explanations make it much more understandable because it makes logical sense.

    My point was completely different from the denialism of science’s relevance that Polt is trying to get across here, as though science’s explanations were “mere”. If anything, his invocation of “more than” is a demonstration of the rejection of science that I argued against!

  61. If anything, I’d argue that science helps make it more understandable. It’s infuriating when someone steals the cookies, but if you learned about how our ancestors might have evolved proxy rules to take advantage of any chance to grab sweet foods, and that binge eating is often a symptom of distress, it makes their behaviour easier to deal with.

  62. Actually, the brain is a mixture of digital and analogue. Any one pulse is digital. It’s either there or it isn’t. However, the rate of firing can vary, giving the analogue side. This is the basis behind Pulse Frequency Modulation, which engineers are already aware of and already use. It’s certainly nothing to contradict the idea that computers can’t model it.

    Virtually your whole counterpoint confuses practical problems using current technology with problems in principle. The brain’s codes can be translated into other computing systems, but we don’t yet have any system as complex as the brain, so obviously it would be tricky at present. That’s not to say it never could be done.

    Even if I conceded that brains were analogue, so what? The definition of a computer does not automatically require it to be digital. A digital computer is simply more useful and more versatile than an analogue one:

     A computer does not need to be electronic, nor even have a processor, nor RAM, nor even a hard disk. While popular usage of the word “computer” is synonymous with a personal computer, the definition of a computer is literally “A device that computes, especially a programmable [usually] electronic machine that performs high-speed mathematical or logical operations or that assembles, stores, correlates, or otherwise processes information.”[51] Any device which processes information qualifies as a computer, especially if the processing is purposeful.

    We also have no problem translating analogue signals into digital: that’s how the sound recording industry works. Not to mention we’re already building artificial neural networks and wetware for computers to match the powers of the brain. That rather makes it awkward to discard the computational theory too readily.

    True, brains have features most metal computers don’t, but then that doesn’t mean they’re not computers. Tigers have features most wild dogs don’t. Doesn’t mean they’re not both carnivores.

  63. “I disagree strongly with your comparison. My criticism of “merely” and “Nothing buttery” was about people trying to imply that scientific explanations automatically devalue the things they explain, as though any reductionistic attempt to explain something was proof that it didn’t exist.”

    Well…you can disagree all you like, but as far as I can see the ‘nothing buttery’ that Polt is objecting to is semantically no different to that to which you have objected. It is surely evident that it is precisely that devaluing that Polt is objecting to. It seems to me that Polt is making the exact same point, but that others are interpretting it as over-valuing……..because it is seen as supporting an extended viewpoint that Polt apparently doesnt have the balls to directly allude to.

    Thus Polt is being judged on the basis of people reading between the lines. They may be correct to do so…..but I prefer to judge an article on the basis of what is actually said rather than imply the insertion of disigneuous extras.

  64. I think you’d be a little cautious about accusing others of not reading posts correctly, seeing that you’ve just committed that same crime regarding my own.

    Polt disagrees with scientific explanations as comprehensive answers because he thinks they are “nothing but” claims, or more accurately that humans are “more than” those explanations. My disagreement was with describing scientific explanations themselves as “nothing but” claims, and thus I take issue with people postulating “more than” claims aside from those explanations (because they’re unnecessary).

    The “semantic” similarities are actually just superficial similarity of word use. He doesn’t like “nothing but”, nor do I. That’s about all we have in common. Our reasoning for not liking them is entirely different; he belittles the scope of such explanations and thinks there should be more explanation, and I think he’s underappreciated the explanations we already have and is pointlessly looking for explanations we don’t need. Case in point: he seems to think evolution is irrelevant to understanding ethics. I think he simply denies it without adequate justification because, without evolution, moral instincts and logic would not arise.

    We couldn’t be more different.

  65. Is it just me…or is it impossible to reply to a post once a certain iteration of reply depth is reached….as the ‘reply’ option disappears off the page.

  66. ” Any device which processes information qualifies as a computer, especially if the processing is purposeful. “

    One has to love the subtlety of the caveat at the end. Thrown in, I have no doubt, because inevitably someone will jump up and ask ‘does that mean the universe is a computer ?’

  67. ” Claiming that, because we can understand a very poor -for moment, at least- analogue of the brain we ourselves created, means we can also understand with the same accuracy the brain itself is unfounded; we may or we may not. The “computer analogy” is really good only up to a certain point.”

    I wish my brain was programmed to put the point so succinctly. I don’t think anyone…even Polt….disputes that the brain is ‘like’ a computer. Of course it is, and has many similarities. Of course the similarities are valid…..as it is after all the brain that invented computers !

    But that is simply not the same as agreeing that the brain ‘IS’ a computer…..any more than one could argue that the space shuttle ‘is’ a paper dart.

    The problem arises due to trying to reduce something solely to one of its attributes or components. Nobody is denying that attribute is there. The argument is that the attribute is not the totality of what is there.

    I’m at a loss to understand why saying so seems to automatically invoke ‘magic’. Of course…..such ‘more than’ reasoning ‘can’ be used to justify magical beliefs……but it seems to me that what one ends up with is the ‘more than’ notion being valid in one argument but not valid ( as seems the case with Polt ) if the arguer’s CV shows the remotest hint that they might simply use it as a ploy.

  68.  I think that once the column width narrows to a certain point the system stops linking replies.

    After that you need to paste @ the avatar name and blockquote the section answered.

  69. JoxerTheMighty

    I hope I don’t have to repeat *again* that I’m not the one making claims here.

    Really????? You can hope, but that is not how rational debate works.  Asserting unevidenced detectable incorporeal components looks like a claim to me!!!  Repeating that you can do so without presenting evidence adds nothing to your claim, but merely illustrates ducking the issue!

    JoxerTheMighty  Ehm,
      I didn’t say there are are any incorporeals elements, I said that the
    whole thing could be corporeal(you know, photons can bounce off of it), but not follow, in its entirety, laws that the human mind can ever analyze and understand.

    JoxerTheMighty I didn’t say that there are any incorporeal components that we can’t detect. We can detect them alright.

    Mmmmmm!  You didn’t say there are any incorporeal elements, but you said we can detect them!!!!!!!!!!  Mmmmmmm!!

    (you know, photons can bounce off of it),
    but not follow, in its entirety, laws that the human mind can ever
    analyze and understand.

    Mmmmm!  It interacts normally with the usual laws of physics but has some other magic properties which cannot be understood by humans????????

    Definitely making it up as you go along, and still no evidence! –  This sounds very like theist fanciful thinking in an argument from ignorance. –

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A

    Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or “appeal to ignorance” (where “ignorance” stands for: “lack of evidence to the contrary”), is a fallacy in informal logic.
    It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false, it is “generally accepted” (or vice versa). This represents a type of false dichotomy
    in that it excludes a third option, which is that there is insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to prove the proposition satisfactorily to be either true or false.

    Even this fails on invalidity as well as fallacy, as there is clear evidence of brains working on electrical impulses and biochemistry, and no evidence of any other factors.

  70. “Any one pulse is digital”

    Indeed but so is every tick of a grandfather clock, it’s
    still an analogue device though, and if I could point out that nowhere did I
    say the brain could not be considered a computational device or that such
    systems could not be emulated digitally, only that it would be extremely
    expensive computationally to do so.

    “A digital computer is simply more useful and more versatile
    than an analogue one”

    Actually I disagree, analogue computers are more versatile
    but they are notoriously difficult to engineer and implement, which is why the digital computer is ubiquitous.

    “We also have no problem translating analogue signals into
    digital: that’s how the sound recording industry works”

    Now, we come to the nub of the issue, you are not quite
    correct in this statement, there are many quite serious limitations in the
    digitization of analogue signals, the most common issue would be “clipping” when a signal exceeds the sensitivity of a particular recording system, it becomes distorted in analogue systems but is clipped (lost) when recorded digitally, also the conversion process itself introduces quantization noise and so on, purists would say that analogue more closely represents original signal than does digital, quality increases with bit depth, but signal handling is not what we are debating,  it is simulation of complex and as yet, poorly understood systems.

    We can set aside technology and consider general principles,
    universal computation is demonstrable, you can simulate any computational device on any other which has sufficient resources,  my point was that it is extremely expensive to simulate an analogue computational device using a digital computational device,
    not that it couldn’t be done only that it is expensive to do it.

    “Not to mention we’re already building artificial neural networks and wetware for computers to match the powers of the brain. That rather makes it awkward to discard the computational theory too readily.”

    My main point was that it is often quite informative to draw
    comparisons between brains and computers, but we have to be mindful that is a superficial analogy, which breaks down quite rapidly if one assumes a direct correlation.

    Damn can never get the formating right… any tips?

  71. Indeed but so is every tick of a grandfather clock, it’sstill an analogue device though, and if I could point out that nowhere did Isay the brain could not be considered a computational device or that suchsystems could not be emulated digitally, only that it would be extremelyexpensive computationally to do so.

    But later on in your post, you say that the analogy between brains and computers is “superficial” and “breaks down quite rapidly if one assumes a direct correlation”. You’re not making your point very clear. Is the brain a computing device or not? How it computes may differ, certainly, but it is still computing.

    Actually I disagree, analogue computers are more versatile
    but they are notoriously difficult to engineer and implement, which is why the digital computer is ubiquitous.

    I disagree with your disagreement. Digital computers have boomed largely because analogue ones tend to degrade the signal, distorting the result compared with the original. You also dismiss the difference between analogue and digital functions of the brain and insist that it is analogue, but it achieves this by digital means, so it can’t be so simply described. From binary code, you can obtain a huge plethora of functions and conversions, and the result is of a higher fidelity. Just look at all the functions digital technology has achieved in photography, computer graphics, recording media, and computing in general, because from a single simple code you can get all sorts of options and functions. Our own multipurpose PCs are virtual machines

    We can set aside technology and consider general principles,universal computation is demonstrable, you can simulate any computational device on any other which has sufficient resources,  my point was that it is extremely expensive to simulate an analogue computational device using a digital computational device,not that it couldn’t be done only that it is expensive to do it.

    In which case, you’re not actually showing that brains are not computers past the surface. Only that they’re extremely complicated computers. Yet, at other points, you seem to be saying that brains only superficially look like computers but are different in many respects. I think you’ve fallen for a misconception of what qualifies as a computer.

    My main point was that it is often quite informative to draw
    comparisons between brains and computers, but we have to be mindful that is a superficial analogy, which breaks down quite rapidly if one assumes a direct correlation.

    It’s only a superficial analogy if you have a superficial idea of what a computer is. The analogy you describe is only between two kinds of computer (organic and silicon, analogue and digital). The analogy breaks down only if you buy into such a literal misconception of what a computer is that you think brains and PCs must correlate on every single point. Nobody who has compared the two will say such a thing.

  72. I imagine purposeful as in “for some prespecified task”, just like the purposefulness of living creatures is derived from their functional complexity. For instance, a calculator is purposeful in that it is designed for crunching numbers and then displaying them in a way for brains to interpret them and act on the information. A brain is purposeful in that it is designed to solve evolutionary problems on behalf of genes. As far as I can tell, the universe itself has no purpose because it has no functional complexity. There is no prespecified task for it to perform. Indeed, this is why we distinguish living organisms and their artefacts (including silicon chip computers) from the rest of the universe in the first place.

    Incidentally, it is precisely because of there being a prespecified task that computers can become so complex, as additional features and modifications are included to boost the ability of the computer to handle specific tasks, and also any subtasks that come up. A simple tin-can arrangement or an abacus may be useful for adding up small numbers, but it would be hopelessly inadequate for advanced mathematics.

    That said, I have to wonder what you think “processing of information” is about, given that you mysteriously avoid the rest of the definition and focus on the one bit you can tout as “evidence” of sloppy thinking on the definer’s part. Do you really think every action in the universe qualifies as “processing information”?

  73. Just how many more nails need to be hammered into the coffin of ‘philosophy’ before it is lowered into its waiting grave?

  74. You have Turing’s idea right and then you apply it in precisely the wrong way. Turing proved (this was all done via mathematics and deductive proofs not empirical result so proof is the right word here) that all computers are examples of the mathematical model he called a Turing Machine and that any problem that could (or couldn’t) be solved on one Turing machine could (given enough time and resources) be solved on another. 

    So the onus on anti-AI people is to prove that the brain is not a Turing machine which to my knowledge no one has done. The fact that the brain is analog vs. digital is irrelevant. As Zeuglodon states, we translate between the two all the time. The first electronic computers (used to calculate shell and bomb trajectories) were analog. Many of the early NASA computers were analog. But even more importantly AI researchers can simulate the architecture of our brain on digital computers using neural networks. These aren’t just for research, the technology is getting to the point where doctors can literally connect software to brainware, e.g. for patients who have lost limbs and need prosthetics. 

  75. “While it would take more time and space than I have here to refute these views, I’d like to suggest why I stubbornly continue to believe that I’m a human being — something more than other animals, and essentially more than any computer.”

    To be filed under Begging The Question. Also, it would be nice to receive an explanation of why this might be such a terrible thing in the first place. Perhaps the philosopher in question is just waiting for some grand revelation that will forever alter the way in which he lives? Personally, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  76. What I find amazing is the notion that truth can somehow be determined by what one person “stubbornly believes”. Its an extremely arrogant/ignorant view of the universe, “I’ll keep on believing this regardless of any evidence”  I actually think most of the things he is arguing against are straw men anyway, saying that the human brain is like a computer doesn’t really diminish humans at all, any more than understanding that the sun is not the center of the universe makes us less important. 

  77. “Actually I disagree, analogue computers are more versatile

    but they are notoriously difficult to engineer and implement, which is why the digital computer is ubiquitous.”
    I would like to know how you justify saying analog computers are more versatile than digital. If you look at the history of computing it seems just the opposite to me. As I said the earliest electronic computers, developed by the military, were for specific jobs such as calculating shell trajectories. One of the main reasons people went digital was that you could re-program a digital computer. An analog machine designed to calculate trajectories could do only that because the differential equations were simulated (analogous to) the equations for the circuits. You could change the parameters of the equations by changing things like voltage but if you wanted to do something other than calculate a shell trajectory you had to build a different box. 

    Even with more recent computers that use neural nets (simulating an analog device) for pattern recognition, such programs need to be “trained”, given many example patterns first and then after that they can work on their own, and once you train a neural net to recognize edges you have to completely retrain it if you want it to recognize basic shapes. 

    Actually, I think talking about either analog or digital as being in general “more versatile” is a pretty meaningless statement. It depends so much on which specific analog technology you are talking about, what the problem space is, etc. but if I had to make a statement it would certainly be that most digital computing technology has proven to be more versatile than most analog. 

  78. “So the onus on anti-AI people is to prove that the brain is not a Turing machine which to my knowledge no one has done. “

    Um…no. The onus is always on anyone making a claim…in this case that the brain is a Turing machine….to prove that claim.

  79. >>Really????? You can hope, but that is not how rational debate works.  ??>>Asserting unevidenced detectable incorporeal components looks like a claim >>to me!!!  
    Except I didn’t do that. I merely stated that it is *claimed* that a tool, in this case Mathematics, can be used to describe a enormously complex system, in this case the brain, in its entirety, without proving it. I don’t care if you think that Mathematics is the end-all of all tools and can explain everything. That’s your assertion. It’s still a tool, and to convince me it can handle a specific system, whatever that is, it has to prove its worth. Like everything else. If I said I can build a spaceship with a specific screwdriver, wouldnt’ I have to prove it? Or would I just state that, since the screwdriver has worked in the past, it will work with anything? If I stated that a specific branch of Mathematics is sufficient to explain phenomenon P, wouldn’t I have to prove it? Or would I claim the statement is self-evident because that branch has analyzed phenomenons A,B,C, so I just go ahead and state it can do the same for P?

    I can hypothesize that there is a good chance math will work there because they have been successful in the past, but this is not strong evidence that they will not break down. Nature hasn’t signed a contract with humans that it will be mathematically understandable under all circumstances, last I checked.

    >>Mmmmmm!  You didn’t say there are any incorporeal elements, but you said >>we can detect them!!!!!!!!!!  Mmmmmmm!! 

    “We can detect them” was about the corporeal elements that could be there but not follow strict mathematical laws and/or modelled by algorithms.

    >>Mmmmm!  It interacts normally with the usual laws of physics but has some >>other magic properties which cannot be understood by humans????????

    Lots of things interact normally with matter but still have a varied degree of uncertainty. How does a particle with no definite position look like? Is it…”magic”? And I don’t necessarily say the brain is a quantum computer(though people like Penrose argue so). Only that there is a possibility, just as ‘normal’ laws broke down when examining really small scales and uncertainty took over, the same thing could happen when examining hugely complex systems. Or there are other possibilities. I don’t think it’s so hard to understand that I’m saying it’s not PROVED that mathematics can analyze the brain. I didn’t stated that mathematics can’t analyze the brain because we so far haven’t be able to do so, which would be argument from ignorance.

    Penrose argued that the brain is not entirely algorithmic and can’t be modeled by a computer, in his book http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T… , which was thankfully in a good translation in my university’s library, so I got to read most of it. I’m not even saying that. Not even close. I’m just saying we still don’t know what the brain fundamentally is. I’m saying the tool(mathematics/algorithms) has not been proved to do the job yet, that is describe the brain in all its intricancies, so strictly speaking we are not sure it can indeed do the job. Your argument is really nothing more than ‘it is certain we can build a Turing Machine that can simulate the human brain entirely’. My argument is nothing more than ‘That has yet to be proved’. Is that clear? Try a bit more reading comprehension, maybe toning down the “mmmmmmmmmm”s and “??????????????” and “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” would help a bit.

  80. Alan – Really????? You can hope, but that is not how rational debate works. 
    Asserting unevidenced detectable incorporeal components looks like a claim to me!!!  Repeating that you can do so without presenting evidence adds nothing to your claim, but merely illustrates ducking the issue! 

    JoxerTheMighty  Ehm, I didn’t say there are are any incorporeals elements, I said that the whole thing could be corporeal(you know, photons can bounce off of it), but not follow, in its entirety, laws that the human mind can ever analyze and understand.

    JoxerTheMighty I didn’t say that there are any incorporeal components that we can’t detect. We can detect them alright.

    Mmmmmm!  You didn’t say there are any incorporeal elements, but you said we can detect them!!!!!!!!!!  Mmmmmmm!!

    JoxerTheMighty  “We can detect them” was about the corporeal elements that could be there but not follow strict mathematical laws and/or modelled by algorithms.

     

    That’s not what your statement (pasted above) said. The follow up unevidenced assertion of “some strange new physics or magical extra property”, follows on from this!

    JoxerTheMighty Lots of things interact normally with matter but still have a varied degree of uncertainty

    This is still unevidenced wild speculation and an argument from ignorance buried in irrelevant complexity.  You have yet to show there is any uncertainty about the basic laws of physics and chemistry.  As I have repeatedly pointed out, the complexity of the calculations and out-put, is just a side-track away from the physical reality of the mechanism.

    JoxerTheMighty  Your argument is really nothing more than ‘it is certain we can build a Turing Machine that can simulate the human brain entirely’.

    Once again you are trying to extend my argument beyond my claim, while ducking the issue. I made no such claim!  I merely stated that the brain was a physical device proved to be running on known forms of energy.

    JoxerTheMighty  My argument is nothing more than ‘That has yet to be proved’. Is that clear? Try a bit more reading comprehension, maybe toning down the “mmmmmmmmmm”s and “??????????????” and “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” would help a bit.

    MMmmmmms & ????s are a reasonable response to self contradiction and erroneous claims!

    Perfectly clear!  Your argument is nothing more than an unevidenced, repeatedly asserted, argument from ignorance (see earlier link).

    After several requests, still no evidence to support it!!!  What can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence!

  81. >>This is still unevidenced wild speculation and an >>argument from ignorance buried in irrelevant >>complexity.  You have yet to show there is any uncertainty >>about the basic laws of physics and chemistry.  
    Excuse me? Uncertainty is pretty prevalent in quantum mechanics as fas as I know…in many cases we can’t predict the exact state of a system, only attach propabilities to a set of several states the system might be in. How is that “unevidenced wild speculation”?

    All I’ve said is that YOU have failed to provide proof that, indeed, mathematics/algorithms is a sufficient tool that can explain away the brain *in its entirety*. I keep stressing “in its entirety” because that’s what it’s all about, I acknowledge that a prercentage of it is explainable. So, where is *your* evidence that we will ever be able to explain away the whole complexity of the brain, and not just part of it? You are somehow not required to provide evidence for your claims?

    >>After several requests, still no evidence to support it!!!

    Yeah. Tell me about it.

  82. Damn can never get the formating right… any tips?

    Type <blockxquote> in front of  a pasted quote and </blockxquote> at the end of it.

    Miss out the Xs which  I have inserted to prevent the system from hiding my guidance and instead taking them as an instruction to blockquote the words, “in front of a quote and”. 

    b and /b  or i and /i can also be enclosed in place of the word “blockquote”.

  83. Asking for evidence “in its entirety” is a pointless request because we still don’t have full knowledge of how the brain works. But so what? All that proves is that we’re ignorant of many things; it says nothing about the brain. What we can say so far is that the brain has been entirely explicable via computational and mathematical study, so there is no reason to presume it won’t continue to be understood in these ways. The best you can do is either provide a real counterexample or a hypothetical one.

    If you’re interested in learning more, here is a good first stop:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M

  84. I’m not sure what you mean here. I looked up Turing Machine on Wikipedia:

    A Turing machine is a device that manipulates symbols on a strip of tape according to a table of rules. Despite its simplicity, a Turing machine can be adapted to simulate the logic of any computer algorithm, and is particularly useful in explaining the functions of a CPUinside a computer.

    The “Turing” machine was described in 1936 by Alan Turing[1] who called it an “a-machine” (automatic machine). The Turing machine is not intended as practical computing technology, but rather as a hypothetical device representing a computing machine. Turing machines help computer scientists understand the limits of mechanical computation.

    I’m not sure the brain can be described as a Turing Machine, since a TM seems to be a hypothetical device used to explain certain features of computing rather than an actual device, and a brain doesn’t function as a tape-manipulating device. Did you mean something else?

  85. >>Asking for evidence “in its entirety” is a pointless request because we still don’t have full >>knowledge of how the brain works. But so what? All that proves is that we’re ignorant of >>many things; it says nothing about the brain. What we can say so far is that the brain has >>been entirely explicable via computational and mathematical study, so there is no reason to >>presume it won’t continue to be understood in these ways. The best you can do is either >>provide a real counterexample or a hypothetical one.

    No, I don’t think I have to provide counterexample to an poorly evidenced claim, stating that the whole is true because the part is true. Yes, algorithms and math have been able to explain *some* functions of the brain, with *some* accuracy, which is often inadequate, many times we’re just unsure. That is the state now. That is all we know. We don’t know how a final “theory of the brain” would look like. The fact that the brain is comprised of just physical components doesn’t guarantee that all of its patterns will be harnessed by algos/maths. That is far from being hard evidence that all of the brain can be explained away with those specific tools. It is an indicator, but not proof, and because you boldly claim “ALL(or pretty close to 100%, say 95% because I’m feeling generous) the intricancies of the brain can be explained using maths and algorithms” without hard evidence, I don’t have to provide a counterexample; I merely point out that you lack this evidence. I’m not claiming that it is not explainable, I’m claiming we know too little at this moment to be almost certain that it actually is. 

    As an analogy, you could claim that all statements in an axiomatic arithmetic system that are true can be proved within that system, because experience shows that can be done for many many statements, thus it’s pretty much self-evident, as most believed some decades ago;  there’s no reason to imagine it won’t “work” in some cases, correct?. Except mr Godel actually proved otherwise, didn’t he? So I wouldn’t be too fast to claim what we can or cannot analyze and model, and by using which tools, until we actually do it, or come very close to it, and certainly not while we’re light years away from it and don’t know what difficulties or hard limits may arise through our course to the goal.

  86. After several requests, still no evidence to support it!!!

    Yeah. Tell me about it.

    Yet again!!

    Perfectly clear!  Your argument is nothing more than an unevidenced, repeatedly asserted, argument from ignorance (see earlier link).

    After several requests, still no evidence to support it!!!  What can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence!

  87. No, I don’t think I have to provide counterexample to an poorly evidenced claim, stating that the whole is true because the part is true.

    I appreciate that you are correctly assigning the burden of proof, but I’m afraid you neither need to do so nor appreciate why.

    Firstly, the burden has been well met. “Poorly evidenced” is incorrect. Without thinking of the brain as a computer, it is very difficult if not outright impossible to understand this organ’s functions and why it is designed the way it is. The fact that we do not know all the brain’s algorithms and functions doesn’t mean it’s wrong to use what we do know to induct what it most likely is. We don’t know every single evolutionary lineage’s history, but that doesn’t mean we can dismiss evolution or treat it lightly, nor does it make predicting its future success a bad thing.

    The theory of evolution has been vindicated over and over again, as has computational neuroscience, as you will find out if you care to look into the subject. Moreover, it has tremendous predictive power, enabling neuroscientists to isolate mechanisms such as the reward system and the homeostatic duties of the ANS.

    Secondly, you don’t seem to realize that induction is perfectly valid as a scientific mechanism, misinterpreting it as us claiming to have total 100% knowledge without justification. This is not how induction works. The properties of those parts of the brain we know about (gross features such as lobes and ganglia, and neurone structure) are not different from those parts we have yet to fully investigate. It’s physical matter all the way down.

    Although we do not know exactly how the neural connections fulfil certain tasks, the fact that what we’ve discovered so far fits neatly into the model, coupled with the fact that what hasn’t been fully explored is not all that different, is an encouraging sign in favour of the theory. This way of looking at the brain (as a computing device set up over evolutionary time) is thus currently our best and most comprehensive answer to our questions about the brain and the mind. If a more comprehensive one comes up, no worries, but until then there simply isn’t a rival explanation that’s been so successful. As in evolution, so in neuroscience. We accept a theory as true even though we do not have total complete 100% knowledge. We only discard it if compelling counterevidence appears that contradicts it, which is why I request some off you. If this is an intellectual crime, then everybody is guilty of it.

    This is why I think you’re caricaturing my point. I would like as much confirmation as possible, but frankly it’s hard to think of a field where I can get that kind of totality because there are always gaps in our knowledge. From what we do know, however, we can make inductions about the rest, though we also acknowledge that these are open to contradiction by future evidence. Until then, I feel justified, given its high success, to continue using the brain-as-computer model until such a time as actual counterevidence emerges. As the theory also fits in with the logic of evolutionary biology and helps explain much about our psychological tendencies, this seems to me to be the sensible solution.

  88. @ Zeuglodon

    “But later on in your post, you say that the analogy between
    brains and computers is “superficial” and “breaks down quite
    rapidly if one assumes a direct correlation”. You’re not making your point
    very clear. Is the brain a computing device or not? How it computes may differ, certainly, but it is still computing.”

    In my first post and later post I clearly state the brain can be considered a computational device, I will state it again if required, but it would be helpful if you actually read what is written as repetition soon becomes tiresome.

    “you seem to be saying that brains only superficially look like computers but are different in many respects.”

    That is exactly what I am saying; in fact I would be as bold to say they are different in almost every respect, if you would argue against
    this, then I suggest you select your favourite part of the human brain and then identify the part of the CPU you think is the digital equivalent, you see the point is a computer is not only digital, but its fundamental operations are sequential in nature, all the bits march to a single drummer, it performs maths by iteration and register shifting, simple operations take several clock cycles, logical operations can take many cycles, every operation at a fundamental level can be described in the following three terms, sequence, selection and iteration, every single process no matter how seemly complex or miraculous will have been executed by repeated combinations of those three simple operations,
    does this to you describe a human brain?

    “It’s only a superficial analogy if you have a superficial idea of what a computer is”

    Actually my knowledge of computer science is wholly adequate thank you.

    @ Red Dog

    “I would like to know how you justify saying analog computers are more versatile than digital.”

    Well, in theory if you developed a general purpose analog computer, mathematical operations could be performed instantly rather than being
    calculated by a series of sequential operations, it would be capable of continuous logic and so on, but I take your point.

    You have Turing’s idea right and then you apply it in precisely the wrong way.

    How so? Turin’s concept was in relation to finite state machines, in this you are correct, but in general, universal computation refers to the ability of one computation device to emulate any other device, I stated
    this as demonstrated by the fact you can emulate a commodore 64 or ZX spectrum on a normal desktop PC, there are limitations and caveats to throw in, not every computer can emulate every other, such caveats do become relevant when trying to emulate dissimilar computational devices… such as brain and digital computer, which was I think, my original contention.

    Alan4discussion

    Ah! Hmmm… OK will try, but it may take a while, thanks for the tip!

  89. Looking at fundamentals and dispensing with obfuscating side-tracking complexity of the neural network,  I will once more clarify the point I have already illustrated several times about the physical nature of brains (brains of all species).

    Put simply brains are made of MEAT (cells) and powered by molecules supplied in BLOOD.

    .
    The second wonderful fact is that nerve cells are much like other cells. 
    Each is essentially a bag of water, surrounded by a fatty membrane and containing
    an assortment of molecules.  There seems to be nothing about individual
    nerve cells that cannot be explained, at least in principle, by basic chemistry
    and biology.

    The third wonderful fact is that each nerve cell has a truly magnificent
    shape.  Somehow, this third fact bridges the gap between the mystery
    that is our mind and the chemistry that is our cells.  Somewhere in
    the shape of nerve cells, in the complexity of connections among billions
    of such cells, and in the intricate pattern of activity that plays upon
    those cells, our “self” emerges. – http://www.siumed.edu/~dking2/

    Every nerve cell has three distinctive portions — a cell body, one axon, and several dendrites.

    Nerve cells come in extreme variety.  In every region
    of the brain are several different nerve cell types, each distinguished
    by its own characteristic soma size, dendritic shape, source of synaptic
    input, destination of axonal output, and chemistry.

    Laboratory experiments have been carried out on individual and groups of nerve cells, investigating the chemistry and electrical signals involved.

    NO REQUIREMENT FOR ADDITIONAL FAIRY DUST HAS EVER BEEN FOUND TO BE NEEDED FOR THEIR FUNCTIONING.

  90. “My brain is a sloppy…” Nah, just sloppy!

    Analogies aren’t very instructive, are they  🙂

  91. >>NO REQUIREMENT FOR ADDITIONAL FAIRY DUST HAS EVER BEEN FOUND TO >>BE NEEDED FOR THEIR FUNCTIONING.

    Oh, you mean like the fairy dust that has been found around the slits in the double slit experiment, whose “exotic” behaviour classical deterministic mechanics could not explain? I see.

    A system does not need to be made of magic alien materials in order to present unexpected patterns and behaviours. Until you do explain those patterns deterministically, the premature claim that you can indeed explain those patterns deterministically is…well, premature.

  92.  

    Oh, you mean like the fairy dust that has been found around the slits in
    the double slit experiment, whose “exotic” behaviour classical
    deterministic mechanics could not explain? I see.

    Fairy dust  has also been found around conjurers white rabbits and hats, but like your various side-tracks, this is totally irrelevant to the basic chemistry and physics being discussed.

    Do you have a lot of items still on your list of irrelevant diversions and wild speculations?

  93. >>Fairy dust  has also been found around conjurers white rabbits and >>hats, but like your various side-tracks, this is totally irrelevant to the >>basic chemistry and physics being discussed.

    Excuse me, *you* are the one claiming that basic chemistry and physics is all that is needed to explain all patterns of the brain. I stated that this claim is not proved yet(because it is not), you countered that it must be true because no “fairy dust” has been found in the nerve cells, to which I responded that there are many real, actual phenomena that we have studied, which basic classical physics and chemistry can’t explain, without that meaning that the systems exhibiting the phenomena are made of magic stuff outside the periodic table. 

    You can make a basic chemistry analysis of the apparatus of the double slit experiment and conclude of which, relatively simple, materials the whole system is made of, that doesn’t mean that the unexpected behaviour of the system can be explained by basic deterministic chemistry and physics, does it? You would guess that, since no “additional fairy dust” has been detected in the apparatus, basic physics and chemistry would be enough to explain its behaviour. Except that you’d be wrong, in this case.

    I mentioned it before, try reading a book like Penrose’s award-winning “Emperor’s New Mind”, at least to check some differing opinions on this unsettled matter, of which you seem so curiously convinced that you’ve already pinned down the whole truth about it. It discusses, among many others, the possibility that the brain is not purely algorithmic, starting from mathematical arguments like Goedel’s incompleteness theorem, and the connection it could have with quantum mechanics. Many disagree with its ideas about conciousness, but it is an excellent read in any case, as it features, as background knowledge, many topics on physics, mathematics and computer science.

  94. @JoxerTheMighty
    Still no relevant evidence and still an argument from ignorance.

    Classic gapology!   Double-slits and photons in the brain???????  Last I heard brains were not optical devices.

    Just to clarify, I am talking about biological brains in numerous species.  You seem to be talking about forcing unevidenced theistic perceptions of consciousness into science somehow.

    Proven science (to very high levels of probability) does exist and any old wild speculations are not on a par with it!

    You are just trolling side-tracks and unjustified doubt mongering! 

    Either produce some evidence that brains require something more than electro-biochemical reactions, or give it a rest, and stop wasting everyone’s time.

  95. Oh, I guess you have no intention on reading Penrose’s books then, which I mentioned, and deal with those exact matters?

    Well…I somehow understand that…as with no doubt you are a highly trained neuroscientist and computer scientist with degrees on those subjects, pop-science books like that might be too easy for you. I respect that. I on the other hand only have a mere bachelor’s in computer science,which is nothing nowadays, not even a master’s. So I just enjoy lessening my ignorance on those difficult subjects by reading accessible books an all the different theories brought forth by scientists working on those fields. There is clearly an educational gap between us good sir, and I apologize for wasting your time in such a manner. Won’t happen again!

    PS. Also, I’m sorry but this just floored me:

    ===
    Double-slits
    AND PHOTONS IN THE BRAIN???????**
    Last I heard brains were not optical devices.
    ===

    ===
    Either produce some evidence that brains require something more than

    ***ELECTRO-BIOCHEMICAL REACTIONS***
    ==

    Clearly, elecrical signals in the brain are carried out via hindu cows. Photons in the brain, what a ludicrous notion!

    😀 😀 😀

  96. JoxerTheMighty Clearly, electrical signals in the brain are carried out via hindu cows. Photons in the brain, what a ludicrous notion!

    Some physicists have played around with photons and slits and made inferences about electrons at quantum level.

    This physics is irrelevant because it is at the wrong scale.  Electrical impulses in nerve cells are known, measured and their sources and destinations in the body recorded.  Understanding quantum level events makes no difference to these records, just as Einstein’s up-dates on Newton do not mean that gravity has been refuted and we can now walk on air out of high windows. 

    As my link explained, nor does it mean that anything extra has been added to the chemical equations.  The function is at the scale of living cells.

    The size of Hindu cows is getting the scale wrong by a similar factor in the opposite direction to quantum level.

    Double slit experiments might have some relevance if nerve fibres were were fibre optics transmitting data with photons , but they are not.  Even these fibre optics transmit data reliably at the scale they are used, without this being brought into doubt by quantum theory.

    (Still no evidence, or indication if you are including animal brains, – or was that the HIndu cows?)

    The doubt-mongering is just that – nothing more.

    Templeton participants – Roger Penrose, – In his widely discussed book The Emperor’s New Mind (1989), winner of the 1990 Science Book Prize, Dr. Penrose argued that the known laws of physics are inadequate to explain the phenomenon of human consciousness and hinted at the characteristics of a new physics, which he said must provide a bridge between classical and quantum mechanics. http://humbleapproach.templeto
    – MMMMmmmmmmmm!!! – Exclusively “human consciousness” from Templeton that needs “new physics”????? At least you have now quoted your sources for the quantum Wooooo.

  97.  

    Zeuglodon – in reply to JoxerTheMighty

    That’s certainly not the vibe you were giving off. You seemed to be
    under the impression that the “backlash” was excessive because we don’t
    know all of what goes on in the brain “with 100% accuracy” because we
    can’t predict anything. Far from being some insightful contribution,
    that’s basically true of every science field you care to name. It’s old
    news. It also smacks of argument from ignorance because you haven’t
    provided any suggestion of what else there is. You don’t even seem very
    clear yourself, given the contradictions Alan4discussion keeps pointing
    out.

    After Joxter’s back-tracking and numerous refusals to produce citations and evidence, you will see in the latest posts,  that the issue has been debating the now disclosed Templeton funded, pseudo-science-soul-physics as a  pseudo-controversy in support of the fumbled thinking in the the OP.  No specific quotes are included – just an argument from authority to supplement the argument from ignorance.

    The issue of if a range of evolved animal brains are included in the claims for “new physics”, is still being dodged.

  98. I suggested a distinguished author and his award-winning book(and I’m not referring to Templeton, but the Science Book prize(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T… which has been given to authors like Hawking or has nominated Dawkins himself on 2005 ) as a source of a differing opinion on the matter. I don’t claim I have neither the expertise or access to experimental evidence to support this or that position; all I’m saying is that, as far as I know, the matter is not settled yet. So Penrose’s ideas that the brain might be non-algorithmic at least deserve some consideration. As I said, I only know a bit of Computer Science due to having a Bachelor’s in it, and a day job as a programmer, so at least I don’t delude myself that I’m some kind of expert that will solve science’s problems by exchanging wikipedia quotes I googled 30 seconds ago on an internet board. I suggested a good book you can read from a succesful scientist that has contributed in cosmology and quantum physics. If you immediately dish the book because it does not pleases your worldview, or because the Templeton Foundation decided to give it an award, as anyone can, (and did not “fund” Penrose’s research as you seem to say), it’s your problem. It’s not argument from authority, I simply pointed you to a book I’ve read, which you can READ too and INFORM yourself. If, you know, you’re interested in that kind of stuff. You might just be interested only in reading wikipedia. Not my problem.

    As for the last question, yes, I don’t see why, if we assume we discover that the more complex brain functions, THAT HAVE NOT BEEN EXPLAINED YET, require more than basic physics/chemistry to be explained, as Penrose poses, that should hold true only for humans. Most probably it would be the same, in various degrees, also for other evolved animals, such as our cousins the apes, dolphins, or several other mammals(mostly). Again, I’m not arguing at all that this is what happens, basic chemistry has a good chance to be enough to explain all functions of the brain with accuracy, and need nothing more, but that has YET to be proved; claims that it has already been proved are premature. I’m not emotionally attached to any theory, I won’t be the least sorry or glad if one or the other proves to be right; it’s all neutral to me; I’m saying that we’re still unsure and it’s still unproved whether the specific tool(basic chemistry&physics) can indeed do the job(model the brain in its entirety and prove it’s deterministic), or if it works only up to a point and we need more advanced tools to reach to a comprehensive ‘final theory’ of the brain, which could be non-deterministic, for all we know.

    From the start I’m claiming I don’t know. Just go back and read my first post, in which incidentally I mention other animals too such as apes and dogs – yes, I actually had addressed the supposed ‘dodged’ question before you even asked it, just goes to show in what degree you comprehend the simple words I type. Anyway, you’re the one claiming that you do know; or more precisely that it is certain you will know the whole with the same tools that enabled you to know the part; so why exactly am I the one that has to provide strong evidence here? I’m stating that your certainty the brain is purely an algorithmic machine has yet to be proved; and indeed it hasn’t been proved, or else, you know, we could reconstruct the brain using that algorithm and build our strong AI. I don’t claim your statement is true or false; merely unproven and I don’t need any more evidence other than it is, indeed, unproven.

  99. It’s not argument from authority, I simply pointed you to a book
    I’ve read, which you can READ too and INFORM yourself. If, you know,
    you’re interested in that kind of stuff.

    I’ll stick to learning neurology from neurologists!  (the appeal to authority usually is applied fallaciously, either the Authority is not a subject-matter expert,….. … ..  – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A

    Perhaps you should have posted your comments on this thread? 
    $5 Million Grant Awarded by Private Foundation to Study Immortalityhttp://richarddawkins.net/arti

    You might just be interested only in reading wikipedia. Not my problem.

    My links on neurology were not from wikipedia but from neurologists – you might have noticed this if you read them.  Wiki in any case gives links to scientific studies to support or explain its simpler explanations.  Perhaps you should learn to post scientific evidence in support of your claims, instead of just making it up as you go along. 

    When explaining science to those who have no idea about a specialist subjects it is often necessary to link to encyclopaedias or dictionaries. Disparaging valid information does nothing for your unsupported claims.

    As for the last question, yes, I don’t see why, if we assume we
    discover that the more complex brain functions, THAT HAVE NOT BEEN EXPLAINED YET, require more than basic physics/chemistry to be explained, as Penrose poses, that should hold true only for humans.

    As I explained re Newton/Einstein and gravity,  new discoveries do not throw objective, established, scientific observations out of the window.

    Most probably it would be the same, in various degrees, also for other evolved animals, such as our cousins the apes, dolphins, or several other mammals(mostly).

    You miss the point of the pseudo-science of “soul-physics”, and once again are just making stuff up! 

    “Soul-physics” is to support the unevidenced claim that humans exclusively have “something extra” in their brains called a soul.  As science has eliminated any detectable matter or energy supporting this view, the pseudo-science concentrates on casting doubt on the science.

     I asked this question, because this is where the pseudo-science claims consistently fail.  Theists claim animal brains in general do not have “souls”, so they duck the issue as you have done in earlier posts!

    Again, I’m not arguing at all that this is what happens,

    Why bring it up if you are not arguing?

    I understand well, that you have a psychological feeling there should be something extra as theist teaching states and Templeton promotes.

    Clearly, you still have not researched the information on neurology, and have no idea what you are talking about.

  100.  Templeton participant – Roger Penrose, – In his widely discussed book  “The Emperor’s New Mind”…

    Ah!!  – The beautiful colours and shapes of the floating quantum fairy-dust – applauded by the theological readers and sponsors, as the subject of a deepity discussion and described in all its amazing kaleidoscopic glory!

    Is there some kid around who can look at a brain and tell them it’s meat?

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