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Medical Transhumanist views of the mind;

  1. Sep 16, 2005 #1
    Their view seems to me 'computational.' They are associating thinking with computation and think if you just get nanotechnological about it, you can achieve consciousness and thinking.

    Seems to me, this is similar to thinking that the universe is just a computer simulation of 'physics' equations on the some gigantic computer somewhere higher than 'us(the anthropic principle).' I personally don't believe that the universe is governed by physics equations churning at every infinitesemal point of the universe.

    And, because the brain is part of the universe, I don't see how the brain can just be a computational device.

    I bring these ideas up for criticism and comments.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2005 #2
    o.k. computing seems like 'thinking', but if the brain comes from the universe, then how do those computing, or thinking, elements come about? Certainly not from a computation. The brain couldn't have been 'designed' like some central computer(the universe) would calculate it into existence; no, it evolved.
  4. Sep 16, 2005 #3


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    How is the position that the brain evolved from natural processes mutually exclusive with the position that the brain computes, or that thought involves computation?
  5. Sep 16, 2005 #4
    do equations evolve?
  6. Sep 16, 2005 #5


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    Sorry, that rhetorical question is much too abstruse for me to respond to. Please address my previous question more directly.
  7. Sep 16, 2005 #6
    The problem becomes 'how does natural selection create a computer?". It is like wondering why natural selection didn't create a car or airplane. If a brain is not designed, or computed, then it is evolved quite naturally, but you don't see natural selection creating computers, it creates brains, whatever they are.

    The problem of viewing thought as mere computer computation is how does computation create, or compute, concepts, and perhaps more strongly, intuitions? The Greeks thought of the solar system and evolution without actually computing anything; i have pretty interesting ideas about quantum gravity, but they are hypothesis like Riemans or untill it was finally proved, Fermat's; and, my ideas about quantum gravity are far from mathematical form; those hypothesis were intuited and not computed.

    This reminds me of the homunculus problem of if there is a little guy in our brain pulling books off bookshelves, then what's in his head? But, there is no homunculus, and there was no designer of the brain much less life; life and the brain do not work like a designed solution, or computation.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2005
  8. Sep 16, 2005 #7
    another way of viewing this is how we compute with any mathematical idea at all; we'll go ahead and use the natural numbers.

    You and I and most modern day beings can compute with natural numbers, but did we compute natural numbers into existence? No!
  9. Sep 17, 2005 #8


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    I don't see why this is a problem. The brain is a biological computer, and it was created by normal evolutionary processes because of the advantages it conferred to organisms. You have to realize that the category "computer" doesn't subsume just things like desktop PCs. The body takes in information from the sensory organs (input); this information is relayed to the brain where it is integrated, procssed, analyzed and so on (computation); and ultimately motor responses (output) are generated on the basis of this processing of the sensory input. Some might hold that the brain is not just a computer for various reasons, but it's obvious that the brain is at least a sort of biological computer or information processor.

    Are you familiar with artificial neural networks? They are essentially computer programs that are modeled after the way neurons in the brain receive input, process that input, and give output. Artificial neural networks have been shown to have computational properties very much like the brain, including the implementation of concept-like and intuition-like processes. They can learn and create self-organized representations and are good at pattern recognition and classification. That's only a very brief surface account, but already accounts for much of the flavor of concepts and intuiton.

    When we say the brain computes, we do not mean that this translates to conscious, formal thought. Computation in the brain just refers to any processing of information performed by the brain, whether the results of that information processing are apparent in consciousness or not, whether the type of conscious thinking we do is formal or not. When you wake up and get out of bed, it is only because your brain has performed a massive amount of computations by integrating sensory information to create a model of your environment and then creating motor outputs on the basis of that model. Likewise, thoughts are manifestations of such computational brain processes, whether the contents of those thoughts are precise mathematical propositions or fuzzy and vague notions about quantum mechanics.

    You need to realize that the word 'computation' has a much broader sense than the manner in which you are using it, and also that the vast majority of the computations the brain actually does are not apparent to you from your own first person perspective.
  10. Sep 17, 2005 #9


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    Surely you jest! Have you ever looked into Ptolemy's Almagest (he mathematike syntaxis)? Just try to follow Ptolemy's lunar calculation, or his determination of Mars's orbit. Just Try!

    Ptolemy (circa +200) based his techniques on those developed by Hipparchos (circa -200), who in turn used the epicycle/deferent system invented by his slightly older contemporary the great mathematician Apollonios of Perga. It is a delicious irony of history that Apollonios was mainly known as a theorist of the conic sections, including ellipses, whose writings were the basis of early modern geometric work on the ellipse which was used and cited by Newton in his Principia, but it was Apollonios' other idea, epicycles, that delayed the discovery of the true laws of astrnomy for over 1800 years!
  11. Sep 17, 2005 #10
    I see the brain as more of a network. Through networking and wiring it can sometimes computate things. Sure there would be a computational ability, however since it creates a network many things are searched upon the help complete the computation of problems.
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