[p2p-research] is the mind a computer

Samuel Rose samuel.rose at gmail.com
Sat Nov 7 22:26:21 CET 2009

If the mind is a computer, then the heart is a pump with valves.
Uhhh... nevermind...

On Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 1:07 PM, Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004 at gmail.com> wrote:
> J. Andrew claims that it is an undisputed scientific and mathematical fact
> that the human brain is a computer, and that critique of it is borne of
> ignorance.
> For those who may be tempted to believe that false claim, here is a
> sophisticated treatment, to long to reproduce in full, see
> http://www.ime.usp.br/~vwsetzer/AI.html
> Valdemar W. Setzer
> Dept. of Computer Science, University of São Paulo, Brazil
> vwsetzer at usp.br - www.ime.usp.br/~vwsetzer
> some very short excerpts to give you a flavour:
> I don't know if the author is fully correct, but he is a computer scientist,
> and therefore, proves that there is no such thing as an uncontroversial
> acceptance of the thesis that was expounded as absolute proven truth,
> Michel
> **
> Ray Kurzweil is one of the exponents of the idea that humans are machines,
> and thus machines will be able to do whatever humans do. His best-selling
> book [1999] is full of prophecies, based upon the following statement:
> "The human brain has about 100 billion neurons. With an estimated average of
> one thousand connections between each neuron and its neighbors, we have
> about 100 trillion connections, each capable of a simultaneous calculation.
> That's rather massive parallel processing, and one key to the strength of
> human thinking. A profound weakness, however, is the excruciatingly slow
> speed of neural circuitry, only 200 calculations per second." [p. 103]
> This statement is absolutely unjustified. He does not say what kind of
> calculations are done by each neuron connection, and as we have pointed out
> before, he cannot even say how data are stored in the brain. Based upon the
> number above, he multiplies it by the 100x1012 connections existing in the
> brain, coming to the conclusion that we are able to perform 20x1015
> "calculations" per second. He does not even consider the possibility that
> there may be different functions for different connections; for him this
> capacity to perform calculation is the most important factor. He uses the
> same type of reasoning to come to the conclusion that our memory has 1015
> bits.
> In his classical book, John von Neumann writes: "the standard receptor would
> seem to accept 14 distinct digital impressions per second". He supposes that
> there are "1010 nerve cells" each one of them working as "an (inner or
> outer) receptor". Then, "assuming further that there is no true forgetting
> in the nervous system", and a normal lifetime of 60 years or about 2x109
> seconds, he comes to the conclusion that our memory capacity is 2.8x1020
> bits [1958, p. 63].
> It is astonishing that such brilliant people can do these sorts of
> calculations, without knowing how our memory works, taking into account that
> our nervous system is not a digital machine, etc.
> **
> Making machines become conscious is considered one of the hardest problems
> of Artificial Intelligence.
> It is necessary to distinguish two different kinds: consciousness and
> self-consciousness. Animals can be conscious: if an animal is hit, it
> becomes conscious, aware of its pain and reacts accordingly. But only humans
> can be self-conscious. A careful observation will lead to this difference.
> Self-consciousness requires thinking. We can only be conscious when we are
> fully awake, and think of what we perceive, think, feel or wish. Animals
> aren’t able to think. If they could they would be creative as humans are. As
> I have already mentioned, no bee tries a different shape than the hexagon
> for its honeycomb. Animals just follow their instincts and conditioning, and
> act accordingly. Due to their thinking ability, humans may reflect on the
> consequences of their future actions, and control their actions. As I have
> mentioned (see 3.2) a drunkard may be conscious, but he certainly is not
> fully self-conscious - he cannot control his thinking and actions even if he
> wishes to do so. Then, he acts impulsively.
> Thus, animal or human consciousness depends on feelings and human
> self-consciousness depends on conscious thinking. As I have already
> mentioned, machines cannot have feelings, and can only simulate a very
> restricted type of thinking: logical-symbolic thinking. One should never say
> that a computer thinks. Thus, I conclude that machines will never be
> conscious, much less self-conscious.
> It is interesting to note that in general one reads about machine and
> consciousness, and very seldom about self-consciousness. Maybe this comes
> from the fact that most scientists regard humans as simple animals - or,
> still worse, as machines.
> **
> As I have expounded on chapter 3, it is linguistically incorrect to say that
> humans are machines, because the concept of a machine does not apply to
> something that has not been designed and built by humans or by machines. But
> let's use this incorrect popular denomination, instead of the more proper
> "physical system".
> There is much more evidence that humans are not machines. I've already
> mentioned some of them, such as the fact that humans may self determine
> their next thought. Fetzer argues against the mind being a machine using the
> fact that we have other types of thinking than logical-symbolic, such as
> dreams and daydreams, exercise of imagination and conjecture [2001, p. 105],
> and shows that logical symbols are a small part of the signs we use, in
> Peircean terms [p. 60]. He also agrees with Searle that minds have
> semantics, and computers do not [p. 114]. To me, the fact that we feel and
> have willing is also evidence that we are not machines. Another strong
> indication is the fact that we have consciousness and self-consciousness, as
> explained in the last chapter.
> In particular, the evidences that we are not digital machines are
> overwhelming, as we have seen in section 3.8. I'll give here some more,
> regarding our memory. If it were digital, why do we remember what we see in
> a way that is not as clear as our original perception? If our memory were
> digital, there would be no reason for forgetting - or losing - the details.
> There is also an evolutionary argument in this direction. Certainly the
> people who think that humans are machines also believe in Darwinian
> evolution. But if we were machines, there would be no evolutionary reason
> for not storing - at least for some time - all the details perceived by our
> senses, similarly to the capacity computers have of storing images, sounds,
> etc. It seems to me that storing and retrieving details would certainly
> enhance the chances of surviving and dominating. It follows, then, that from
> a Darwinian perspective our imperfect memory makes no sense. This means that
> either the concept of Darwinian evolution is wrong, or we are not machines -
> or both.
> Furthermore, how is it possible to "store" something, forget it and
> suddenly, without "consulting" our memory, remember it? This is not a
> question of access time. A machine either has access to some data or hasn't,
> and this status can only be changed by a foreseen, programmed action.
> Accesses may be interrupted either due to random effects or on purpose,
> directed by the program. This is not our case. Often we make an effort to
> remember and we can't - but we certainly memorize, in our unconscious, every
> experience we have. Some people could say that our unconscious has an
> independent "functioning", and does the "search" for us. But here we come
> again to the question of consciousness and unconsciousness. Certainly all
> machines are unconscious, as we have explained in the last section. The
> reaction of a thermostat is not due to consciousness.
> Finally, apparently our memory is infinite; there is no concrete machine
> with infinite memory.
> The capacity of learning is to me also an indication that we are not
> machines. As I said before, computers don't learn, they store data, either
> through some input or results of data processing. If we knew how we learn,
> medical studies in Brazil would not take 6 years. The fact that you are
> reading this paper shows that you have learned how to read. But notice that
> during reading you don't follow the whole process you had to go through, in
> order to learn it. Somehow, just a technique, an end-result of the learning
> process remains. And this is not a question of having stored some calculated
> parameters, as in the case of a (wrongly called) neural net.
> We share with all living beings an extraordinary capacity for growing and
> regenerating tissues and organs. As I explained in section 3.5, a clear
> observation shows that both processes follow models. Models are not
> physical, they are ideas. The non-physical model is permanently acting upon
> living beings, so they cannot be purely physical systems.
> --
> Work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhurakij_Pundit_University - Research:
> http://www.dpu.ac.th/dpuic/info/Research.html - Think thank:
> http://www.asianforesightinstitute.org/index.php/eng/The-AFI
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Sam Rose
Social Synergy
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"The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human
ambition." - Carl Sagan

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