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Brains and Computers
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 8:23 am    Post subject: Brains and Computers Reply with quote

Last night I was reading a book where the author was cautioning our use of the current analogy between brain activity and computer function. He pointed out that use of the dominant tech of the day to represent our minds was also seen back in the days of steam, hence we 'let off steam' and 'threaten to burst's with emotion. The idea that our neural networks actually function like computers with their binary language might, he said, in a hundred years seem equally nieve; in the light of this we might need to rethink this idea that one day soon the brain/computer interface will dissolve allowing is to integrate neuronal activity with silicon physics into a seamless forward bound in the nature of the human condition. Thinking about this I could see where the guy was coming from: had I not seen in a tv program that if you had a big enough flat surface and enough dominoes and patience, you could perform any computational activity carried out by any programming, be it however complex, by simply arranging the dominoes in a sufficiently ordered manner to replicate the on/off nature of the binary of that program.

So where are we in all this then? To what extent have our neurologists actually established a functional activity in the brain (or indeed our computer physicists in the function of computers) that would actually lend itself to integration and upgrading by the dissolving of the barriers between the two, or is this just 'steam-punk' for the modern age?

(In a different art of the same book the guy was telling that so difficult is the notion of 'mind' to get around - ie it just doesn't seem to have any genuinely necessary function - that some experts seriously regard it as a sort of waste product, an irrelevant spin-off as it were, of the actual nuts and bolts functioning of the brain! Shocked )
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's naive thinking today.

Just think about why airplanes are like birds ... and why they are not like birds. The mechanism of flight was reproduced, by replicating some of the principles used, but implemented in a completely different way. The relationship between artificial intelligence and human cognition is just this same way. Things like memory and mathematical calculation are reproduced, but in a completely different way.

Suggesting that brains use digital calculations is like suggesting that birds use propellers.

If brains were digital, we'd have had brain/computer integration a long time ago. The reason it's so hard is because it's making very different things work together. It's like trying to give a bird a jet engine. If the brain wasn't so readily adaptive, I dare say we'd not have made much progress at all.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's going the other way. With things like deep learning we're trying to make computers act more like brains.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2016 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The "act" in "act more like brains" is the word that tells the tale. The aren't making computers to "be" more like brains. They are only trying to reproduce some of the principals brains use. But they will reproduce them on a digital medium, not a biologic one. At the bottom, it won't be "like a brain" at all.

It also suggests something deeper to me. I think if they truly knew how to make computers "think", they would not worry about how the brain works. Mimicking human thought processes suggests that they are at a loss as to how to achieve "thought", so they are copying what they see and hoping it leads to the same magic, like men building machines with wings since wings seem to be needed for flight. It's not surprising to me that this is a difficult hurdle: Godel suggests that a brain cannot completely understand a brain, after all.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2016 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you think the Turing test is a crude device for assessing whether a machine is self-conscious or not WF? (Is that what it is supposed to do - I forget?) I mean - is this the best we can come up with ....... "As long as you can convince me that you're self-conscious, you're self-conscious"?

(nb. I am aware of the really BIG problems with this - we can't even rove that our neighbours are self-conscious other than to say it seems highly likely, so how in heck can we hope to distinguish between a simulation of self-consciousness in a machine and the real thing if/when it were to be achieved.)
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very crude.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter wrote:
Do you think the Turing test is a crude device for assessing whether a machine is self-conscious or not WF?

No. Because I believe that computers, as we envision them now, can never actually be conscious, but I am sure that one day they will fake it really well. (Remember, computers don't actually think -- they generate data and move data, that's it. Creating consciousness from that is like creating a living organism from people moving around on a stage carrying cards that say "I'm DNA" and "I'm Mitochondria", acting out cellular reproduction.)

When "thought processes" are no longer emulated by software, but become real hardware (like Asmov's positronics). then it might be possible.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:

When "thought processes" are no longer emulated by software, but become real hardware (like Asmov's positronics). then it might be possible.


That's an interesting point. And I'm not at all sure real AI, with actual consciousness, is possible [on even days I think it is, on odd days not]...though we could definitely make a machine that is "smarter" than us. And not being "real" consciousness might not stop it from killing us off, if it had some survival/competition code.

OTOH---I don't think it is necessary in any way for the brain and the computer to run the same way in order to integrate them.
Just like we didn't need steam engines to work like horses, to generate power like muscles, and they basically don't DO anything at all except as we use them.
What is needed isn't similarity/identity in fundamental operation---all that is needed is translation/interface. And that might not be very hard at all, relatively speaking.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is off topic---but maybe not, because quantum computing is all the rage in certain quarters...and not maybe it turns out we have quantum brains [or semi-quantum, anyway].

I know---the kind of people who think New Age music is actually good music did really silly things, twisting quantum into absurdity for no good reason.

And even Penrose, who is brilliant and fascinating even when wrong, got a bunch of crap from scientists for his speculations.

But is it time for some respect? Could it be true? Read and judge:
[[the cool thing, like the physics thing I posted recently, is that it is/should be TESTABLE within a reasonable time frame.]]

Oh...and the OTHER cool thing is that it might line up with my hope/intuition that the future ain't about Human v. AI unless we fuck up and make it that way---that cyborg/hybrid is the thing.


https://www.quantamagazine.org/20161102-quantum-neuroscience/
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2016 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
]https://www.quantamagazine.org/20161102-quantum-neuroscience/



I suspect the brain activity isn't quantum as Fisher hopes, but purely neurological. It would be good to find out one way or another if quantum physics plays a part in thinking, though.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 25, 2016 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Obviously physical systems can become conscious. We're proof of that. So building up consciousness from physical "machines" isn't the problem, it's simply how to put matter together the right way. When starting with computers as the model, we're starting on the wrong side of the material/formal divide. Computer programs are pure form in terms of their algorithms. That's why you can do precisely the same calculations no matter what the hardware, e.g. the dominos example in the OP. But you can't build a human being out of dominos. The hardware matters.

The assumption that consciousness is algorithmic is the problem. Godel didn't show that brains can't understand brains, he showed that no formal system can be entirely complete and consistent. Formal systems will always contain truths that can't be proven within the system itself. However, since brains are the things that can understand Godel's theorem, brains can somehow rise above these limitations which axiomatic systems themselves cannot "see" beyond. Therefore, consciousness and understanding in the brain is something other than algorithms. Our consciousness is doing something that no possible formal system (e.g. a computer program) could ever do.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is it beyond the capacity of formal systems, should they become complex enough, to produce consciousness as an emergent property (displaying my ignorance of what a formal system actually is - I'm guessing one that is governed by laws or rules Wink ).
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally believe it's beyond the scope of formal systems to become conscious, but I can't prove it. However, Godel proved that if they ever did become conscious, they wouldn't be able to do what brains can do, i.e. prove his theorem. So whatever brain-consciousness is doing when it UNDERSTANDS (that's the key point) the truth of his theorem, formal-system-consciousness could never do that. I personally believe it's because understanding is just one feature of consciousness (among many) that isn't an algorithm.

Formal systems are just axioms and rules, like logic and arithmetic. Arithmetic can never become conscious itself, even if it goes to infinity (which it does).

I suppose this disproves my "reality is nothing more than math" speculations. There is something about matter and embodiment that goes beyond pure form. Ironically, it's matter's ability to produce immaterial minds which proves this!
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:


I suppose this disproves my "reality is nothing more than math" speculations. There is something about matter and embodiment that goes beyond pure form. Ironically, it's matter's ability to produce immaterial minds which proves this!


For Fuck's Sake! FINALLY!
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The universe as we experience it at the Newtonian level is, itself, an axiomatic system with the laws of physics being the axioms. According to Godel, there are theorems in axiomatic systems which are unprovable using the axioms (hence the "incompleteness" of the system); therefore, there are things in the universe which must be true yet are not provable by the applications of the laws of physics.

At the quantum level there are still rules but all those rules may be bent and/or broken almost at whim. Particles may travel backwards in time, they may teleport directly from one point to another, waves may exist in two places simultaneously, and joined particles mirror each other's spin and/or vector at supraluminal speed.

Suffice it to say that nerve clusters--brains--are synergistic and thus more than mere clumps of neurons.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hashi Lebwohl wrote:
The universe as we experience it at the Newtonian level is, itself, an axiomatic system with the laws of physics being the axioms. According to Godel, there are theorems in axiomatic systems which are unprovable using the axioms (hence the "incompleteness" of the system); therefore, there are things in the universe which must be true yet are not provable by the applications of the laws of physics.
Interesting. It would seem that there is a place for the mind in that reasoning--something that is both part of a formal system but not provable within that system ... a formal mystery, of sorts. And that would undermine my concession above, making the mystery not one of embodiment vs formalism but rather the very incompleteness within formalism that Godel was pointing out. Damn!

I don't know what to think, honestly. Every time I think I've glimpsed the truth, it keeps slipping away.

I think we need to come back to the point that Godel wasn't proving anything about the world, only formal systems. The world isn't a formal system. Vraith has been right to caution me against such an identity of one with the other. The "unreasonable" success of math at modeling the universe can't merely be an accident, but that shouldn't cause us to confuse the two.

Also, there is the objective, ideal nature of math itself that confuses the issue. Its objectivity isn't the same as the objectivity of the universe, though it's tempting to call them the same.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Vraith has been right to caution me against such an identity of one with the other. The "unreasonable" success of math at modeling the universe can't merely be an accident, but that shouldn't cause us to confuse the two.

Also, there is the objective, ideal nature of math itself that confuses the issue. Its objectivity isn't the same as the objectivity of the universe, though it's tempting to call them the same.


Yea. And that applies to what H said. The Laws of Physics aren't axioms in the mathematical sense. They are based on, subject too, require, material testing and validation. If they fail the material test, they fail---no matter how mathematically perfect and whole. [[and may remain useful/functional even if not "true" in that material test]]
But there is a...similarity, in nearly the mathematical sense. Similar triangles have a host of common attributes/features/relations...and that fact is incredibly useful. But they are not identical, and even if/when identical [mathematically] they are still not one and the same, materially.

It seems to me that the incompleteness might apply to both the formal and the material...there are plenty of material things that we already know are unpredictable/unknowable even in principle, even when we know everything about the rules and the initial conditions...and even IF the universe is strictly determined/deterministic.
That's a slightly different kind of incompleteness, I think, in a number of cases.
But the three-body problem might be a similar/bridge. Because it has one force, one equation, unknowable/unprovable outcomes. [[lately they've found very specific, precise solutions and families of such IIRC, with particular known initial states/relations---and they make pretty patterns when illustrated. But general solutions there are none]].

But there is another aspect of Godel...the inconsistency thing. I'm pretty sure it's been confirmed now that formal systems are inherently inconsistent in themselves in addition to incompleteness.
I theorize that this is a key difference between the realms.
That the physical realm CANNOT be inconsistent with itself....unlike formal systems. That all real paradoxes are only abstract.

I think it is possible that an algorithmic consciousness/intelligence might be possible. But it would be a different kind.
Since we know and can and do use math and math-like things, it will share some features. But we don't only function that way. And they/it will almost certainly evolve, invent, and use algorithms that we can't understand---at least if we aren't brilliant and spend a lifetime on the one thing. This has already happened. Proofs done by computers that we don't know if they're true or not---it's whether we trust the machine or not until we figure it out.
Deep learning/neural net machines beating us at extremely difficult games using moves that are 'inhuman.'
And those machines are nothing like intelligence or consciousness. Not eve close yet.
Heh..for that reason, and similar, as I've said ad nauseum, what I want is hyper-advanced machines that have no intelligence/consciousness. I want them wired into our brains and bodies. Enhancing peripherals/extensions.
It's the better way to go...and current med/tech integration seems to indicate it's the easier/faster way to go, too.

Pointing back a little---if you want some fun with the similarity, you should look at topology. Twisting shapes, transformations---the shared and the unshared properties of a cube and a sphere, shapes and space, the ways that your coffee and your donut are mathematically the same [[there was a .gif meme about that one.]]

And speaking of space---there's a cool thing spotted recently. I'm gonna link it in a different thread, don't know which yet...but keep your eyes open. Think all y'all will find it interesting.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vraith wrote:
But there is another aspect of Godel...the inconsistency thing. I'm pretty sure it's been confirmed now that formal systems are inherently inconsistent in themselves in addition to incompleteness.

Not quite. It's not that they are inconsistent, it's that they cannot demonstrate their own consistency.

No, brains are not formal systems. But my feeling is that, if a formal system - a pure, perfect abstraction - is incapable of explaining itself completely, then a brain - real but far from perfect and pure - cannot hope to. You cannot escape this by positing the wonders of the brain ... the more capabilities you grant it ... the more it needs to explain.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 03, 2016 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
if a formal system - a pure, perfect abstraction - is incapable of explaining itself completely, then a brain - real but far from perfect and pure - cannot hope to.


Taking the topic off-ramp at ludicrous speed...that interacts in strangely fascinating ways with ee ... Bravo, I say...
Quote:
when any mortal [even the most odd]

can justify the ways of man to God
i'll think it strange that normal mortals can

not justify the ways of God to man


Edited to add: And I think what you said is...hah!...incomplete, and the whole of it matters to my thought. Unless I'm misremembering, the inconsistency part...hee hee--"consists" of the statement that if a formal system can "state" its consistency THEN it cannot prove its consistency UNLESS it is, in fact, INconsistent.
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