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ollypenrice

Artificial intelligence?

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Well you have to remember the brain is massivley complex to a scale that is barely comprehensible even in statistics. Think of this - there are roughly 100 billion Neurons in the brain. Each one has on average 7000 connections to other neurons. Thats works out to something like 1 quadrillion synapses in the human brain. That's 1,000,000,000,000,000 synapses! Thats equal to about a half-billion synapses per cubic millimeter.

Now consider that no two brains are exactly alike either in connectivity of chemical constitution and ask yourself whether given that complexity we will ever likley understand it ? I have to say I really, really doubt it.

Dont forget also that the brain is massively influenced by its chemical consitution. Men are less aware of thge power of control over their brains because they are born with one set of hormones so have nothing to compare with - women more often are aware to a greater degree because we suffer the surge effects of our hormones - and nice it aint - men dont tend to relate that as brain chemistry they put it down to other things. Thats not sexist just basic biological science.

Brain chemistry is subtle, small changes can create massive effects and sometimes the effects are very unexpected.

Given all the factors I just dont believe we will ever really understand it.

Perhaps the problems with the AI argument is we try to compare our tools with organic systems and vice versa - we think of the brain as a 'kind of machine' we think of computers as 'a kind of electronic brain' etc when in fact they are completely different with different attributes. We dont try to map steam engines to the human form so why do we try to map computers to it ?

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Now we enter that tiresome zone in which we cannot continue the convesation because it becomes religious. I am not at all religious. The something strange that defines the conscious 'us' (and which I feel is absent from computers) may also be of interest to religious believers who see it quite differently from the way i do. Is that sufficiently circumspect to respect the sensiilities of the forum?

It doesnt faze me and I respect you for standing back - I was going to say the same. I feel i cant contribute without lapsing into religious/mystic territory and I know how upsetting many people find releigion on the forum so I am opting out myself on this one.

People (and animals) are machines mass produced by unskilled labour.

Scary you would think that - unless you were joking. It seems to undermine humanity and place us at the level of a tool or a disposable asset.

Edited by Astro_Baby

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Well here's another batch of light reading: :D

Quantum mind - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I don't find myself qualified to make pronouncements. <G> I am pretty sure much of it is based on (now anyway) the OLD physics. I am also persuaded that the idea that theoretical physicists are somehow "confused" re. e.g. quantum mechanics, although popular, is wrong. That there are unknowns and gaps in knowledge is manifest. But I personally believe they can be filled by variations on more conventional theories. "New Physics" is a term with certain historical connotation, but I see no need (or evidence) for anything too radical just yet... :D

Edited by Macavity

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Quote:

People (and animals) are machines mass produced by unskilled labour.

Scary you would think that - unless you were joking. It seems to undermine humanity and place us at the level of a tool or a disposable asset.

Only half joking. And I don't see how it "undermines humanity" to suggest that it takes somewhat less skill to reproduce ourselves than it does to e.g. manufacture aircraft, or computers, or any of our other "sophisticated" technological achievements ... there are over 6 billion people on the planet, the majority of whom will reproduce at some time in their lives (or already have done), but only about 6 people on the planet with the skill to produce a hydrogen alpha etalon.

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People (and animals) are machines mass produced by unskilled labour.

I absolutely refuse to believe that there are any laws of physics which are unique to the brain. Same argument as I use against a creator god; there's simply no need for it.

It would be somewhat surprising if we could understand the workings of our own brain in any detail. We can't even write reliable programs to run on reliable electronic hardware....

No, not unique to the brain, Brian. No need for that. Just a coming together of what we don't know (in any context, not just regarding the brain) and what we need to know in order to understand the brain.

Olly

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Damn, in reading this thread I have just accidentally shot 176 luminosity flats, Should be low noise!

Olly

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The something strange that defines the conscious 'us' (and which I feel is absent from computers)

Is it absent though?

I think that we have already created AI. It's called the internet. The search engines, the social networks, the supercomputers are all connected. Almost all useful information about the environment of this new intelligence is busily being entered into computer networks (as you and I type). We are all feeding the simulation that intelligence needs. PageRank is doing the darwinian process of keeping what works and discarding what doesn't. All the elements are already there, apart from what the mystics would require. Humanity will be to it what the mitochondria are to us, don't expect it to talk to you!

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Is it absent though?

I think that we have already created AI. It's called the internet. The search engines, the social networks, the supercomputers are all connected. Almost all useful information about the environment of this new intelligence is busily being entered into computer networks (as you and I type). We are all feeding the simulation that intelligence needs. PageRank is doing the darwinian process of keeping what works and discarding what doesn't. All the elements are already there, apart from what the mystics would require. Humanity will be to it what the mitochondria are to us, don't expect it to talk to you!

You don't have to be a mystic to ask who the internet is. Intelligence, by definition, means not only an ability to reason but 'awareness of' something. Who is this aware being called The Internet?

Communication is not evidence of intelligence. Push one end of a billiard cue and it communicates your input, very accurately, to the other end.

Reacting to circumstances and adjusting in the light of them is not a sign of intelligence either. It can be done by a feedback loop of the most banal and mechanical kind. A steam engine govenor is spun by the engine. As it spins faster some bob weights are flung upwards and outwards. As they do this they reduce the steam input into the engine and slow it down. The intelligence is to be found in the inventor, not in the machine. It can happen naturally, and does, all over the place. Hydorostatic equilibrium in stars. Etc etc. I can't see any need to detect in the internet anything other than the mechanical but if someone can point at what I'm missing I'm all ears (or rather eyes...)

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice

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Intelligence, by definition, means not only an ability to reason but 'awareness of' something. Who is this aware being called The Internet?

I don't understand the question. Apart from its physical manifestation that I can point out, what else do you want to know?

Communication is not evidence of intelligence.

It is evidence of human intelligence, the only kind we've evolved to recognize. If I stoppped all communication with other humans, I'd be dead to them. That's a pretty good definition of what we mean by death, anyway.

Reacting to circumstances and adjusting in the light of them is not a sign of intelligence either.

I didn't say that it is. If all the neuronal (or other) resources are busy processing sensory information then there is no intelligence. I defined it, operationally, as setting aside some resources to simulate the environment which produces a sense of "self" as a book-keeping device (i.e. all the resources that are not simulating the environment).

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I can't see any need to detect in the internet anything other than the mechanical

Why is the brain any different? As I said, the only way is to invoke, like Penrose, some new physics.

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If I stoppped all communication with other humans, I'd be dead to them. That's a pretty good definition of what we mean by death, anyway.

Death is a cessation of the processes that maintain the environment needed for the cells which constitute a body to remain functioning. When they cease to function, decay processes set in, the resulting stench is a limited form of communication.

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No, brianb. Death is when humans mourn. The body cells may be kept alive for decades thereafter.

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Why is the brain any different? As I said, the only way is to invoke, like Penrose, some new physics.

It is different because its owner is self aware. You can consider the brain to be a filing and calculating device, which it is in part, but we keep coming back to consciousness and the self.

Olly

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It is different because its owner is self aware.

Well, I think that term "self aware" is functionally equivalent to the term "divine". It is a word for something we don't understand. The brain does not seem to be doing anything at any physical level that the kidneys don't (unless Penrose's new physics come into play). So I can't see how one can derive "self aware" from studying the brain. We'll just have to get used to the idea that "self aware" is nowhere or is everywhere.

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Self awareness is very easy to define and, in my case at least, easy to see by means of introspection. There is an 'I' which is aware of its own existence. Now the fact that this may be scientifically inconvenient is not to say that it is scientifically nonsensical.

Science has not been able to explain it, but what is new about that? Science is all about understanding things not yet understood. It is an exciting if elusive field but has no need of the divine. We have been there countless times before in science. In Lord Kelvin's day, with no knowledge of the atom, no-one could make the sun burn long enough to account for the Earth's geology. It was, as far as I know, the only manifestation at the time of a need for new physics. But one manifestation was enough.

There's no need to invoke the divine, though in fact I think that the divine is what you see when you impose a human view on nature, so there is a link. But there I must stop on that one.

Olly

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I have been following this thread with some interest and have no thoughts on the subject one way or another - but - Here we have a reasonable cross section of humanity and not one can agree on a definition of intelegence, and I doubt if any 'group' of people can, so I personaly think that AI is a long way off. How can one create something that can't be defined?

Just my 2p's worth.

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I have been following this thread with some interest and have no thoughts on the subject one way or another - but - Here we have a reasonable cross section of humanity and not one can agree on a definition of intelegence, and I doubt if any 'group' of people can, so I personaly think that AI is a long way off. How can one create something that can't be defined?

Just my 2p's worth.

And damned good value at 2P!!

Olly

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It was, as far as I know, the only manifestation at the time of a need for new physics.

No ... the whole of chemistry was inexplicable until quantum theory was "invented".

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No ... the whole of chemistry was inexplicable until quantum theory was "invented".

Stand corrected. I'm afraid I have no grasp whatever of chemistry and am full of good intentions to rectify that one day.

Thanks,

Olly

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Science is all about understanding things not yet understood.

Things, though, not subjectivity itself. I can't see how there could be any scientific explanation of why there is an "I". We can find out how it comes about but not why it is there, why it is necessary.

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I'm afraid I have no grasp whatever of chemistry

Oh yes you have, even if you think you don't.

The issue with chemistry is that it grew in two completely different ways - up to the early 20th century it was essentially a descriptive science, rather like botany; once the bit of quantum physics that describes electrons when bound to atoms or molecules was formulated, the whole of chemistry became a subset of quantum physics. 19th century chemists invented valency theory & used it to formulate the periodic table, but none of it made any physical sense without the quantum description of the electron plus Pauli's Exclusion Principle.

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Things, though, not subjectivity itself. I can't see how there could be any scientific explanation of why there is an "I". We can find out how it comes about but not why it is there, why it is necessary.

I agree, I think. To ask why it is there is not a scientific question but how it comes about might be, or might it remain forever a philosophical one? But I don't think the self is only there subjectively. It seems to me to be as objectively real as anything else. Its presence can be detected in others, too.

Brian, thanks for the chemistry points. I must get reading.

Olly

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But I don't think the self is only there subjectively. It seems to me to be as objectively real as anything else. Its presence can be detected in others, too.

And at least higher animals - anyone with a dog will tell you that it has a "personality".

As for "the self" - I think Descartes got as close as we'll ever get from the philosophical direction: "Cogito ergo sum". I don't think we'll ever be able to explain "self" in terms of "hardware" - its existence is likely to be in terms of the dynamic state the hardware is in i.e. the neural activity in the brain rather than the actual connections between the neurons (some of which are active and others of which aren't at any given time).

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