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Old September 13 2012, 07:29 PM   #85
THE Robert Maxwell
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Re: Envisioning the world of 2100

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Actually I have a degree in it, what is lacking is an understanding of how the brain works. Are you saying a future computer can't simulate the human brain? Then you are saying there is a part of the universe that can't be simulated with mathematical algorithms, and that 3 pounds or organic matter in your skull is beyond the ability of any conceivable computer to emulate, the rules at work within the brain are somehow non-mathematical, maybe a soul or spirit separate from the body is involved then.
If you have a degree in computer science then you got ripped off, because so far you've not said anything that tells me you understand much at all about how computers work, nor how they are designed, nor how organic brains differ from them.

I never said you can't simulate the human brain--that's hogwash, of course. It is certainly possible, but an analog electro-chemical computer operates on entirely different principles from a digital electronic computer. It's like describing how to simulate the behavior of an airplane using nothing but grapefruit. Our level of understand of human brain functions is too inadequate to approach any kind of accurate simulation.

In addition, you claimed that if we just simulate the neuronal activity of a human brain, personality and consciousness will emerge. There is no reason to believe this is so. We do not know how the electro-chemical processes of the brain interact to give rise to what we see as intelligence, consciousness, and free will. To think that if we just simulate neuronal functions it will happen by itself is quite wishful. I'm not implying there is a soul or any quality that is impossible to duplicate, just that we know so little about what we want to duplicate, it is not going to happen by accident, at least not within a timeframe relevant to humans.
What else is there besides neuronic activity? If we have all the parts and we know how each part behaves and we know how they go together then the parts simulated should know how to interact. We are simulating a physical process, there is no need to interpret that process or to translate what goes on in the brain so we can understand it, because when we simulate a human brain, we also must simulate a human body that it connected with it, that means all the relevant tissues the muscles, the bones the organs the eyes, ears, nose mouth, fingers, hands, arms, legs and every other part. I mean the entire human body is just an order of magnitude more complex than the brain all by itself, Moore's law should catch up with that quickly. All that has to happen is that the simulated brain communicate with the simulated body within the simulation, we then surround the simulated body with an environment that it can react to, and we can control that environment, and even use sensory inputs from the real environment to modify the simulated environment. As the simulated neurons fire in the simulated brain, all the body parts, if simulated correctly know how to behave, the next step is to teach this sim person as we would a child, we can communicate with it by modyfying its environment, and as it grows up and learns, it can do useful stuff if we slave a robot to its sim body movements, including the mouth and vocal cords so it can talk to us. We really don't know how an AI works, we don't know how the neurons produce thought, so we just route copy what nature has already accomplished in a computer simulation rather than deconstruct how nature has made us and try to interpret it.
There is certainly a need to understand how each chemical interacts with the brain, propagates through it, and interacts with other chemicals. Given that our understanding of human psychology stems largely from assumptions about how those chemical processes work, and not a lot of hard evidence that they work in exactly that way, we have a long way to go before we can produce a simulation that models a full human brain, complete with personality and psychology.

When you say "all that has to happen is..." you are glossing over what sounds like a good century's worth (or more) of research into simulation and computer system design. You have to consider the sheer number of stimuli that brain will have to receive from its simulated senses--and simulate all of those, and have them make coherent sense, otherwise the brain will be unable to make sense of it and be useless for any actual thinking.

You make it all sound very simple. If it is so simple, why hasn't anyone done it? It's not just a lack of computing power, it's a lack of simulation techniques complex and complete enough to pull it off. This stuff isn't right around the corner, it's at least decades away--if not longer.
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