Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

mind and brain

brains and computation vs contemplation

Reader Pat Suwonpanich provides food for thought on hearing and consciousness

Pat Suwonpanich has made a comment on hearing and sound as a mental phenomenon leading to questions of conscious mind that I think is worth pondering by one and all, so let us headline (with slight edits): >>For those who wanna read less-technical article on hearing, I have tried to write my own article as shown below. Hope it will be useful for many of us. Whenever we hear beautiful music or any other interesting sounds, we should realize that the ability to hear is so special that no known set of nature’s laws can explain it ! Most of us tend to think that we hear sounds because there are various sounds around us. In reality, if there were Read More ›

Sev’s IOU on how conscious mind will be explained on materialistic premises

In the Eugene Wigner thread, frequent objector Sev argues to BA77: Sev, 23: >>Yes, the hard problem of consciousness is explaining what it is and how it arises from the physical brain and we don’t have such an explanation as yet. The evidence for consciousness arising from the brain lies in the strong correlation between the two, the observation that when the brain is destroyed the consciousness disappears permanently and the challenge of explaining why else would we commit such a large percentage of our physical resources to support such an organ unless it provided us with something of great value.>> This is, of course after decades of unfulfilled promises, and it neatly rhetorically side-steps J B S Haldane’s longstanding Read More ›

Is it time to “reboot” our formal and informal education in ethics, to save our civilisation?

On reflecting on the ongoing discussion on ethical matters (as part of the science and worldviews in society theme of UD) in the thread in response to Sev on moral truth, I suggest yes. Not least, because the already in progress, suicidal moral bankruptcy of our civilisation will take down science, math, technology, sound governance systems, sound policy-making and linked engines of progress if we go over the cliff: KF, 105: >>The onward exchanges are interesting, underscoring however the persistent, widespread failure of our current formal and informal ethical education. Thus, instead of being teachers to the world, we need to think afresh and go back to first, mother’s milk baby stage steps and principles. Our civilisation is like land Read More ›

How do memristors work? [Onward implications for Strong AI.]

Memristors are in effect tunable resistors; where a resistive state can be programmed [and changed, so far a very finite number of times]. This means they can store and process information, especially by carrying out weighted-product summations and vector-based matrix array product summations. Such are very powerful physically instantiated mathematical operations. For example, here is a memristor crossbar matrix: . . . and here is one in use to recognise patterns:   They hold promise for AI, high density storage units and more. How they work turns out to be a bit of a challenge, as IEEE Spectrum reported in 2015: >>Over the last decade researchers have produced two commercially promising types of memristors: electrochemical metallization memory (ECM) cells, and Read More ›

Why look at AI-linked themes — what is the relevance to ID as a scientific enterprise?

One of the key ideas and driving assumptions of modern evolutionary materialistic scientism is that mind can be explained on brain without residue. In an extreme form, we can see it in Crick’s the Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing. Philip Johnson, of course, replied the next year, Read More ›

A thought on soul-body-spirit (and on the meaning of “death” in the Judaeo-Christian frame of thought)

While scientific topics tied to AI are a main current focus — I will shortly add another headlined comment on why — there are several philosophical and theological topics that keep on coming up in and around UD. So, pardon a quick note on those wider themes. Here, on the soul and linked ideas from the thoughts on justice thread: JM, 155 to BA77: >>If you think I have not provided any evidence against the immortality of the soul, why don’t you answer my questions regarding the Adam and Eve scriptures?>> I picked this point up and responded: KF, 161: >>J-Mac, consider the scriptural definition of physical death: “as the body without the spirit is dead . . . ” Read More ›

Robo-Doctor? In China, it seems Robot Xiao-Yi has passed the written medical licensing exams

Robo-Doc will see you? Maybe, but not just now. This item popped up from the usual suspect tabloid paper sites while searching on AI and memristors. I have tracked down a couple of more reputable sources so, here goes from China Daily (which is also on the spot): >>A robot has passed the written test of China’s national medical licensing examination, an essential entrance exam for doctors, making it the first robot in the world to pass such an exam. Its developer iFlytek Co Ltd, a leading Chinese artificial intelligence company, said on Thursday that the robot scored 456 points, 96 points higher than the required marks. The artificial-intelligence-enabled robot can automatically capture and analyze patient information and make initial Read More ›

BA77 links on the consequences of mind = brain ideologies

While we’re on a roll on AI and its import at the hands of evolutionary materialistic scientism dressed in a lab coat, BA77 has linked a comic strip — see here (main site here; cf. twist on The Cave currently top of the heap) — that is at first funny then soberingly serious: As in, where do you think these issues fit in: And perhaps Engineer Derek Smith’s model has a few points to ponder as we think about the higher order, supervisory controller in the cybernetic loop: Food for thought. END PS: Could I put up for reflection the notion that the human soul is at the interface of spirit and body, including Brain and CNS?

Latemarch on the evolution of AI

Sometimes a comment is too good to leave there in the combox. So: LM, 2 in the AI intelligent agency thread: >>It brought to mind the evolution of AI. It all began with lightning (electrons) striking rocks (silicon) for billions of years (might a nearby warm pond be helpful?) until now we have the delicate motions of electrons thru silicon that we know of as computers. The software is the result of random noise in the bits and bytes of the operating system (we’re still working out how that originated. Any day now!) that were duplicated as a separate file and eventually, driven by natural selection, resulting in the wonderful programs we enjoy today. At the furious rate of evolution Read More ›

AI, intelligent agency and the intersection with ID

This is a theme of increasing significance for the ID debate, but also it has overtones for an era where AI technologies may be driving the next economic long wave. Which is of instant, global importance, hence the Perez idealised Long wave illustration: However, this is not about economics (save, as a context for major trends) but about AI, Intelligent Agents as conceived under AI and the intersection with ID. Intelligent Design. Where, it is important to recognise that the concept of intelligence and of agency we will increasingly encounter will be shaped by the dogmas of what is often termed, Strong AI. Techopedia summarises: >>Strong artificial intelligence (strong AI) is an artificial intelligence construct that has mental capabilities and Read More ›

AI and the Voynich Manuscript

The Voynich manuscript has long been a mysterious object, seemingly a medicinal or magical survey of plants, or someone’s play on such documents, but written in an unknown alphabetic script: AI is now being brought to bear on the matter.  According to phys dot org: >>U of A computing science professor Greg Kondrak, an expert in natural language processing, and graduate student Bradley Hauer used artificial intelligence to decode the ambiguities in human language using the Voynich manuscript as a case study. Their first step was to address the language of origin, which is enciphered on hundreds of delicate vellum pages with accompanying illustrations. Kondrak and Hauer used samples of 400 different languages from the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” Read More ›

AI, Memristors and the future (could “conscious” machines lie ahead?)

AI — artificial intelligence — is emerging as a future-driver. For example, we have been hearing of driver-less cars, and now we have helmsman-less barges: As The Guardian reports: >>The world’s first fully electric, emission-free and potentially crewless container barges are to operate from the ports of Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam from this summer. The vessels, designed to fit beneath bridges as they transport their goods around the inland waterways of Belgium and the Netherlands, are expected to vastly reduce the use of diesel-powered trucks for moving freight. Dubbed the “Tesla of the canals”, their electric motors will be driven by 20-foot batteries, charged on shore by the carbon-free energy provider Eneco. The barges are designed to operate without any Read More ›

Is Mathematics a Natural Science? (Is that important?)

In our time there is a tendency to treat Mathematics as though it is a natural science. This reflects in part the shift in meaning of the term Science in recent centuries, from knowledge and systematic bodies of more or less established knowledge, to the natural sciences based on inductive reasoning on observation and experiment. Where, inductive here denotes arguments whereby evidence — typically empirical — supports but does not logically demonstrate a conclusion, as a rule provisionally. Such has been multiplied by Scientism, the view, assumption or implication that Science ring fences and monopolises reliable, serious knowledge. (Of course, such Scientism is self-referentially incoherent as this is an epistemological and thus philosophical claim; it fails its own test.) In Read More ›

Scott Adams on responsible, rational freedom (as the machines take over)

. . . as in, it’s a delusion: >>When the machines take over our important decisions we will do the same thing we do now – we will imagine that we are making the decisions on our own. Today our important decisions are made with emotions, and rationalized after the fact. We incorrectly call this process “thinking.” In the near future, our machines will make our daily decisions using Big Data and whatever they know about us as individuals to maximize our outcomes. You’ll like that future because the machines will make better decisions than you, and you’ll have better quality of life. In the new world ahead, you will be the robot – albeit a moist one. The machines Read More ›

Dilbert’s Scott Adams and the reproductively effective delusion evolutionary thesis

Sometimes, popular debates and commenters can put their fingers on a key issue, almost in passing. In this case, in addressing the cognitive dissonance issue triggering  many reactions to the rise of Donald Trump to US President-Elect (I confess, my own surprise* . . . ) Dilbert’s Scott Adams has dropped a real clanger of a wake-up call: Here is a money-shot clip from his current blog article, “The Cognitive Dissonance Cluster Bomb”: >>As I often tell you, we all live in our own movies inside our heads. Humans did not evolve with the capability to understand their reality because it was not important to survival. Any illusion that keeps us alive long enough to procreate is good enough. That’s Read More ›