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Neurosurgeon: Neither books nor brains learn, only minds learn

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Recently, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor offered a parable about whether machines really learn. The tale features a book that “learned” to fall open at the right places. Computer scientist Jeffrey Shallit responded, claiming that machines really CAN learn!, and Dr. Egnor responded to him, pointing out that a baseball glove can “learn” the game if adjustment to circumstances is all we are counting.

But he also wanted to make clear to Dr. Shallit, brains don’t learn either. Only minds learn:

Shallit implies that the reinforcement and suppression of neural networks in the brain that accompanies learning means that brains, like machines, learn. He is mistaken. Brains are material organs that contain neurons and glia a host of cells and substances. Brains have action potentials and neurotransmitters.

Brains are extraordinarily complex, and brain function is a necessary condition for ordinary mental function.

But brains don’t have minds, and brains don’t have knowledge, and brains don’t learn. Reinforcement and suppression of neural networks in the brain are not learning. They are a necessary condition for learning, but learning is an ability of human beings, considered as a whole, to acquire new knowledge, not an ability of human organs considered individually. Human organs don’t “know” or “learn” anything. This error is the mereological fallacy. It is the same mereological fallacy [mistaking the part for the whole] to say that my brain learns as it is to say that my lungs breathe or my legs walk. I learn and I breathe and I walk, using my brain and lungs and legs… Michael Egnor, “Do either machines—or brains—really learn? A further response to Jeffrey Shallit” at Mind Matters Today

See also: Can machines really learn? Michael Egnor offers a parable.

Machines really CAN learn! A computer scientist responds to my parable

Also: Inner peace: Is there software for that? Tech billionaire funds neuroscience in a search for the secret of contentment

and

Google is collecting data on schoolkids. Some say it’s okay because the firm supplies a lot of free software and hardware to schools

Children are watching much less TV. But what we learned from children’s TV is coming back to haunt us.

Will AI triumph? Will that phone end up smarter than your kid? If so, it might not happen in quite the way we are told to fear. U.S. kids who spend more than two hours a day looking at screens “perform worse on memory, language and thinking tests than kids who spend less time in front of a device.”

36 Replies to “Neurosurgeon: Neither books nor brains learn, only minds learn

  1. 1
    R J Sawyer says:

    Much of biological research has advance by interfering with the function of an organ/tissue/gene to see what the impact is. By doing this we learned that the pancreas is needed to process sugars, the kidney to remove nitrogen wastes, the retina to see, the cochlea to hear. But when the same approach is used on the brain we are told that there is something else.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    By R J’s reasoning computers are just hardware cuz by messing with the hardware we can get the computer to malfunction.

  3. 3
    R J Sawyer says:

    ET

    By R J’s reasoning computers are just hardware cuz by messing with the hardware we can get the computer to malfunction.

    If you think that is what my reasoning is, feel free to proceed along these lines. I suspect that there are others here (BA77, KF) who don’t want you to go down this rabbit hole. But, please, chase the rabbit.

  4. 4
    Latemarch says:

    RJ@1

    Much of biological research has advance by interfering with the function of an organ/tissue/gene to see what the impact is. By doing this we learned that the pancreas is needed to process sugars, the kidney to remove nitrogen wastes, the retina to see, the cochlea to hear. But when the same approach is used on the brain we are told that there is something else.

    Interesting transition you made there. From processing sugars and removing wastes to seeing and hearing.

    There’s a ‘necessary but not sufficient’ in those last two.

  5. 5
    FourFaces says:

    As both an AI researcher and an ID proponent, I must say that I am disappointed in Egnor. This is total nonsense. The only part of the mind that learns is the brain. Brains learn by trying new connections and disconnecting them if they fail a learning test. The test is invariably dependent on the timing of pulses or signals. For example, some neurons learn concurrent patterns of signals, i.e., groups of pulses that frequently occur simultaneously.

    The idea that brains do not learn is pure nonsense. Sorry.

  6. 6
    Latemarch says:

    FF@5

    Brains learn by trying new connections and disconnecting them if they fail a learning test. The test is invariably dependent on the timing of pulses or signals. For example, some neurons learn concurrent patterns of signals, i.e., groups of pulses that frequently occur simultaneously.

    Interesting….and how would the brain know of the learning failure? Where is that standard set?
    Nor does any of this “pulse timing” or “signal patterns” explain consciousnesses required to understand the signals.

  7. 7
    ET says:

    R J:

    If you think that is what my reasoning is, feel free to proceed along these lines.

    Nope, I don’t care to chase anything your mind conjures up. I am OK with correcting your mistakes

  8. 8
    R J Sawyer says:

    ET

    I am OK with correcting your mistakes.

    When you start doing so, please let us know. 🙂

  9. 9
    R J Sawyer says:

    FF

    The idea that brains do not learn is pure nonsense. Sorry.

    Agreed. We know that certain physical brain anomalies are related to learning impairments or enhancements. We know that certain chemical imbalances can affect our ability to learn. We know that certain chemical treatments can reduce the impact of learning impairments. All of these are material in nature.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    At post 5 FourFaces states:

    The only part of the mind that learns is the brain.

    and

    The idea that brains do not learn is pure nonsense. Sorry.

    Well, contrary to what you believe, material brains can learn nothing. PERIOD.

    To learn anything requires a subjective immaterial conscious mind that can possibly know something new.

    Brains know nothing. Immaterial minds know. To believe otherwise is, to use your term, ‘pure nonsense’.

    Dr. Egnor succinctly sums up the ‘pure nonsense’ that atheists, (and apparently a few ID proponents such as yourself), are prone to in the following quote:

    Your Computer Doesn’t Know Anything – Michael Egnor – January 23, 2015
    Excerpt: Your computer doesn’t know a binary string from a ham sandwich. Your math book doesn’t know algebra. Your Rolodex doesn’t know your cousin’s address. Your watch doesn’t know what time it is. Your car doesn’t know where you’re driving. Your television doesn’t know who won the football game last night. Your cell phone doesn’t know what you said to your girlfriend this morning.
    People know things. Devices like computers and books and Rolodexes and watches and cars and televisions and cell phones don’t know anything. They don’t have minds.,,,
    https://evolutionnews.org/2015/01/your_computer_d_1/

    Moreover, the ability to learn something new requires the ability to create new information within a immaterial mind.

    Yet the material processes of a computer, (or the material processes of a brain in this case), as Dembski, Marks, and company have shown, can never create new information over and above the information that was originally programmed into it by a immaterial mind.

    Top Ten Questions and Objections to ‘Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics’ – Robert J. Marks II – June 12, 2017
    Excerpt: There exists no (computer) model successfully describing undirected Darwinian evolution. Period. By “model,” we mean definitive simulations or foundational mathematics required of a hard science.,,,
    We show that no meaningful information can arise from an evolutionary process unless that process is guided. Even when guided, the degree of evolution’s accomplishment is limited by the expertise of the guiding information source — a limit we call Basener’s ceiling. An evolutionary program whose goal is to master chess will never evolve further and offer investment advice.,,,
    There exists no model successfully describing undirected Darwinian evolution. Hard sciences are built on foundations of mathematics or definitive simulations. Examples include electromagnetics, Newtonian mechanics, geophysics, relativity, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, optics, and many areas in biology. Those hoping to establish Darwinian evolution as a hard science with a model have either failed or inadvertently cheated. These models contain guidance mechanisms to land the airplane squarely on the target runway despite stochastic wind gusts. Not only can the guiding assistance be specifically identified in each proposed evolution model, its contribution to the success can be measured, in bits, as active information.,,,
    If a successful search requires equaling or exceeding some degree of active information, what is the chance of finding any search with as good or better performance? We call this a search-for-the-search. In Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, we show that the search-for-the-search is exponentially more difficult than the search itself!,,,
    ,,,we use information theory to measure meaningful information and show there exists no model successfully describing undirected Darwinian evolution.,,,
    ,,, if the fitness continues to change, it is argued, the evolved entity can achieve greater and greater specified complexity,,,
    ,,, We,, dub the overall search structure ‘stair step active information’. Not only is guidance required on each stair, but the next step must be carefully chosen to guide the process to the higher fitness landscape and therefore ever increasing complexity.,,,
    Such fine tuning is the case of any fortuitous shift in fitness landscapes and increases, not decreases, the difficulty of evolution of ever-increasing specified complexity. It supports the case there exists no model successfully describing undirected Darwinian evolution.,,,
    Turing’s landmark work has allowed researchers, most notably Roger Penrose,26 to make the case that certain of man’s attributes including creativity and understanding are beyond the capability of the computer.,,,
    ,,, there exists no model successfully describing undirected Darwinian evolution. According to our current understanding, there never will be.,,,
    https://evolutionnews.org/2017/06/top-ten-questions-and-objections-to-introduction-to-evolutionary-informatics/

    Robert Marks: Some Things Computers Will Never Do: Nonalgorithmic Creativity and Unknowability – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm0s7ag3SEc

    “A.I. & Human Exceptionalism.” Robert J. Marks on Jonathan McLatchie’s Apologetics Academy – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb3VJO6p4sQ

    And as Dr. Stephen Meyer stated,

    Intelligent Design is not Creationism – Stephen Meyer – 2006
    Excerpt: Based on our uniform experience, we know of only one type of cause that produces irreducibly complex systems: intelligence. Whenever we encounter complex systems – whether integrated circuits or internal combustion engines – and we know how they arose, invariably a designing intelligence played a role.,,,
    The information in DNA (and RNA) has also been shown to defy explanation by forces of chemical necessity. Saying otherwise would be like saying a headline arose as the result of chemical attraction between ink and paper. Clearly, something else is at work.
    DNA functions like a software program. We know from experience that software comes from programmers. We know that information – whether, say, in hieroglyphics or radio signals – always arises from an intelligent source. As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler observed: “Information habitually arises from conscious activity.” So the discovery of digital information in DNA provides strong grounds for inferring that intelligence played a causal role in its origin.
    http://www.stephencmeyer.org/n.....ly_pu.html

    FourFaces, It is a simple and profound category error on your part to confuse the complex material processes of the brain (or a computer) with the actual learning and knowing that is possible only with a immaterial mind.

    Verse:

    Psalm 135:15-17
    The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
    made by human hands.
    They have mouths, but cannot speak,
    eyes, but cannot see.
    They have ears, but cannot hear,
    nor is there breath in their mouths.

  11. 11
    Seversky says:

    Let’s keep this simple. When Egnor finds a mind without a brain in sight, he’ll have evidence for his dualism. Otherwise it’s just wishful theological thinking.

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky, (a Darwinist who would be a neuronal illusion instead of a real person if Darwinism were actually true), has repeatedly refused to accept evidence from Near Death Experiences as proof that the conscious immaterial mind can exist apart from the material brain even though the evidence for the validity of Near Death Experiences is far more compelling than the nonexistent evidence is for Darwinian evolution:

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a protein/gene, or of a molecular machine), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    Bottom line, We have far more observational evidence for the reality of souls than we do for the Darwinian claim that unguided material processes can generate functional information. Moreover, the transcendent nature of ‘immaterial’ information, which is the one thing that, (as every ID advocate intimately knows), unguided material processes cannot possibly explain the origin of, directly supports the transcendent nature of the soul:

    Information is Physical (but not how Rolf Landauer meant)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H35I83y5Uro

    Darwinian Materialism vs. Quantum Biology – video
    https://youtu.be/LHdD2Am1g5Y

    As Stuart Hameroff states: “it’s possible that this (conserved) quantum information can exist outside the body. Perhaps indefinitely as a soul.”

    “Let’s say the heart stops beating. The blood stops flowing. The microtubules lose their quantum state. But the quantum information, which is in the microtubules, isn’t destroyed. It can’t be destroyed. It just distributes and dissipates to the universe at large. If a patient is resuscitated, revived, this quantum information can go back into the microtubules and the patient says, “I had a near death experience. I saw a white light. I saw a tunnel. I saw my dead relatives.,,” Now if they’re not revived and the patient dies, then it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body. Perhaps indefinitely as a soul.”
    – Stuart Hameroff – Quantum Entangled Consciousness – Life After Death – video (5:00 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/jjpEc98o_Oo?t=300

    Seversky’s repeated refusal to accept the validity of NDE testimonies, and yet his unquestioning acceptance of Darwinian evolution despite the abject failure of the material processes of Darwinian evolution to create ‘immaterial’ information, is unfortunately a defining characteristic of the uncritical Darwinian mindset.

    Near death, explained (?) – By Dr. Mario Beauregard research professor Neuroscience Research Center at the University of Montreal. – April 2012
    Excerpt: These findings strongly challenge the mainstream neuroscientific view that mind and consciousness result solely from brain activity. As we have seen, such a view fails to account for how NDErs can experience—while their hearts are stopped—vivid and complex thoughts and acquire veridical information about objects or events remote from their bodies.
    NDE studies also suggest that after physical death, mind and consciousness may continue in a transcendent level of reality that normally is not accessible to our senses and awareness. Needless to say, this view is utterly incompatible with the belief of many materialists that the material world is the only reality.
    http://www.salon.com/2012/04/2.....singleton/

  13. 13
    ET says:

    R J:

    When you start doing so, please let us know.

    I started when you started posting here. 😛

  14. 14
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    When Egnor finds a mind without a brain in sight, he’ll have evidence for his dualism.

    And when Seversky or anyone else can demonstrate materialistic processes can produce the brain they will have evidence to refute Egnor.

    That will never happen because the brain is not reducible to necessity and chance.

  15. 15
    ET says:

    R J:

    We know that certain physical brain anomalies are related to learning impairments or enhancements. We know that certain chemical imbalances can affect our ability to learn. We know that certain chemical treatments can reduce the impact of learning impairments.

    We know that certain hardware anomalies are related to computer failures. We know that certain electrical imbalances can affect a computer’s ability to function. We know that certain conditions can reduce the impact of computer functionality.

    And yet we also know that computers are NOT reducible to their hardware.

  16. 16
    FourFaces says:

    Latemarch @6

    Interesting….and how would the brain know of the learning failure? Where is that standard set?
    Nor does any of this “pulse timing” or “signal patterns” explain consciousnesses required to understand the signals.

    The learning mechanism is in the neurons. It’s called Hebbian learning. Synaptic inputs that fire concurrently with a target neuron are strengthened until they become permanent connections. Those that don’t are weakened and eventually disconnected. Neurobiologists have known about this for decades.

    The brain, by itself, does not explain consciousness because it takes two entities to have consciousness, a knower and a known. In this case, the knower is the spirit/soul and the known comprises certain parts of the brain (cerebrum or neocortex). It’s called dualism.

    The idea promoted by some in the Christian community that the mind is just the soul is false. Knowledge resides in the brain and is known by the spirit or soul. I, too, am Christian but I refuse to park my brain at the door when I walk into a church.

  17. 17
    FourFaces says:

    Seversky @11

    Let’s keep this simple. When Egnor finds a mind without a brain in sight, he’ll have evidence for his dualism. Otherwise it’s just wishful theological thinking.

    Apparently Egnor does not believe in dualism. He believes in a form of monism whereby the mind is just the spirit or soul where knowledge resides and the brain has nothing to do with mind. Materialists believe in another form of monism: the mind is just the brain.

    Both forms of monism are dead wrong, in my opinion. It takes two opposite and complementary entities to have a mind, a knower and a known. This is what true dualism is all about. For example, there are no colors in the brain. Colors are activated parts of the spirit/soul that some call qualia. Also, there is no 3D world in the visual cortex, only firing neurons. The fabulous and colorful 3D vista you think you see in front of you is a supernatural phenomenon. It does not exist.

  18. 18
    EricMH says:

    It is not so clear what Egnor means by the merelogical fallacy. Is he saying that an isolated brain could not learn? But that would be similar to saying a computer needs external inputs to learn. That doesn’t seem problematic. I think he means there is a unified ‘I’ that governs everything, which is a good argument since an ‘I’ is inherently a different thing that a computation, but it is not so clearly worded here.

    @FF reinforcement does not seem to be the same sort of thing as learning. Learning has to do with truth, but an error can be reinforced. So, Egnor’s distinction seems valid.

    @ET why do you say computers are not reducible to their hardware?

    @Seversky, why must there be a mind without a brain for dualism to be true? There are no living people without food and water, but people are not food. On the other hand, a disembodied mind would indeed be evidence for dualism.

  19. 19
    ET says:

    EricMH- Last I knew a computer without software is just a big paper weight or door stop.

  20. 20
    Nonlin.org says:

    Of course matter itself is immaterial, so the whole mind-body dualism is obsolete:
    http://nonlin.org/im-materialism/

    …and of course if ‘machine learning’ is as thing, then your regular hammer can also learn:
    http://nonlin.org/ai/
    …but traditionally, the word “learn” was reserved for intelligent beings – organisms created directly by God and endowed with free will.

  21. 21
    FourFaces says:

    I can’t believe that, even though I believe in intelligent design, I am agreeing with Darwinists and materialists that brains and computers do learn. Something is not right in this picture.

  22. 22
    R J Sawyer says:

    FF

    I can’t believe that, even though I believe in intelligent design, I am agreeing with Darwinists and materialists that brains and computers do learn. Something is not right in this picture.

    Welcome to the dark side my young apprentice. 🙂

  23. 23
    Axel says:

    A mind actually implies a person (even if it is angelic, and thus pure spirit). It is a sine qua non of personality, of personhood.

    The soul consists of memory, will and understanding. Computers don’t possess the second faculty, and the other two need to be operated by a live entity, i.e with a soul.

    It’s the plainest common-sense to most of the population, but, apparently, less and less by arch-worldlings, materialists, te higher up you go. To mix metaphores, their Achilles’ heel is their heart, long considered the seat of the will.

  24. 24
    gpuccio says:

    R J Sawyer at #9:

    I think we could simply admit that we are discussing two different meanings of “learning”:

    1) First meaning: if some algorithm can process new information from the outside, according to the rules it was programmed to implement, we call that “learning”.

    2) Second meaning: a conscious being “learns” when he becomes aware of some new meaning represented in his consciousness.

    So, a computer cam learn in the first sense, but not in the second sense, because it is not conscious.

    If we accept that the brain is a physical interface to cosnciousness, then the brain can learn in the first sense, but not in the second.

    Cosciousness, whatever it is, can learn in the second sense.

    Now, you say, correctly, that brain structures are certainly important for our conscious learning process. That is no news, of course.

    But then, even a computer is important for many of our learning processes. Or a book. Or a TV set.

    IOWs, consciousness does use physical instruments to learn. In the case of a computer (or, for that, an abacus), consciousness uses intelligently designed algorithms to learn things that it could not easily learn in other ways.

    So, if my computer is out of order, my learning is impaired. The same thing happens if my brain is out of order, in some way.

    The point is: we become aware of new meanings using computing algorithms, but a computing algorithm never becomes aware of any meaning.

  25. 25
    bornagain77 says:

    Four Faces,

    I can’t believe that, even though I believe in intelligent design, I am agreeing with Darwinists and materialists that brains and computers do learn. Something is not right in this picture.

    To which RJ quips

    Welcome to the dark side my young apprentice.

    That quip ought to send a chill right down your spine FF.

    FF in 17 you state, “It takes two opposite and complementary entities to have a mind, a knower and a known.”

    And in 16 you state, “Knowledge resides in the brain and is known by the spirit or soul.”

    And in 21 you state that ‘brains and computers do learn.’

    So I hold that you believe that material brains and computers, minus any spirit or soul, do not have a ‘knower’ associated with them.

    So my question is this, if computers and brains, minus any spirit or soul, do not have a ‘knower’ associated with them, then what exactly is it that is doing the ‘learning’ when you say that ‘brains and computers do learn’ ?

    It seems obvious that minus any ‘knower’, i.e. minus the immaterial conscious mind, there can be no learning.

    So again, what exactly is doing the ‘learning’ when you say that ‘brains and computers do learn’?

    Another point that might help clear this up is that you seem to believe that memories reside solely in the material brain, i.e. ‘the known’, and that the immaterial mind, i.e. ‘the knower’, can know this memory only as long as the immaterial mind is associated with the material brain.

    Yet, if memories resided solely in the material brain, as you seem to hold, then none of the following evidence makes any sense.

    For instance, people who have had hemispherectomies retain all their memories even though half their brain has been removed,

    Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics’ Lives: – 1997
    Excerpt: “We are awed by the apparent retention of memory and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor,” Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining,,
    Dr. John Freeman, the director of the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Epilepsy Center, said he was dumbfounded at the ability of children to regain speech after losing the half of the brain that is supposedly central to language processing.
    ”It’s fascinating,” Dr. Freeman said. ”The classic lore is that you can’t change language after the age of 2 or 3.”
    But Dr. Freeman’s group has now removed diseased left hemispheres in more than 20 patients, including three 13-year-olds whose ability to speak transferred to the right side of the brain in much the way that Alex’s did.,,,
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08.....lives.html

    In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study:

    “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.”

    Strange but True: When Half a Brain Is Better than a Whole One – May 2007
    Excerpt: Most Hopkins hemispherectomy patients are five to 10 years old. Neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as three months old. Astonishingly, memory and personality develop normally. ,,,
    Another study found that children that underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped. “One was champion bowler of her class, one was chess champion of his state, and others are in college doing very nicely,” Freeman says.
    Of course, the operation has its downside: “You can walk, run—some dance or skip—but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed. You have little function in that arm and vision on that side is lost,” Freeman says. Remarkably, few other impacts are seen. ,,,
    http://www.scientificamerican......than-whole

    How Removing Half of Someone’s Brain Can Improve Their Life – Oct. 2015
    Excerpt: Next spring, del Peral (who has only half a brain) will graduate from Curry College, where she has made the dean’s list every semester since freshman year.
    http://www.mentalfloss.com/art.....their-life

    Retention of memories and a person’s personality after hemispherectomies simply makes no sense on your ‘knower/known’ model FF.

    Moreover, Dr. Pim van Lommel states that “For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories (information) inside the brain, so far without success,,,”

    A Reply to Shermer Medical Evidence for NDEs (Near Death Experiences) – Pim van Lommel
    Excerpt: For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories (information) inside the brain, so far without success.,,,,So we need a functioning brain to receive our consciousness into our waking consciousness. And as soon as the function of brain has been lost, like in clinical death or in brain death, with iso-electricity on the EEG, memories and consciousness do still exist, but the reception ability is lost. People can experience their consciousness outside their body, with the possibility of perception out and above their body, with identity, and with heightened awareness, attention, well-structured thought processes, memories and emotions. And they also can experience their consciousness in a dimension where past, present and future exist at the same moment, without time and space, and can be experienced as soon as attention has been directed to it (life review and preview), and even sometimes they come in contact with the “fields of consciousness” of deceased relatives. And later they can experience their conscious return into their body.
    http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel.....sponse.htm

    The Mystery of Perception During Near Death Experiences – Pim van Lommel – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avyUsPgIuQ0

    Moreover, if memory, and/or ‘the known’, resided solely in the brain as you hold FF, then a full life review, which is a common feature of many Near Death Experiences, should be completely impossible.

    Around the 20 minute mark of the following Near Death Experience documentary, the Life Review portion of the Near Death Experience is highlighted, with several testimonies relating how every word, thought, deed, and action, of a person’s life (all the ‘information’ of a person’s life) is gone over in the presence of God:

    Near Death Experience Documentary – commonalities of the experience – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5uDA4RgHolw

    Verse:

    Matthew 12:36-37
    “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

    FF, I think your basic mistake is that you are confusing a representation of a memory in a brain, or in a computer, i.e. the known, with memory itself:

    Brains on Fire: Dr. Steven Novella Explains, “The Mind Is the Fire of the Brain” – Michael Egnor – December 18, 2014
    Excerpt: The difference between a memory and a representation of a memory is obvious. Right now I remember that I have an appointment at noon. I’m writing down “appointment at noon” on my calendar.
    My memory is my thought that I have an appointment at noon.
    The representation of my memory is the written note on my calendar.
    A thought differs from a note. A thought is something I experience; a note is something I write. My memory is a psychological thing. My note is a physical thing. My memory is represented in my note. My memory is not the same thing as my note. A memory is not the same thing as a representation of a memory.
    I hope that’s clear. I’m not sure how I can be clearer.
    – Michael Egnor is a professor and vice chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92151.html

    Although matter can represent immaterial information, it is clear that it is impossible for matter to actually ever be the immaterial information that it represents. This distinction between the representation of immaterial information and the actuality of immaterial information is made all the more clear by the abject failure of unguided material processes to ever generate immaterial information. i.e. Immaterial information, although it can be represented by material particles, simply can never be completely reduced to material particles. Thus, since memories at their most essential nature are immaterial information, then it is impossible for material brain states to ever actually be the memories that they represent to a mind.

    In regards to this irreducible aspect of immaterial information, Dr. Stephen Meyer states:

    “One of the things I do in my classes, to get this idea across to students, is I hold up two computer disks. One is loaded with software, and the other one is blank. And I ask them, ‘what is the difference in mass between these two computer disks, as a result of the difference in the information content that they posses’? And of course the answer is, ‘Zero! None! There is no difference as a result of the information. And that’s because information is a mass-less quantity. Now, if information is not a material entity, then how can any materialistic explanation account for its origin? How can any material cause explain it’s origin?
    And this is the real and fundamental problem that the presence of information in biology has posed. It creates a fundamental challenge to the materialistic, evolutionary scenarios because information is a different kind of entity that matter and energy cannot produce.
    In the nineteenth century we thought that there were two fundamental entities in science; matter, and energy. At the beginning of the twenty first century, we now recognize that there’s a third fundamental entity; and its ‘information’. It’s not reducible to matter. It’s not reducible to energy. But it’s still a very important thing that is real; we buy it, we sell it, we send it down wires.
    Now, what do we make of the fact, that information is present at the very root of all biological function? In biology, we have matter, we have energy, but we also have this third, very important entity; information. I think the biology of the information age, poses a fundamental challenge to any materialistic approach to the origin of life.”
    -Dr. Stephen C. Meyer earned his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of science from Cambridge University for a dissertation on the history of origin-of-life biology and the methodology of the historical sciences.

    Intelligent design: Why can’t biological information originate through a materialistic process? – Stephen Meyer – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqiXNxyoof8

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    And Dr. Stephen Meyer’s contention that immaterial information is real and is ‘not reducible to matter. It’s not reducible to energy’ is now empirically verified.

    The fact that immaterial information is its own distinct physical entity that is separate from matter and energy, and that it can exist apart from its material representation, has now been established by the following.

    First off, information can now be transferred, i.e. teleported, between particles completely independent of the material particles themselves physically interacting:

    Quantum Teleportation Enters the Real World – September 19, 2016
    Excerpt: Two separate teams of scientists have taken quantum teleportation from the lab into the real world.
    Researchers working in Calgary, Canada and Hefei, China, used existing fiber optics networks to transmit small units of information across cities via quantum entanglement — Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance.”,,,
    This isn’t teleportation in the “Star Trek” sense — the photons aren’t disappearing from one place and appearing in another. Instead, it’s the information that’s being teleported through quantum entanglement.,,,
    ,,, it is only the information that gets teleported from one place to another.
    http://blogs.discovermagazine......-HqWNEoDtR

    Secondly, immaterial information has now been shown to have a thermodynamic content and immaterial information has also now been shown to be able to accomplish physical work:

    Demonic device converts information to energy – 2010
    Excerpt: “This is a beautiful experimental demonstration that information has a thermodynamic content,” says Christopher Jarzynski, a statistical chemist at the University of Maryland in College Park. In 1997, Jarzynski formulated an equation to define the amount of energy that could theoretically be converted from a unit of information2; the work by Sano and his team has now confirmed this equation. “This tells us something new about how the laws of thermodynamics work on the microscopic scale,” says Jarzynski.
    http://www.scientificamerican......rts-inform

    Quantum knowledge cools computers: New understanding of entropy – June 2011
    Excerpt: No heat, even a cooling effect;
    In the case of perfect classical knowledge of a computer memory (zero entropy), deletion of the data requires in theory no energy at all. The researchers prove that “more than complete knowledge” from quantum entanglement with the memory (negative entropy) leads to deletion of the data being accompanied by removal of heat from the computer and its release as usable energy. This is the physical meaning of negative entropy.
    Renner emphasizes, however, “This doesn’t mean that we can develop a perpetual motion machine.” The data can only be deleted once, so there is no possibility to continue to generate energy. The process also destroys the entanglement, and it would take an input of energy to reset the system to its starting state. The equations are consistent with what’s known as the second law of thermodynamics: the idea that the entropy of the universe can never decrease. Vedral says “We’re working on the edge of the second law. If you go any further, you will break it.”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134300.htm

    Scientists show how to erase information without using energy – January 2011
    Excerpt: Until now, scientists have thought that the process of erasing information requires energy. But a new study shows that, theoretically, information can be erased without using any energy at all. Instead, the cost of erasure can be paid in terms of another conserved quantity, such as spin angular momentum.,,, “Landauer said that information is physical because it takes energy to erase it. We are saying that the reason it (information) is physical has a broader context than that.”, Vaccaro explained.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....nergy.html

    Information is physical (but not how Rolf Landauer meant) – video (2017)
    https://youtu.be/H35I83y5Uro

    New Scientist astounds: Information is physical – May 13, 2016
    Excerpt: Recently came the most startling demonstration yet: a tiny machine powered purely by information, which chilled metal through the power of its knowledge. This seemingly magical device could put us on the road to new, more efficient nanoscale machines, a better understanding of the workings of life, and a more complete picture of perhaps our most fundamental theory of the physical world.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-physical/

    Information engine operates with nearly perfect efficiency – Lisa Zyga – January 19, 2018
    Excerpt: Physicists have experimentally demonstrated an information engine—a device that converts information into work—with an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics. Instead, the engine’s efficiency is bounded by a recently proposed generalized second law of thermodynamics, and it is the first information engine to approach this new bound.,,,
    The generalized second law of thermodynamics states that the work extracted from an information engine is limited by the sum of two components: the first is the free energy difference between the final and initial states (this is the sole limit placed on conventional engines by the conventional second law), and the other is the amount of available information (this part sets an upper bound on the extra work that can be extracted from information).
    To achieve the maximum efficiency set by the generalized second law, the researchers in the new study designed and implemented an information engine made of a particle trapped by light at room temperature. Random thermal fluctuations cause the tiny particle to move slightly due to Brownian motion, and a photodiode tracks the particle’s changing position with a spatial accuracy of 1 nanometer. If the particle moves more than a certain distance away from its starting point in a certain direction, the light trap quickly shifts in the direction of the particle. This process repeats, so that over time the engine transports the particle in a desired direction simply by extracting work from the information it obtains from the system’s random thermal fluctuations (the free energy component here is zero, so it does not contribute to the work extracted).
    One of the most important features of this system is its nearly instantaneous feedback response: the trap shifts in just a fraction of a millisecond, giving the particle no time to move further and dissipate energy. As a result, almost none of the energy gained by the shift is lost to heat, but rather nearly all of it is converted into work. By avoiding practically any information loss, the information-to-energy conversion of this process reaches approximately 98.5% of the bound set by the generalized second law. The results lend support for this bound, and illustrate the possibility of extracting the maximum amount of work possible from information.
    https://phys.org/news/2018-01-efficiency.html

    The Quantum Thermodynamics Revolution – May 2017
    Excerpt: Renato Renner, a professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, described this as a radical shift in perspective. Fifteen years ago, “we thought of entropy as a property of a thermodynamic system,” he said. “Now in information theory, we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”,,,
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/quantum-thermodynamics-revolution/

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    Thus FF, immaterial information is a real physical entity that has now been shown to be its own distinct entity that is separate from matter and energy and thus your belief that immaterial information resides solely in the brain, i.e. the known, is shown to be without warrant. To repeat, material brain states can represent immaterial information but they can never actually be the immaterial information that they represent.

    Of supplemental note: I hold that Dr. Egnor, (who I remind is a brain surgeon as well as a professor of brain surgery), has the most accurate model, via Aristotle and Aquinas, as to how the immaterial mind and the material brain actually interact, (i.e. particulars and universals), than any other model that I have ever seen presented.

    The Representation Problem and the Immateriality of the Mind – Michael Egnor – February 5, 2018
    Excerpt: Thoughts may be divided into thoughts about particulars and thoughts about universals. Thoughts about particulars are thoughts, including perceptions, imagination, memory, etc., about particular objects in our environments. Thoughts about my coffee, or my car, or my family would be thoughts about particulars.
    Thoughts about universals are abstract thoughts, and are thoughts about concepts. Justice, mercy, logic, mathematics, etc., are abstract thoughts.,,,
    The human mind is a composite of material particular thought and immaterial abstract thought (universals). Interestingly, modern neuroscience supports this view. Perception of particulars maps with precision to brain anatomy, but abstract thought (universals) is not mapped in the same way. Material powers of the brain are ordinarily necessary for exercise of abstract thought (e.g., you have to be awake to think about justice), but matter is not sufficient for abstract thought.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/02/the-representation-problem-and-the-immateriality-of-the-mind/

    Verses:

    John 3:12
    If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

    John 1:1-4
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

  28. 28
    R J Sawyer says:

    BA77

    To which RJ quips

    Welcome to the dark side my young apprentice.

    That quip ought to send a chill right down your spine FF.

    Humour does not run deep in this one, my young apprentice. 🙂

  29. 29
    PaoloV says:

    My interpretation of what gpuccio wrote @24:

    No human-designed technology (computers, robots) can become aware of any meaning, simply because they lack consciousness.

    However, we conscious beings, can benefit much from intelligently designed “machine-learning” algorithms that allow the robots to widen their range of data-processing capabilities.

  30. 30
    PaoloV says:

    I like the clear distinction gpuccio made between two concepts of “learning” that are being used in this discussion. Let’s keep that important difference in mind when we express our ideas about “learning”.

  31. 31
    PaoloV says:

    Robots and computers aren’t aware of what they are, much less of the meaning of the information they process in increasingly sophisticated ways.
    Only conscious beings are aware of meaning. In the case of humans, we’re also aware of our own existence.

  32. 32
    FourFaces says:

    BA77 @25

    So my question is this, if computers and brains, minus any spirit or soul, do not have a ‘knower’ associated with them, then what exactly is it that is doing the ‘learning’ when you say that ‘brains and computers do learn’ ?

    It seems obvious that minus any ‘knower’, i.e. minus the immaterial conscious mind, there can be no learning.

    This is faulty logic, IMO. Knowledge is what has been learned by the brain. Building knowledge does not need a knower. It is based on physical causes and effects and on temporal regularities or order. Sure, the knower in a human brain can decide what the brain learns (music and the arts, for example) but it does not do the learning. Otherwise, we would know how learning occurs.

    By the way, I don’t believe animals have a soul or spirit. I believe they are unconscious meat robots regardless of how conscious they appear to be. But animals can certainly learn. I have written AI programs that can listen to sounds (speech, animals or musical instruments, etc.) and learn to recognize them. I am certain that my programs are not conscious and do not have souls.

    I predict that robots with human-level intelligence will be created in our lifetimes. By this, I mean a robot that can walk into a generic kitchen, even one it has never seen before, and prepare a breakfast of scrambled eggs with bacon, pancakes, toast and coffee.

  33. 33
    FourFaces says:

    R J Sawyer @22

    Welcome to the dark side my young apprentice. ????

    I can assure that my feet are firmly planted on the well lit side. “So sure of this, you are.” Yoda once said to me. I answered, “Yes, master Yoda.” He replied, “May the Force be with you, young Jedi.” ????

  34. 34
    bornagain77 says:

    as to

    BA77: It seems obvious that minus any ‘knower’, i.e. minus the immaterial conscious mind, there can be no learning.

    FF: This is faulty logic, IMO. Knowledge is what has been learned by the brain.

    Strange logic you have there FF,,, a brain, minus a ‘knower’ somehow learns knowledge.

    Hmmm, but as a 5 year old might ask, would that not make the brain that supposedly learns knowledge the ‘knower’ ???

    Anyways,,, you go on to claim.

    “Building knowledge does not need a knower. It is based on physical causes and effects and on temporal regularities or order.”

    And the law of conservation of information, which says purely physical causes can never create information over and above what was put there from the start, by a mind, figures into your scheme of ‘building knowledge’ how exactly?

    Because of such strict limits on the creation of new information, the future of AI is greatly overrated.

    podcast – Don’t Raise the White Flag to Our AI Overlords Just Yet – January 22, 2018
    https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/intelligentdesign/episodes/2018-01-22T08_58_45-08_00
    On this episode of ID The Future, computer engineer Robert Marks,,, Yes, computing power doubles every couple of years or so, but Dr. Marks insists that a qualitative gulf separates humans from computers, a difference that no amount of computing power can ever overcome.

    Stephen Hawking Overestimates the Evolutionary Future of Smart Machines – May 7, 2014
    Excerpt: The methods of Big Data, which I referred to yesterday, all show performance gains for well-defined problems, achieved by adding more and more input data — right up to saturation. “Model saturation,” as it’s called, is the eventual flattening of a machine learning curve into an asymptote or a straight line, where there’s no further learning, no matter how much more data you provide. Russell (one would hope) knows this, but the problem is not even mentioned in the piece, let alone explained. Instead, front and center is Hawking’s ill-defined worry about a future involving “super” intelligence. This is hype, at its best.,,,
    Adding more data won’t help these learning problems — performance can even go down. This tells you something about the prospects for the continual “evolution” of smart machines.,,,
    Norvig conceded in an article in The Atlantic last year:
    “We could draw this curve: as we gain more data, how much better does our system get?” he says. “And the answer is, it’s still improving — but we are getting to the point where we get less benefit than we did in the past.”
    This doesn’t sound like the imminent rise of the machines.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....85311.html

    Yes, “We’ve Been Wrong About Robots Before,” and We Still Are – Erik J. Larson – November 12, 2014
    Excerpt: Nothing has happened with IBM’s “supercomputer” Watson,,, Outside of playing Jeopardy — in an extremely circumscribed only-the-game-of-Jeopardy fashion — the IBM system is completely, perfectly worthless.,,, IBM, by the way, has a penchant for upping their market cap by coming out with a supercomputer that can perform a carefully circumscribed task with superfast computing techniques. Take Deep Blue beating Kasparov at chess in 1997. Deep Blue, like Watson, is useless outside of the task it was designed for,,,
    Self-driving cars are another source of confusion. Heralded as evidence of a coming human-like intelligence, they’re actually made possible by brute-force data: full-scale replicas of street grids using massive volumes of location data.,,,
    Interestingly, where brute computation and big data fail is in surprisingly routine situations that give humans no difficulty at all. Take this statement, originally from computer scientist Hector Levesque (it also appears in Nicholas Carr’s 2014 book about the dangers of automation, The Glass Cage):
    “The large ball crashed right through the table because it was made of Styrofoam. What was made of Styrofoam, the large ball or the table?”
    Watson would not perform well in answering this question, nor would Deep Blue. In fact there are no extant AI systems that have a shot at getting the right answer here, because it requires a tiny slice of knowledge about the actual world. Not “data” about word frequencies in languages or GPS coordinates or probability scoring of next-best chess moves or canned questions to canned answers in Jeopardy. It requires what AI researches call “world knowledge” or “common sense knowledge.”,,
    Having real knowledge about the world and bringing it to bear on our everyday cognitive problems is the hallmark of human intelligence, but it’s a mystery to AI scientists, and has been for decades.,,,
    Given that minds produce language, and that there are effectively infinite things we can say and talk about and do with language, our robots will seem very, very stupid about commonsense things for a very long time. Maybe forever.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....91071.html

    For all the hoopla surrounding each amazing AI advance, from IBM’s Watson to Google’s more recent Go-conquering machine, AlphaGo, we forget one critical detail in our amazement: Each of these machines does just one thing. They may do it remarkably well and fast, but that is all they can do. Watson cannot dance, clap, or take a bow. It cannot write a book, play the piano, or sing a song. It cannot drive a car, mow the lawn, or weed the garden. It cannot tell jokes and it does not laugh. It cannot recognize pictures of cats or identify faces. It cannot play Go or Chess. IBM is hoping it can assist in answering medical questions. We know it can win at Jeopardy! Watson does what all AI systems do: It captures and replays just one human ability.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....03056.html

    The Real Threat Is Machine Incompetence, Not Intelligence –
    Michael Byrne – Feb 6 2017
    Excerpt: there is a real AI (Artificial Intelligence) threat, but it’s not human-like machine intelligence gone amok. Quite the opposite: the danger is instead shitty AI. Incompetent, bumbling machines.,,
    Bundy notes that most all of our big-deal AI successes in recent years are extremely narrow in scope. We have machines that can play Jeopardy and Go—at tremendous cost in both cases—but that’s nothing like general intelligence. ,,,
    He goes on to argue that AI will continue to develop in siloed form, where new and impressive machines continue to scare doomsayers for their abilities within relatively narrow task domains while remaining “incredibly dumb” when it comes to everything else.
    The risk remains the same as it was in the 1980s, where the public and policy-makers see machines being amazing within these narrow domains, while never seeing how badly they fail when tasks become general and start to approach the edges of human cognition.
    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/the-real-threat-is-machine-incompetence-not-intelligence

    Mind Matters
    https://mindmatters.today/
    “It is straightforward to see that zero evidence supports the view that machines will attain and ultimately exceed human intelligence. And absent such evidence, there is zero reason to worry or fear that they will. So how do we see that? We see it by understanding the nature of true intelligence, as exhibited in a fully robust human intelligence, and not letting it be confused with artificial intelligence.
    What has artificial intelligence actually accomplished to date? AI has, no doubt, an impressive string of accomplishments: chess playing programs, Go playing programs, Jeopardy playing programs just scratch the surface. Consider Google’s search business, Facebook’s tracking and filtering technology, and the robotics industry. Automated cars seem just around the corner. In every case, however, what one finds with a successful application of AI is a specifically adapted algorithmic solution to a well-defined and narrowly conceived problem.”
    – William Dembski

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  35. 35
    FourFaces says:

    BA77,

    I said all I wanted to say in this discussion.

  36. 36
    bornagain77 says:

    FourFaces: “I said all I wanted to say in this discussion.”

    What you have said thus far makes no sense to me.

    To reiterate:

    FF in 17 you state, “It takes two opposite and complementary entities to have a mind, a knower and a known.”

    And in 16 you state, “Knowledge resides in the brain and is known by the spirit or soul.”

    And in 21 you state that ‘brains and computers do learn.’

    People learn knowledge, brains and computers merely store representations of knowledge and/or information that can be accessed and manipulated by the minds of people.

    By saying “brains and computers do learn” you are making a category error and are imparting ‘personhood’ to a brain and/or computer.

    Definition:

    learn
    l?rn
    verb
    1.
    gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught.
    “they’d started learning French”
    synonyms: acquire a knowledge of, acquire skill in, become competent in, become proficient in, grasp, master, take in, absorb, assimilate, digest, familiarize oneself with; More
    2.
    ARCHAIC•INFORMAL
    teach (someone).
    ““That’ll learn you,” he chuckled”

    To acquire knowledge in something, i.e. to ‘learn’ something, requires, by your own model, a ‘knower’. But, again by your own model, the brain is not the ‘knower’ but is the ‘known’.

    Of one final note, since God himself possesses all wisdom and knowledge then, by your model, I suggest our ‘knower’ get to know God.

    Verses:

    Colossians 2:3
    “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

    1 Corinthians 2:9-12
    However, as it is written:

    “What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
    and what no human mind has conceived” —
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—”

    these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

    The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

    Of supplemental note:

    The 10 Most Common Elements of a Near-Death Experience – May 7, 2018
    Excerpt: Unlimited Knowledge
    Many times (46%) experiencers felt that they were in the presence of unlimited knowledge, and sometimes even received some or all of this knowledge as if the wisdom and secrets of the universe were shared with them. Unfortunately, they never seem to be able to retain this knowledge upon awakening, yet they carry with them the memory that this vast knowledge does exist.
    https://www.thoughtco.com/common-elements-near-death-experiences-2594675

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