Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community


Have dominant paradigms failed psychiatry?

Altschuler: The rise of psychiatry, he reminds us, was linked to the emergence of asylums based on the premise that a carefully calibrated regimen could restore lunatics to sanity. By the end of the 19th century, however, therapeutically inclined institutions had become “mausoleums with a mad, captive population.” Read More ›

At Mind Matters News: Are the brain cells in a dish that learned Pong conscious?

Eric Holloway: A couple other interesting results from the research. First, human-derived organoids always outperform mouse-derived organoids in terms of volley length. Second, even without negative feedback, when the paddle missed the pong ball, the organoids still learn to increase volley length. Read More ›

FYI/FTR: What is “Monism”?

This is just a note for record on what monism is (as opposed to dualism, Creation by a Supreme and maximally great and good being, etc). A useful point of departure is a diagram from Wikipedia on dualism (and they give only one type) vs monism: Wikipedia notes, next to this: Different types of monism include:[12][18] Substance monism, “the view that the apparent plurality of substances is due to different states or appearances of a single substance”[12] Attributive monism, “the view that whatever the number of substances, they are of a single ultimate kind”[12] Partial monism, “within a given realm of being (however many there may be) there is only one substance”[12] Existence monism, “the view that there is only Read More ›

L&FP39: How the folded structure (and then the “loading”) of tRNA corrects attempts to reduce protein synthesis to “mere” chemistry

One of the more astonishing rhetorical gambits of objectors to the design inference is to try to suggest that the alphanumeric, code-using, algorithmic information system we see in the D/RNA of the living cell and linked protein synthesis is not really an information system, it all reduces to chemical reaction trains. A common associated gambit is to assert that terms like “code” etc are all readily dismissible analogies. As a first reminder, protein synthesis as graphically summarised: Of course, it never hurts to remind such objectors of p. 5 of Sir Francis Crick’s $6 million, March 19, 1953 letter to his son, Michael: Notice, his belief right from the outset of discovering the double-helix stricture: “. . . D.N.A. is Read More ›

Asked seriously: What if plants are smarter than we think?

The question is not whether plants are “as smart as SMART animals” (no) but whether many plants can use information to the same degree as many animals can (yes). It would make more sense to see that the reason they can is that nature is full of intelligence (not personal intelligences). And that the intelligence clearly did not get there by Darwinian means, as the above example illustrates. 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 ›

Researchers: Plants can choose how to respond to competitors. Do they think?

From ScienceDaily: Biologists from the University of Tübingen have demonstrated that plants can choose between alternative competitive responses according to the stature and densities of their opponents. A new study by researchers from the Institute of Evolution and Ecology reveals that plants can evaluate the competitive ability of their neighbors and optimally match their responses to them. The results were published in Nature Communications. Animals facing competition have been shown to optimally choose between different behaviors, including confrontation, avoidance and tolerance, depending on the competitive ability of their opponents relative to their own. For example, if their competitors are bigger or stronger, animals are expected to “give up the fight” and choose avoidance or tolerance over confrontation. Plants can detect Read More ›

Plant studies: Intelligence does not require a brain or nervous system

From philosopher Laura Ruggles at Aeon: What does it even mean to say that a mallow can learn and remember the location of the sunrise? The idea that plants can behave intelligently, let alone learn or form memories, was a fringe notion until quite recently. Memories are thought to be so fundamentally cognitive that some theorists argue that they’re a necessary and sufficient marker of whether an organism can do the most basic kinds of thinking. Surely memory requires a brain, and plants lack even the rudimentary nervous systems of bugs and worms. However, over the past decade or so this view has been forcefully challenged. The mallow isn’t an anomaly. Plants are not simply organic, passive automata. We now Read More ›

John Searle Talks to Google

John Searle gives a nice talk at Google about real intelligence vs. machine intelligence. The conversation is interesting for a number of reasons, including some historical background of Searle’s famous “Chinese Room Argument.”
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Do Computers Think Creatively?

The many advances in computer technology have convinced many people that AI is real and it is coming soon. This article focuses on the concept of creativity, and what that means for the question of whether someone can actually build an “artificial intelligence” with computers. Read More

A single brain area makes humans unique?

From ScienceDaily: The idea that integrating abstract information drives many of the human brain’s unique abilities has been around for decades. But a paper published1 in Current Biology, which directly compares activity in human and macaque monkey brains as they listen to simple auditory patterns, provides the first physical evidence that a specific area for such integration may exist in humans. Other studies that compare monkeys and humans have revealed differences in the brain’s anatomy, for example, but not differences that could explain where humans’ abstract abilities come from, say neuroscientists. “This gives us a powerful clue about what is special about our minds,” says psychologist Gary Marcus at New York University. “Nothing is more important than understanding how we Read More ›