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Why Not Every New "Like the Brain" System Will Prove Important 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-keep-using-that-word-I-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There is certainly no shortage of stories about AI systems that include the saying, 'like the brain'. This article takes a critical look at those claims and just what 'like the brain' means. The conclusion: while not a lie, the catch-phrase isn't very informative and may not mean much given our lack of understanding on how the brain works. From the article: 'Surely these claims can't all be true? After all, the brain is an incredibly complex and specific structure, forged in the relentless pressure of millions of years of evolution to be organized just so. We may have a lot of outstanding questions about how it works, but work a certain way it must. But here's the thing: this "like the brain" label usually isn't a lie — it's just not very informative. There are many ways a system can be like the brain, but only a fraction of these will prove important. We know so much that is true about the brain, but the defining issue in theoretical neuroscience today is, simply put, we don't know what matters when it comes to understanding how the brain computes. The debate is wide open, with plausible guesses about the fundamental unit, ranging from quantum phenomena all the way to regions spanning millimeters of brain tissue.'"
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Why Not Every New "Like the Brain" System Will Prove Important

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  • " It never crashes"

    Ever dealt with a schizophrenic or someone in the throes of a manic episode? Or just a drunk?

  • by bug_hunter (32923) on Thursday May 22, 2014 @07:59PM (#47071319)
    I remember watching a replay from a news piece when computers first started replacing typewriters in the late 70s.
    "These computers, using many of the same techniques as the human brain, can help increase efficiency" the newsreader said as it showed a secretary running a spell check.

    I still like Dijkstra comments about the question "Can a computer think?" is like asking "Can a submarine swim?". To which I assume the answer is "sorta, the end result is the same, but different means to achieve it".
  • After all, the brain is an incredibly complex and specific structure, forged in the relentless pressure of millions of years of evolution to be organized just so.

    Ugh, Creationists. No, that's wrong. Evolution is simply the application of environmental bias to chaos -- the same fundamental process by which complexity naturally arises from entropy. Look, we jabbed some wires in a rodent head and hooked up an infrared sensor. [wired.co.uk] Then they became able to sense infrared and use the infrared input to navigate. That adaptation didn't take millions of years. What an idiot. Evolution is a form of emergence, but it is not the only form of emergence, this process operates at all levels of reality and all scales of time. Your puny brains and insignificant lives give you a small window within which to compare the universe to your experience and thus you fail to realize that the neuroplasticity of brains adapting to new inputs is really not so different a process than droplets of condensation forming rain, or molecules forming amino acids when energized and cooled, or stars forming, or matter being produced all via similar emergent processes.

    The structure of self replicating life is that chemistry which propagates more complex information about itself into the future faster. If you could witness those millions of years in time-lapse then you'd see how adapting to IR inputs isn't really much different at all, just at a different scale. Yet you classify one adaptation as "evolution" and the other "emergence" for purely arbitrary reasons: The genetically reproducible capability of the adaptation -- As if we can't jab more wires in the next generation's heads from here on out according to protocol. Your language simply lacks the words for most basic universal truths. I suppose you also draw a thick arbitrary line between children and their parents -- one that nature doesn't draw else "species" wouldn't exist. The tendencies of your pattern recognition and classification systems can hamper you if you let your mind run rampant. I believe you call this "confirmation bias".

    Humans understand very well what their neurons are doing now at the chemical level. It's now known how neurotransmitters are being transported by motor proteins [youtube.com] in vesicles across neurons along micro-tubules in a very mechanical fashion that uses a bias applied to entropy to emerge the action within cells. The governing principals of cognition are being discovered by neurologists and abstracted by cybernetics to gain a fundamental understanding of cognition that philosophers have always craved. When cyberneticians model replicas of a retina's layers, the artificial neural networks end up having the same motion sensing behavior; The same is true for many other parts of the brain. Indeed the hippocampus has been successfully replaced in mice with an artificial implant and proven they can still remember and learn with the implant.

    If the brain were so specifically crafted then cutting out half of it would reduce people to vegetables and forever destroy half of their motor function, but that's a moronic thing to assume would happen. [youtube.com] Neuroplasticity of the brain disproves the assumption that it is so strongly dependent upon its structural components. Cyberneticians know that everything flows, so they acknowledge that primitive instinctual responses and cognitive biases due to various physical structural formations feed their effects into the greater neurological function; However this is not the core governing mechanic of cognition -- It can't be else the little girl with half her brain wouldn't remain sentient, let alone able to walk.

    Much of modern philosophy loves to cast a mystic shroud of "lack of understanding" upon that which is already thor

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