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Cognitive Computer Chips
Posted: 14 September 2011 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]
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kkwan - 14 September 2011 09:55 AM
dougsmith - 14 September 2011 06:29 AM

A machine is a complex physical object designed to perform some task or tasks. A brain is a complex physical object, designed by natural selection to perform all kinds of tasks.

Who or what is the designer and its implications are crucial.

In the case of a machine, the designer is human. It is the product of human intelligent design.

OTOH, if biological evolution via natural selection designed brains, can biological evolution or natural selection be conceived as a designer?

If it can be so conceived, is it in the anthropomorphic sense of a designer?

If it is so, the issue of intelligent design arises.

If it is not so, then there is no designer at all.

Without a designer, can a brain be conceived as a machine at all (if a machine is a complex physical object designed to perform some task or tasks) even though at the molecular level, the micro components of the brain exhibit machinelike behavior? Also, does it follow, by extension, that the micro components of the brain entail the brain (as a whole) is a machine?

For instance, physics describe the behavior of micro and macro objects in the universe with great accuracy as machinelike, so by extension, is the universe a machine?

Thus, from the perspective of biology, the brain is better conceived as a biological organism, not as a biological machine.

That is why wikipedia has no article on biological machine.

Speaking generally, your move is simply one of semantics. You say something is a machine only if it’s been designed by a person. That’s not the crucial point when we discuss the brain as a machine. The crucial point is that all that the brain does is done via physical processes. It is just as much a large, complex physical process as is a carburetor or digital watch.

And the semantics is actually erroneous. Biology already understands evolution as a designing force. That’s why the contrast is with intelligent design. Natural selection is mindless design. That’s how you get such things as biological function: i.e. the function of the heart is to pump blood, not to be the same size as a persimmon. Roughly speaking, pumping blood is how it increased the fitness of creatures that had hearts, thus making it more probable that they survived and reproduced. This is mindless design.

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Posted: 14 September 2011 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]
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Humans can exercise intelligent design, so why can we not copy from evolution or simulate the process?

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Posted: 14 September 2011 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]
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kkwan - 13 September 2011 06:07 PM

From the same wiki on machine, the meaning of machine:

The meaning of machine is traced by the Oxford English Dictionary to an independently functioning structure and by Merriam-Webster Dictionary to something that has been constructed. This includes human design into the meaning of machine.

Words evolve. The meaning of machine has expanded. The only way you can claim the human body is not a machine these days is if you posit a soul or a god.

OTOH, to ascribe machinelike properties to them is tantamount to admitting a supernatural designer/creator which is creationism or intelligent design. This is akin to religion.

I thought the designer of a machine had to be human  tongue rolleye

[ Edited: 14 September 2011 10:53 AM by domokato ]
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Posted: 14 September 2011 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]
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kkwan - 14 September 2011 09:55 AM

For instance, physics describe the behavior of micro and macro objects in the universe with great accuracy as machinelike, so by extension, is the universe a machine?

This is a good question. As far as we know, the answer is no because it isn’t meant to “accomplish a task”.

That is why wikipedia has no article on biological machine.

The reason “biological machine” redirects to “organism” is because that’s what a biological machine is. It’s basically just another name for it.

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“What people do is they confuse cynicism with skepticism. Cynicism is ‘you can’t change anything, everything sucks, there’s no point to anything.’ Skepticism is, ‘well, I’m not so sure.’” -Bill Nye

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Posted: 14 September 2011 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]
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kkwan - 14 September 2011 09:55 AM

Thus, from the perspective of biology, the brain is better conceived as a biological organism, not as a biological machine.

What about a beaver dam? Is that a machine? Humans build calculators, beavers build dams. Calculators are more complex than dams because we are more complex than beavers. Other than that, I see no difference. In the end, the true and only designer is natural selection. It builds brains, where genes control directly the synthesis of proteins, and it also builds dams and calculators, which are the genes’ “extended phenotypes.” In the end, they are all a product of natural selection.

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Posted: 14 September 2011 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]
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Write4U - 14 September 2011 10:28 AM

IMO, it all comes down to “meaning”, “emotional response”, and “purpose”.

Can these properties be simulated and programmed?

We can’t define meaning and purpose for ourselves.
And emotional response - really, would you want to simulate that (other than in the Cherry 2000 sense)?

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Posted: 14 September 2011 12:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]
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domokato - 14 September 2011 10:58 AM
kkwan - 14 September 2011 09:55 AM

For instance, physics describe the behavior of micro and macro objects in the universe with great accuracy as machinelike, so by extension, is the universe a machine?

This is a good question. As far as we know, the answer is no because it isn’t meant to “accomplish a task”.

I think “meant to accomplish a task” makes it look too much like natural selection is intentional.


Stephen

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Posted: 14 September 2011 09:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]
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dougsmith - 14 September 2011 10:35 AM

Speaking generally, your move is simply one of semantics. You say something is a machine only if it’s been designed by a person. That’s not the crucial point when we discuss the brain as a machine. The crucial point is that all that the brain does is done via physical processes. It is just as much a large, complex physical process as is a carburetor or digital watch.

And the semantics is actually erroneous. Biology already understands evolution as a designing force. That’s why the contrast is with intelligent design. Natural selection is mindless design. That’s how you get such things as biological function: i.e. the function of the heart is to pump blood, not to be the same size as a persimmon. Roughly speaking, pumping blood is how it increased the fitness of creatures that had hearts, thus making it more probable that they survived and reproduced. This is mindless design.

It is not just simply about semantics. It is also about how we interpret nature’s processes. I don’t think one can simply equate the brain’s physical processes as synonymous to that of a carburetor or digital watch and on that basis, consider the brain as a machine, notwithstanding that there is no evidence of a specific designer or whether it is justified to consider it as a mere machine solely from its physical processes. It is simply reductionist, anthropomorphic, a false analogy and can only be considered as metaphorical.

In biology, there is always some element of teleology. From the wiki on teleology

Statements which imply that nature has goals, for example where a species is said to do something “in order to” to achieve survival, appear teleological, and therefore invalid.

Hence, if evolution is understood as a designing force, it appears teleological and is invalid.
Is it unintelligent design (whatever it means)?

Element of teleology in biology:

James Lennox has argued that Darwin was a teleologist, and biologist philosopher Francisco Ayala has argued that all statements about processes can be trivially translated into teleological statements, and vice versa, but that teleological statements are more explanatory and cannot be disposed of.

On putting the cart before the horse:

We decide whether an appendage has a function by analysing the process of selection that led to it. Therefore, any talk of functions must be posterior to natural selection and function cannot be defined in the manner advocated by Reiss and Dawkins

Neither can natural selection (leading to function) be construed as mindless design at all if there is no specific designer or design, as evolution is blind.

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Posted: 14 September 2011 10:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]
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domokato - 14 September 2011 10:50 AM

Words evolve. The meaning of machine has expanded. The only way you can claim the human body is not a machine these days is if you posit a soul or a god.

What is the meaning of machine now?

Not necessarily so. It is false analogy to compare the human body to a machine.

I thought the designer of a machine had to be human  tongue rolleye

It is conceivable that there could be a supernatural designer of humans and human brains as machines.

The designer of human made machines are humans.

[ Edited: 14 September 2011 10:16 PM by kkwan ]
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Posted: 14 September 2011 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 100 ]
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domokato - 14 September 2011 10:58 AM

This is a good question. As far as we know, the answer is no because it isn’t meant to “accomplish a task”.

If not for the universe, are humans meant to accomplish a task and if so, what is it?
Be careful, your answer could imply teleology

The reason “biological machine” redirects to “organism” is because that’s what a biological machine is. It’s basically just another name for it.

“A rose by any other name is just as sweet” That is poetry and metaphorical.  LOL

[ Edited: 14 September 2011 10:17 PM by kkwan ]
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Posted: 14 September 2011 10:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 101 ]
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George - 14 September 2011 11:00 AM

What about a beaver dam? Is that a machine? Humans build calculators, beavers build dams. Calculators are more complex than dams because we are more complex than beavers. Other than that, I see no difference. In the end, the true and only designer is natural selection. It builds brains, where genes control directly the synthesis of proteins, and it also builds dams and calculators, which are the genes’ “extended phenotypes.” In the end, they are all a product of natural selection.

The concept of natural selection as designer is teleological and unjustified as evolution is blind.

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Posted: 15 September 2011 01:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 102 ]
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kkwan - 14 September 2011 10:14 PM

The concept of natural selection as designer is teleological and unjustified as evolution is blind.

The concept of natural selection as designer doesn’t have to be teleological, it’s just the language we use + our natural tendency to think like that which confuses.

The heart isn’t meant to pump blood but it’s designed to pump blood, meaning it was naturally selected because it pumps blood. (edit: There is more to design than that but it’s a start.)

Stephen

[ Edited: 15 September 2011 01:24 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 15 September 2011 02:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 103 ]
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StephenLawrence - 15 September 2011 01:17 AM
kkwan - 14 September 2011 10:14 PM

The concept of natural selection as designer is teleological and unjustified as evolution is blind.

The concept of natural selection as designer doesn’t have to be teleological, it’s just the language we use + our natural tendency to think like that which confuses.

The heart isn’t meant to pump blood but it’s designed to pump blood, meaning it was naturally selected because it pumps blood. (edit: There is more to design than that but it’s a start.)

Stephen

Perhaps “natural selection is a process” might be substituted. But IMO, any design or form this process yields is not predictable. Most adaptations are “selections” from a variety of possible evolutionary forms, i.e. “luck”.

[ Edited: 15 September 2011 02:26 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 15 September 2011 02:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 104 ]
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Write4U - 15 September 2011 02:15 AM
StephenLawrence - 15 September 2011 01:17 AM
kkwan - 14 September 2011 10:14 PM

The concept of natural selection as designer is teleological and unjustified as evolution is blind.

The concept of natural selection as designer doesn’t have to be teleological, it’s just the language we use + our natural tendency to think like that which confuses.

The heart isn’t meant to pump blood but it’s designed to pump blood, meaning it was naturally selected because it pumps blood. (edit: There is more to design than that but it’s a start.)

Stephen

Perhaps “natural selection is a process” might be substituted.

Yes, it’s a designing process and refining and honing just through small naturally selected advantages which we’d call designed by natural selection, I think?

Stephen

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Posted: 15 September 2011 02:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 105 ]
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But I also think that many adaptations were not “required”, but pure luck. That is why there is such a variety in survival adaptations.
Just to think of the variety of life on earth is mind boggling. Given half a chance almost everything seems to adapt in one way or another.

What would happen to a poor hermit crab if it hadn’t found a shell?.... downer

[ Edited: 15 September 2011 02:54 AM by Write4U ]
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