Response to R.Hlywka's brain/mind comments

From: Eric Hawthorne <>
Date: Thu, 05 Jun 2003 01:59:14 -0700

R Hlywka wrote:

> There are so many things we need to take into consideration. Genetics.
> We are born with a specific preprogramed set of organization and
> hardware. the way the neurons are preorganized, and the way they go
> about utilizing and organizing and transfering specific information.
> We are predisposed if you will. However, there's also nurture. Even
> from starting in the womb, we recieve biorythms of our mother, which
> our whole body sets to. What she ingests, the anxieties she feels. We
> feel. Not that it's a good or bad thing.

Yes. Ok. I left out some details. One way of looking at it though is
that the brain
evolved from hard-wired control-system hardware to become a more and
more general
information processor. This must have something to do with the fact that
the terrestrial environment has lots of different opportunities for an
generalist with opposable thumbs, if only that generalist can figure out
what to
do (how to behave) in novel situation-types.

You could even say that the human brain (cortex?) has distinguished
itself from
the brains of other animals by the evolution of this general computing
(and the consequent ability to do abstract thinking, situation-modelling
with hypotheticals,
conceptualizing, precise but extensible linguistic commucation,
introspection etc.)
even if (granted) the general computing ability is employed in habitual and
stereotypical ways most of the time, and is optimized to support those
or instinctual patterns.

Many other animal species share with us the "hard-wired" or "firm-wared"
kinds of behaviours that you ascribe to our brains. We have gone further
than any of them in generalizing the information-processing and storage
capabilities of our brains so that they are "turing-equivalent" AND ALSO
still optimized for carrying out instinctual behaviours, albeit in
creative ways.

> You brain is so much more than a computer.. think of it like a galaxy
> or even it's own universe.

I think that's going a little far in the Carl Sagan direction.

> This all brings up more questions. What about memory transfer. We code
> our memory by the continious rearangement of pathways. Unless you
> could copy the coding and rearrangement, decode it by that persons

I don't remember claiming (maybe someone else claimed) you could copy a
I do believe we'll eventually be able to build them, (and not out of
organic materials) but if we do build them, then once each A-mind
starts processing and assiimilating information from its uniquely
situated point-of-view
and its unique experiences/learning sessions, then it will become
different from all
other A-minds and from all other human minds, in the same way that ours are
different from each other because of nurture. There would be ways to mimic
differences in built-in biases, preferences,
cognition-optimization-directions etc
as well, if that was useful for groups of A-minds.
The task is not only to understand what a human brain does in the process of
its being/becoming a mind. The task is to figure out "IN GENERAL" what
"being a mind is" and to figure out how the human brain is doing THAT and
also what are all the things that something other than a human brain would
have to do to be also doing THAT.

Received on Thu Jun 05 2003 - 04:54:54 PDT

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