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The San Francisco Philosophy Group Message Board › Embodied Brains Not Turing Equivelant

Embodied Brains Not Turing Equivelant

Joshua A.
San Francisco, CA
Post #: 29
I'm always surprised in these discussions, how little is said about our only proof of concept for cognition, the substrate for "thinking". This evolved proof of concept is the embodied animal nervous system.

Gabe's introduction is a great overview of Weak AI. 'Weak' in this context is in no way a critique of Gabe's outline; it is a specific type of AI, which includes all manner of genetic algorithms, Bayesian machine learning, expert systems, etc. In other words, Weak AI is a very useful tool that performs functional calculations much faster than humans can. Strong AI, however, is what this meetup is about; specifically, it asks whether Turing equivalent machines - which include everything from the Babbage difference engine, to a modern calculator, to quantum computing - can perform human type thinking, which must include creativity, imagination, intuition, etc., because they are non-separable in the human mind. I'll simply refer to this human capacity as cognition. And cognition, to the very best of anyone's knowledge, is so far limited to evolved neuronal systems.

So, the question is whether Turing equivalent systems, e.g. digital machines, can implement cognitive systems, e.g. embodied animal brains. Understandably, the debate gravitates towards whether known digital machines can implement easily observable high-level human functions, like logic and language. However, there is a fantastic amount of neuro-scientific evidence about the very substrate that makes logic and language possible that goes by the wayside exactly because it is not understood how neurons exhibit such human behaviors. Never the less, this neuro-biological evidence is at least half the question being asked, since, again, there is only one empirical proof of cognition.

I so wish I could be at this meetup, but in lieu of physical presence I'll offer the following claims:

  • The only proof of concept for "thinking" is the embodied animal brain.
  • This evolved phenomenon is not Turing equivalent.
  • Synthetic cognition, which will exhibit "thinking", is possible; but, it will not be solely a discrete state machine, i.e. Turing equivalent. It will most likely be a synthetic hybrid of integrated digital and neuronal strategies.

The above is not intended to be a syllogism, merely a list of interdependent claims that require justification. I'd be happy to justify/discuss the above discussion/claims if anyone is interested. Before any exchange, however, I kindly ask that two short videos be watched as they summarize the differences between digital and neuronal systems. These videos are the second and third video on this web page:­.

Have a great meetup, and I look forward to any discussion before or after!


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