From: Mikko Särelä (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Jan 17 2006 - 13:24:42 MST
On Tue, 17 Jan 2006, Phillip Huggan wrote:
> Where has computation ever produced intelligent behaviour? Unless you
> mean the type of intelligent behaviour that evolution has produced too.
> Surely that process can't be described as computation.
> A computer is one class of physical systems. Our brains are another.
> Surely you won't postulate that a synapse can occur using lego brains
> and lego neurotransmitters right? That is a question I've asked over
> and over again on this list and yet to receive a yes or no answer..
Neural networks are equivalent with Turing machines. Modern computers are
equivalent with Turing machines. Our brains run software that nobody thus
far has replicated with modern computers. Do you claim that if one did so,
the outcome would not act like a human mind and would not have
consciousness? (If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, what is
And yes, my answer to your question is yes.
A few decades ago biologists and philosophers had a big problem trying to
understand what life is. There were philosophical debates on life and what
it is. And there were people who were dead set that life could not happen
just because of some chemical reactions.
Nowadays we know better. Cells are self-replicating machines and basically
the whole concept of life is rather meaningless in scientific debate.
The materialists were right. It was the chemical reactions that cause
these small machines to have self-replicating and other properties.
Same goes, I believe, for consciousness. Because we do not yet understand
how that happens, we hold that as an important question, but it may be
that in the final analysis it is not. It is the algorithms that compute
and estimate good actions considering the input it has that are important.
I would suggest, in case you haven't, to get a good look at what theory of
computing has to offer in understanding - well, theory of computation. And
I would not read only the basics, like different kinds of languages and
automata that exist and their properties. I would also take a good look at
theory of computational complexity, especially on concurrency. And while
you are at it, you could also get a basic understanding about neural
Good starting points are for example: M. Sipser, Introduction to the
Theory of Computation (PWS Publishing 1997) or H. Lewis and C.
Papadimitriou, Elements of the Theory of Computation (Prentice Hall 1998).
C. Papadimitriou: Computational Complexity, Addison-Wesley, 1994.
S. Haykin: "Neural Networks - a Comprehensive Foundation", 2nd edition,
-- Mikko Särelä http://thoughtsfromid.blogspot.com/ "Happiness is not a destination, but a way of travelling." Aristotle
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