4/4: Computational Thought

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11 comments

  1. Based on Daugman’s definitions of deterministic and stochastic neural networks, do we think Freud would favor the deterministic model, “…with each formal neuron or daemon obeying specific and simple rules,” (30) or the stochastic model of neural functioning, “… specified by probabilistic transfer functions…,” (31)? Why or why not?

  2. Computational Metaphor is a brain function that invokes the notion of formal rules for the manipulation of symbols, as well as certain ideas about data structures for representing information. (31). What relationship does Computational Metaphor have to the fundamental metaphor of behavior, the cybernetic metaphor? (humans are machines)?

  3. I was interested in the section that talked about the Computational Metaphor as well, specifically the section which addressed Alan Turing’s “Turing Test” which was “…the assertion that under certain circumstances machines can be said to think, based on a positivistic criterion for distinguishing between artificial and human intelligence” (32). Do you believe this to be true? Is there a point in which man and machine are similar? Or is there even a point in which the machines we build surpass our own thought processes?

  4. Daugman writes, “At its core the computational metaphor of brain function invokes the notion of formal rules for the manipulation of symbols, as well as certain ideas about data structures for representing information.” (pg. 31) When he uses the example of language use, I was slightly confused with how we have these lesions in our mind that leave space for deficits, which gives us the ability to manipulate the symbols we see on a daily basis. My question is what causes these lesions that leave room for symbol manipulation and is it a bad thing if we do occasionally manipulate symbols?

  5. Continuing with last week’s reading, human, interpersonal communication is binary, consisting of content and a relational aspects. Considering this, does the computer metaphor suffice in regard to the human brain? Similarly, is it fair to critique the brain from a “mathematician’s” perspective as JVN has in his “The Computer and the Brain”? Does the computer metaphor miss on the relational aspect of communication that makes humans unique in the animal kingdom?

  6. Daugman writes about several theories and metaphors about the brain, in which many of the metaphors of the past seem so farfetched and absurd that they could never be applicable or true today. Computational thought seems to be the most advanced metaphor that is imaginable at this point in time. What flaws could this metaphor for the brain possess that may one day make it as absurd as theories of the past?

  7. At first thought, I usually connect “computational thought” to something math related but I never would have thought of the brain to be a “machine.” “That we should have chosen to model the brain as a computing machine, and even to believe that we have found at last the essence of our personhood in computation…” (33). The use of the word machine throws me off. Would seeing the brain as a machine, rather than an organ system, change the way we use it?

  8. Von Neumann describes many of the similarities of the human brain and computers, for example the use of digital signals. He also points out the differences, such as the higher speeds of computers in linear (sequential) tasks. Von Neumann is concerned, however, that human memory presents a problem. By analogy to computers, where memory requires a much larger portion of the computer than that dedicated to tasks, he states that memory in the human brain must be very large as well. He doesn’t know where all that “memory” would be found in the human brain. He concludes that in the human brain, “whatever the system is, it cannot fail to differ considerably from what we consciously and explicitly consider as mathematics.”(p. 83) While Von Neumann never equates memory with consciousness, is he, in fact, saying that consciousness (memory) cannot be explained by current science? Is he taking a dualist position, rather than a materialist position on consciousness, as outlined by Blackmore (Consciousness, A Very short Introduction)? If that is true, can machines ever have a “consciousness”? on Neumann describes many of the similarities of the human brain and computers, for example the use of digital signals. He also points out the differences, such as the higher speeds of computers in linear (sequential) tasks. Von Neumann is concerned, however, that human memory presents a problem. By analogy to computers, where memory requires a much larger portion of the computer than that dedicated to tasks, he states that memory in the human brain must be very large as well. He doesn’t know where all that “memory” would be found in the human brain. He concludes that in the human brain, “whatever the system is, it cannot fail to differ considerably from what we consciously and explicitly consider as mathematics.”(p. 83) While Von Neumann never equates memory with consciousness, is he, in fact, saying that consciousness (memory) cannot be explained by current science? Is he taking a dualist position, rather than a materialist position on consciousness, as outlined by Blackmore (Consciousness, A Very short Introduction)? If that is true, can machines ever have a “consciousness”?

  9. In the beginning of the article, Daugman talks about control. He says, “This concept of control is absolutely central to our reflection about the relationship between the mental and the physical. It is expressed as not only a mechanical problem but also a moral problem…” (26). I was a little confused as to what Daugman was getting at here. Do we see control in all aspects of our life? Does one think to much that brain can control everything?

  10. “…invokes the notion of formal rules for the manipulation of symbols”(31) How do we escape this subconscious symbol manipulation? If we manipulate certain things in our minds then are all of our realities different and how can one test this?

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