June 27, 2009

From David Warren-Smith:

Re: Brain lives at “edge of chaos” (March 18): The authors you describe have used brain imaging techniques to measure dynamic changes in the brain. This is a bit like saying lets use imaging techniques to observe the dynamic behaviour of electrical activity in a Pentium CPU chip between different programs running on a computer, in order to explain the behaviour of the Pentium chip. This seems very far fetched to me.

Trying to disguise a lack of understanding of the behaviour of the brain with a fancy expression like self-organized criticality is unconvincing and in this case not particularly conducive to a proper understanding of the problem. If you want a better starting point for research on brain activity you need to read my essay entitled “Intelligence-What it is and how it works”.

My essay is not about measuring intelligence but about the mechanism that produces it. Intelligence is the mechanism that enables animals, such as us humans, to function as independent creatures. I have been considering the question of intelligence produced by a biological brain and the significance of the peculiarities of the mechanism that produces it for some time. I see a well defined process involved, that describes the basics of the mechanism and draws relevant conclusions. Of course the authors of the concept that you describe might have a deeper concept that is not apparent from the brief description you give, which could put me out of order. Perhaps the authors you describe are developing their technique as a diagnostic tool and are not interested in mechanism.

In my view a degree of randomness is quite possible in the mechanism of the biological brain, but I see no need for calling on chaos as part of the description. A significant aspect of the function of the brain is to produce intelligence. The mechanism of intelligence is not a chaotic process. Another necessary aspect of the function of the brain is to produce perception. This is also not a chaotic process but part of physical consciousness. A physical description of biological intelligence is no weirder than the concept of self-organized criticality.

My essay is a cut down version of earlier work that I have arranged to reduce the technical content and make it easier to read. You would need to read the whole essay in order to criticise it. I intend to publish my essay if I can find someone prepared to publish it. I am prepared to send you a copy of my essay in PDF format if you specifically request it.

David Warren-Smith, MSc., CPEng.
Elizabeth Downs, near Adelaide South Australia


Anonymous Edward N. Haas said...

For decades now, I have been observing in my own mind, and writing about (17 books in print), a factor which I have never found mentioned in any writings other than my own. I call this factor the "arbitria" --- "arbitrium" for the singular. What are the arbitria? Without ceasing to observe this entire page, I can focus my attention on any particular one of its words or any particular one of the letters in any particular one of its words, etc.. How do I do that? I will it. In other words, I focus my attention by acts of will. I can then commit to memory which acts of will focus my attention on, say, every instance of the letter "a" or the word "arbitria". More specifically, I commit to memory which acts of will CONTOUR my attention to the letter "a" or the word "arbitria". I can then recognize each occurrence of the word "arbitria" as precisely that by noting the fact that, to contour my attention to it, I must use the arbitria I have long associated with the word "arbitria". I am not so dense as to try to tell others that I know better than they do concerning what goes on inside their own minds; but, just as I cannot do that in regards to others, neither can others tell me they know better than I do regarding what goes on in my mind. Now then, what I clearly and unequivocally observe going on in my own mind is this: The arbitria are the highly abstract (because nothing like any of my sese images) "stuff" of which my concepts are made. In the final analysis, the arbitria are WHAT I know ABOUT whatever is known by me, including the arbitria themselves, since I know and define one set of arbitria by another. The final point in all of the above is this: To explain consciousness of sense images is far from being the same as explaining consciousness of the arbitria. To make matters worse, to be totally oblivious of the presence of the arbitria in a human mind (in mine at least) borders on making every attempt to explain consciousness an endeavor far too lame to be taken seriously.

June 27, 2009 6:10 AM  

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