[ExI] The digital nature of brains

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 4 15:00:22 UTC 2010


> How would one determine, in practice, whether or not any
> given information processor is a digital computer?

I would start by looking for the presence of real physical digital electronic hardware and syntactic instructions that run on it. In some cases you will find those instructions in the software. In other cases you will find them coded into the hardware or firmware.

Another way to answer your question: 

If you find yourself wanting to consult a philosopher about whether a given entity might in some sense exist at some level of description as a digital computer then most likely it's not really a digital computer. :) 

>> Is it accurate to say that two digital computers,
>> networked together, may themselves constitute a larger digital computer?


>> Is the Internet a digital computer? Or, equivalently,
>> depending on your definition of the Internet: is the Internet a
>> piece of software running on a digital computer?

I see the internet as a network of computers that run software. You could consider it one large computer if you like.

>> Finally, would you say that an artificial neural
>> network is a digital computer?

Software implementations of artificial neural networks certainly fall under the general category of digital computer, yes. However in my view no software of any kind can cause subjective experience to arise in the software or hardware. I consider it logically impossible that syntactical operations on symbols, whether they be 1's and 0's or Shakespeare's sonnets, can cause the system implementing those operations to have subjective mental contents.

The upshot is that 1) strong AI on digital computers is false, and 2) the human brain does something besides run programs, assuming it runs programs at all. 



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