[ExI] Zombie glutamate

John Clark johnkclark at gmail.com
Sat Feb 21 06:04:03 UTC 2015

Stuart LaForge wrote:

> > If you want to simulate the mind, you would have to simulate the human
> brain from the atoms up

Why? Sounds like a astronomical waste of time.

> >> I see nothing sacred in hormones, I don't see the slightest reason why
>> they or any neurotransmitter would be especially difficult to simulate
>> through computation, because chemical messengers are not a sign of
>> sophisticated design on nature's part, rather it's an example of
>> Evolution's bungling. If you need to inhibit a nearby neuron there are
>> better ways of sending that signal then launching a GABA molecule like a
>> message in a bottle thrown into the sea and waiting ages for it to diffuse
>> to its random target.

> Your example shows you don't understand how chemical messengers like
> hormones function. The target is not random at at all

 Hormones get to their target by a process of diffusion, if you know of a
process more random than that I'd like to hear about it.

> If GABA is a message in a bottle

It is.

 > it is a bottle that only the intended recipients can open.

And the speed of the message is SLOW and contains less than one byte of
information.  I'm sorry but hormones just do not impress me with their
telecommunication sophistication.

 > Adding together the Beckenstein limits, calculated using atomic masses
> and covalent radii of the individual atoms in GABA,

What the hell? Why on Earth would anybody want to do that?? We're talking
about chemistry here not Black Holes!

> > yields an information storage capacity of approximately 35 MB and that's
> just for one molecule of GABA.

So 2 GABA molecules provides 70 MB of information that my brain can use?
The insulation on the wires of the power supply in my computer contains
rubber molecules and they have just as much information as a GABA
molecules, can my computer make use of that?

> So just how much of the maximal information capacity of our brain
> (approximately 10^41 bytes)

That estimate is just a tad too high, I'd say about  ten billion billion
billion times too high,  there are only  10^11 neurons and the 10^14
synapses in the entire brain. Actually it's probably even worse than that,
there is massive redundancy in the brain and good evidence that one synapse
contains less than one bit of information.

> >> If your job is delivering packages and all the packages are very small
>> and your boss doesn't care who you give them to as long as it's on the
>> correct continent and you have until the next ice age to get the work done,
>> then you don't have a very difficult profession. I see no reason why
>> simulating that anachronism  would present the slightest difficulty.
>> Artificial neurons could be made to release neurotransmitters as
>> inefficiently as natural ones if anybody really wanted to, but it would be
>> pointless when there are much faster ways

> Again, you don't understand how cell signaling functions. These signals
> are not indiscriminate at all but instead highly specific and targeted

By "highly specific and targeted" you mean there is only one place the
brain can make use of the hormone, so it's rather sad that the poor hormone
must bump into billion of trillions of places that have no use for it until
eventually by the laws of diffusion and blind chance it eventually stumbles
into the place it's looking for.

> The distribution of these electrons are a quantum mechanical phenomenon
> and as the Beckenstein bound example

To hell with the Beckenstein bound, it's utterly irrelevant for biology!
But if you insist on using it to show how marvelous your brain is then I
can use it to show how marvelous my computer is, and some computers have a
much larger surface area and thus much more Beckenstein information than
the brain. If you want to play that silly game you will lose.

> But biomolecules *are* nano machines

True, very very primitive  nano machines.

 > And the Fermi paradox could imply that nobody is doing it because it is
> very hard.

So random mutation and natural selection can figure it out but intelligence
can't? Doesn't seem likely to me.

 John K Clark
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