[ExI] Vermis ex machina

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Thu Mar 5 16:11:45 UTC 2015

Quoting Anders:

> Date: Sun, 1 Mar 2015 22:36:24 +0100
> From: Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se>
> To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
> Subject: Re: [ExI] Vermis ex machina
> Message-ID: <3610836177-8057 at secure.ericade.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

> But this is cell failure. Synapses fail at proper transmission  
> *nearly all the time*!?
> http://www.pnas.org/content/91/22/10380.full.pdf
> http://zadorlab.cshl.edu/PDF/zador-jn-mi.pdf
> Basically, there is a great deal of noise and variability introduced  
> in synaptic transmission. The system is reliable since it uses many  
> synapses and neurons, which are individually misbehaving a lot of  
> the time.?

Might not this be a feature rather than a bug? I mean computers behave  
very deterministically but people not so much. Given an input, a  
computer program will either halt and return an output or get stuck in  
an infinite loop. A brain however can receive input and simply ignore  
it. Perhaps if synapses were 100% efficient, we would all act on our  
slightest whim or impulse, the buffer between thought and action no  
longer present. Thus evolution might have selected less than perfect  
synapses to prevent us from performing actions the moment the thought  
occurred to us. At least in my experience, acting on every thought  
that happened to cross my mind would have led me to many actions I  
would have cause to regret. Perhaps the requirement of a critical  
threshold of many synapses firing in unison acts as a sort of quorum  
to prevent acting before possible outcomes can be properly assessed?

A possible test of this hypothesis might be to compare the synaptic  
efficiency of different species. My hypothesis would predict that less  
complex organisms should have *more* efficient synapses since their  
mode of dealing with stimulus would be more reflexive than intentional.

Stuart LaForge

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