Organic Computing

Organic Computing

What do you think?

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There are so many different ways in which this (either field, or this thread) could grow. Knowledge is nothing to be feared, per se. How it is applied, now that can have “interesting” ramifications.

It’s always fun to follow these developments… many times they lead to some suprisingly unobvious and beneficial spinoffs. Sometimes they lead to dead ends, and end up relegated to the trash heap. Sometimes they take a really dark turn.


I think there are many folks trying very hard to find thesis ideas. :roll_eyes: :wink:

Even so, I’m not sure that it stands on a good metaphysical foundation. Hardcore materialists want to say that the only thing that exists is the physical. The implication is that the ‘mind’ (or ‘soul’) is merely a construct of the physical brain. Therefore, the brain must be some kind of computer, and all we have to do is reverse-engineer it.

So, the foundation would seem to require us to say something like, “if the brain is really just a computer, then we can re-create other organic systems that compute in a way similar to the way it computes.”

The problem here is that, the way this guy states it, there’s the presumption that the brain is a computer (in other words, the presumption is the materialist perspective). So, they might create an organic computer, but that doesn’t mean that they’d re-create a brain. And, it even further doesn’t mean that it would create a state that we might describe as ‘consciousness’ or ‘mind’ or ‘soul’.

Let’s look at it another way: they could create a computer – that is, something that we’d recognize as a computer if it were built from electronic components – and implant that into some other living being… but that would then only become an embedded computer. We have that right now, with pacemakers, etc!

And, to the ‘DNA data’ thing: yes, it’s a common perspective for computer scientists to view everything as storage media! (All you have to do, in order to store data in it, is come up with a scheme for interpreting (i.e., ‘decoding’) the data, and a means for actually setting the media to various states that can be retained.) So, there’s nothing really exciting about this DNA notion … other than the fact that, by storing data there, you’re “overwriting” what was at that DNA. Sure hope that they’re right that there’s lots of “unused” DNA, rather than merely “not presently understood” DNA! I’d hate to see a person whose DNA computer “overwrites” their genetic information! (On the other hand, maybe they’re just talking about harvesting DNA from an organism, and using it as they wish?)


That’s an interesting way of looking at it.

Re pacemaker. I was thinking the same thing listening to the video. However, a “wet” pacemaker, or even artificial heart, even viewed strictly from a computer science or electrical viewpoint might be a great advancement to medical science.

Re overwriting DNA. Yeah, I would have the same kind of concerns. Oops, my “navigation computer” just got overwritten. :slight_smile:


But couldn’t the brain operate like a computer without the soul? After-all, a rats brain operates like a computer (computates external information from the senses) and doesn’t have a human soul.

Ahh… you’re a card-carrying materialist, then? Good!

First of all, you’re thinking incorrectly about ‘soul’. It’s not ‘nebulous’ (after all, that would make it physical… and it’s not).

Prove the existence of a non-physical entity using physical, empirical means? Pass – you can keep your stacked deck, thank you very much. :wink:


As a person who is presently eating lunch, I am traumatized by that picture without a trigger warning.



The first idea in the video, using pre-existing organic components, has been around since the late '60s at least.

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It’s not “made of” anything, since it is not material.

That’s a good question, and it’s one that’s been discussed by philosophers and theologians for ages.

However, if you believe that the only things that exist are physical things, then in your worldview, it is unable to exist.

Close, but no cigar. That’s pretty much the inverse of the situation here. However, it does help us get closer to the point that it’s not the case that there must be a physical means to prove its existence.

I’m not talking about something physical that can (potentially) be measured empirically; the soul is something immaterial – spiritual, as it were – and therefore, cannot be measured empirically. That’s why a request to measure it is not a request in good faith.

At least in principle.

However, there’s an easy dodge for anyone on your side to make. I’m glad you brought up black holes, because it will help demonstrate the dodge. When we look at a black hole, and cannot find a way to measure empirically the ‘stuff’ inside it, we nevertheless turn back to our physics models and predictions and show that our models predicted the behavior observed (or, not observed, as it were). So, when we have nothing to measure, we nevertheless say “we expected that to happen.”

However, in the case of souls, we don’t have a physical model that can be used to predict behavior. Therefore, when we get something, and assert that it’s been caused by the ‘soul’, a materialist shrugs and concludes that it’s no more likely that a ‘soul’ caused it than any other arbitrary thing. He then concludes that believers and their ‘souls’ are like paranormal investigators and their measurements – “nonsense”, as you put it, a few posts up.

It’s a nice dodge. Effective, too, if you don’t catch the game being played. So… thanks but no thanks; I’ll pass on your slight-of-hand exercise. :wink:

Still unreasonable. It’s essentially a double-blind experiment… but no one has the ability to remove the mask and analyze the data. :man_shrugging:

So, yet again: no empirical means will demonstrate what you’re asking them to demonstrate.

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Yeah, and for the same millennia, scientific inquirers weren’t able to answer the kinds of questions we answer today. “Not finding the answers in a given period of time” doesn’t imply “the answers can’t be found.” You should know that. :wink:

Fair enough. Yet, would you say that “the idea of a unicorn” has existence? How would you describe that existence? How would you prove its existence? How would you measure its existence? (My intuition is that you would ultimately ground its existence in something physical, and therefore, you would conclude that all existence has physical grounds.)

Really? So, “ideas, concepts, theories” do not interact with physical objects like people?

OK, so, on the face of it, that sounds supremely reasonable. Yet, you’re talking about the existence of non-physical things. What is your method of proof? “Present new [empirical] evidence.” That’s a non-starter. That’s why “my view is not set in stone” is not as reasonable as you’d like to assert it is.

No we haven’t. We’ve just established that I can sarcastically parrot your statements. Don’t worry… you haven’t established what kind of woman I am, or what my price is. :rofl:

Are souls “physically active entities”, though? That’s a standard I’m not sure we’d agree on.

You’re the only one who’s talking about “physically active” objects. That requires definition.

And, to tell the truth, it’s not about “in principle” – my discussion was about practical expectations.

You’ve asserted something I didn’t. Then, you asserted a ‘self-contradiction’, and posited that it’s sufficient to stop debating. Awful convenient when you’re having a discussion with yourself, ain’t it? :wink:

Lets get this thread back on track, because i think we can have this discussion without considering whether or not what Christians call a soul is immaterial.

I think the bottom line is, the mind and the brain are intimately linked insomuch as the fact that we think with the brain. Insofar as that is true i think it would be correct to say that the brain is a thought-processor, or at the very least it sufficiently behaves like one. In this case there surely is ethical problems and questions involved in creating a brain for the means of computing, because the existence of a brain implies the possibility of a thinking person, not just a computational device…

What do you think?

The human soul can be described as the cause of intelligently directed information. The source of that information and it’s nature is what you are debating. While we can measure the information as a physical effect and we can see that this activity is happening in the brain, it is a non-scientific belief that the cause of that information is identical in nature with the brain. That is a philosophical position which may or may not be correct. Equally it is true that we cannot determine with the scientific method that the cause is immaterial. The only evidence there is is that there is a cause. So Gorgias is correct.

In other-words, while it may seem commonsense to you to define an intelligent-cause as a natural-process, this is ultimately a shallow inference based upon a bias towards a materialistic interpretation of existence, because one completely ignores the question of whether or not the inference is intelligible to begin with. It’s a circular argument assumed to be correct according to that bias and is not a true inference, scientific or otherwise. If it makes no logical sense to define something as physical then your bias is irrelevant and using your commitment to the scientific method as a justification for materialism is equally unjustified…

You are just begging the question.

No… since you’re a materialist, though, I’m curious what the physical component of an idea’s existence is. Unless, of course, you want to say that ideas don’t have physical components, which is ok with me. (Note that I’m not conflating ‘referents’ and ‘encodings’ here – I’m not asking “what’s the physical referent of an idea?” or “what’s the physical encoding of an idea?”)

Do “ideas, concepts, theories” interact with your brain?

OK… so, maybe I’m misunderstanding what it means to be a ‘materialist’. I was under the impression that (speaking somewhat loosely), it meant that the belief is that the only things that exist are physical – that is, that there are no things which are not physical which can be said to exist.

So, how would you determine if your favorite pig were possessed? Is there any method you might suggest that might tell us the answer?

No… I’m just trying to move you to commit to a definition. :wink:

Again, ‘in principle’. Yet, getting from ‘principle’ to ‘practice’ is the problem. How do you suggest we predict when a non-physical entity will interact with a physical entity, such that we’d be able to measure it when it does? Is there a SETI-esque experiment that we might propose? That’s where I’m finding your request unreasonable.

Theoretically, yes, it can be seen as possible. The ‘how’ is the difficult part. What do you propose?

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And yet you are a thinking person since you acknowledge the event in retrospect.

The medium is important since the existence of a human brain implies the possibility of a thinking person. How do you propose to separate the two in-order to justify using it as an external tool?

As long as the human person isn’t stripped of their dignity or of their life, technology is a beneficial tool that can be used to promote social justice and to promote the physical, mental, and spiritual welfare of the human person and the human family. Something that involves killing human beings (including small people in the earliest stages of development) is intrinsically evil and barbaric.

But otherwise, organic technology can be utilized to achieve positive ends. This varies from computers to cybernetics to engineering that could eliminate diseases or augment human beings (health, enhanced longevity, super intelligence, etc.).

Mankind has gradually become more synthesized with technology over the centuries in order to increase her potential. Technology and art are the grandchildren of God.

You were doing really good, there… until you came to this. Suddenly, without justification, you tilted the playing field – you went from “idea” to a distinction between “real” and “imaginary”. So… what’s that distinction? The presence of a physical referent? Sadly… yes. So, does the number “seven” have a physical referent? Of course not. There’s no such thing as a physical “seven”. (Oh, there are certainly notions of “seven dogs” or “sem’ sobak”… but that’s not a referent of the number – it’s a referent of the dogs themselves!)

So, is the concept “seven” imaginary?

Let’s take it a step further: whether or not you realize it, you’ve just said that something is ‘real’ if it has a physical referent and ‘imaginary’ if it doesn’t. Therefore, you’re not talking about conceptual existence being ‘real’, but are back in the territory I imagined you inhabited – only those things which have physical existence are ‘real’. So, rather than asking whether God is real, you’ve simply defined Him as ‘imaginary’ a priori, without rationale.

No – I think it’s irrational because it’s practicably untenable.

Go for it! :+1:

Physical effects can be measured. It doesn’t follow necessarily that the nature of the cause can be measured scientifically.

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Hmmm. As an engineer, the terms real and imaginary have a different contextural meaning to me, imaginary being in quadrature to real. Interesting to speculate a juxtaposition of these contexts. The “imaginary” components are on a different axis, but can be measured in magnitude if you understand how. You wouldn’t be watching TV on cable or satellite without QAM… quadrature amplitude modulation. But it took a lot of mathematical and technological breakthroughs to make this happen.

So how does this engineering jargon apply? Attempting to measure imaginary components (let’s call them supernatural) with tools that apply only to the real axis ain’t gonna happen. But that’s the current state of the art in science… it measures and qualifies and quantifies the real, the physical axis. It has no tools to measure the supernatural axis.

Maybe, in 10,000 years, when we really begin to think, science will develop the knowledge and ability to measure that access, and thus be able to prove things about that axis.

I’m not very likely to be alive to see that happen.

The problem becomes on how one spins a failure to detect spiritual beings. Is it proof of non-existence, or just proof of a failed experiment?

We’ve already agreed on the principle. I’ve also stated my position that – although it’s theoretically possible – it’s not practicably doable, due to the lack of ability to predict interactions. So… let’s see your suggestions for experiments, but please keep in mind that I’ll be playing devil’s advocate with the plausibility of the proposed experiments…:wink:

On the other hand, the more likely it is that the experiment itself is malformed. :wink:

In any case, there’s no “mathematical theorem of repeated experiments”, per se, at least in the way you’re describing it. In fact, your assertion has two problems:

  • First, each experiment has a set of outcomes, and each of these has its own probability (such that the sum of these probabilities is 1). But, unless you know what Pi is, you can’t say how many trials you’d have to run before you think it should have happened. And, even once you do reach that number of trials, all you’ve got then is a sequence of trials without Oi having occurred. (After all, if the experiments are independent, and in j trials, Oi hasn’t occurred, what’s the probability that it will occur in the j+1th trial? No more, no less: the same as any other trial. So, two problems here: first, you cannot assign a probability to the outcome of ‘catching’ a spiritual entity interacting with the world, and second, repeated failures don’t prove they don’t exist.
  • Second, what you’re really trying to get at is the establishment of the null hypothesis (in this case, “spiritual non-physical beings do not exist”). You know the story, I hope: run an experiment, and if its results are at odds with the null hypothesis, then you reject the null hypothesis; but, if its results aren’t at odds with the null hypothesis, then you do not reject the null hypothesis. However, as the maxim goes, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. Or, to put it another way, “not rejecting the null hypothesis” is not the same as “accepting the null hypothesis.” Again, though, you run into problems: how can you assert – given that you cannot perceive spiritual beings – that you’ve reached the point where you can reject them, out of hand? (Oh, sure, you can say “I don’t think they exist, based on not seeing evidence”, but that’s only a guess, not a proof).

So, I continue to stand on my assertion: in the real world, there’s no way (through experimentation) to establish that spiritual beings do not exist.

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