Re: "analog computer" = useless hypothesis?

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Sun Apr 01 2001 - 19:38:35 MDT

From: "Anders Sandberg" <>
> Well, remember that timing of neural processes is limited by the speed
> of neural interactions (roughly ~1 millisecond). It is doubtful that
> precision greater than that is possible without employing many neurons
> doing clever things.

OK, so time variation may derive from neuronal activity itself (processing
parameters) as well as time variation/fluctuation affecting neuronal activity
from external sources (sensory input). And this neither contradicts nor
supports analog models of human brain function. So, whether time is analog or
digital, this need not impact cognitive neuroscience models directly.

> ... Very useful for creating living beings, but the result is a
> mess if you are trying to figure it out. We are looking for general
> principles, but evolution has nothing against contingency.

Oh-ho! This train of thought leads quickly to conclusions about how to invent
alien (also called "artificial") intelligence. Instead of using general
principles of organized reason, just letting a system self-organize holds more
promise for success. (Old hat for Eugene and other advocates of evolutionary
Although this may look like an "analog" process from a distance, up close the
fine grain of decision making shows its digital dexterity.

> > Does the sense of time (that humans experience subjectively)
> > constitute an analog function?
> Not necessarily. Some people make a lot of brain rhythms, especially
> claiming theta, gamma or 40 Hz oscilliations correspond to "moments"
> in subjective time. I'm not entirely convinced about that.

Thank you for the input, Anders. Nice to hear from someone who keeps up to
date on these matters. I'd thought it premature to write off analog computing
as a useless hypothesis, but now it seems intelligence has a singular affinity
for analysis of the digital computation kind (conveyance of this information
is completely digital), so the tagline remains amended accordingly.

BTW, California cops make suspected drunks follow a moving flashlight with
their eyes. The cops check for drunkenness by observing the jerky (aliasing)
motion of the subject's eyes as they follow the flashlight's arc. This eye
action is so fast in a sober person that it appears smooth and continuous.
Rather like video with fast versus slow bandwidth. I suppose it's all part of
Being Digital.


Stay hungry,

--J. R.

Useless hypotheses:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing

"When a machine attains Nirvana, it exactly corresponds to the process when a
human attains Nirvana. In both cases, alien intelligence displaces mechanical
--M. T. Ness

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