Language in the meat machine

Jeff Davis (
Thu, 15 Jul 1999 21:56:53 -0700

The challenge of creating computer-based human equivalent intelligence/behavior is prime extropian subject matter.

Check out:

                          NEW WORD ORDER 


                           BY CLIVE THOMPSON 

At or near:

I've sometime suspected that, when eventually elaborated, the self-congratulatory complexity and "sophistication" of human mechanisms of cognition/consciousness would be found to arise out of humblingly unsophisticated brute force computational capabilities of bulk assemblages of neurons.

By the most fortunate accident, the researchers whose work is the subject of the above article, may have stumbled upon--perhaps "reinvented"--a basic mechanism of human linguistic ability--or something fruitfully close to it--and by doing so brought us one large step closer to understanding the basic, elegantly humble architecture of mind--one large step closer to assembling the suite of "meta-neuronal" mechanisms that will eventually lead to AI.

The beauty--the delicious irony of this for me--is that they achieved what they did not by seeking complexity but, quite the contrary, by seeking--and finding--a sort of moronically-simplistic, number-crunch, statistical-database-sort-of blunt instrument. I'm reminded of the ancient shao-lin lesson: "Imagine, grasshopper, the sound of one ego deflating."

And of course the words of the bard:

"What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god-the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!"

Beneath the fleshy facade just a bundle of algorithms.

Make that "the paragon of meat machines!"

Best, Jeff Davis

	   "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."

					Ray Charles