Re: Selfish and Feral Modules (was: Re: Routing and AI algorithmic efficiency)

From: Vanessa Carbone (
Date: Tue Feb 12 2002 - 21:52:10 MST

Dan Clemmensen wrote:
Like any routing problem, this is only useful if the cost of the more
sophisticated routing algorithms are cheaper than the cost of additional
bandwidth (streets and highways in this case.) My area of expertise is
routing in data networks. In data networks, even the crudest algorithms
work perfectly well when the traffic is at 50% of the available
bandwidth, And even the best theoretical algorithm cannot achieve 95%
utilization with acceptable performance. In most data networks it
is cheaper to build extra capacity than it is to deploy better routing
algorithms. The reason the Internet works at all is that its core is
massively underutilized.

My original question (which I communicated poorly) was more specifically
about the capacity of the human brain - a possible relationship between
cost-effectiveness of extra capacity and the capacity of the human brain
compared with the amount actively (or consciously?) utilized.
>At 11:21 AM 2/12/02 +0100, Anders wrote:
> >brain seem to be very modular on some levels (lobe interconnections,
> >cortical minicolumns) and highly connected on others (intercortical
> >connections, inside minicolumns)
>Borrowing this observation for my own fell purposes, I raise the question
>whether some mental illness might be usefully modeled as an internal
>contest between hardwired or firmwired modules, akin to a Dawkins' gene or
>meme competition. What's in it for such selfish modules? I don't know.
>Maybe everything with a kind of boundary just wants to be free. Well, in
>fact, many subprocesses *are* kinda free and bottom-up anarchic, with
>emergent coordination; maybe the feral thing is when this gets out of hand.
>Relevant to this broad suggestion, perhaps, is the very good article by
>Prof. Susan Greenfield in a recent NEW SCIENTIST (02 February 2002 issue,
>`Sensational minds') where she argues interestingly for consciousness as
>linked to sheer number of neural components activated in concert; I don't
>have the article with me, and it isn't downloadable yet from their site,
>but she proposes interactions between cognitive structures, affective
>modules and the immune system. Depressive illness are linked to activation
>patterns that exclude or downplay sensory inputs from body and world,
>schizophrenic and bipolar disorders are those where too much unselected
>noise drowns out cognitive control. Something like that, in brute summary.
>Damien Broderick

As I mentioned, I was not careful in formulating my question to Dan. So I
was actually a bit surprised with the direction it took in the replies above
- I was given responses quite relevant to my intial inquiry, despite that it
had never been specifically stated.
So I guess that would make me the shy lurker. I'm new to the list (and
admittedly a bit intimidated), taking a break from school, making big life
changes, & considering a drastic change in my major. Any suggestions
regarding readings, list etiquette, etc. would be greatly appreciated.
Vanessa Carbone

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