Save the Whales; Metaprogramming; ELFNET

Mark Crosby (
Thu, 25 Sep 1997 07:20:37 -0700 (PDT)

If the following doesn’t interest you, check the PS for a question on
a related topic.

In light of Dan Fabulich’s
and Hara Ra’s recent comments about John Lilly disliking silicon
brains, some might enjoy reading Dr. Lilly’s letter to the Wall St.
Journal today:

< William Aron's Sept. 9 editorial-page commentary "Save the Whalers"
contains errors about scientific evidence in regard to whales and
their intelligence. It then uses these errors as justification of a
reactionary position advocating an end to the international moratorium
on whaling. Stating that "there are no data to support the belief that
they [whales] are at or even near the top of the animal intelligence
scale," Mr. Aron ignores evidence regarding brain size and cognitive
capability of the cetaceans. By the established scientific standards
used to classify brains, their sizes and relative intelligences
associated with them, whales rank at the top of the animal kingdom,
placing higher than the other large-brained cetaceans (dolphins) and
Homo sapiens.

Among the large variety (52 species) of dolphins and toothed whales
that comprise the cetaceans, there are brain sizes ranging from ape
size through the human size to the superhuman level of four to six
times the human size. However, it's not so much size, but the
structure of brains: where they enlarge and how they are used once
they are enlarged. The larger cetacean brains are enlarged only in the
associational silent cortex, the area of the brain associated with
higher-thought language, and self-awareness. Presumptions derived from
simple correlation between brain weight, body weight and body length
simply have no relevance to brain survival. The idea that a large body
requires a large brain is entirely backward--it is the large brain
that needs a large body to survive.

Paleontological evidence shows that the whales and the dolphins have
been on this planet a lot longer than has man. Dolphins (like the
current Tursiops) have been here on the order of 15 million years, and
they have brain sizes equal to and greater than that of modern man.
Secure human skulls in large numbers with a cranial capacity equal to
present man are found only as far back as 150,000 years.

Extensive behavioral observations of cetaceans demonstrating their
communicative and cognitive abilities are the basis for recognizing
them as intelligent, sentient individuals, deserving greater respect
than mere "animal resources." Attempts to relax protection of
cetaceans are immoral. We have much to learn from the other
intelligent species of this planet. The whales and other cetaceans,
residents of this planet for 30 million to 50 million years longer
than humans, deserve expanded protections, rights and regard in our
minds and under our law.

Dr. John C. Lilly, M.D. Pukilani, Hawaii >

Mark Crosby
(Not so long, but thanks for all the fish anyway ;-)

P.S. I recently found an essay at
by Francis Jeffrey called "Thoughts About Human / Computer
Analogies" that deals with metaprogramming and biocomputers. I just
skimmed it and was amused by the final section called "Waiting For The
Pen To Rise" which might have been a spoof of Roger Penrose’s notions
of consciousness and Escher’s picture of a hand drawing itself.

Aside from the essay, their commercial page notes:
< ELFNET is based on a simple & universal idea: That communication
computing should be done with "nerves" (dynamically interlinked
virtual neuronal networks)...from interactive presentations to global
nets. The result will be flexible systems with lucid overviews ,
comprehensible to humans. This technology is now available. >

Has anyone ever heard of this or used it?

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