Parallel processing & subconscious [Was Re: Neurons vs. Transistor]

Robert J. Bradbury (
Fri, 30 Jul 1999 06:58:54 -0700 (PDT)

> J. R. Molloy <> wrote:

> Eliezer wrote,
> >The quantity and architecture of hardware *available* is a major factor in
> >software design. Yes, we'll have a much better idea of what it takes to
> >run an AI after the first version fails - but I still have to guess,
> >now, with what I know now.

> James Bailey makes a pitch for parallel processing in his book _After
> Thought, The Challenge to Human Intelligence_.
> If you've read it, do you agree with him?

I've read about half of it (it keeps getting stuck in the middle of the "too finish" stack). It is clear that parallel processing will be an important part of any AI/IA. The interesting thing about parallel/distributed processing is that it driven by two factors (a) economics -- you can't make "big" perfect chips, and (b) themodynamics -- you can't make the computronium really "dense" without melting it. It is doubtful that we would have willingly engaged in parallel processing if we hadn't been pushed into it by these constraints.

The interesting thing from my perspective is the variety of computing architectures/algorithms that seem to be developing (Harvard, cellular automata, neural nets, genetic algorithms, quantum computing, reconfigurable -- that seem to be useful for a variety of specific tasks (controlled sequencing, reality simulations, learning, evolution, factoring, adaptability [respectively]). Parallel processing simply makes most or all of these approaches much more powerful. The interesting thing about the architecture of the brain would seem to be the *huge* amount of asynchronous [subconscious] parallel processing that is occuring. This only gets noticed/integrated at the very highest levels. That bodes well for AI since it means that complex problems can be broken down into lots of simple problems that can be programmed/processed/ solved at levels we can easily comprehend. The algorithms to do the results "merging" and "selection" are *not* going to be fun however.

I've got some questions re: mental processing. After reading Calvin's books on survival/evolution/selection of ideas in the brain, I have been mentally attempting to verify these ideas to some degree. I will be doing something that doesn't require "complete attention" such as reading a book. I'll then get a little "tickle" in my mind about an "inconsistancy" or something that "doesn't make sense". I've got myself trained sufficiently to let these thoughts "bubble" to the surface, and when they do, I realize that it is something *totally* unrelated to what I've been reading. The degree of disconnectedness between my conscious attention stream and unconscious thoughts is sometimes rather shocking.

Does anyone else have experiences like this? Are male/female patterns consistantly different in these areas [i.e. males are more uniformly single-minded while females are more multi-minded?]. Finally, on a rather scarey note, if I continue to reinforce the entertainment of random subconscious thoughts, could this lead to schizophrenia?