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Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Fun article

Yes, a fun article ... with tiny boobytraps laid by the unaugmented human mind .    (01)

Zimmer's lead paragraph made me recall Rex Harrison's outcry in the movie
Pygmalion: "Why aren't women more like men?" Zimmer's plaint, "Why aren't
scientists more like engineers?" also overlooks the fact that one kind
complements the other. Scientists surmize facts about nature that engineers may
usefully apply - in part to make tools for scientists to surmize more facts about
nature that ... and so on.    (02)

Another tiny item that struck me is that I used to believe it is fuzzy logic that
found application in building washing machines and vacuum cleaners, not chaos
theory. Ah, nitpicking maybe, but kind of reminds me of Michael Gazzanigga's
quip, "Some of my best memories are false." Consider it an example of a problem
that arises from a growth of knowledge so rapid that individuals can get ever
more easily balled up by making all sorts of clever inferences too hastely.
College professors included, for all I know.    (03)

Also, and I may be dead wrong here, but I have become inclined to believe - as I
believe Eric does - that even though brains have created computers, computers may
not ever make brains. Hence I love Zimmer's parabel of the four notes and
Mahler's Ninth.    (04)

Henry    (05)

Eric Armstrong wrote:    (06)

> http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/10/books/review/10ZIMMERT.html?todaysheadlines
> Digital Biology
> ---------------
> ....
> Microchips, for example, can now evolve. Bentley describes how Adrian
> Thompson, a British engineer, came up with a few dozen random
> arrangements of transistors and programmed a computer to test how well
> they did various jobs, like distinguishing between high-pitched and
> low-pitched tones. The first generation of chips always performed
> miserably, but some of them a little less miserably than the rest. The
> computer saved the less miserable designs and combined them into
> hybrids. In the process, it also sprinkled a few random changes into the
> designs, mutations if you will. A few offspring could distinguish
> between the tones slightly better than their parents -- and they
> produced a third generation. By mimicking evolution for a few thousand
> rounds, the computer produced chips that did their job exquisitely well.
> But Thompson doesn't quite know how they work. To understand them, he
> resorts to measuring the temperature of parts of the chips, like a
> neurologist using an M.R.I. scanner to probe a brain.
> ....The strategy ants use to follow scent trails becomes a method for
> laying out networks of cellphone towers. The way embryos develop becomes
> a method for turning a small program into a complex one without any
> intervention from a programmer....
> ....Bentley sees no real difference between digital biology and biology
> outside of a computer. To him, there is nothing artificial about
> artificial life: ''The first person to hold a conversation with an alien
> intelligence will not be an astronaut, it will be a computer scientist
> or computational neuroscientist, talking to an evolved digital neural
> network.''    (07)