A Neurocomputational Perspective: The Nature of Mind and the by Paul M. Churchland

By Paul M. Churchland

If we're to resolve the principal difficulties within the philosophy of technology, Paul Churchland argues, we needs to draw seriously at the assets of the rising sciences of the mind-brain. A Neurocomputationial Perspective illustrates the fertility of the innovations and knowledge drawn from the examine of the mind and of synthetic networks that version the mind. those options convey unforeseen coherence to scattered matters within the philosophy of technological know-how, new ideas to previous philosophical difficulties, and new percentages for the company of technology itself.

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This suggests that even in the norm al case a developing hem isphere learns to m ake use of the in­ form ation the cerebral com m issure deposits at its doorstep. W h at w e have, then , in the case of a norm al hu m an , is tw o physically distinct cognitive system s (both capable of ind ep en d en t function) responding in a system atic and learned fashion to exchanged inform ation. A nd w hat is especially interesting about this case is the sheer am ou nt of inform ation exch an ged . The cable of the com m issure consists of roughly 200 million neurons (G azzaniga and LeD oux 1975), and even if w e assum e that each of these fibers is capable of one of only tw o possible states each second (a m ost conservative estim ate), w e are looking at a channel w hose inform ation capacity is g reater than 2 x 108 binary bits per second.

A functional characterization of our internal states is therefore here to stay. This second them e, like the first, assigns a faintly stipulative ch ar­ acter to F P , as if the onus w ere on the em pirical system s to instantiate faithfully the functional organization that FP specifies, instead of the onus being on FP to describe faithfully the internal activities of a naturally distinct class of empirical system s. This im pression is en h anced by the standard exam ples used to illustrate the claim s of functionalism : m ousetrap s, valve lifters, arithm etical calculators, com puters, robots, and the like.

C om p are this to the less than 500 bits/second capacity of spoken English. N ow , if tw o distinct hem ispheres can learn to com m unicate on so im pressive a scale, w hy shouldn't tw o distinct brains learn to do it also? This w ould require an artificial "co m m issu re" of som e kind, but let us suppose that w e can fashion a workable transducer for im ­ plantation at som e site in the brain that research reveals to be suit­ able, a tran sd u cer to convert a sym phony of neural activity into (say) Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes 21 m icrow aves radiated from an aerial in the forehead, and to perform the reverse function of converting received m icrow aves back into neural activation.

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