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MadeInThe80s

I'm sorry but how can people not believe in God?

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Mortukai

I'm going to start this post with a rebuttal. But this one isn't mine. This one is a rebuttal from an article on Scientific American, written by an expert in neural networks (the article is here):

 

These networks are "neural" in the sense that they may have been inspired by the brain and neuroscience, but not necessarily because they are faithful models of biological, neural or cognitive phenomena. In fact, many artificial neural networks are more closely related to traditional mathematical and/or statistical models, such as nonparametric pattern classifiers, clustering algorithms, nonlinear filters and statistical regression models, than they are to neurobiological models.

Uh oh. Looks like the actual experts in your own f*cking field disagree with you about how closely neural networks simulate the brain.

 

sh*t. I sure would hate it if you found some article from an evolutionary / developmental / cognitive / behavioural / psychologist or a neurologist that fundamentally flat out stated that I was wrong. It would put a dent in my argument!

 

Lol. Man, you're getting owned so hard right now. Even your own team is kicking your butt.

 

 

On the other hand, I have studied some Genetics, and I have spent years with computers.

Fixed.

 

That's cool. I haven't studied 3 dimensional trigonometry, euclidean algebra, or programming of any kind. On the other hand, I have studied visual perception and cognition, consciousness, behavioural and evolutionary psychology etc.

 

Therefore I can totally be an authority on making 3D computer games.

 

Honestly how is that that you cannot see your problem? Sure you know a bunch of stuff about things which are somewhat related to something else. Great. But this in no way makes you an expert on those related things. I know an absolute f*ckload about human development, both small-scale (one individual's lifetime) and large scale (our species' evolution), and a fair f*cking chunk about genetics. But I don't pretend to be an expert on in vitro fertilisation or human cloning. I think I may have a fair idea of some of the difficulties they might face, and what sort of possibilities are realistic, but if I met an actual genetical engineer, I'd have the common sense to realise they probably know a hell of a lot more about that sh*t than I do.

 

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not trying to argue my point with the weight of my expertise. I don't feel I need to. But I think it's relevant to point out here because you have consistently ignored my arguments and stubbornly stuck to your own grounds, constantly backing up your point of view with your expertise in completely irrelevant fields. If you were a geneticist (you are not, you studied one or two courses during your physics or computer science degree, woo, I studied two physics courses during my psychology degree too), then MAYBE you'd have a leg to stand on when appealing to your education. But you just don't. All your cited theories and fields are all created by and for computers. All mine are created by and for humans. We are discussing humans. Do the math.

 

 

If the rate of increase in complexity in computer systems will remain the same as we have now, we will have computers powerful enough to simulate the full brain within two decades.

You're assuming (falsely) that we currently have accurate simulations for the human brain which can be adapted to any process the human brain can perform.

 

We don't.

 

You're wrong.

 

 

The point is, there is nothing in the brain that cannot be simulated. It is not a quantum system, so it is only the question of scale, and we have Moore's Law for that.

There is nothing in the universe that cannot be simulated. That's the beauty of simulations as opposed to replications.

 

Of course, that doesn't mean that we'll ever be able to simulate everything in the universe. Possibility in principle is completely different to possibility in practice. Some things are just beyond our ability to comprehend or observe.

 

 

Let me give you an example of something infinitely more complex than a Human Brain. A Baryon.

Wait wait wait. You're claiming that a part of a system can be more complex than the whole of the system?

 

Umm. No.

 

It's a logical impossibility. The parts cannot ever have any property which is greater than the whole. Only less. If protons and sh*t are "infinitely complex", then systems made up of many of these things are by default, even more infinitely complex.

 

In a model of the brain, obviously, we would simplify the parts down to a manageable degree. But if we are doing that then they cease to be "infinitely more complex".

 

This is just another great example of you failing to think properly. I completely empathise with your passion and wonder at the details of our universe. Yes, things are really really cool and interesting and complex when you get down to the subatomic level. But you are claiming that everything else pales in comparison. This is just sad. Your inability to appreciate the complexity of things above the level of quarks is no doubt a major factor in your failure to comprehend the realities of this discussion. Such as your lack of appreciation for what genes are actually capable of.

 

 

We tried to model a brain, and we ended up with a model that behaves the same as a brain. Is it a big leap of logic to say that individual processes within a real brain are going to be similar to these in the simulated brain? And if so, can we not use the simulation to learn from it?

Actually, yes. Any camera or digital imaging device is a very very bad model for how our eyes percieve light. Right there, in the very first step of recognition, the model has deviated wildly from how we actually work. If your first step is completely wrong, what the hell makes you think the rest might be ok?

 

There is more than one way to skin a cat. Visual perception can be achieved through a variety of methods, some with more limitations than others. Evolution has developed a number of solutions for sight, some of which deviate greatly from our own eyes. If other animals can have sight which is a poor model for human sight, what the hell makes you think that a computer would be more "obviously" similar?

 

We have not made a model of a brain that behaves the same way. Unless you are working for the US military top secret robotics division, I highly doubt you've even seen a simulation of the brain that comes even remotely close to doing the things we do effortlessly. Even the biggest technology companies in the world who invest billions of dollars into trying to create the first human-like robot can barely get something that walks. And you're trying to tell me that visual image processing is easier than walking? And that you have seen such a thing working when multi-billion dollar corporations can't get their most advanced models of robots to recognise a face as the same in different lighting? I call bullsh*t on that man. f*cking bullsh*t.

 

 

Not the best experiment. These are still mammals, and they still use facial expressions for communication. Even something as simple as recognizing a growl could be sufficient to develop a facial recognition center.

Not all mammals recognise faces differently to other objects. Only social animals. Well, birds don't recognise faces, because they don't have facial expressions, they recognise colorings and calls, but you get the idea. The only animals that process faces differently are those which use facial expressions to communicate.

 

And before you think that this is evidence for learning (lol), it's important to note that animals which do not use facial expressions CANNOT learn to process faces differently. Domesticated cats never learn to understand facial expressions, not even when you try to teach them pavlovian style by pairing expressions with food. Similarly, other non-expressions using animals never process faces beyond the level which they process any other part of a creature's body.

 

And conversely, animals that do process faces and expressions still show differentiated processing when they haven't been reared in an environment where they can learn it. Like, I dunno, a WOMB.

 

 

First off, what are we calling babies, and how was this measured. I'm having hard time believing that somebody was sticking day-old babies into high-resolution fNMR tomograph.

You know, babies. Like, the day they are born.

 

Like, these references took me 2 seconds to find on google: Face recognition is f*cking innate, and Oh wow, looks like we refine the process as we grow older too, and this refining process is genetically biased to lateralise in a certain way, how about that.

 

 

If you keep insisting on this, why don't you explain how a genome could possibly be capable of positioning individual neurons. Just propose a model where you go from sequence of peptides, to a particular neuron in particular location. And note, this is exactly what you said above. It is a requirement to be "as detailed as is necessary

This, combined with your comments above it, really lead me to believe you have no real actual understanding of genetics.

 

Our genes are capable of truly remarkable feats. They are not simple "on/off" things. Your "6Gbits" crap doesn't float in genetics. They are not binary. Oh sure, they can be expressed or not expressed, but they work together in combination to produce different effects. Gene expressions is adaptive to the hormonal environment. Small changes can have huge rippling effects. Expressing one gene can turn on a bunch of others, can turn a bunch off, can do both, or it can just code an amino acid.

 

Look at it this way. Learning is great. Yes. The ability to learn things is no doubt, very handy. However, learning needs a foundation. You want to learn to run, you have to learn to walk. To walk, you need to have legs of some sort. In addition, you need some mechanism of moving those legs at will. In addition to the ability to move them, you need to be able to control the movement. Only once you have all those things in place and working, can you learn anything at all. Learning cannot drive evolution, it can only refine it. We can't learn to get better at being immune to things without an immune system that already works regardless of learning. Hence an innate immune system is needed before we can have an adaptive immune system. Likewise we need an innate visual system before we can learn to do anything visual. You can't just plop a bunch of random neurons into a skull and hook it up to a few sensory organs and expect anything remotely like a brain to come of it.

 

Here's another example (I use lots of examples because you don't seem to understand much of anything without them). Breathing. Breathing is more complex than you likely give it credit for. You have a bunch of muscles that you have to coordinate rythmically to expand the chest to inhale air, and then contract it to exhale. And you have to keep this up, or you die. It's actually more complicated than that because your breathing is tied to your heart rate and the temperature, and blah blah blah but let's keep things simple.

 

Babies are born knowing how to breathe. They've never, ever done it before. They don't practise it in the womb. But they know how. As soon as their blood oxygen drops, they start breathing. Or as soon as you spank them (that's actually why doctor's smack them before they cut the umbilical cord, to prevent even a few seconds of oxygen deprivation). And that's another thing: the crying response to pain is another complex system which is not learned but is innately hardwired. How is visual processing of faces more complex than behavioural responses to stimuli? There's an input. You discern what type of input it is, and this tells you where to send the signal. The signal gets sent to a specific location for processing. Once processed, it gets sent somewhere else for a decision about what to do with it.

 

Smack a baby. It feels pain. Pain = cry.

Look at something. It's a face. Face = good.

 

Both innate. Both capable of further refinement. Neither are inconsistent with genetics. Maybe with your understanding of genetics (which understands genetics in computer terms), but not with real genetics. Directing neurons to organise in a certain way is no less complicated than ensuring that the same groups of neurons are connected to the same other groups of neurons and non-neuron body parts in all 6 billion humans alive today.

 

 

blah blah limitations on research methods blah blah

Yeah and I could go on about the limitations of particle accelerators and electron microscopes and slit experiments too. How many times have you ever watched an actual electron in an experiment? None? Then shut the hell up. Now you're just being stupid and myopic. Yes, we know the limitations. Yes, simulations are only ever created from the information we gather through these methods. So yes, simulations can never ever be more accurate than the raw data we can obtain. Yes, physics is plagued with similar problems. Stop being so amazingly dumb.

 

____

 

Furthermore, you completely sidestepped my attraction argument. Namely, that you should become attracted to a fat guy.

 

I'm just going to put this out there right now:

 

If you cannot counter the fat guy argument, then you lose.

 

Nothing else you say matters. Your whole argument is resting on your conclusion that all human behaviour is learned, and that complex processing cannot be biologically hardwired. This whole debate between you and I started because you claimed that morals were learned, and I claimed that they were evolved. Since morals are so fundamentally rooted in attraction, it stands to reason that if attraction is innate, then morals can also be innate since both are approximately equally complex, and both are universally experienced aspects of human existence. Conversely, if attraction is only learned, then it would be very difficult for morals to be innate.

 

Furthermore, if something as complicated as attraction --which requires very complicated visual and auditory processing on many levels-- can be biologically programmed (it doesn't need to be there from birth, gene expression changes over your lifetime), then your "visual recognition" argument is destroyed utterly. In fact, if something as complex as attraction can be genetically hardcoded, then all less complex systems have the potential to be hardcoded too, so pretty much all your arguments here become null and void. Even your "simulations as the best learning tools" arguments, because if attraction is innate, and we discover this through evolutionary and developmental psychology without the use of any simulations, then your simulations become a whole lot less valuable, as they are giving us wrong information.

 

It is in your best interests, if you want to win this debate, to prove that my argument is wrong, and put forward a stronger alternative. For you, this would be by proving that attraction is learned through whatever method. You can do this right now, by actually becoming sexually attracted to fat guys. Or you can sit there are try to logically counter my argument without actually committing to experimental counter-evidence. Whatever. But I think that in order for this debate to stop expanding in 500 different directions, we should just stick to the core principles of complex human behaviour and responses. I claim they can be innate. You claim they cannot be innate, and must all be learned.

 

So attraction to fat guys. Can you do it? I say no. Your turn. Go.

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K^2

Mortukai, you speak like a person who has never gotten out from under a rock. Seriously. You have a very narrow view on things, and you absolutely refuse to acknowledge even a possibility of something else existing. Let me start right here.

 

Wait wait wait. You're claiming that a part of a system can be more complex than the whole of the system?

 

Umm. No.

 

It's a logical impossibility. The parts cannot ever have any property which is greater than the whole. Only less. If protons and sh*t are "infinitely complex", then systems made up of many of these things are by default, even more infinitely complex.

See, right there. You know absolutely sh*t about scaling, but you think that it works the same way as the things you have studied in your narrow field. Take a metal cog. It's just a cog. How complex is a cog, right? And you can build a system of cogs, and it will be some complex system, that may be a clock, for instance. For that system, all we need to know about the cog is that it is solid, and has a certain shape. A clock is more complex than a cog on this scale. But lets get back to a cog. It is made of metal, which is a crystalic lattice of atomic nuclei with strongly bound electrons, and loosely bound electrons. Later form the electron gas with its own thermodynamic properties. As a fermion gas, it also has very specific behavior as far as energy levels go. There are energy bands that may be occupied at different temperatures, allowing for different electric and thermal conductivity behavior. At extremely low temperatures, only a certain bands may be occupied, allowing formation of Cooper Pairs and superconductivity.

 

But all this stuff doesn't matter to a clock. It's complexity does not change on whether a cog is an ion lattice suspended in a fermion gas, or just a solid object of certain shape. They are just cogs to a clock. You can build a clockwork out of billions of gears, and you still will not get anywhere near a complexity of what is happening inside of a particular cog, because there are on an order of 10^26 atoms in each cog, and complexity of the system grows as 2^N. That is scaling in quantum physics for you.

 

It's the same thing with a brain. Some proteins that will be responsible for neuro-transmission will have some incredible quantum properties. They will, in turn, consist of sub-atomic particles that are so complex that we still know next to nothing about them. But none of it matters to a neuron. Stimulus arrived. Stimulus got transmitted. That's what matters. Not the quantum behavior of the constituents. Cogs are just cogs.

 

There is nothing in the universe that cannot be simulated. That's the beauty of simulations as opposed to replications.

Wrong. Quantum Mechanics of complex objects cannot be simulated. The number of quantum states grows as 2^N with number of particles. You cannot simulate that classically for large N, and quantum computers are inherently limited by decoherence. There are things in this world that cannot be simulated. At all. Not even approximately. But Human Brain isn't anywhere near the complexity of these things.

 

Uh oh. Looks like the actual experts in your own f*cking field disagree with you about how closely neural networks simulate the brain.

Most of the NNs are not designed to simulate human brain. They are designed to do a particular task. There, you don't use the same mechanisms for feedback as a Human Brain uses. There, you will use mathematical models to assign weights. They are great AI agents, but they are not Brain Simulations. I believe, that is exactly what the expert you are quoting is talking about. There are simulations designed specifically to model Human Brain, specifically for research. The stuff I was working on personally, is greatly simplified. It ignored a whole lot of crap to be manageable. But the best part, is that it still works very similarly to the NNs that do simulate sections of the brain as well as currently possible.

 

Actually, yes. Any camera or digital imaging device is a very very bad model for how our eyes percieve light. Right there, in the very first step of recognition, the model has deviated wildly from how we actually work. If your first step is completely wrong, what the hell makes you think the rest might be ok?

Yeah, a camera views the entire field with a fixed resolution. A human eye has high resolution only near the center, and traces the object during recognition. The later behavior can be simulated with a camera. Nobody is going to move a camera at such rates, of course, but it is a piece of cake to transmit the signal only from the certain part of the camera's FoV to the NN as the center of vision field. You result with a system that can move it's "eye" around the picture. Usually, though, these systems are aided by a non-NN agent that picks out the points which the "eye" needs to be looking at. The part of the brain that picks out "important" points is complex enough on its own, and if you are just interested in object recognition, you can do without it as described above.

 

Not all mammals recognise faces differently to other objects. Only social animals. Well, birds don't recognise faces, because they don't have facial expressions, they recognise colorings and calls, but you get the idea.

Why do you keep falling back on birds? They aren't mammals. They have a very small and very specialized brains. Forget birds. And if you are saying not all mammals recognize facial expressions, which mammals were the children in question raised by? If you are going to use prior facts to replace critical experiments, at least get the actual facts.

 

You know, babies. Like, the day they are born.

 

Like, these references took me 2 seconds to find on google: Face recognition is f*cking innate, and Oh wow, looks like we refine the process as we grow older too, and this refining process is genetically biased to lateralise in a certain way, how about that.

Wow. You found two abstracts that support your model. Amazing. Want me to show you some abstracts that support anti-gravity? A lot of crap is printed even in reliable scientific publications. Even in Physics, for crying out loud. Show me the article, so that we can discuss the methods they used to arrive at the conclusion. Show me that it contradicts the model for face recognition that I put forward. Then, at least, you'd be on the offensive. Though, it still contradicts everything we know about genome.

 

This, combined with your comments above it, really lead me to believe you have no real actual understanding of genetics.

 

Our genes are capable of truly remarkable feats. They are not simple "on/off" things. Your "6Gbits" crap doesn't float in genetics. They are not binary. Oh sure, they can be expressed or not expressed, but they work together in combination to produce different effects. Gene expressions is adaptive to the hormonal environment. Small changes can have huge rippling effects. Expressing one gene can turn on a bunch of others, can turn a bunch off, can do both, or it can just code an amino acid.

Oh, come on, now. This is just sad. yes, the behavior of the DNA is extremely complex. Yes, the expression can vary. Yes, the rates of expression can vary. The mRNA derrived fom DNA may be used any number of times to result in different numbers of proteins produced. But that doesn't change the fact that the 3 billion limit on the number of pairs, limiting you to just one billion codons on the DNA is a serious limit. Most proteins are hundreds of peptides long. This means that you will only have a few million different proteins produced. Yes, how and when you produce them may be extremely complex, but that's your limit. Realistically, the number is actually a lot smaller, since large sections of DNA do not code for anything at all. And in order to get a 1mm resolution in a brain, you would already need roughly a million of different chemical gradients. And in order to hard-wire any sort of image recognition, you'd need even finer resolution. This is genetics.

 

Here's another example (I use lots of examples because you don't seem to understand much of anything without them). Breathing. Breathing is more complex than you likely give it credit for. You have a bunch of muscles that you have to coordinate rythmically to expand the chest to inhale air, and then contract it to exhale. And you have to keep this up, or you die. It's actually more complicated than that because your breathing is tied to your heart rate and the temperature, and blah blah blah but let's keep things simple.

 

Babies are born knowing how to breathe.

You are really making me laugh now. We are talking about image recognition, and you drag in control of a set of muscles? Breathing is a reflective response caused by irritation, which is caused by low oxygen concentrations. This is, essentially, the same response as withdrawing your arm from a hot object. Two pathways, from the arm and to the arm are closely related. If a pain signal arrives from the arm, your spinal chord automatically sends back a signal to the arm muscles to compress. Note that usually, it's not just a specific muscle that contracts, but a whole set of them, similarly to electric shock, because your spinal cord does not know which way the arm needs to move. It just wired to hit all the muscles, because that usually will cause the arm to withdraw.

 

Similarly, low oxygen concentrations result in irritation, response to which is to inhale. The exhalation happens automatically during relaxation. In just two three cycles of this, the brain will start picking up on the required rhythm. Essentially, yes, a hard-wired response. But this is still on the level of hydra's contract when pocked response. This is not based on processing of any kind. Facial recognition requires processing. You cannot simply direct a few pathways a certain way to get it to work. If you want to hard wire image recognition, you'd need millions of neurons in a specific configuration. There is absolutely no way in hell to do that with genetic coding. None. Genome is good with creating fractals, repetitions, etc. It is not good with wiring a million of specific neurons to specific neurons. It doesn't need to, it can't, and it doesn't.

 

Yeah and I could go on about the limitations of particle accelerators and electron microscopes and slit experiments too. How many times have you ever watched an actual electron in an experiment? None?

Bunch of times, actually. I've picked up individual EP anihilation events. I've seen effects of a single electron being placed on a drop of oil in the electric field. I've seen tracks of individual electrons. I've seen individual electrons striking fluorescent screens.

 

And yeah, each experiment has limitations. Which is which experiment can only lead to a model, which is later tested by more experiments, some of which, can test the model to a crazy precision. Both QM and Gen-Rel have been tested to 10 digits of precision. Your models are based on observation experiments, but I do not see a single critical experiment among them. I must have suggested a dozen already. Can't you find just one that fits the criteria? Or are behavioralists just don't know what science is, and they think that if they came up with something that explains their experiment, it's all good?

 

Furthermore, you completely sidestepped my attraction argument. Namely, that you should become attracted to a fat guy.

Wow, you are stubborn. I sidestepped the argument because it has nothing to do with anything, and I didn't want to write two pages about why I do not like men in general. Most of my friends are girls too. Some of them, I am not at all attracted to. Or is that genetic somehow too? Men make good adversaries, sometimes. These that have good sportsmanship can make good friends, but these people are few. Girls are drama, yes, but at least you cannot predict everything they are going to do and say a week ahead. It is more interesting to spend time with a woman than it is with a man.

 

I have never felt attracted to men, and I have never felt a need to change that. Changing how your entire body responds to something takes time. It takes a lot of conditioning. I am not going to do that just for an experiment. I have, however, consciously changed the types of girls that I am attracted to. I have changed a lot of other basic responses. Pain response needed tunning, because of working with pyrotechnics and chemicals. Sometimes, you just have to live with the fact that something is burning into your hand, because if you let go, it might get only worse. That is not a natural response, but it is trainable. I consciously train my cerebellum for certain tasks. I got the hang of what kind of operations I need to perform and how, to make sure that cerebellum picks up on automating them.

 

I am not saying that any of it is norm. I don't even know if most people have capability to control these things. Which is exactly why I said that it has nothing to do with the argument. I'm not trying to prove that a human brain works a certain way based on my own behavior. I'm anything but a good test subject in that field. Maybe most people are not conscious of their mate selection process, their various "instinctive" responses, etc. It would be silly for me to base an entire case on my own capabilities, when there are obvious divergences with the population.

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Otter

I don't see how the ability to adapt disproves the existence of inherent behavior.

 

Anyhow, this is from the Economist, a couple years ago.

 

 

About face

 

Dec 2nd 2004

 

From The Economist print edition

 

Researchers are exploring how and where in the brain people recognise faces. This could be helpful to those who cannot recall them at all

 

RENÉ MAGRITTE, a surrealist artist, perfectly captured the idea of prosopagnosia, or face-blindness, in his painting “The Son of Man”. In the picture, an apple floats in front of a man's face, covering the features that would normally allow him to be recognised.

 

To people with prosopagnosia, the instant someone leaves their sight the memory of that person's face is blank—or, at best, a palette of muddled features. Face-blindness can be likened to tone-deafness: the tone can be heard, or the face seen, but distinguishing between different tones or faces is nearly impossible. The effects of prosopagnosia can be so bad that people with severe cases cannot recognise their own parents or children.

 

Understanding the face-recall mechanism in the brain would be a big step towards understanding this odd disorder. It might also throw light on human evolution, since the ability to recognise faces is more or less equal to the ability to recognise individuals, and that ability is the glue which holds societies together and which has enabled humanity to develop a complex culture unique in the animal kingdom. The question is whether this crucial ability has its own private brain mechanism, or whether it is simply one aspect of a general ability to recognise individual members of a particular class of objects.

 

Let's face it A paper by Brad Duchaine and Ken Nakayama of Harvard University, which is to be published shortly in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, uses face-blind volunteers to explore this question. In the study, Dr Duchaine and Dr Nakayama showed their seven face-blind subjects a series of images of cars, tools, guns, houses and landscapes, and also black-and-white pictures of faces without hair on their heads (prosopagnosiacs tend to use cues other than facial features to distinguish between people). Ten of these images were repeated during the cycle. The subjects were asked to indicate, as quickly as possible, whether each image they saw was new or repeated.

 

If, the researchers reasoned, visual recognition is done by one type of brain process regardless of what is being recognised, then the face-blind subjects would show difficulty in recognising all repeated objects in the series, not just the faces. They found, however, that while none of their prosopagnosiac subjects could recognise the faces in the series well, they could distinguish between the other repeated pictures as easily as people without prosopagnosia could. That confirms the idea that faces are handled differently in the brain from other objects.

 

Further evidence supporting this idea comes from a study that Dr Duchaine and Dr Nakayama published earlier this year in Neuron. This reported the experience of a physicist known as Edward, who is severely face-blind. It was designed to test the idea that face recognition is a type of expertise that is learnt, in the same way that judges at dog shows, or connoisseurs of antiques, are trained to notice fine visual distinctions in their fields.

 

One way psychologists study the acquisition of such expertise is to use computer-generated images of objects known in the field as “greebles”. A greeble looks like a space alien. It has features that might be interpreted as limbs, sense organs and the like, and these features can be manipulated so that greeble families—of similar but not quite identical individual greebles—can be generated. Greeble training consists of recognising both the differences and the similarities.

 

As it turned out, Edward did well in greeble training, easily mastering the finer points of greeble anatomy. His ability to become an expert at appraising these objects showed that prosopagnosia is not caused by an inability to make fine distinctions between objects that are basically similar. Face-recognition, it suggests, is a specific skill that Edward simply lacks.

 

A third study, published in this week's Neuron by Galit Yovel and Nancy Kanwisher of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, digs a little deeper into the question. Dr Yovel and Dr Kanwisher have been studying what happens in people's brains when they look at faces.

 

To do this, they used a brain-scanning technique called functional magnetic-resonance imaging, which follows the brain's activity in real time. Their area of particular interest was part of the brain called the fusiform face area (FFA), which previous work had suggested is involved in the recognition of objects, including faces.

 

Dr Yovel and Dr Kanwisher showed their subjects pictures of faces and houses, and measured the level of activity in the FFA. They found that it was far more active when someone was looking at a face rather than a house. They also found that the pattern of activity changed as they changed the pattern of features on a face. The FFA was the only part of the brain to respond this way, so it looks as though Dr Yovel and Dr Kanwisher have found the location of the face-processing mechanism. The next step will be to look at what happens there when prosopagnosiacs are presented with faces.

 

So, while science has yet to pin down what it is that people with prosopagnosia are missing when they recall a blur instead of a face—and therefore what allows everybody else to be so good at recognising one another—it is making good progress towards that goal. This is not to say that prosopagnosia has no advantages. As one person with it posts on her website, “You can wake up in the morning and pretend you don't know your kids. Then you don't have to pay them an allowance.”

 

Here's the area of the brain in question:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusiform_gyrus

And the FFA

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusiform_face_area

 

Just tossing that out there.

 

Additionally, I'd like to know why, K^2, you assume that for the brain to be "hard wired" in any way, that the entire structure would have to written into our DNA. Could it not be ascribed to "organic compression," to make a crude example?

Edited by Otter

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K^2

 

I don't see how the ability to adapt disproves the existence of inherent behavior.

It doesn't disprove it. But if the brain is capable of adapting to recognize certain objects, what is the point of hard wiring it? In terms of Evolution, if the brain has evolved to be capable of learning to recognize what it needs to recognize, then where would the pressures for inane ability for recognition come from?

 

Additionally, I'd like to know why, K^2, you assume that for the brain to be "hard wired" in any way, that the entire structure would have to written into our DNA. Could it not be ascribed to "organic compression," to make a crude example?

First of all, DNA is, if anything, an inefficient information storage. It has to store extra information to withstand mutations, be repairable, and to be able to deal with various deviations, whether they come from mutations or environmental causes. Things that can be coded in DNA more efficiently are repeating structures and fractals. The structure needed to recognize specific features from visual stimuli would not be so symmetrical. It can be built on a highly symmetrical platform, (e.g. CPU) but then it would need some "programming", which is exactly what Mortukai says it does not require.

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Otter

I don't think that's what he's saying - I think he's saying that the majority of the "programming" is prenatal - not "learning" but "growing" and expressing phenotypes as limited by the environment of the womb.

 

The brain can adapt, but take your "tongue-sight" for example - it can never perform as efficiently as the specialized centers. Brain trauma wouldn't be such a horrible thing, if this were the case, right?

 

There is a whole field, I've recently discovered, revolving around behavioral genetics. Do you think this entire field of study is bullocks?

Edited by Otter

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Mortukai

@Otter: Man, K^2 thinks anything that ISN'T computers is bullocks. Thousands of highly educated experts in the fields of genetics and behaviour couldn't possibly be a match for K^2 and his pentium! These real scientists CLEARLY have absolutely no understanding about how genetics works or the truth that can be found in the holy Neural Net. The path to true understanding of the human condition can only be walked by someone who can recite pi to 1000 places.

 

Haven't you noticed how he just dodged your quoting of that article? He just shunted it to the side with some dismissive comment about "what's the point in hard wiring something if it can be learned?". I mean, completely ignoring the idiocy of that question, it's pretty obvious to see that he is just dodging the evidence against his argument. So of course, instead of admitting that yes, ok, clearly face recognition is hard wired, he just slips past and says "what's the point" as if the evidence was never there in the first place. His best strategy to win is to ignore his loses.

 

@K^2: I'm honestly not going to bother debating this anymore with you K^2. It's not just your ignorance. I mean, that's the fundamental force behind any debate. No. And it's not just your insistence that you are an expert in all fields despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. No I can live with that too.

 

I'm not going to debate with you because you're not debating with me.

 

You constantly try to shift and change the focus of the debate, taking it all over the place in the hope of winning a battle. And you haven't won any battles except in your own head. And when I try to bring the topic back to the main central original theme, you sidestep again.

 

You are, flat out, full of sh*t.

 

You think that everything you know is everything that there is, and constantly fail to entertain the idea that perhaps things are not as limited as you think they are. It's like you're trying desperately to establish and maintain a mental mastery of hte world. It's like you're trying to control what is and what is not possible by excluding all things that don't fit your extremely narrow knowledge base as "impossible". It's like you are autistic. Seriously your responses here are practically textbook autistic. You are engrossed absolutely in computers and "logic" and technology and maths and systems and numbers and relationships. You try to assert that these things ARE reality, and anything that does not fit these things must be false. You repeat the same mantras over and over and over expecting that repitition will suffice to convince. And when you are faced with something that is completely outside your ability to reason or control, you flee. Sexual attraction is a very uncomfortable subject for autistic people. They don't "get" it. I mean, they experience it, but they can't understand it. So they try to discard it and control it and force it into the small boxes of their precious systematic knowledge base.

 

This is basically you this entire debate.

 

I'm not going to debate with an autistic person. It's impossible. It's like debating with a tree. Or a fundamentalist christian. Their computers are their religion and their goggles for how they perceive the world. How do you convince someone that there are things out there that are not computers when that's all they allow themselves to see? You can't.

 

So K^2, until you can actually debate my attraction argument with me, you're on your own. I've laid out the reasons why attraction should be the battleground for this debate, and your reasons for not going there are pathetic and sound like someone backing off from a fight they know they can't win. By virtue of the fact that I have made the strongest argument here, and it has remained uncontested by any serious challenge, I declare myself the winner.

 

and the crowd goes wild!

Edited by Mortukai

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K^2

Wait, you are saying I'm dragging the topic around? My thesis was that human ethics are learned. You have dragged it into debate over sexual attraction and face recognition. But sure, I'll argue these points too. Then you accuse me of ignoring things. What exactly am I ignoring? "Expert" opinion? Show me articles. Show me experiments. Something that actually constitutes evidence. Not just opinions of people. I don't claim to know everything, but I do know quite a bit, and when someone tells me something that contradicts all of it, I want good proof. Is that much to ask for? You, on the other hand, ignore entire fields of science that are relevant to things you claim to research. You ignore informatics, AI, genetics, and every other precise science that in one way or another deals with human behavior. Instead, you run for the hills of "sciences" that deal with immeasurable things with an uncertain margin of error on each of your experiments. With such approach, you might as well forget the evolution all together, and join the creationists. There are plenty of "experts" who will tell you that God created Earth 6000 years ago. They'll even quote the evidence supporting it. They will also, like you, avoid any critical experiments that actually help to decide on which of the two models are appropriate.

 

Yes, I side-stepped Otter's article. Why? Because it really brings nothing new to the argument. It states that a genetic condition can prevent face recognition. This is a very long way away from proving that facial recognition is hard-wired. If anything, it tells you that certain specific conditions must be met by the region of the brain that will process faces. We already know that. The disagreement is that I insist that all that is required is having proper stimuli being sent to that region. For example, visual and aural. Without it, the child does not learn to track faces, and therefore, does not learn to recognize them. This is, of course, just speculation. The point is, there is still no critical experiment in sight.

 

As for your attraction argument, you have none. The only portion of it that was relevant to ethics was the selection of mate based on wealth. You have demonstrated absolutely no evidence of it being genetic and not social. Your "best argument" is still suspiciously absent from the debate.

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Otter

 

My thesis was that human ethics are learned.

I thought your thesis was that human morals are learned.

Edited by Otter

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K^2

Both. The two are related, anyways. It's always immoral to do the unethical.

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Otter

Not always. Ethics are the application (or restriction) of our morals.

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K^2

I might be experiencing a bit of a linguistic limitation. Both ethics and morals are social rules of conduct. The way I understood it, in English language, the word ethics is most commonly applied to these rules that are related to honest and fair conduct. As such, any unethical action is also a violation of rules of morality. I might be a bit off on that. If you can give me an example of a thing that is not immoral, but is unethical, it might help me narrow down definitions a bit.

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Otter

A doctor donating an organ to save a patient, or to a different degree, insider trading.

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K^2

So, in a way, you are saying that ethics are more of the "by the letter" rules of society, while morals are "by the spirit" rules?

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Sebastian89

Maybe we should call this "who can post the longest post topic"

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