Re: Mental Imaging

From: HOLMES Sharon (
Date: Fri Mar 08 1996 - 11:56:35 GMT

> From: "Bollons Nicholas" <>
> Date: Fri, 8 Mar 1996 10:48:19 GMT
> Symbolism uses sort of 'on and of'' states as in the basics of
> computers who really are a big collection of switches that can be
> turned either on or off depending on what you tell them (input). If
> we associate this with symbolic learning in humans, are we just a
> walking collection of switches that can be turned on or off
> depending on our input ? Think of the first transistor conputers that
> had to change their physical state to be either on or off. Do we have
> these physical states in our head ?.

 We could think of ourselves as walking organic computers. Neurons
have an 'all or nothing' on/off state and will only fire
(switch on) if the stimulus reaches a specific level of intensity.
In that sense, we are a walking collection of on/off switches.
However, this does not necessarily explain HOW the mechanism works.
Yes, at a neural level, all information is processed as a series of
1's and 0's - neurons firing and not firing. It is how this is
organised and how this action translates from 1's and 0's to speech,
memory, language, conscious awareness etc. which is the unknown.

For example, imagine we found an item of alien machinery (as you do!).
Scientists and engineers could spend years studying this machine, detail the
components in minute detail, but still be none the wiser for HOW it
works, or what it is for.

> Symbolism removes the Homonculus but turns us into walking transistors.
> Steven used the example of turning the F grid into symbolic on off
> states in our head ( 00010010 e.t.c) is this really how we process all
> sensory input ?

Symbolism offers one possible explaination for how we process
information. It isn't necessarily HOW we process sensory
information, but as you say, AI research has shown it can work in
limited areas. It is important to remember that in this field there
is no one answer to how the mind/brain works, but many feasible yet
different possibilities.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Feb 13 2001 - 16:23:38 GMT