Re: Symbols, Images and Neural Nets

From: Lowing, Ben (
Date: Wed Feb 12 1997 - 14:38:30 GMT

> After the last lecture, (12,2,97) I was wondering exactly how analog,
> and computation models actually help to explain the mind. It seems that
> they are merely a way to describe what the brain can do, and to some
> extent how it works. However, all of these things can be modeled on a
> computer, and I would not believe that a computer, at least one capable
> of symbol and image manipulation, has a mind. It does help to explain
> how the brain works, but not how a self aware creature (ie us) actually
> understands, and so I can't see how it helps our understanding of the
> mind itself. Am I missing something very obvious?

I don't think you are missing anything. For me, the whole idea of using
models (analogue, computational or neural networks) is to allow us a
fuller understanding of the functions that we are investigating.

A computer will not, in itself have a mind, as none of the current
models (or technology) allow this, but as they let us understand the
functions to a better degree we may be better able to understand the
minds working. I believe that trying to understand consciousness and
design a model that would be intrinsically human is a impossible dream,
as we do not understand enough about the mind as a whole for this to be
attempted. The only course of action (other than to abandon the project
altogether) is to try and comprehend as much as our current level of
expertise will allow, in the hope that in the future we will be able to
explain the mind fully using models that do not revolve solely around
symbols, images or neural nets, but all three in a system based around
some central controlling unit which will designate tasks to part of our
mind which works in a certain way. Lowing, Ben

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