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Thread: Just musing about the brain !

  1. #1
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    Just musing about the brain !

    It is super interesting how a little Jack Russell sized Dog with a golf ball sized brain has feelings, emotions and an inner life
    and yet the biggest super computer in the world does not feel a thing..

    I know someone may say how do we know that a Dog has an inner life, it may just be reacting to stimuli, however, i find that very doubtful !

    What is the Dogs brain doing that a large super computer is not ?
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

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    I have been listening to Marvin Minskys ideas about what possibly the brain could be doing and i have found it interesting.

    He thinks that consciousness is a loaded word. Consciousness is not one whole thing, it is made up of a dozen or so different procesess.

    Also, he says that things like the feeling of love may be made from dozens of smaller processes and then put together to form a subjective representation of the information. The brain is vastly parallel.

    He was also saying about how brains do not get stuck like computers can. He says that there could be large amounts of neural networks cycling information so when we come up against a problem that does not work or we suddenly need to get away from a snake or something we simply switch over to another network.

    He has a book called The Society of Mind, which is a collection of ideas about what the brain could be doing and i am going to buy it and give it a read as it sounds really interesting.

    I have not bought or read a book for years !
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

  3. #3
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    It's also fascinating that the human brain uses the equivalent of about 10 watts of power. Even a desktop computer uses ten times that amount. And supercomputers can use megawatts.

    One thing that's different is that the principle is quite different. There is no central processor, so it is a massively parallel system with no center. Another difference is that it is evolutionarily built, so we have innate desires, while a computer doesn't have any motivation.
    As above, so below

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    The brain fascinates me too, and i read new discoveries regularly. The so called old brain regulates our body and is still very much in charge while the cortex or newer brain rationalises or maybe post rationalises decisions and probably consciousness. Last century much was learned about subconscious workings and the mind conflicts that can arise. Many commentators muse about which advantage was the key one conferred by our large brain. I find the “sapiens” explanation convincing, that after developing a language, (useful) we developed imagination of higher level patterns which we can loosely call gods although that covers ideas about dead ancestors, tree spirits and all sorts of supernatural ideas. These gave us power of community much greater than tribal loyalty as is found in wolves and apes. In other words our big brains invented morality as a binding concept for large group endeavors like wars and building huge structures requiring thousands of hours of work. Humans outclass all other animals in those prehistory works and social dominance heirarchies.

    The question raised is whether the bipedal upright ape was already formidable enough to have the luxury of developing a bigger brain. It must have been progressively useful in survival among large and small competitors and , it seems, many cousins on the evolution tree that did not make it to the final ten thousand years, loosely speaking, since the ice retreated.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin1981 View Post
    It is super interesting how a little Jack Russell sized Dog with a golf ball sized brain has feelings, emotions and an inner life
    and yet the biggest super computer in the world does not feel a thing..

    I know someone may say how do we know that a Dog has an inner life, it may just be reacting to stimuli, however, i find that very doubtful !

    What is the Dogs brain doing that a large super computer is not ?
    My Jack Russell is lively, affectionate and terribly smart. When my wife goes out, he senses her arrival minutes before she come home. He can even read my thoughts, and at times I communicate telepathetically with him. He is my very best friend.

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    I have waked my dads two jack russells regularly for the last few years. They love it when i go round because they know they are going out
    and i pet them up a lot, as i guess i am a caring person and i have affection for them. I would say i love them and they love me.

    A lot of times when i park my car and then walk up to the gate they are already there in the garden as if they knew i was coming..

    I often wondering to myself, is it coincidence or do they sense it or maybe they recognise the sound of my car or maybe they smell me due to
    the superior sense of smell !
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    The brain fascinates me too, and i read new discoveries regularly. The so called old brain regulates our body and is still very much in charge while the cortex or newer brain rationalises or maybe post rationalises decisions and probably consciousness. Last century much was learned about subconscious workings and the mind conflicts that can arise. Many commentators muse about which advantage was the key one conferred by our large brain. I find the “sapiens” explanation convincing, that after developing a language, (useful) we developed imagination of higher level patterns which we can loosely call gods although that covers ideas about dead ancestors, tree spirits and all sorts of supernatural ideas. These gave us power of community much greater than tribal loyalty as is found in wolves and apes. In other words our big brains invented morality as a binding concept for large group endeavors like wars and building huge structures requiring thousands of hours of work. Humans outclass all other animals in those prehistory works and social dominance heirarchies.

    The question raised is whether the bipedal upright ape was already formidable enough to have the luxury of developing a bigger brain. It must have been progressively useful in survival among large and small competitors and , it seems, many cousins on the evolution tree that did not make it to the final ten thousand years, loosely speaking, since the ice retreated.
    I have just listened to the audiobooks, "Sapiens" and the follow up "Homo Deus", by the historian Yuval Noah Harari. Maybe you have heard of them ?

    I really enjoyed them and learnt a lot. I have just purchased his third book but i have not had time to listen to it yet.

    I wonder if we got the ability to have higher level cognition before language, after it developed or maybe the two co-evolved together ?

    I guess it is hard to know but i like what you wrote about how we constructed fictions and then came along Gods which helped societies of people
    to gel and live together in bigger groups and then after that accidentally came along agriculture and then here we are !



    As a side note, i came across this today and really enjoyed it and i think you would too..

    It is a talk on how consciousness arises in the brain stem as primitive emotions and then all the rest of the machinery was built on
    top of it over 100's of millions of years of evolution.

    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin1981 View Post
    I have waked my dads two jack russells regularly for the last few years. They love it when i go round because they know they are going out
    and i pet them up a lot, as i guess i am a caring person and i have affection for them. I would say i love them and they love me.

    A lot of times when i park my car and then walk up to the gate they are already there in the garden as if they knew i was coming..

    I often wondering to myself, is it coincidence or do they sense it or maybe they recognise the sound of my car or maybe they smell me due to
    the superior sense of smell !
    My first guess would be the sound of the car. I remember reading decades ago that dogs cannot pick up a human scent in the presence of gasoline, but for all I know today's cars may be vapor-tight enough to change that.

  9. #9
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    Thanks, i often wondered that it could be the sound of the car. I would park up and they are already in the garden barking lol

    The house is next to a busy main road and yet it would appear they can pick out the sound amongst the other cars. Not always but it has happened a non trivial
    amount of times..
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

  10. #10
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    The question is surely fascinating, I love the fact that people in this community have their own opinion about it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin1981 View Post
    I guess it is hard to know but i like what you wrote about how we constructed fictions and then came along Gods which helped societies of people
    to gel and live together in bigger groups and then after that accidentally came along agriculture and then here we are !
    Without some form of agriculture, it would be very hard to have had large groups of people living in one area. Hunting and gathering requires lots of land area even for small, nomadic populations. Maybe an unusually successful seaside fishing community?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin1981 View Post
    I have just listened to the audiobooks, "Sapiens" and the follow up "Homo Deus", by the historian Yuval Noah Harari. Maybe you have heard of them ?

    I really enjoyed them and learnt a lot. I have just purchased his third book but i have not had time to listen to it yet.

    I wonder if we got the ability to have higher level cognition before language, after it developed or maybe the two co-evolved together ?

    I guess it is hard to know but i like what you wrote about how we constructed fictions and then came along Gods which helped societies of people
    to gel and live together in bigger groups and then after that accidentally came along agriculture and then here we are !



    As a side note, i came across this today and really enjoyed it and i think you would too..

    It is a talk on how consciousness arises in the brain stem as primitive emotions and then all the rest of the machinery was built on
    top of it over 100's of millions of years of evolution.

    yes I was referring to Sapiens which is full of insights in my opinion although I did not find the same in the follow up books. I am involved in Interoception research which does suggest consciousness builds on the scaffold of the internal model. And the internal model is based in the "old brain"
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  13. #13
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    I recently finished reading this book
    https://www.amazon.com/How-Create-Mi.../dp/1491518839

    It looks like research into Hidden Markov models may be the key

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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr View Post
    I recently finished reading this book
    https://www.amazon.com/How-Create-Mi.../dp/1491518839

    It looks like research into Hidden Markov models may be the key
    I have not heard of Hidden Markov Models. What are they and how do they relate to figuring out how the brain works and ultimately consciousness ?

    Thanks..
    Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin1981 View Post
    I have not heard of Hidden Markov Models. What are they and how do they relate to figuring out how the brain works and ultimately consciousness ?

    Thanks..
    well it seems they are Bayesian models and the people I listen to reckon the interoceptive model is Bayesian (and unconscious). Bayesian as you know means a progressive improved prediction as more data comes in. In the internal model which the brain makes of all the organs and their optimisation, it tries to predict many parameters in a changing situation. It is the model which generates emotions in the "old brain". The most basic example is fear when danger is perceived. This accelerates the heart and so on. Then the higher brain, the cortex, analyses the situation and can sometimes modify the response. Feelings are in the cortex. In other words the cortex becomes aware of the emotions in the interoceptive system and relates those to the exterior model of the perceived world to further optimise survival. This might be the scaffold on which consciousness is built.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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