The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Thought-full Musing

“It’s a very modest goal — it’s to build a brain-like computer,” said Dharmendra Modha, principal investigator and senior manager at IBM Research.
IBM researchers get closer to brain-like computing

It may, indeed, be a modest goal... if that computer behaves like the average brain. Maybe that's just my own bias at work but I am not impressed by the average thinker. Look around you, at your peers... the ones at work, your neighbors, the ones that are profiled in the Darwin Awards emails friends send you (ironically, you might view some of these friends as possible candidates for that award)... Do you wonder how they come up with the ideas they do? Do you wonder why the reality shows on TV are doing so well? Why Rap music is so popular? Why young men think wearing their (very baggy) pants halfway down their hips is stylish?

Yes, it's definitely a modest goal. I would rather they work on computers becoming less human-like. I recall that First Officer Spock was an idealized, non-emotional, character though he was often befuddled by (and unhappy with) his lack of emotional understanding.  And the next iteration of the series produced an android version. A character more easily believed to be a logical, non-emotional, pseudo-human. Who, incidentally, desired that irrationality that makes us... well, human.

I have heard both characters described as "Pinocchio" characters. We seem to relish that... emotionless, super-logical, beings of high intellect wishing to be lesser beings... to be human. A rather intelligent shipmate and friend... back in the day... often professed his desire to be "stupid", so he could be "happy."

There's no doubt that I think human beings are, as a species, insane. So far as I know, we are the only species that have a need for religions and philosophies to explain the world around us... and in our terms. We are, without a doubt, an ego-centric species. Even when religions were filled with gods of all manner, they usually were in a hierarchy headed by a human-like guy in charge (yep, male...), one who often had the foibles of the average man: women trouble, easily distracted, petty and vain. But generally, if not specifically, human in form.

Transference, I think they call it. Maybe that's the wrong term. We even do it with our pets. They become our "children." We seek human personality in their behavior patterns. We recently decided that dolphins have "names" and memories. I never doubted that they have memories, and long ones, but names? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Maybe they just have individualized greetings instead. Like saying "Yo!" only when greeting a certain person. Instead, we want to believe they (dolphins) are like us, like humans, and mimic our behavior.

We hope for (or fear) the existence of aliens on some far off world. We imbue these imagined species with human desires (conquest and power over others). We fret that they may be like us in all the bad ways and unlike us in the good... the "good" that we imagine in ourselves, that is...

You want a computer that mimics the human brain? Why?

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