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17 Jan 2017
Are we robots or can we build intelligent robots?

The other day I came across an interesting theory about how the mind works at the CC3C by Joscha Bach. He tries to answer the following questions from the perspective of a computer scientist:

  • Can we really be robots?
  • What is the essence of an intelligent robot?
  • What kind of computer do we need to run the universe?
  • What is consciousness?

I am not really into the topic and didn’t understand every aspect, but still find it worth watching.

Here is what I understood…

The universe has the property that throws patterns at our human interfaces. These patterns contain some regularity that our mind learns to interpret as sound, colors and smells. Accordingly, minds must be computational observers in order to find certain patterns.

If minds are information processing systems, then we can teach computers how to think and by doing this, people learn what thinking is.

However, life begins at the cellular level. A cell is the smallest universal machine to extract negentropy over a wide range of environments. It is a self-stabilizing, mutable, molecular machine.

Life is a cell - at no point there is no cell, there is always a cell.

Multicellular organisms arise from different types of cells and their DNA is more like an operating system than a blueprint. The operating system is made of routines, called genes, which can do different things, such as division and replication. What I understood is that cells can morph into other cells and perform a specific task. Nevertheless, they are not aware of the whole thing - the organism.

Organisms are colonies of cells in which some cells are specialized in information processing, i.e. they become neurons. The brain consists of the limbic system which induces pleasure and pain as well as impulses to seek future pleasure and avoid future pain. The limbic system is related to the subsistence, social and cognitive needs of an organism.

Another part of our brain, the hippocampus, associates the needs with situations in the real world. Animals have that too.

Furthermore, humans have the neocortex on top of it which generalizes and searches for patterns for these needs. It builds the mental model of the world. The neocortex works like a synthesizer. Raw data from the universe is fed into the neocortex to reproduce patterns. Once you can do that, you know how they continue. Then you can predict a pattern and you understand it. It happens for all our senses, such as sound, vision, etc.

Furthermore, there are more synthesizers on top of the other synthesizers. They look for patterns in the patterns. And then there is another layer and another layer. The purpose of the elaborated structure is to find regularity in the universe and project it in the mind to simulate a dynamic world.

The mental simulation is the world that we believe to live in.

The real world out there is made up of weird quantum mechanics that are entangled with our retina and other senses. So our neural networks predict the patterns that come into our senses. People find similar regularities, thats why we can talk about things.

Neurons form groups which are comparable to a music instrument in an orchestra. They play the music of your mind. A conductor is another brain area which maintains and communicates via a protocol. The protocol is a story that the system tells itself about itself. Remembering having been conscious is necessary and sufficient for consciousness. Therefore, access to the protocol must be integrated into the protocol.

We are probably not actually conscious in this very moment but we do have a memory of having been conscious of something a moment ago.

Reality and illusion are a brain state.

Everything we can think of can be represented in a computer - imagination is our limit.

More talks:

See you next time,

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