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February 20, 2007



>would be like saying that the blueprint for a
>building is equivalent to the building itself.

no, but that having and understanding a blueprint enables you to build a building, Isn't that the meaning of "Blueprint" ?

>The intelligence of the brain is not derivable
>from the genome. You have to grow an adult human
>to simulate that.

but once you have the algorithm of how it reacts to external stimuli you can do that .. or, not grow a human, but put the system in a robot, give it a virtual body in a SecondLife successor or connect it to sensors and machines in a factory.

However, I'm willing to concede two points:

* How much the resulting thing will resemble us and how well we'll be able to communicate is a difficult question. It may be intelligent in a way quite different from humans.

* A complete blueprint that suffices to build the initial structure of the brain from scratch will require more information than is stored in the genome. This is due to the fact that the genome can always assume the presence of quite specialized proteins and cellular mechanisms to execute it. The genome does not contain the information necessary to build everything from dust (thats a longer version of my remark: the genome is going nowhere without the mother).


Valentin there is basic flaw with Larry's (and your) argument. Does the human genome contain all the information of the human body? No. It is just the initial specification. There is a huge difference between genotype and phenotype. The human body and brain comprise many orders of magnitude more information than a strand of human DNA. During the process of development and learning the human brain generates a vast "virtual machine" in an emergent fashion on the basis of the body. The underlying spec for the cells may be in the genome, but the way they develop and connect is emergent and unpredictable from the genome alone -- the brain is in fact shaped partially in reaction to sensory stimuli. The intelligence of the brain is not derivable from the genome. You have to grow an adult human to simulate that. Larry's argument -- if he is saying what you interpret -- would be like saying that the blueprint for a building is equivalent to the building itself. It's not. But thanks for your post! Cheers. -- Nova


I understood the argument from larry differently. I think it was: 1) all structure of the human brain must be encoded in the genome 2) this initial structure enables the brain to learn high level concepts, its his learning algorithm 3) the genome equals a couple of hundreds megabytes of data - hence: the brains initial structure, the learning algorithm can't be that complex, can't be more than a couple of hundred megabytes large.

So yes, there are holes in this argumentation (the genome isn't going anywhere without the mother), but I think you dismiss it to easily.




"a bit" alien.”

That’s the part that has me worried. Smile!



Yes, tht "I" is an illusion or, more exactly, the "I" is in the whole (the main property of any system is that it is something more than sum of its elements). There is no "central point" or anything "immaterial" - this is coming from the basics of biology, each cell in a cell colony (which would later become a human organism) behaves independently (and has the same program), further differences are results of some randomization (probability of a steam cell to mutate into a certain kind of it - written in its genome) and reaction to the environment (what-to-do if a certain proteine is detected - also in genes). The neural "management"and "subordination" begin later.

What I must add that Nova missed to mention is _interaction_. For the Web it should not be a problem - each computer has some input/output from/to the "offline" world. A true intelligence cannot be isolated; and as we fall into "altered mind" when we receive too much or too little of info (not mentioning chemicals affecting the cells' communication "style" and speed), this Web will still be inteligence, but "a bit" alien.


“It is an illusion to think that there is some central self or "I" that controls the process (that is just another agent in the community in fact, perhaps one with a kind of reporting and selection role).”

If I understand you correctly, why would it be an illusion to think that an I, exists?

One can see individuality manifest in all humans yet no two, even identical twins, are alike. Doesn’t that point to some “core element” that permeates the whole as it where?

Earlier I used the term soul and spirit and that might be a stretch for many. Whatever it is that brings the human together as an “intelligent being,” might ultimately be impossible to recreate because it consists of some thing other/more than material substances.

Your hypothesis, an agent with a reporting and selection role places itself apart from the other functionaries, even at the very lowest denominator suggests differentiation and some control or leadership! From where might that impulse come?

Great train of thought Nova and I completely agree with most of your comments particularly the fact that Google is not going to become a global brain.

My money is on semantic research and development, not that I have much.



I also caught his talk and as he was explaining, the above, I was saying to myself, “come on, come on please let me believe you’ve got more going on than this!”

The “what’s missing” part, soul/spirit/? defies simplistic or even a complicated explanation. I must add that if the God of Google is saying AI is near, something’s afoot and I can’t wait!

By the way, LISP the language of gods, I looked at the whole series, and laughed a lot despite having 0 idea about code!


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Nova's Trip to Edge of Space

  • Stepsedgestratosphere
    In 1999 I flew to the edge of space with the Russian air force, with Space Adventures. I made it to an altitude of just under 100,000 feet and flew at Mach 3 in a Mig-25 piloted by one of Russia's best test-pilots. These pics were taken by Space Adventures from similar flights to mine. I didn't take digital stills -- I got the whole flight on digital video, which was featured on the Discovery Channel.

Nova & Friends, Training For Space...

  • Img021
    In 1999 I was invited to Russia as a guest of the Russian Space Agency to participate in zero-gravity training on an Ilyushin-76 parabolic flight training aircraft. It was really fun!!!! Among other people on that adventure were Peter Diamandis (founder of the X-Prize and Zero-G Corporation), Bijal Trivedi (a good friend of mine, science journalist), and "Lord British" (creator of the Ultima games). Here are some pictures from that trip...


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