X-Message-Number: 11803
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: comments for Jeff Davis
Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 00:33:56 +1000 (EST)

To Jeff Davis:

It's a pity that we did not know one another when I lived in Half Moon
Bay, CA too. Now I am in Australia.

I have mentioned and discussed one feature which MIGHT make us different
from computers, and certainly makes us different from any computer so
far built. That is, we are a set of connected neural nets with a small
sequential computer giving our awareness and fed by all the neural nets;
but most important, those neural nets have a feature which no current
computer neural net shows: they change their connectivity over time, by
growing new synapses and losing old ones. We may at any given instant
be a finite state machine, but we become different finite state machines
constantly. And that difference is part of how we respond to the world,
it is not autonomous. I do not believe that current theories of computing
have adequately explored the significance of this difference.

Basically I have lots of sympathy with the computer analogy, but even a
little thought tells me that you need much more than that. The computer
cannot simply compute: it must have arms, legs, eyes, ears, tongue, and
all the other things we have, including GOALS and FEELINGS (after all,
without goals and feelings, we have no more than a computer, ready to do
whatever computing we ask it too but not designed to come up with goals
or feelings of its own). And it must be able to deal with the real world,
not just with a play virtual world. 

			Best and long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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