X-Message-Number: 7856
From:  (Thomas Donaldson)
Subject: Re: CryoNet #7848 - #7853
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997 01:01:49 -0800 (PST)

Hi guys!

Since my connection broke and its now past my bedtime, I shall try to be

1. We must first understand how our brain works much better than we do now,
   and without that understanding the information we might get from any kind
   of readout will mean nothing. Not only that, but until we understand we
   won't even have a clear enough idea of what information is important and
   what is not.

   But then: that understanding of how our brains work will bring with it 
   also a much better understanding of how to fix them. The two go together

2. Any serious proposal to read out brains will also have to be automated:
   no one can be expected to do all the cutting and slicing by hand, and
   keep track of it by hand, and so on and on. Not only that, it will have
   to get out a VERY ACCURATE and COMPLETE version of our brain. We may not
   even know that it is inaccurate and incomplete until we have the "person"
   read out --- and find that he or she is implausibly faulty in many obvious
   ways. It must be especially accurate and complete because there will be
   no second chance: the readout, as presented, is destructive, and we can't
   go back for a second look. This requires a very high standard of operation
   if we claim to bring someone back by using it. 

   I can think of ways to readout brains which are nondestructive, too. But
   along with them comes a much increased ability to repair the brains in

3. Some people seem to think that the clunky machines we have now and call
   "computers" can do all kinds of wonderful things. We do not know now 
   even what the people of 50 years in the future will call "computers",
   if they even use that word, or what their principles of operation may
   be. I would not want to become a program in any present "computer".
   In a sense I am already a "program" in another kind of computer; take
   care, then, when you blithely talk of reading in and reading out. Perhaps
   the computer you will find yourself in will look like a brain.

   As for whether our "computers" can do wonderful things, that depends on
   where you stand. Even giving one lots of memory and lots of processors
   you won't have something which can really imitate a human brain. In
   some ways, sure, it will be better, and in others worse. But I doubt
   it can be done with anything like our present "computers". (Yes, I know
   about computers, particularly parallel ones --- it was my specialty.
   And I've done a lot of study of brains, too, because they are important
   for cryonics).

   Could we emulate a flatworm's nervous system. Yes. Probably even that
   of a snail. But a human being? Not at all --- I doubt that we could
   even simulate the brain of a mammal, bird, or reptile. Maybe a few
   very stupid fish. It's not just a matter of number of processors and
   memory, it's a matter of the kind of processing which needs to be done.

Do I really claim this is a sufficient answer and you guys will be silenced
forever more? No. But it's all I'm saying tonight.

			Goodnight, and long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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