Tuesday, 24 May 2005

Spot the Brain Cell

From Discover Magazine, via Mythusmage Opines :
Turns out some brain cells may be capable of pattern recognition. That these brain cells are computers of a sort in and of themselves. This complicates things for people working on artificial intelligence, replication/recording of personality and brain functioning. It may well mean that 'uploading' a person's mind, his personality, into a computer is either more difficult than we thought, or downright impossible.
I'd plump for "tricky" rather than "infeasible due to the laws of physics" here.
How individual brain cells work is not known. Here we have a problem that may well take some time to puzzle out. We could well learn that the brain, all types of brains, are not organic computers, but aggregations of billions of individual computers.
So it has Internet-nature, no surprise.
It also raises the question, what about neurons outside of the brain? Are the nerves in your body protoplasmic computers. If so, how capable are they?
As minimally capable as they have to be. Does the personality change when a finger is anaesthetised? Not noticeably. The fact is that it's convenient to Ma Nature to use the same basic template for everything, activating capabilities as needed. Hence stem-cells being able to adopt whatever role is needed for their environment, be it heart muscle or liver cell.

The computational complexity of a single brain cell also adequately explains the apparently complex behaviour of certain people - televangelists, bureaucrats - who probably have only one brain cell (working part-time) still functional in their cerebral cortex anyway.

No comments: