[Comp-neuro] [D] dignity and the brain as an an engineering problem

gros07 at itp.uni-frankfurt.de gros07 at itp.uni-frankfurt.de
Wed Aug 27 16:07:57 CEST 2008

? Is the brain just an engineering problem ?

In his comment on -science follows technology- 
James Schwaber discussed analogies between 
engineering problems and neuroscience and his comment

>> For neuroscience the question is can we predict, 
>> control, and modify brain function...

indicated a possible closeness between the study 
of the brain and an engineering problem.

Everybody subscribing to this mailing list probably 
agrees that the brain constitutes a object for
scientific investigation. But is it also an object
for engineering considerations?

In my point of view definitively not. Dignity is, 
of course, only the result of some poorly understood
electrochemical processes. We should nevertheless
highly value human dignity and keep a strict line
of separation between analogies to engineering,
or thoughts of engineering, and any living brain.


*** Prof. Dr. Claudius Gros           ***
*** http://itp.uni-frankfurt.de/~gros ***

On Tue, 26 Aug 2008, James Schwaber wrote:

> A lot of the discussion about the 'right way to model' or what to model may 
> be a version of what my friend Mike Gruber has termed  a version of the 
> science-technology fallacy, the idea that you have to understand a process 
> analytically before you can use it, and he always quotes Carnot 
> here--thermodynamics owes more to the steam engine than ever the steam engine 
> owes to thermodynamics.  Obviously, humans used and controlled fire for 
> 100,000 years before Lavoisier explained what fire was, and planes flew for 
> decades before there was a theory to explain how they did it.  In fact theory 
> 'demonstrated' that heavier-than-air flight was impossible. The reason we buy 
> the fallacy is because of the outlier of nuclear physics--yes, in that 
> unusual case, nuclear technology and bombs were utterly dependent on the 
> groundwork of theory, and lasers arose from quantum research.   But this is 
> not the common case in the history of technology.
> For neuroscience the question is can we predict, control, and modify brain 
> function even though we never be able to 'understand' it analytically?  As of 
> now the answer seems to be no.  Will this ever improve?   Drilling down won't 
> cut it.  What would?   _______________________________________________
> Comp-neuro mailing list
> Comp-neuro at neuroinf.org
> http://www.neuroinf.org/mailman/listinfo/comp-neuro

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