[Comp-neuro] [D] dignity and the brain as an an engineering
kanzure at gmail.com
Wed Aug 27 19:16:22 CEST 2008
On Wednesday 27 August 2008, gros07 at itp.uni-frankfurt.de wrote:
> 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.
I don't see how you must have that particular separation between
engineering and dignity. There is nothing undignified about admitting
that brains are doing something interesting and using this interesting
process turned on itself.*
How is it that you find that the synaptogenesis and plasticity that led
you to write those words, are not in fact natural engineering
One of my projects is a "brain compiler" that kind of integrates
comp-neurosci software packages together, though I'm (slowly)
translating into wetware possibilities:
^ These are just hashing out ideas, so they are far from papers. They
are from my personal collection of documents, notes, scribblings.
Software engineering is a big name for programming. It was a popular
term on the other side of this decade, at least. Not sure about it any
more. Anyway, these software engineers would easily say computational
neuroscience software packages are a product of the practice of
software engineering. It's already happening.
Funny that software engineers suffer from the Oop, the Object Oriented
Programming paradigm, where everything is an object. The alternative is
procedural and processual programming. I wonder if the brain could be
interpreted as something other than an object?
And I'll be sticking with [D] until we decide otherwise.
* On another note, the synthetic biology crowd does organism engineering
such as at the International Genetically Engineered Machines
Competition (iGEM) in Hong Kong this year, and they do single celled
engineering. But there are some cases of computation done with
bacteria, like the bacteriophotography plates using the signaling
networks, or DNA logic like Stojanovic's tic-tac-toe system or
Winfree's DNA self-assembling origamis. So this might be a place to
look more closely at if there's concerns about, say, 'ethics' of
engineering in life, before anybody starts hitting 'brains'. At the
same time, there's been work at http://www.innerspacefoundation.org/
for human brain implant competitions, and brain implants usually fall
within the confines of engineering. Not to mention the genetically
engineered neural tissue culture studies, from knockout studies to
lesion studies. It's all over the place.
More information about the Comp-neuro