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

Ravi Shukla ravishu at gmail.com
Thu Aug 28 15:00:46 CEST 2008


Some questions:
- When you say ' you have to understand a process analytically before you
can use it' it appears that the purpose of understanding a process was to
'use' it. I wouldn't know if all are agreed on that, some may well fell
that that the goal was to 'understand'.
- When you speak about 'prediction', 'control' and 'modification' - are they
distinct? i.e. when we predict or control are we not in some way  modifying?
do we treat all 'brain function' with a single brush when it comes to these
notions? or do we categorize them in some way?
 - Who are ''we' - here? are "we" one monolithic whole who agree on
these things?

On 8/27/08, James Schwaber <schwaber at mail.dbi.tju.edu> wrote:
>
>
> The technology I suggested would be desirable is "can we predict, control,
> and modify brain function" and my suggestion was that if we could it would
> be a basis for theory/science. This is not engineering in any sense that
> violates dignity. Rather, it is the explicit goal of biomedical science, to
> develop methods useful to neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry etc.
>
>
> gros07 at itp.uni-frankfurt.de wrote:
>
>> ? 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.
>>
>> Regards,
>> Claudius
>>
>> *****************************************
>> *** 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?
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>>>
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