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

James Schwaber schwaber at mail.dbi.tju.edu
Thu Aug 28 20:23:01 CEST 2008

This is a mistake - I presented the idea (that you have to understand a 
process analytically before you can use it) as a so-called 
'science-technology fallacy', not as my view. Biomedical science, e.g. 
as funded by NIH, is more health goals oriented than seeking 
understanding for its own sake. In the case of the brain, however, 
perhaps understanding it might lend insight to some of the big questions 
that float around this thread. Nonetheless, my point was that technical 
development would be the expected path to understanding rather than the 

To the extent we can predict the weather so far that has not lead to its 
control, for example. It appears to me that we are poor at predicting 
functional consequences or trajectories of brain process-disease, and 
progress here would be a pretty good achievement, for openers!

The "we" could mean mankind, or neuroscientists, or physicians who treat 
brain - and the question was whether successful technologies can be 
developed (by any of these)  independent of first understanding the brain.

Ravi Shukla wrote:
> 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? 

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