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

Emilio Salinas esalinas at wfubmc.edu
Thu Aug 28 15:59:46 CEST 2008

I'd just like to add that 'dignity' is is an extremely slippery concept
to begin with. Take a look at the comments about it made by Steven


The same article has been reposted here:


	Emilio Salinas

> -----Original Message-----
> From: comp-neuro-bounces at neuroinf.org [mailto:comp-neuro-
> bounces at neuroinf.org] On Behalf Of Bryan Bishop
> Sent: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 1:16 PM
> To: comp-neuro at neuroinf.org
> Subject: Re: [Comp-neuro] [D] dignity and the brain as an an
> engineeringproblem
> 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
> you to write those words, are not in fact natural engineering
> processes?
> 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:
> 	http://heybryan.org/buildingbrains.html
> 	http://heybryan.org/2008-08-15.html
> 	^ 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
> procedural and processual programming. I wonder if the brain could be
> interpreted as something other than an object?
> 'System', maybe.
> And I'll be sticking with [D] until we decide otherwise.
> - Bryan
> * 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.
> ________________________________________
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> Engineers: http://heybryan.org/exp.html
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