Can Natural Processes Create a Mind?

first_imgNo problemo, says H. Clark Barrett (UCLA), getting a mind from mindless matter.  In a review of a book by developmental psychologist Gary Marcus published in Science June 11,1 Barrett was reassured by Marcus’ book that evolutionary theory working within natural law is up to the task: “The strengths of The Birth of the Mind lie in its sophisticated exposition of how genes guide development and its convincing argument that we need not hold out hope for some magical, as yet undiscovered, process to account for the brain’s complexity.  Plain old natural processes, about which we know much already, will do.”    But how can a brain, composed of billions of neurons and quadrillions of connections, arise from a genome with only tens of thousands of genes?  “Experts have made much of the claim that 30,000 genes aren’t nearly enough to specify the vast number of connections in the brain (the ‘gene shortage’),” he notes.  The answer is in the book:With clarity and precision, Marcus, a developmental psychologist at New York University, lays to rest the rumors of a gene shortage and also rebuts the argument that minds are too complex to have been designed over evolutionary time by the process of natural selection.  He shows instead that minds are built over the course of individual development by genetically regulated processes that have been molded by natural selection to build brains that are functionally organized in ways that promoted human survival and reproduction in the evolutionary past.We need to rise above the simplistic view of genes as static libraries of blueprints, he urges.  Instead, we should view genes as “active ‘agents’ that interact in precisely orchestrated ways to build organisms” —The author shows us how this view allows us to understand the fantastically complex, yet fantastically well-coordinated, generation of the mind.  In cognitive science, it has long been customary to think of the brain as a computer.  Marcus shows that the developmental system that builds the brain can also be thought of as an algorithmic system, one that operates through frequent interactions with its internal and external environments.  He likens the genome to a compressed file, and the cellular machinery with which it interacts to a decompressor.  However, this developmental system is full of ingenious devices not typically found in silicon-based computers, including gradients and switches that allow its operations to be context-sensitive, feedback loops, and self-generated “test patterns” that allow the system to tune itself.  … As Marcus makes clear, although we are vastly more complex than desktop computers and therefore have potentially many more ways of breaking, the fact that our developmental process is relatively far less prone to crashing while booting up from the zygote has everything to do with natural selection for specific developmental outcomes.In addition, the modularity of the brain’s functions helps address the puzzle of the gene deficit.  “For example, an animal with 60 legs would not necessarily need 10 times as many genes as a six-legged animal, and although human arms and legs differ considerably, we do not require an entirely distinct set of genes for each type of limb,” he explains.  Further, gene duplication can provide novelty on which natural selection can act.    Barrett praises Marcus for overcoming “simple-minded debates about the role of genes and evolution in shaping the human mind,” but he does find one weakness in The Birth of the Mind: “If there is a drawback to the book, it is that the author doesn’t show us exactly how a tiny number of genes builds such a complex brain, only that they can.  But he is hardly to blame for this, given that we have a long way to go before we have a complete understanding of brain development.”  That last sentiment is reinforced in a press release from USC that says, “It’s amazing that after a hundred years of modern neuroscience research, we still don’t know the basic information processing functions of a neuron.”1H. Clark Barrett, “Human Cognition: Dispelling Rumors of a Gene Shortage,” Science Vol 304, Issue 5677, 1601-1602, 11 June 2004 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1098610].Let’s get this straight.  Barrett just admitted that Marcus “doesn’t show us exactly how a tiny number of genes builds such a complex brain, only that they can” – i.e., Marcus bluffed his way around a problem by making a bald, unsupported claim.  Barrett lets him off the hook for this by saying we have a long way to go before anyone understands brain development.  But in the very next sentence, he praises Marcus for making a “sophisticated exposition” of the case that “plain old natural processes” are sufficient to “account for the brain’s complexity.”  I.e., nature built a brain, how we don’t know, but my friend Marcus said so.    Can evolutionists solve their problems by appealing to “compressed files” and modular genetic algorithms?  No; they make them worse.  In the history of computers, modular programming was a quantum leap in intelligent design over the older “spaghetti code.”  File compression was a quantum leap in intelligent design over uncompressed code.  Any junior high kid can write a text file on a computer, but if she can write software that can compress or decompress it, she’s a prodigy.    One module may suffice to build 60 legs on a centipede, but more is going on, because those legs don’t all grow at the same spot.  Something tells these legs where to form, and coordinates their movements.  The point is, it displays even more intelligent design to use modular programming and compression, to say nothing of “ingenious devices” like “gradients and switches that allow its operations to be context-sensitive, feedback loops, and self-generated ‘test patterns’ that allow the system to tune itself.”  The layers of complexity in the brain have only increased with ongoing discoveries.  These complexities cannot be dismissed by hand-waving appeals to natural selection.  Why Science would print a simplistic explanation from an anthropologist who accuses others of engaging in simple-minded debates is another issue.    The analogies to computers are irrelevant to evolution.  Computers were built by intelligent design, and the intelligence came from minds that beg the question of their origin.  Barrett and Marcus cannot appeal to intelligent design in computers to establish a naturalistic origin of a much more “fantastically complex, yet fantastically well-coordinated” mind.  They leave us only with a glittering generality, a just-so story, in essence claiming that natural selection acting on developmental processes solely directed at evolving survivable reproducing organisms just happened to produce, serendipitously, entities able to create and execute Rachmaninoff piano concertos and build spacecraft and navigate them to Saturn.  For us to believe that, they are going to have to provide better reasons than mere bluffing.(Visited 32 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Submarine Engineers Admire Penguins

first_imgAn ocean engineer from MIT, Franz Hover, says “we never miss marveling at them,” speaking of penguins.  In the cover story of Science News,1 the submarine designer elaborates:Under the power and guidance of its versatile flippers, a penguin can move through the water faster than 10 miles per hour, turn almost instantaneously, and leap out of the water onto an iceberg.  You’ll never see a submarine do that, Hover points out.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Carrie Lock, author of the article entitled “Marvels of Engineering,” also marvels at the graceful flippers of dolphins, sea lions and whales compared to the crude propellers of man-made underwater craft.  The shape, maneuverability, and flexibility of animal flippers overcomes turbulence and allows quick turns and near-instant stops:Scientists have long sought to unlock the secrets of nature’s underwater-locomotion schemes, but they’ve usually met with frustration.  Since the mid-1930s, when England’s Sir James Gray declared that dolphins move through water so efficiently that engineering principles were inadequate to explain the mechanism, people have sought to understand marine-animal locomotion.  Now, researchers in the field of biomimetics–the science of mimicking living things–have unlocked some of those secrets and are applying their knowledge to prototype watercraft.The movement of a swimming penguin is “deceptively simple,” because:To accomplish its feats, the penguin must generate forces that are huge in proportion to its small body.  Although scientists can’t fully explain how the animal does it, it’s clear that for its size, a penguin’s stroke creates forces relatively larger than those of a propeller and does it more efficiently….    Penguins are more maneuverable than vessels because their flippers can make different kinds of motions than propellers can.  Penguins’ flippers are attached to their bodies at a single rotation point that’s equivalent to the human shoulder.  The flippers flap up and down, move forward and back, and twist around in the joint.  Propellers, on the other hand, just rotate.  Although they can turn at different speeds, the orientation of their motion is fixed.Lock discusses several teams working on imitating the flippers of penguins, dolphins, and the scalloped-edge flippers of humpback whales, which reduce turbulent wakes (see 05/11/2004 headline)– this is being investigated by a Pennsylvania biologist named Frank E. Fish.  The Navy is looking at all these engineering projects with great interest.1Carrie Lock, “Ocean Envy: Scientists look toward marine creatures to improve watercraft designs,” Science News, Week of Sept. 4, 2004; Vol. 166, No. 10, p. 154.Penguins look funny waddling on the land in their tuxedos, but underwater they are more graceful than ballerinas.  Next time a nature program shows underwater footage of Antarctic penguins, watch it for awhile in wonder.  Then laugh as the camera shifts to land position and films them launching their fat but sleek bodies into the air, only to bellyflop on the ice.  Penguins are cool.  This article barely touches on just one of many wonders of these aquatic birds and their lifestyles in some of the harshest environments on earth.    An important part of the penguin’s flipper design is a pulley-like tendon that threads the needle of a shoulder bone.  How could that evolve?  Every detail in the anatomy of a penguin flipper is superbly adapted to their habitat, but a flipper alone would be useless without the brain software, sensory organs, digestive, respiratory, circulatory and other systems that work together to make all this exquisite ballet possible.  The systems, in turn, depend for their function on tens of thousands of molecular machines in each cell, coded by gigabytes of programmed information.    Congratulations to Carrie Lock for sparing us unnecessary Darwinspeak in this interesting story (except in the references, where a paper has a convoluted title, “Convergent evolution in mechanical design of lamnid sharks and tunas”).  Yes, ask the beasts, and thou mightest learn something.  (To Darwinists, another reference is apropos: go to the ant, thou sluggard.)(Visited 69 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

iPhone Application Development for Dummies

first_imgsarah perez Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Tags:#Apple#How To#mobile Say what you want about the Dummies brand, but when you’re brand-spanking-new to a task, topic, software program or anything else, those simplified, easy-to-read books and online tutorials are a good way to start getting your feet wet.With that in mind, when we stumbled across this “iPhone Application Development for Dummies” cheat sheet posted on Dummies.com, it seemed like it was worth a quick share.The entire cheat sheet is available here on Dummies.com where it joins another sheet called iPhone for Dummies – which is helpful if you’re not just new to iPhone development, but new to the iPhone platform as a whole. Related Posts We spotted this sheet thanks to the iPhoneness blog which also pointed out other online resources which developers, both new and experienced, might like to have on hand. This includes an iPhone distribution build cheat sheet, this Xcode Objective-C Text Macro cheat sheet and a list of Xcode shortcuts. Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

Shinya Aoki puts Eduard Folayang to sleep to take back ONE lightweight belt

first_imgPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hosting MOST READ Eduard Folayang locked in an arm triangle choke by Shinya Aoki. photo from ONE ChampionshipTOKYO, Japan–It took more than two years for Shinya Aoki to get his shot at regaining the ONE lightweight world title.Aoki had his chance on Sunday night in front of his hometown crowd at the iconic Ryogoku Kokugikan in a rematch against the man who took it from him in Eduard Folayang.ADVERTISEMENT Aoki took down Folayang then, put the Filipino superstar to sleep with an arm triangle choke at the 2:34 mark of the opening round in the main event of ONE: A New Era.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Bloomberg: US would benefit from more, not fewer, immigrants Alvarez ready to take risk vs Folayang, looks to end clash by ‘knockout or submission’ PLAY LIST 02:18Alvarez ready to take risk vs Folayang, looks to end clash by ‘knockout or submission’00:50Trending Articles00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss LATEST STORIES Wintry storm delivers US travel woes before Thanksgiving Fatherly instinct kicks in as Oliver Almadro rushes to Isa Molde’s side after injury Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games messcenter_img View comments He needed less than three minutes to win it back. Colombia protesters vow new strike after talks hit snag WHAT. A. FINALE! Japanese legend Shinya Aoki submits Eduard Folayang with a signature triangle choke at 2:34 of Round 1 to reclaim the ONE Lightweight World Title! @a_ok_i #WeAreONE #ANewEra #Tokyo #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/jbLmv9XsQl— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) March 31, 2019FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logistics Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Google Philippines names new country director Trump tells impeachment jokes at annual turkey pardon event Panelo: Duterte ‘angry’ with SEA Games hosting hassleslast_img read more

Sports Highlights

first_imgNew Delhi, Jul 7 (PTI) The following are the top/expected stories at 1730 hours EXPECTED STORIES: *FIFA World Cup- Report of quarterfinal match between Sweden and England. Report of quarterfinal match between Croatia and Russia. *Stories related to Wimbledon. STORIES ON THE WIRE: SPO-IND-PREVIEWKuldeep, Chahal under pressure after England fight back By Chetan Narula Bristol, July 7 (PTI) Rendered ineffective in the previous match, India’s wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal would look to bounce back against ‘well-prepared’ England batsmen as the two teams clash in the series-deciding third Twenty20 International, here tomorrow. SPO-IND-MORGAN Difference in conditions from Manchester helped us: Morgan Cardiff, July 7 (PTI) England skipper Eoin Morgan said the difference in conditions from the first game in Manchester worked to their advantage as they levelled the three-match Twenty20 series against India 1-1 after winning the second game. SPO-IND-CHAHALEngland did well to curb mistakes: Chahal By Chetan Narula Cardiff, July 7 (PTI) England batsmen made fewer mistakes in the second Twenty20 as compared to the Manchester game and consequently won the second match, said India leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.SPO-IND-KOHLIEngland tackled Kuldeep well and it made difference: Kohli Cardiff, Jul 7 (PTI) England could level the series since they came well-prepared to effectively tackle wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, India captain Virat Kohli said after they lost the second Twenty20 by five wickets.SPO-DHONI-BIRTHDAYPapa you are getting older, daughter reminds Dhoni on 37th birthday Cardiff, July 7 (PTI) Ringing in his 37th birthday sporting a thick, grey beard, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was reminded that he was “getting older” through a song by none other than his toddler daughter Ziva.advertisement SPO-WC-BETIbrahimovic, Beckham make friendly bet on Sweden-England Los Angeles, July 7 (AFP) Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham have agreed on the terms of a friendly wager ahead of the England v Sweden World Cup quarter-final today. SPO-WC-BRAZIL-CAMPAIGNFour years on, another World Cup ends in agony for Neymar and BrazilKazan (Russia), July 7 (AFP) Four years after the psychodrama of Neymar’s injury and a humiliating World Cup semi-final defeat as hosts, Brazil are forced to come to terms with the crushing disappointment of a failed mission in Russia. PTI APA APA APAlast_img read more