Monday, January 27, 2014

Neurons

The dream is, and some of it has come true, that machines can be persuaded to learn for themselves.  This way for a considerable amount of money I can buy a thermostat that spends time learning my habits, my comings and goings, and once it has thoroughly digested them, the thermostat will apparently save up to 20% of the heating bill without me having to do anything more than decide what clothes will make me look most dashing in the grocery aisle.

Systems Neuroscience is an understanding from the biology of mammals that has been applied to mathematics inculcated into technical devices so they might learn. And here, there appears to be absolutely no quarrel with applying  the word "neuron" to the pathways of mathematics as practiced by a technical device. I do not see banners or hear the clash of ego. I do however see soft bodies, things not forged in a furnace, and I remember we mammals are more closely related to Fungi than we are to Bacteria. Nor am I that certain that any creature on earth actually does think for itself, which is a perspective on learning worth bearing in mind when attempting to define intelligent.

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