Hi Mike! I’ve enjoyed reading some of your explanations about cryonics, e.g. at:
Perhaps some others here would be interested too.
Replies about mouse intelligence below:
On Jan 9, 2015, at 11:31 AM, Mike Darwin wrote:
> How any educated person familiar with biological evolution (and living in the West in the 21st Century) could believe that any vertebrate, let alone any mammal, is an automaton behaving in some computer- like algorithmic fashion is unfathomable to me.
I hope you’ll be interested in understanding some different ideas, which you report you were previously unaware of.
They are relevant to GRG because understanding mice can help with mouse experiments.
> Isolating animals, placing them in barren environments and depriving them of the degree of social interaction required for their species has a devastating impact on health and longevity. Such animals experience large and life long elevation of serum cortisol levels (an immunosuppressive and pro-brain aging condition), altered cellular and humoral immunity and major adverse changes in brain chemistry. The literature is so vast on this subject that it would run to many pages to just to reproduce the cites. What I haver done below is to pick a very few representative papers.
I’m not disputing these facts, but I don’t think they have the implications you claim.
There are other reasons animals could react like this, besides them being intelligent, non-algorithmic, human-like and having emotions.
Suppose mice do work by non-intelligent algorithm. Why would you expect to put them in different situations and get the same results? Algorithms often produce different results with different inputs. It isn’t surprising that a mouse algorithm would work badly in some environments it isn’t evolutionary adapted for.
> Animals would not explore, play, and otherwise engage with their environment and with each other unless they were biologically rewarded for doing so.
That doesn’t make sense to me. Why can’t an algorithm specify doing those actions, so then the animal does them?
I do think mouse algorithms are complex and involve something you could call a reward system. Algorithms can do things like specify releasing (reward) chemicals in some situations, and algorithms can react differently to the presence (reward) chemicals.
> In order to function in a complex and changing world animals must be able to process complex experiential information, store the results and integrate them will feelings, such as pleasure, fear and anxiety.
It sounds like the issue is that – in my view – you have dramatically underestimated the possible complexity and capability of non-intelligent algorithms. Why can’t algorithms process complex information, store the results, and later take that stored information into account? They can.
So because you view algorithms as limited, you think they can’t explain mice. Perhaps you can comment on why you think algorithm complexity is inherently limited well below mice, if that’s our disagreement.
A typical reason for this belief I’ve encountered is basically that human programmers aren’t really very good yet. People sometimes estimate the capability of algorithms a little above what human programmers currently accomplish. For example, people see chess playing algorithms and correctly identify those as far more limited and simplistic than mice (though note chess algorithms do process and store information, and later use it – that isn’t hard). But that doesn’t put a cap on what a better written and more complex algorithms could accomplish.
> By the implantation of complex multi-electrode arrays in the brain it is now possible to actually visualize the cognitive and emotional dynamics of the rodent brain: http://ift.tt/1IxCPlW and, just as one might expect, it functions very much like the human brain. The parts of the human brain that give us consciousness and the ability to experience pleasure, pain, fear, anxiety and to experience anticipation are evolutionarily ancient and that is why they are referred to as the “reptilian brain”.
This technology is pretty cool. But your way of using it strikes me like this:
You attach complex measuring equipment to two different computers. You notice some broad similarities in the movement of electrons between different subsystems. And then, based on this hardware monitoring, you reach the conclusion that the computers are running similar software, and even claim some specific features are the same.
All of the evidence brought up so far is compatible with mice functioning by non-intelligent algorithm. I’m not disputing this evidence; it doesn’t contradict my position.
If I’m correct, then many people – including scientific researchers – have been telling fantasy stories about the human-like characteristics of mice, and misinterpreting some actions as involving emotions, intelligence, etc. Somewhat similar to what many people do with their pets. Misunderstanding what one is observing hinders research progress.
PS If you think mice have emotions and intelligence, maybe you shouldn’t put them in cages and do experiments on them – or eat meat.