Thursday, June 07, 2012

Memo to Intelligent Design Creationists: Get Straight on the Machine Analogies

This seems to represent IDC. Not sure why. Photo credit: La Douleur Exquise.
Intelligent Design Creationists can be terribly inconsistent. Here is one recent piece from Uncommon Descent where the IDCs believe the human mind and brain are NOT like computer software and hardware:
Are Mind and Brain Really Software and Hardware?

Or is that an analogy that just doesn’t really work?

Recently, we were looking at “Another reason the human mind is not like a computer” (Vishwanathan Anand) , and someone reminded us of an older article, by Ari N. Schulman, “Why Minds Are Not Like Computers” (The New Atlantis, Winter 2009),
People who believe that the mind can be replicated on a computer tend to explain the mind in terms of a computer. When theorizing about the mind, especially to outsiders but also to one another, defenders of artificial intelligence (AI) often rely on computational concepts. They regularly describe the mind and brain as the “software and hardware” of thinking, the mind as a “pattern” and the brain as a “substrate,” senses as “inputs” and behaviors as “outputs,” neurons as “processing units” and synapses as “circuitry,” to give just a few common examples.
Those who employ this analogy tend to do so with casual presumption. They rarely justify it by reference to the actual workings of computers, and they misuse and abuse terms that have clear and established definitions in computer science—established not merely because they are well understood, but because they in fact are products of human engineering. An examination of what this usage means and whether it is correct reveals a great deal about the history and present state of artificial intelligence research. And it highlights the aspirations of some of the luminaries of AI—researchers, writers, and advocates for whom the metaphor of mind-as-machine is dogma rather than discipline.
Yet, not very long before, the same people declared the following to be correct and awesome--because it says cells are robots:
“Cell” Contest Judged

The winner is niwrad with this (slightly edited) gem:

“A ‘cell’ is a bio-cybernetic chemical automaton able to self-replicate, self-organize, and perform metabolic functions by means of nano-level molecular machines controlled by internal digital software stored in information rich polymers.”

Niwrad, has been contacted and when he provides an address his prize will be shipped out.

Thank you to all of the participants.

UD Editors
To sum up: Cells are very complicated nano-automata; minds-brains are not computers.

The fact that IDCs do no science have none supporting them is a problem, but an equally grave problem is that they don't have a formal, consistent heuristic.

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