Thursday, October 08, 2009

Re: Brains

The DISCOVER magazine website lets you read complete articles online. It has a collection of thought-provoking items about the brain and the mind. For instance, this one about the neuroscience and biochemistry of the seven deadly sins:

I Didn't Sin, It Was My Brain

Which brings up the perennial question of free will. Do these physical phenomena "cause" our undesirable behavior—thereby making the concepts of guilt, responsibility, and blame irrelevant superstitions—or do they merely reflect the activity of a higher entity we know as "mind" or "soul"?

And here's an article about a conversation between two "chatbots," computer programs designed to answer questions and remarks with dialogue that simulates human responses:

I Chat, Therefore I Am?

We used to have a simple "psychologist" program of this type on one of our old computers, which would speak its lines aloud if the sound was turned on. Our kids learned to make the program recite words that were typed on the screen and enjoyed forcing it to pronounce numbers in the quadrillions or quintillions (it would translate figures into words). This application probably wasn't what the programmer had in mind.

Margaret L. Carter
Carter's Crypt

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