Machine learning and the need for innate foundations

This interesting Nature article by Anthony M. Zador came up in my Twitter feed: A critique of pure learning and what artificial neural networks can learn from animal brains: Artificial neural networks (ANNs) have undergone a revolution, catalyzed by better supervised learning algorithms. However, in stark contrast to young animals (including humans), training such networks … Continue reading Machine learning and the need for innate foundations

The reflex and the feeling

Stephen T. Asma and Rami Gabriel have an interesting article at Aeon on emotions.  Their main thesis is that many emotions are biological, universal, and rooted in evolution.  And that they arise through "the strata of consciousness": the physiological, the experential, and the conceptual. They start off casting aspersions on computationalism, evolutionary psychology, and artificial … Continue reading The reflex and the feeling

Detecting consciousness in animals and machines, inside-out

An interesting paper came up in my feeds this weekend: Indicators and Criteria of Consciousness in Animals and Intelligent Machines: An Inside-Out Approach.  The authors put forth a definition of consciousness, and then criteria to test for it, although they emphasize that these can't be "hard" criteria, just indicators.  None of them individually definitely establish … Continue reading Detecting consciousness in animals and machines, inside-out

Time to dump the concept of cognition?

An interesting paper came up in my Twitter feed.  Neuroscientist Paul Cisek notes that many of our current models on how the mind works come from dualistic traditions, as well as psychological ones that were heavily influenced by dualism.  He sees the concept of cognition having largely been created after dualism was abandoned.  It made … Continue reading Time to dump the concept of cognition?

Malcolm MacIver on imagination and consciousness

Sean Carroll's latest episode of his podcast, Mindscape, features an interview with neuroscientist Malcom MacIver, one that is well worth checking out for anyone interested in consciousness. Consciousness has many aspects, from experience to wakefulness to self-awareness. One aspect is imagination: our minds can conjure up multiple hypothetical futures to help us decide which choices … Continue reading Malcolm MacIver on imagination and consciousness

Kurzgesagt on the origin of consciousness

This video by Kurzgesagt is pretty interesting.  A word of warning; it's funded by Templeton, which I know will bother some of you, but I found the content to be reasonably solid from a scientific perspective. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6u0VBqNBQ8& The only real issues I might have are the mysterian overtones at the beginning, and the assertion that … Continue reading Kurzgesagt on the origin of consciousness

The sensorium, the motorium, and the planner

I've been reading Gerhard Roth's The Long Evolution of Brains and Minds. This a technical and, unfortunately, expensive book, not one aimed at general audiences, but it has a lot of interesting concepts.  A couple that Roth mentions are the terms "sensorium" and "motorium." The sensorium refers to the sum total of an organism's perceptions, … Continue reading The sensorium, the motorium, and the planner

Synthetic DNA and the necessity of biological mechanisms

Scientists have created synthetic DNA with four extra "letters": A couple billion years ago, four molecules danced into the elegant double-helix structure of DNA, which provides the codes for life on our planet. But were these four players really fundamental to the appearance of life — or could others have also given rise to our genetic code? … Continue reading Synthetic DNA and the necessity of biological mechanisms

Did smell lead to consciousness?

Smell has apparently always been a peculiar sense.  The sensory pathway of smell information to the brain runs completely independent from the other senses.  The pathways for the other senses run through the midbrain and thalamus and are then relayed to cortical regions.  But smell goes to the olfactory bulb behind the nose, and from … Continue reading Did smell lead to consciousness?