Category Archives: Mathematics

The Brain

Is it computable?

Nicolelis is in a camp that thinks that human consciousness (and if you believe in it, the soul) simply can’t be replicated in silicon. That’s because its most important features are the result of unpredictable, nonlinear interactions among billions of cells, Nicolelis says.

“You can’t predict whether the stock market will go up or down because you can’t compute it,” he says. “You could have all the computer chips ever in the world and you won’t create a consciousness.”

I’m personally an agnostic on the issue.


I’ve always believed that there is no law of physics that makes it inevitable, that it’s a matter of learning how to continue doing the cellular-level repair that occurs when we’re young. But here is an article that says it is caused by thermal chaos.

Not sure I buy it (it still doesn’t take into account artificial techniques for doing error checking in transcription), but it’s an interesting read.

Collapse Proofing Our Society

Glenn describes the dangers of the complexity of the current sociopolitical structure.

It strikes me as a dangerous situation, what Perrow has described as a tightly-coupled complex system, that is vulnerable catastrophic collapse. He was describing physical systems, such as nuclear plants, but social systems can have similar failure modes.