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Old 09-19-2008, 10:23 AM   #31
Taylor514ce
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Steve, you're both right. The human brain does make leaps but it has to have something to leap from. Two people may have exactly the same inputs today with only one making such a leap but that one has had other inputs all his life which play in the leap.

As a writer you might look at a general situation in society and create a book. As an engineer, I may develop a method to solve a societal problem that I saw in the same situation. Two different leaps based apparently on exactly the same input but that input is colored and flavored by all our previous individual inputs & training.
Read "Genius" by James Gleick. It's a biography of Richard Feynman. Even fellow scientists found him a bit daunting. I don't have my copy at hand, so I will very badly paraphrase how one of his colleagues described the situation. He said with "ordinary smart people", you could understand how they reasoned. You knew that you could go through the exact same mental steps, if only you were just a bit smarter. With Feynman, though, you couldn't fathom the process. He himself couldn't explain it. Things just came to him. All you had to do was give Feynman the general outline of the problem (he emphatically didn't want the details) and he'd drum his fingers for awhile, and then tell you the answer.

I might be wrong on this, but I think an aircraft or military company paid him a retainer for "anything he thought up while in the shower".
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Old 09-19-2008, 10:32 AM   #32
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Read "Genius" by James Gleick. It's a biography of Richard Feynman. Even fellow scientists found him a bit daunting. I don't have my copy at hand, so I will very badly paraphrase how one of his colleagues described the situation. He said with "ordinary smart people", you could understand how they reasoned. You knew that you could go through the exact same mental steps, if only you were just a bit smarter. With Feynman, though, you couldn't fathom the process. He himself couldn't explain it. Things just came to him. All you had to do was give Feynman the general outline of the problem (he emphatically didn't want the details) and he'd drum his fingers for awhile, and then tell you the answer.

I might be wrong on this, but I think an aircraft or military company paid him a retainer for "anything he thought up while in the shower".
Inductive vs. deductive "logic". Sometimes it hard to tell the difference. I occasional have ideas tha "pop out of nowhere", but I still don't know whether they are inductive or just my subconscious working deductively and "popping out the answer" to my conscious mind....
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Old 09-19-2008, 10:49 AM   #33
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Sure, but what's important is that different people can have different ways of achieving the same idea, but nobody "owns" an idea.
I can't imagine that anyone would want to. An "idea" with no communication or implementation is of exactly zero value. It just sits in your head until you push up daisies.

Since both implementation and communication can be "owned" that sort of limits what a person can do with an idea that is unoriginal and has already either been communicated or implemented.
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Old 09-19-2008, 11:55 AM   #34
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I can't imagine that anyone would want to. An "idea" with no communication or implementation is of exactly zero value. It just sits in your head until you push up daisies.

Since both implementation and communication can be "owned" that sort of limits what a person can do with an idea that is unoriginal and has already either been communicated or implemented.
That's pretty much what this thread is about. There may already be an existing implementation of an idea, but you can't stop somebody else from implementing the same idea in a different way.
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Old 09-19-2008, 05:47 PM   #35
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I own all the ideas.

Every last one of them.

j/k.
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Old 09-19-2008, 06:12 PM   #36
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That's pretty much what this thread is about. There may already be an existing implementation of an idea, but you can't stop somebody else from implementing the same idea in a different way.
The problem comes up in exactly how "different" the implementation is. The more it appears to be the same as someone else's prior implementation, then the more likely it is to be either a patent or copyright infringement.

Either the idea needs to be original or the implementation needs to be original, otherwise you end up with a whole host of legal problems.
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Old 09-20-2008, 12:27 PM   #37
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Aside from genius mythoses the question "Who should own ideas?" pretty much depends on our opinions to the answer to the question "Where do ideas come from?". And honestly for many person this touches a religious underlying level, but something people would hardly ever raise as explicit topic in such a discussion. I see in principle 2 conflicting opinions where ideas come from:
* The human as processor, altough pretty advanced and a bit chaotic and with surprising results... Thats the approach mentioned above. Okay some humans might have a bigger "processing power" than others, its still input in, output out.
* The other big opinion is, how to say it?, kind of god acting through man. Human mind is considred to be something from another world, that acts through human bodies. Just look at Sistine Capel for a famous painting dipicting this widespread opinion. God touch the man with his finger. The man has an idea / has "inspriation".

I had for example an interesting discussion with somebody who was certain that souls are the source of ideas. And the concept of infinity in math a definitive proof of this. Since nothing in reality is infinite, there would no possiblity of humans thinking about infinity, when they hidden inner core didn't come from an infinite source of another world. I disagree, as the falacy in this logic is that a given system cannot come out with a "higher" output than the input given into it. This is wrong. Systems can organize things to get a higher output than input given, just look for example at freezing crystal liquids. A chaotic loworder liquid crystalizes to beatiful and complicated crystals.

Interesting is the physics example mentioned above. And yes, the way we treat famous people greatly differs from discipline to discipline. Physics is at a quite extrem side of this scale, as in physics famous people "just had ideas" discovered things. After that nobody cares about their lifesytle, their parentage, their reasons why they where intersted in physics, why they decided to work with especially this field within physics and not another and so on, what they hoped for their work would achieve. This generally considered unimportant. And it is also this technique in our world we usually we resect this situations of emergence of new ideas, they seem to be so genius in the retrospect. Bruno Latour wrote in "Laboratory Life" - "The microprocessing of facts" example of his studies how an idea came into the making, how it developed with a lot of baby steps, and especially how it was depicted a few years later. Short story, a scientist discovered that selene was responsible for a production of a specific proteine. (I bed for leniency if I depcit the biochemist details not 100% right, its not my field). The public depictation of this discovery was "Someday I (the genius) had the idea selene could be responsible for..." which looks like quite a genius idea, nobody would think of. The whole story was: He had discovered some other effect in his laboratory a few months ago. And the most terrible thing happened, what can happen to a natural scientist. His experiment did not work everywhere, many other laboratories reported it did not work, altough some others could see the same effects. A miserable situation. One day this scientist sits in a student course, and a student presents her master thesis, in where she proofs that selene is responsible for cancer. And in the U.S. the concentration of selene in the drinking water is proportional to some sorts of cancer. She had a map of the U.S. where this sorts of cancer appear in a higher density. The scientist notices that this map looks quite the same as the one where is experiments work and where it doesnt. So it must be the selene in the used drinking water responsible for that effect, not what the experiment claimed at first. So in the long story, the little steps don't look that ingenious anymore. Only when it doesn't happen by science that a social scientist is in place to take notes of the whole process, the whole story would not be known anymore, and for all of us it would just be "One day X had the idea that..." (and the implicit message would be, one day X was touched by the holy ghost and had an ingenius idea)... as it usual.

In other sciences like sociology, philosophy and economic theory (beyond neoclassics) famous thinkers must be treated quite different. You cannot really understand their theories without taking in account who said it. So usually you ask, who was it? In which epoche did this appear? In what social position was the person? What has he seen in his life that might be of importance? Who was he/she a scholar of? And so on. And if you are at pains to do think of all this, no single theory or statements comes in a great surprise. Of course it were often very special circumstances, that allowed somebody to view something differently than usual. And the circumstance may not make it certain that a person really thinks of something, like someone else this would just go by, chances are there.

Take for example the life of Karl Marx, a german guy, filled with the idealism theories of that time, then travelling to London and seing the arising industrialism in his worst epoche, and the suffering of the workers. Somebody grown up in London might have been "used to" that, but somebody coming from a yet unindustrialised nation this must have been a shock. No surprise he concentrated on economic theories and how to make the life of the worker better (that his theories didn't work is another story).

Or take Kant, you really understand his approaches much better if you take in account what for strong kind of Obsessive-compulsive disorder this man most likely had. There are famous quotes. That doesn't yet make this writing invalid, but you can retrace some passges more easily if taking that in account.

Or take Descartes as example. This person lifed so seclusive, that he refrained even to convers orally with anybody. He just wrote letters to a few friends, and only very few knew where he lifed (hid from the society) at time. A person lifng so alone, so seclusive, quite self centered in his world, the famous sentence, "i think therefor i am" don't come in surprise in this situation, don't they?

I'm still assured some people will abide by the impression that ideas/insperation come from another supreme instance, be it god, angels, the holy ghost, the soul or general genius, which must be left to be unexplainable. I personally just doubt it.

Just a logic fallacy, say we consider ideas not to be processed output of given input to a human, but to come from elsewhere. Why should somebody own something, when it was god that touched him by having an idea?

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Old 09-22-2008, 09:27 AM   #38
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Just a logic fallacy, say we consider ideas not to be processed output of given input to a human, but to come from elsewhere. Why should somebody own something, when it was god that touched him by having an idea?
Considering most of the men who developed the ideas of patent and copyright were believers in God, it's clear they simply ignored the fallacy you present (assuming they actually considered it) because of the nature of commerce, which owes no allegiances to religion. In other words, they were more concerned with the encouragement of ideas than with their egalitarianism, which they perceived as being counter-productive to commerce.

Of course, even those who believe in human (or Divine) inspiration also have to consider that the human-invented Scientific Method is also responsible for many "ideas," but arrived at in a more engineered sense. Edison's New Jersey facility is a textbook example of the process of starting with a desired result, experimenting thoroughly, developing provable conclusions, and refining until the desired result is reached... the famous "10% inspiration, 90% perspiration" that defined 19th and 20th Century innovation.

The "ideas" that came from such sources were more easily assigned ownership, simply because the first person/group to be able to demonstrate an idea was awarded ownership. Again, it may not have been completely accurate... maybe someone else thought of it elsewhere, but didn't build it... but as the point of patent and copyright was always to encourage commerce, the props were given to the person/group that could promote commerce.

Apparently there are many who believe we would be better off if the system was designed to "take" a patent or copyright from someone who cannot or refuses to use it, and "bestow" it upon someone who says they will. In other words, if someone else can profit better from my idea, they would have the legal right to take it.
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Old 09-22-2008, 09:48 AM   #39
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...

Apparently there are many who believe we would be better off if the system was designed to "take" a patent or copyright from someone who cannot or refuses to use it, and "bestow" it upon someone who says they will. In other words, if someone else can profit better from my idea, they would have the legal right to take it.
Not wishing to start a political debate on this thread, but this patent/copyright concept is simply the IP equivalent of Karl Marx's "from each according to abilities, to each according to needs." We have a long enough politican/economic baseline to show that that idea doesn't work very well...
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Old 09-22-2008, 11:10 AM   #40
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Considering most of the men who developed the ideas of patent and copyright were believers in God, it's clear they simply ignored the fallacy you present (assuming they actually considered it) because of the nature of commerce, which owes no allegiances to religion. In other words, they were more concerned with the encouragement of ideas than with their egalitarianism, which they perceived as being counter-productive to commerce.
Well the nature of commerce does owe quite some allegiances to religion. At least the creation of its nature. To show this was the point of the life work of Max Weber. Our commerce developed out of the protestant ethics. Its no surprise that it was england, the protestant country, that started with a big winnig margin (almost 100 years) with the industrial revolution and it was the catholic countries that hinged behind most. Catholic ethics was: Who is poor and renunciative in this life, will have a good position in the afterlife. Protestant ethics on the other hand: who is in the favor of god (and thus have a good position in the afterlife), will have him showing this publicly already in this life. And so developing wealth was at first a religious act, the protestants didn't want you to stop working, when you think you had enough (that was evil), however if you continued to work, and its successfull, you are going to have real good place in the afterlife. Oe can see how this behaves just like the business mentality we know today. Somewhere along the way this got robbed its religious content. And as in the beginning this mentality was a free religious decision of its supporters to life their life that way, we are today more or less forced by society to do so, without any spiritual content. Thats famous "iron cage" Weber pointed at.


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Of course, even those who believe in human (or Divine) inspiration also have to consider that the human-invented Scientific Method is also responsible for many "ideas," but arrived at in a more engineered sense. Edison's New Jersey facility is a textbook example of the process of starting with a desired result, experimenting thoroughly, developing provable conclusions, and refining until the desired result is reached... the famous "10% inspiration, 90% perspiration" that defined 19th and 20th Century innovation.
I totally agree, for me is "thinking is handcraft", okay you sometimes have suprising ideas, that seem to come out of the nowhere, but as everyone will tell you, you need to systimatically induldge into a topic, to come out with a result. The human as "meat processor" Thats however the oppinion to the source of ideas that got contested and I felt to want to defend with a big wall of text.

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The "ideas" that came from such sources were more easily assigned ownership, simply because the first person/group to be able to demonstrate an idea was awarded ownership. Again, it may not have been completely accurate... maybe someone else thought of it elsewhere, but didn't build it... but as the point of patent and copyright was always to encourage commerce, the props were given to the person/group that could promote commerce.
Just a sitenote. One has not to build a machine prior at all to patent it. You can patent things you are even unable to build (yet). You do not even have to proof something works, it just needs to be original (and not a perptuum mobile, as these get rejected apriori) Only if you don't even assume something might work, you won't bother with the patent fees.

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Apparently there are many who believe we would be better off if the system was designed to "take" a patent or copyright from someone who cannot or refuses to use it, and "bestow" it upon someone who says they will. In other words, if someone else can profit better from my idea, they would have the legal right to take it.
I don't like that either, as its almost impossible to judge, if someone else may make "better" use of something. Its IMHO an error wanted to be circumvented, that is the patent monopoly rewarding your roughly the expenses you needed to get to it plus some profit. Nobody will pay 1 million in the development of a medicament and have not trying to get that million back in its monopoly use. If of course patents are granted for 20 years which took minimal input, having a hundretfold output, ofcourse somebody might say, oh I don't want to take the risk. Im happy with getting only some of the revenue without any risk, and let humanity wait 20 years to fully exploit the potential of that technology.
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Old 09-22-2008, 11:44 AM   #41
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<<SNIP>>
Just a sitenote. One has not to build a machine prior at all to patent it. You can patent things you are even unable to build (yet). You do not even have to proof something works, it just needs to be original (and not a perptuum mobile, as these get rejected apriori) Only if you don't even assume something might work, you won't bother with the patent fees.
<<SNIP>>
For a perpetual motion machine, they only reject the patent a priori if it shows up without a working model. If you provide a working model, you can get the patent! There is, of course, a small problem of implementation there...

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Old 09-22-2008, 12:49 PM   #42
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Well the nature of commerce does owe quite some allegiances to religion... Somewhere along the way this got robbed its religious content.
What happened was, the churches were perceived as having gotten "greedy," filling their own coffers while providing nothing to the public, and many steps were taken in developing democracy specifically to remove the church's power over the public and their money.

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I totally agree, for me is "thinking is handcraft", okay you sometimes have surprising ideas, that seem to come out of the nowhere, but as everyone will tell you, you need to systematically indulge into a topic, to come out with a result. The human as "meat processor" Thats however the opinion to the source of ideas that got contested and I felt to want to defend with a big wall of text.
Well, although I agree scientific method has its accomplishments, I still contend that a human being is capable of intuitive associations that cannot be accounted for by past experiences and direct input alone, and that no machine would be capable of duplicating. The essentially abstract nature of the human mind allows for the collection, cataloging and reordering of data in ways that are beyond mere facts and numbers. And it's specifically because no two minds are alike that said information is necessarily collected, cataloged and reordered differently in each mind, making possible a different conclusion from each mind.

It is the creation of art that demonstrates this better than any other human ability: Taking a desire, such as a desire to impress upon a viewer the significance of an emotion, and creating an original work of art such as Munch's "The Scream." The use of color, the draft of the illustration, the caricature of expression, are all elements that cannot be "computed" from previous inputs. Nor could any machine make the judgments in design and execution that resulted in Munch's final painting.

No machine would have put fins on a '57 Chevy. No machine could have created "Citizen Kane." That is the proof that humans are more than "meat calculators."
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Old 09-22-2008, 01:48 PM   #43
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What happened was, the churches were perceived as having gotten "greedy," filling their own coffers while providing nothing to the public, and many steps were taken in developing democracy specifically to remove the church's power over the public and their money.
Sorry but no, this is now so a rough simplificition I don't think it hits the truth anymore even remotly close... I thought I just described a quite more detailed version to happenings above. Yes,the chatholic church getting greedy was however the main reason the protestant church to be created firstplace, otherwise Martin Luther King would have had not much to complain about. I described before the protestantic ethic been lived by population not by priests.

BTW another interesting note: The church as commune was the prototype of the company. Today (most) companies (ltd. and stock corporation) are considered as "juristic person" that is in law a person by itself, that can own things, that can be sued and so on, without having a specific person actually owning things or actually being sourced. The concept of the corporation as a legal entity by itself was long unknown to humanity. It started with the communal church. Churches had often some local estate assigned to it. That is some fields and some herbal garden and the such. These were managed by the local priest of said church. Now things that were obvious were: * the priest does not personally own any of this, he just manages it. * when the priest dies or goes elsewhere the next assigned priest to this church will also take over catering for this estates. Even the pope was not considered to own it, as it was bound to this specific church. So they were puzzled whom it belongs to. Many decades they said "the fours walls of the church" (as building) are the owner of this estates. After the time the concept of corporation developed from this. If applied to mundane assets not assigned to a church.

Also its interesting to note that the chatholic church is obviously bureaucratic organised. And actually its by far the oldest bureaucratic organisation, and has been taken as template for many other bureaucratic organisation.

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Well, although I agree scientific method has its accomplishments, I still contend that a human being is capable of intuitive associations that cannot be accounted for by past experiences and direct input alone, and that no machine would be capable of duplicating.
First I don't differ between "scientificly" having findings or having them "non-scientificly". In the matter of philosophy of science its very difficult (if not impossible) to assess what exactly makes something "scientificly". And honestly I'd say there is no scientific way of "having an idea". All theory of science is about is to test if some theory (idea gotten from somewhere/someplace not mentioned) is "true" (thus a fact) or "false" (thus an artefact). Little is said about what way developing a theory firstplace is scientifc or not, only in testing if its true or wrong. There are some modern exceptions to this like e.g. "Grounded Theory", but the general mainstream of philosphy of science does not care all that much about where ideas come from. So I personally wouldn't differ much in the scientific method of having an idea, or a non-scientific method of having an idea.

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The essentially abstract nature of the human mind allows for the collection, cataloging and reordering of data in ways that are beyond mere facts and numbers.
I'm quite nosy, how should we collect, catalog and order data in a way beyond facts? (Or perceived assumptions about the true world, regardless if its a fact or an error in our mind)

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And it's specifically because no two minds are alike that said information is necessarily collected, cataloged and reordered differently in each mind, making possible a different conclusion from each mind.
Well funny enough, as time progressed some minds were quite alike, given the same input. Take the periodic table of the elements, this is so fascinating. It has been discovered by three people at once, in a (i believe) 2 or 3 week timeframe. Just imagine it how gross this are! 10.000 years of human (settled) history nobody though about that. And much investigation has been done if this 3 people knew its other, had any contact, visited any common location, read any common book. No. None has been found. Then after 10.000 years within a few days, Boom! several people have the same idea. Now maybe the holy ghost flew above both. Our they shared a common shard of the same soul, who knows. But most likely it was just that moment was the first time, when all data needed was there, and the next step was quite a logical one.

Similar story about the invention of the telephone. Bell gets all the praises, but did you know that another person was at the patent office, 1 hour after bell? Same idea / same invention.

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It is the creation of art that demonstrates this better than any other human ability: Taking a desire, such as a desire to impress upon a viewer the significance of an emotion, and creating an original work of art such as Munch's "The Scream." The use of color, the draft of the illustration, the caricature of expression, are all elements that cannot be "computed" from previous inputs. Nor could any machine make the judgments in design and execution that resulted in Munch's final painting.

No machine would have put fins on a '57 Chevy. No machine could have created "Citizen Kane." That is the proof that humans are more than "meat calculators."
Honestly I wouldn't take machines known to us today too much of a role modell. Can a machine be creative? Possibly if we'd just started to construct them differently. The thing is, We as humans want a specific kind of machines, do you want a machine that behaves unpredictable? I certainly don't want to have one of this things around. I like my machines predictable. Thats is why we build linear machines, with no internal feedback loops. With in advance known input/output relations. However get some chaos inside, and you can get have some surprising output...

I know I cannot convince everybody. A nice Gedankenexperiment would be, take for example a human. Now consider I copy this human atom by atom. Could this double think? I'd say yes. Many people would say no, since by copying the atoms I did not copy the soul required to "run" the human. Or take a human brain, now suppose I build an electronic machine sophisticated enough that it can emulate all of my brain cells, and having a technology detailed enough to take a snapshot of my brain in a specific moment with all electric and biochemic stati in that millisecond. Would this machine be able to think like I do? Same question, same answer that depends on opinion, that is until somebody can do this and prove such a double (electronic or biological) could think or couldn't.

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Old 09-22-2008, 01:57 PM   #44
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I'm quite nosy, how should we collect, catalog and order data in a way beyond facts? (Or perceived assumptions about the true world, regardless if its a fact or an error in our mind)
If I could describe that, I'd know better than anyone on the planet exactly how the human brain works.

At any rate, the brain doesn't just store facts... it connects those incoming facts to related and subjective impressions, related and extraneous background info, and related and unrelated internal thoughts and memories that happen to be running through the brain when it collects that new information.

All of that goes together into one meme that is much more than the sum of its parts, completely unique from person to person, connected to other such unique memes by methods we don't as yet understand, and because of the brain's ability to take intuitive leaps, completely unpredictable in its potential.
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Old 09-22-2008, 02:06 PM   #45
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If I could describe that, I'd know better than anyone on the planet exactly how the human brain works.

At any rate, the brain doesn't just store facts... it connects those incoming facts to related and subjective impressions, related and extraneous background info, and related and unrelated internal thoughts and memories that happen to be running through the brain when it collects that new information.

All of that goes together into one meme that is much more than the sum of its parts, completely unique from person to person, connected to other such unique memes by methods we don't as yet understand, and because of the brain's ability to take intuitive leaps, completely unpredictable in its potential.
Agreed, but why can't this be considered as a very sophisticated processong "device"? Altough unlilke most devices we build nowadays? How I see this, is the processing way you described is just much more random driven than one we would like to see a computer work with said data.

What little I know about brain structure is that we have roughly two centers to think with (also known as brain halves). One is responsible for making deductive thoughts, the other is responsible for noticing analogies, similarities (one would say "inductive")

I notice it even on myself (or I think I notice it) when thinking really hard about a problem. One part of the brain seems almost constantly randomly generate a lot of random (and quite stupid) ideas and thoughts all the time regarding that subject. Another part of the brain says constantly, "No wrong. No this isn't true. No that would give that logical fallacy. Um might work... Sorry No, its nonsense also. No, forget that. N... wait a second... hmm nothing speaking against that! Yes! Thats it!"... thats at least my idea of having an idea, or about discovering something.

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