Get the FREE DIGITAL BOOK: The Case for Killer Robots
Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Michael Egnor

Unlocking latest smartphone with biometric facial identification scan

Yes, your brain is a machine—if you choose to see it that way

As a Nobel Prize physicist pointed out, our method of study determines what we learn

Anil Seth, a Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex, gave a TED talk recently (linked below) in which he asserted that “the combined activity of many billions of neurons—each one a tiny biological machine—is generating our conscious experience…” So, is your brain really a biological “machine”? Or is that just an analogy, like saying that a restaurant kitchen is a “hive” of activity? If so, how good is the analogy? Why do we select the analogy of a “machine” rather than a different one? It’s an important question, as we will see, because the questions we ask of nature constrain the answers we obtain. A machine is an artifact. It is a human-built assembly of Read More ›

Image result for plato

Does brain stimulation research challenge free will?

If we can be forced to want something, is the will still free?
The materialist interpretation of Reilly’s work is a misunderstanding of what the research actually shows. The stimulations did not evoke complex abstract intentions and acts—the patients didn’t reflexively decide to do integral calculus or donate to Amnesty International. Read More ›
marc-olivier-jodoin-572629-unsplash

Does your brain construct your conscious reality? Part II

In a word, no. Your brain doesn't "think"; YOU think, using your brain
The brain understands nothing, imagines nothing, sees nothing. It wills nothing. We understand, we imagine, we see, and we will, using our brains. Read More ›
cristina-gottardi-685293-unsplash

Does your brain construct your conscious reality? Part I

A reply to computational neuroscientist Anil Seth's recent TED talk
His talk is a breathtaking compendium of fallacies on the mind and the brain. We can learn a lot from him—by understanding the errors into which he falls and the way out of those errors. Read More ›
MRI Image Of Head Showing Brain

Do either machines—or brains—really learn?

A further response to Jeffrey Shallit: Actually, brains don’t learn either. Only minds learn.
Learning is an ability of human beings, considered as a whole, to acquire new knowledge, not an ability of human organs considered individually. Read More ›
bonobos

Apes Can Be Generous

Are they just like humans then?
If we are to genuinely understand machines, animals, and ourselves, we need to clearly understand that it is the immateriality of human intellect and will—our capacity to think and act abstractly— that makes us radically (i.e. ontologically) different from any animal or machine. Read More ›
jaredd-craig-744902-unsplash

Can machines really learn?

A parable of a book that learned
Machine learning is a powerful and important tool that is likely to be of great value (and perhaps great risk) to man. Machines can be designed to change with time but it is man, and only man, who learns. Read More ›
randy-colas-629191-unsplash

AI is indeed a threat to democracy

But not in quite the way historian Yuval Noah Harari thinks
Rapid, wide dissemination of ideas we don’t understand is the prime threat AI poses to humanity. It is an existential threat to human dignity and flourishing. And this threat is made graver, not less grave, by our democracy, which, as Plato understood, is the necessary soil of tyranny. Read More ›
Conceptual image of a large stone in the shape of the human brain
The young and conceptual image of a large stone in the shape of the human brain

The Brain Is Not a “Meat Computer”

Dramatic recoveries from brain injury highlight the difference

The brain looks like a computer only if we analyze it as if it were a computer. Our analysis does not mean that it is a computer, and it does not mean that computation explains the mind or even that computational approaches to neuroscience provide genuinely meaningful insight into neurophysiology.

Read More ›
Dr. Michael Egnor, M.D.

Neurosurgeon Outlines Why Machines Can’t Think

The hallmark of human thought is meaning, and the hallmark of computation is indifference to meaning.
A cornerstone of the development of artificial intelligence is the pervasive assumption that machines can, or will, think. Watson, a question-answering computer, beats the best Jeopardy players, and anyone who plays chess has had the humiliation of being beaten by a chess engine. Does this mean that computers can think as well as (or better than) humans think? Read More ›