lördag 17 oktober 2009

I Simulate and Feel, Therefore I Exist!

In Soul as Simulation of Body I suggested to interprete Descartes I think, therefore I exist, as I simulate, therefore I exist, by viewing the function of the brain to be to model the body and the world around and perform simulations with the model by mental computation with the ultimate goal of steering the body to survival. The role of the soul would thus be to perform a form of optimization towards survival of the body by controling the body based on simulations of the body. 

Is there any place for human feelings in such a mathematical soul seeking to maximize some goal function?  What role do they play in the interaction body-soul? Isn't it enough that the brain sends orders to the body based in computations with input from the body? Are feelings important for survival?

Yes, they are claims neurologist Antonio Damasio  in Looking for Spinoza. Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain: Feelings help the soul to perform optimization towards survival. How? By connecting mental states to bodily states. By this mechanism the goal function to be optimized by the brain is given a value in terms of bodily degrees of satisfaction, relaxation, functionality, harmony, warmth...

Without feelings with bodily representation the soul would not be motivated to perform the mental work required for the optimization...the carrot to higher level optimization required for planning and e.g. mathematics would be missing...as well as the good warm bodily sensation of doing the right thing or talking to the right person...the optimization would not be performed and adaption towards survival would suffer...I simulate and feel, therefore I exist...

If now feeling is a necessary carrot for thinking,  is it also necessary to supply artificial intelligence with feelings? With a given goal function, artificial intelligence would not seem to require feelings, just some input of electrical energy. Is then the role of feelings in human intelligence to allow the goal function to change in response to internal and external changes? A feeling that it is time to break up from job or marriage, would then be the starting point to decide to change the goal function to actually do it, only later motivated by logic and rationale. Feeling before a posteriori rational decision?

The Finnish-Swedish modernist poet Gunnar Björling's poem Dog bolting glad  describes the happy feeling connected to a body which is functioning well, compare: Bolt running happy.

According to Damasio the feeling brain ultimately depends on the living cells it directs, to get input to sensations. A free-floating brain is unthinkable. In the talk Where computation and fabrication meet: using computers to mimic biology Zack Booth Simpson views the life of a cell as a form of computation in which the cell by interacting with its environment constructs/computes itself.  The life of a brain thus depends on the life of the cells it controls.

Similarly, the life of the US president is dependent on the lives of the citizens who somehow earn their living and multiply independently while following the tax laws of the president, 
more or less. The joy of the president then comes from the joy of the people...

The cell life thus seems primordial with the brain feeding on the living cells while also controling them in some kind of symbiotic unity in the spirit of Spinoza...

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