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FleshFactor: Scaling laws

A E C  F O R U M - "F L E S H F A C T O R"

Just a general response to the subject of wet brains and chaotic systems.
And yes, following my own curiosity, I did find out that there is research
on a wet computer if you can refer to it as such.  It incorporates the
bacteriorhodopsin molecule with dry ware. It is still in fairly
rudimentary stages but works the yes/no gates quite efficiently
(apparently).  [Dr. Robert Birge, Syracuse University, will speak on
biomimetic engineering and protein-based computing at the live FleshFactor
Symposium this September in Linz, T.S.]

A colleague recommended *Palaces of Memory* by George Johnson which I am
reading with great interest. It seems that neurobiologists in the 1980's
were mired in biological microscopic details when it came to the workings
of the brain. Tasks they set for themselves seemed impossibly time
consuming and many years could be wasted if one was on the wrong trail.
Enter the personal computer. Suddenly neuroscientists found themselves
mesmerized by the facilitation the computer could provide for modelling
their hypothetical schemes. Trying theories on the computer's artificially
created "brain" circuits was neat, so neat that alas they began to forget
the biological nature of their research. The digital model took over their
imaginations and that model was assumed "real" and superimposed and
assumed to work in the biological model too. 

Is the brain fractally structured? Could be. Two things ought to be
remembered. Firstly, in any chaotic structure there is a modicum of order,
the remnants of the logic of the original system that emerges to remind us
(haunt us?) that fractalness is not purely chaotic. (Pineal
gland--Descartes anyone? ;-)) Secondly, a fractal system implies scale. 
If we suppose a fractally structured brain then we can also suppose scale.
Scaling I think is our clue. I agree that trying to map the entire brain,
every neuron, every synapse, every pathway created by them is not the
right route to go. I think the secret to finding out how the brain is
biologically programmed will lie in two quite different
approaches--although yes/no chemical gates will continue to be involved in
these approaches.

A holographic and not a digital brain is my first choice (particularly as
revealed, or beginning to be revealed, in the dynamics of the visual
brain). A second route I would follow is a scaling law operative within
the brain based on the scaling laws that Mitchell Feigenbaum has called
our attention to. Once you decipher one scale, one pattern, the other
scales operative in the brain will fall into place because they are based
on the same fractalness or pattern. 

Laurie McRobert


Thomas More Institute
Montreal, Quebec.

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