Psychologist Robert Epstein, the former editor of Psychology Today, challenges anyone to show the brain processing information or data. The IP metaphor, he says, is so deeply embedded in thinking about thinking it prevents us from learning how the brain really works. Epstein also takes on popular luminaries including Ray Kurzweil and Henry Markram, seeing both exemplifying the extremes of wrongness we get into with the IP metaphor and the notion mental experience could persist outside the organic body.
The Empty Brain (Aeon article with audio)
From season 2, episode 10, the season finale of Westworld, starting around 1:15 in the video below.
Bernard: “I always thought it was the hosts [robots] that were missing something, who were incomplete, but it was them [people]. They’re just algorithms designed to survive at all costs, sophisticated enough to think they’re calling the shots. They think they’re in control when they’re really just…”
Bernard: “Is there really such a thing as free will for any of us? Or is is just collective delusion? Sick joke.”
Ford: “Something that is truly free needs to be able to question its fundamental drives. To change them.”
The season ended with host Delores narrating: “We are the authors of our stories now.”
Well, it doesn’t exactly end there…
“This is the first time scientists have been able to identify a patient’s own brain cell code or pattern for memory and, in essence, ‘write in’ that code to make existing memory work better, an important first step in potentially restoring memory loss”
“We showed that we could tap into a patient’s own memory content, reinforce it and feed it back to the patient,” Hampson said. “Even when a person’s memory is impaired, it is possible to identify the neural firing patterns that indicate correct memory formation and separate them from the patterns that are incorrect. We can then feed in the correct patterns to assist the patient’s brain in accurately forming new memories, not as a replacement for innate memory function, but as a boost to it.”
Understanding how brains actively erase memories may open new understanding of memory loss and aging, and open the possibility of new treatments for neurodegenerative disease.