Home > Uncategorized > Weekly QuEST Discussion Topics, 9 Sept

Weekly QuEST Discussion Topics, 9 Sept

This week we will continue our discussion led by our colleague Teresa H.:

Can we reverse engineer an epiphenomenon?

Cognitive events (representations, emotions, thoughts, meaning-making) can be thought of as re-entrant feedback loops between sensory and association areas in the brain, all of which are operationalized by firing of individual neurons living in groups. The discipline of neurophenomenology (Francisco J. Varela, founder) posits each cell is a living entity having a unique experience of its life in our heads. Consider that each cell in our nervous system has paracrine (talking to other cells) and autocrine (the cell talks to itself) functions. So all of these little creatures are living in our heads behaving as individuals and as members of discrete groups, and this behavior somehow gets bound into the illusion of a discrete thought or set of qualia that signal we are eating mom’s apple pie or are presently stuck in traffic, etc.  Is mind an epiphenomenon of all this activity? Would one predict the raucous behavior of billions of cells living in our heads would result in our experience of mind? Can neurophysiological processes underlying experience of mind be engineered into a machine and its programming? What neurophysiological processes might be sufficient and necessary to accomplish this goal?

The second topic is a Frequently Asked Questions discussion:

Anytime we’ve engaged a new colleague on the topics that concern us in QuEST we have to go through a ‘break-in’ period where we converge on the meaning of words, or at least how we use those words in the QuEST discussions.  Recently in our interactions with the community on topics of Autonomy, Artificial Intelligence and Human-Machine teaming/Collaboration we’ve encountered this same barrier.  This week we want to discuss a Frequently Asked Questions approach to lowering that barrier.  So if you’ve ever been asked or wondered ‘What is Intelligence?’ or ‘What is Autonomy?’ or ‘What is artificial intelligence?’ or ‘What is reasoning?’ or ‘What is consciousness?’ or ‘Do machines understand me?’  ‘What is understanding?’ or ‘What is cognition?’ or thus ‘What is cognitive Electronic Warfare?’ …, we encourage you to engage with us this week as we provide a forum to generate a ‘self-consistent’ set of answers to these and many more FAQs and will take any questions from the group that we also need to add to the FAQ.


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