Recent dialogues with Russell, plus discovering and finding helpful
previous joining posts, prompts me to post this for reference

I was born in 1950 in Glasgow Scotland of Anglo-Scottish parents, and
come from Hungarian, Middle Eastern, Russian, and Polish ancestry
insofar as I can trace it.  Mixed, anyway.

My formal academic background is also best described as 'mixed', but
early on I always felt a bit inadequate compared to my teachers, who
seemed to just 'know' the 'answers' somehow, because they wrote them
straight on to the blackboard.  Myself, I had to 'puzzle' them out by
something like trial and error.  Also, their 'explanations' seemed to
lead only to more questions.  This exasperated my teachers.  One day
(I guess I must have been about 9)  I read a book of logic problems
that not only contained the answers, but the author's account of how
he'd reached them.  Turns out he'd used trial and error!  I remember
it dawned on me like a bolt of lightning: "Everybody thinks like
this!"  And thus reassured, I went on in this way.

There's a corollary to this tale.  Many years later, I attended a
seminar where the neuroscientist Karl Pribram was the principal
presenter.  I was so stimulated by the dialogue that I 'kidnapped' him
afterwards by giving him a lift to the house where we'd both been
invited to dinner.  As he sat wearily in the passenger seat, I rambled
on about this and that, and after a while this led to my 'sharing' my
great 'Everybody thinks like that' insight.  "You're wrong." he said,
and sank back into torpor.  My heart sank.  Then he sighed, and said:
"Only people who can think at all, think like that."

My professional career spans 35+ years in computer systems development
in the private sector, from machine code and plug-board days, through
assembler and a wide variety of high-level languages.   The hands-on
part spanned more than 20 years and I worked originally in commercial
applications development for systems vendors, focusing on elements of
operating systems and failure and recovery methods.  I developed early
versions of 'net-change' manufacturing planning and forecasting
systems, and from 1989, was an early participant in the nascent on-
line (originally phone-based) retail financial sector. I became Head
of Systems Architecture and Head of Information Analysis for the first
UK on-line bank, and Head of IT for an on-line retail insurer.  These
days, I do part time IT and business consultancy, and dabble in topics
like those on this list.  I've now achieved the status I've always
sought: self-employed dilettante.

I can't recall exactly when my interest in AI and 'mind body' issues
began, but it was re-stimulated by John Searle's ideas as presented in
the 1984 BBC Reith Lectures, which got me furiously thinking and
reading about functionalism and then-current mind-brain theories like
Pribram's Holonomic theory.  I reached a vague realisation that
functionalism was incompatible with materialism, which is why I had a
start of recognition when I encountered Bruno's arguments.  But I've
really spent the intervening period just 'dilettanting' around the
related areas - philosophy of mind, epistemology, QM, cosmology,
Darwinism, etc. - as my enthusiasm and energy waxes and wanes.

I've read or skimmed quite a lot of the book list others have
mentioned, but definitely need more rigour on the math and logic
background.  The existence of forums like this one has more or less
kept my marriage intact when it might not have survived many further
attempts to 'innocently' subvert ordinary conversations into
'epistomology' or some such nonsense.

A few books that have triggered something or other, or that I often
return to:

The Fabric of Reality (Deutsch)
The Conscious Mind (Chalmers)
Wholeness and the Implicate Order (Bohm)
The End of Time (Barbour)
The Emperor's New Mind (Penrose)
Theory of Nothing (Standish)
Laws of Form (Spencer-Brown)
The Quark and The Jaguar (Gell-Mann)
Godel, Escher Bach (Hofstadter)
The Mind's I (Hofstadter and Dennett)
Consciousness Explained (Dennett)
The Selfish Gene (Dawkins)
The Blank Slate (Pinker)
The Logic of Scientific Discovery (Popper)
The Open Society and Its Enemies (Popper)
The Man who mistook His Wife for a Hat (Sacks)
The Society of Mind (Minsky)
How Children Learn (Holt)
The Act of Creation (Koestler)
The Psychology of Learning Mathematics (Skemp)
Frogs into Princes (Bandler and Grinder)
The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Conan Doyle)
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Carroll)
Foucault's Pendulum (Eco)

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