On Sun, Aug 21, 2011 at 11:36 AM, John Mikes <jami...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Craig,
> you know more about the 'IBM-Synapse' achievement than myself (easy: I know
> nothing, did not even thopughtfully decipher the article in all its
> details).
> I would ask IBM (they may not reply of course) if their machine (chip?) can
> solve ANY technical problem barred by unsurmountable difficulties to a - not
> only reasonable - but to a BETTER result than expected?
> An examp[le from my past (and this is not boasting, it is an example how
> human creativity could win over the "power of poverty".
> In Commi Hungary the pharmceutical researchers wnted ion exchange resins for
> a process to extract streptomycin from its broth. They did not have the
> foreign currency to buy it, so they came to me (project Ion Exchange in the
> polymer Research Inst.) to make such for them. I needed the cross-linking
> agent (di-vinyl-benzene) to make the polymer and, of course I did not get
> the foreign currency for it either. So I went to the Organic Chem. pilot
> plant for styrene (Mono-vinyl-benzene) if they have some side-product I
> could use. They had a distillation residue, a dark goo and stated that it
> contains 15-25% of the stuff. Iff...
> I had no facilities to extract it, so I decided the peasant-way: put the
> entire goo into my mixture tp be polymerized and hoped that after cleaning
> out all dirt from the resulting (cross-linked) polymer it will show
> usability. After lots of cleaning I got seemingly OK bead-polymeers, which
> after further treatment went into strepto-testing. That's when the Heureka
> broke out: my dirty product bound several times more of the antibiotic than
> the World Market products. The rest was routine: reproductions, changing
> parameters and applying for the patents. Does the machine-brain go after
> such series of hurdles and evaluate what can be done? Does it stay within
> the limits and reduce the events to their applicability?
> This was one example without rules and systems, no calculations, only
> circumventing the obstacles untold.

Why do you imply that a machine based on chemistry, i.e. the brain,
would be more creative than a machine made out of transistors or gears
and pulleys? As a chemist, have you seen any special magic in chemical
reactions that might explain the brain's ability to think?

Stathis Papaioannou

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