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Miguel Nicolelis and Ronald Cicurel: The Singularity Isn’t Near and the Brain Can’t Be Simulated

Miguel Nicolelis and Ronal CicurelThe idea that man is a machine is an old one. And since the brain is a physical part of that machine it is often presumed that it can necessarily be simulated on a digital computer. But very little scientific scrutiny has been given on that presumption. The Relativistic Brain is a new book by Miguel Nicolelis and Ronald Cicurel where they address precisely that question: Can a digital machine simulate the human brain?

the Relativistic BrainIn their book, Nicolelis and Cicurel provide a variety of neurophysiological, evolutionary, mathematical and computational arguments to conclude that “the brain is relativistic and cannot be simulated by a Turing Machine.” And so I thought that we had all the best ingredients for a fantastic Singularity 1on1 podcast episode. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did for I only managed to ask about half of my questions and plan to do a follow up as soon as I can.

During our 90 min conversation with Miguel Nicolelis and Ronald Cicurel we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: their interesting backgrounds in neuroscience and mathematics, brain-machine-interface [BMI] and the Blue Brain Project; neuroplasticity and Miguel’s Walk Again Project; the first Brain-to-Brain communication; the Relativistic Brain Theory [RBT] and why it cannot be simulated on a Turing Machine; the distinction between mechanism and organism; computable vs non-computable [Gödelian] information; their 23 scientific predictions as a way to falsify RBT; computationalism, Plato’s Cave and the mathematical arguments against simulating the brain; Stephen Jay Gould’s “tape of evolution argument”; the collapse of the Human Brain Project;  The Penrose-Hameroff Quantum Theory of Consciousness

(You can listen to/download the audio file above or watch the video interview in full. If you want to help me produce more high-quality episodes like this one please make a donation!)

Who is Miguel Nicolelis?

Miguel Nicolelis 2Miguel Nicolelis, M.D., Ph. D, is the Distinguished Professor of Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University; and the Co-Director of the Duke Center for Neuroengineering. He is also the founder of the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal, Brazil.

Who is Ronald Cicurel?

Ronald CicurelRonald Cicurel, Ph. D., a fellow of the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal, is a mathematician and philosopher interested in studying mathematical logic and the philosophy of science. He has spent the last decade investigating how mathematics, epistemology, and physics can contribute to the understanding of the brain.

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