I have been reading The Connectome: How The Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are, by Sebastian Seung, a Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Physics at MIT, and formerly a theoretical physicist.
One of his talks on the web is called “I am my connectome.” My own private connectome usually has a sort of uncontrollable synaptic response to statements like that, which seems to deny itself, but that would be quibbling with PR, and so, having functioned my whole life while knowing nothing at all about my insides, I have enjoyed the first 60 pages.
But one paragraph on pages 63-64 did throw me off:
If I could observe the activity of all your neurons, I would be able to decode what your are perceiving or thinking. This kind of mind reading would require knowing the “neural code,” which you can picture as a huge dictionary. Each entry of the dictionary lists a distinct perception and its corresponding pattern of neural activity. In principle, we could compile this dictionary by recording the activity patterns generate by a huge number of stimuli.
Now, just prior to reading this paragraph I had read Peter Woit’s latest blog post about the absence of signs of supersymmetry at the LHC in Switzerland.
And then my connectome wondered: is there a pattern in my connectome’s neurons that corresponds to my connectome’s discovery of the correct Theory of Everything?
Or can that pattern only be there after other people have found the right concepts?
Put another way, was there a neuronal pattern residing in Aristotle’s neuronal dictionary that corresponded to Newton’s Laws?
If so, then somewhere in my connectome is the answer to everything that can be known, even if the steps towards it and the concepts necessary have not been articulated yet.
Does a statement like that really mean anything at all?