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After DigitalComputation as Done by Brains and Machines$
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James A. Anderson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199357789

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199357789.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 October 2021

The Brain Works by Logic

The Brain Works by Logic

(p.97) Chapter 7 The Brain Works by Logic
After Digital

James A. Anderson

Oxford University Press

Brains and computers were twins separated at birth. In 1943, it was known that action potentials were all or none, approximating TRUE or FALSE. In that year, Walter Pitts and Warren McCulloch wrote a paper suggesting that neurons were computing logic functions and that networks of such neurons could compute any finite logic function. This was a bold and exciting large-scale theory of brain function. Around the same time, the first digital computer, the ENIAC, was being built. The McCulloch-Pitts work was well known to the scientists building ENIAC. The connection between them appeared explicitly in a report by John von Neumann on the successor to the ENIAC, the EDVAC. It soon became clear that biological brain computation was not based on logic functions. However, this idea was believed by many scientists for decades. A brilliant wrong theory can sometimes cause trouble.

Keywords:   Walter Pitts, Warren McCulloch, McCulloch-Pitts neuron, logic-based neuron, Leibniz, ENIAC, EDVAC, John Von Neumann, Norbert Wiener, Paul Werbos

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