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RaptorDan, interesting comment on hard wired parts of the brain. My guess is that the more vital a function the more likely it is hardwired. Instant facial recognition must be an important part of the fight or fight instinct. It's also amazing how one recognizes voices even over crappy telephone connections.

Initially I used to think in terms of a rational waking brain and a subconscious brain that did a lot of work while one is sleeping. I used to wake up very early on occasion with the solution to a hard problem right in front of my eyes with no idea how it came to be there. The Indian mathematician Ramanujan called it intuition. Now I think that "intuition" and "subconscious" are actually neural networks working while we sleep undisturbed by the normal chaos of being awake.

"Intuition" and "subconscious" cannot explain how they do it because it's not the rational, boolean brain at work. There are a lot of manifestation of complex behavior based on very simple rules like the schooling of fish, the flocking of birds, and how ants and bees find their way to and from their nests and hives. Somehow this ties in with what I call the natural laws of complex systems like the Sigmoid growth curve and the power law distribution of wealth. I have no idea why nature does it that way but we can take advantage of the knowledge that that is how nature works.

In At Home in the Universe Stuart Kauffman calls it "Order for Free."

Denny Schlesinger
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