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Q: In theory, could we predict future behavior if we knew enough about the brain?

February 5, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments
Quora question:

In theory, could we predict future behavior if we knew enough about the brain?

The theory that we could predict future behavior if we knew enough about the brain is logically sound, but I think that the underlying assumptions are flawed. The relation between behavior and the brain may in fact *not* be linked by cause and effect but by simultaneous integration. Even the best imaginable auto mechanic cannot predict where the car will be driven (although they can predict things about the car’s ability to function on the road).

What I suggest is that human behavior is driven by semantic conditions within the context of the individual’s experience as a whole as well as physiological-neurolgogical-biochemical conditions of the body’s existence. My hypothesis is that interior experience is a concretely real sensorimotive phenomenology rather than a ‘simulation’, ‘interpretation’, or ’emergent property’ of neurological ‘data’ or ‘information’. As such, our perceptions intensify or diminish, consolidate, branch, negate, etc according to the logic of their significance within the biographical narrative rather than exclusively in the activity that we currently know how to measure in the brain from the ‘outside’.

Knowing everything about a brain would certainly enable many predictions, but without understanding the life of the subject from the inside, it is probably not possible to predict what they are going to think and do for the rest of their lives, even if you could know every possible future of the entire universe. If the universe could do that, it probably wouldn’t go through the formality of actually presenting the universe as the ‘live show’ that it appears to us to be.

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