My focus has been on philosophy. For me, it is the study of how conscious knowledge can improve survival for individuals, societies, and the human species. For example, biotechnology makes it now possible to control future human evolution. Hence, humanity is confronted with the challenge of deciding what ought to be done with this awesome power. There does not exist at present any science-based conceptual framework that can address this challenge.
Here, in a nutshell, is the reason for the current predicament. The basic notion at the foundation of science is the relation of mind and brain. Current neuroscience has demonstrated that humans have innate elementary sensations, emotions, and cognition. The denial of this fact was postulated some 300-years ago (Locke, 1690, Hume 1750) as a new foundation of knowledge. It is therefore now necessary to bring the foundation of knowledge up-to-date.
However, the philosophic community, by and large, have proved unable yet to set aside the 300-year legacy. As a consequence, present-day sciences are still based on assumptions about the relation of mind and brain that are now known to be false. This delays acceptance of a new scientific paradigm is known as the sociology of knowledge problem.
This delay comes has caused adverse social consequences. Philosophy is the only area of knowledge that can integrate other areas of knowledge, and as such, it is the only knowledge area on which normative disciplines ought to be based. Specifically, innate commonalities of human nature provide a basis for universal of human conduct and law. The denial of the existence of such innate commonalities has led to the postulation of relativistic systems of ethics and law.
This non-universality has disabled humanity from effectively addressing any long term global issue. If any China, or any other country, embark on heritable modification of the human genome then this millennium would prove Homo sapiens’ last. Thus, updating the foundation of knowledge may prove to be a survival imperative.
While I was a philosophy doctoral student at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in the late 1960’s I found that my views to be outside the mainstream. Furthermore, philosophers take the basic issue to be philosophical, while I take them to be empirical.
I, therefore, decided to put view my that philosophy has a unique top-down problem-solving power to a reality test. I have been interested in the relation of brain function to that of general-purpose digital computers. It led me to choose the information processing field.
One philosophical issue is the efficacy of special-purpose versus general-purpose solutions. Some scientists and many engineers act on the belief that the optimal solution to a given situation is to be customized. Philosophy of science suggests that opposite: a successful generalization, aside from having a wider scope, has greater specificity, and when applied is typically more economical. The other view, current during the 1960s and 1970’s was that information processing, like power generation, is best centralized, to be accessed by remote terminals. Being aware of the rapid increase in the number of transistors-per-unit area of a silicon chip and the corresponding drop in the cost-per-transistor, which was expected to continue for some time, I reached the conclusion that such a chip could implement the function of the central processing unit (CPU) of a computer and that it would lead to having a user-dedicated computer at the point-of-use.
In 1967 and 1968 I tried and failed to convince anyone of these views. In 1969 I tried and failed to convince Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC) that was based in San Antonio, Texas to develop a microprocessor-based personal computer. I did succeed in convincing CTC to develop a CPU and ask Intel and Texas Instruments (TI) for proposals to implement it as a single chip microprocessor. CTC went on the incorporate its CPU in an intelligent terminal for accessing remote computers. It then also decided against using the single chip microprocessors designs offered by Intel and TI.
Intel, not having the right to produce the CTC CPU chip for the general market shelved that development work. Hearing of this I met Robert (Bob) Noyce, the president of Intel at the time, urging Intel to complete the development and offer it to the general market. Noyce said that Intel would provided it could obtain CTC’s consent. I met with Phil Ray, who was the president of CTC and obtained that consent for Intel, and so advised Noyce.
I then formed a company, Q1 Corporation, which delivered in 1972 to a division of Litton Industries in Long Island New York the world’s first microprocessor-based personal computer. The 8-bit microprocessor, the Intel 8008 became the original member of the Intel x-86 microprocessor product line. By the end of the 1970’s, it was the dominant microprocessor in the world.
I am neither an electronic engineer nor a computer scientist. For me, a sequence of events proved that philosophy contains top-down problem-solving power that is currently unrecognized.
Returning to the foundations of knowledge, I first consider the negative proof that sensations originate in the sensory receptors of the peripheral nervous. Next, I consider the problem philosophers have with the innateness of color. Finally, I consider the philosophical consequences of the innateness of the sensation of light.
Roger Sperry (1952) observed that signals from the peripheral nervous system are physical, are essentially like a ‘common currency’, and therefore are devoid of qualitative attributes. He concluded that these attributes are determined by the selectively activated brain loci. Present-day neuroscience confirmed Sperry right: The direct electrical stimulation of any submodality-specific brain loci elicits in a conscious, awake human subject the same the submodality- specific sensation, in response to the same electrical stimuli.
Furthermore, the direct electrical stimuli of hearing-related brain loci elicit sensations of sound in children born deaf with the dysfunctional auditory nerve. This fact is the basis for cortical prostheses available in such cases. These facts constitute conclusive evidence that the sensation of sound is not a property of air vibration, nor it originates from the ears.
The philosophic community has managed, thus far, to ignore these empirical facts, which conclusively disprove the denial of the innateness of sensations. It is in the area of vision that philosophers circled the wagons to defend the dead doctrine from a proper burial. C. W. Hardin, in his book Color for Philosophers (1986) pleaded with his fellow philosophers not to take a position against the empirical evidence. Two recent books, each containing a number of contributors defended the Physicalistic dogma.
I chose the innateness of the sensation of light as means the cut short the current extended delay in updating the foundation of knowledge. It is an established fact that cortical visual prostheses for persons who lost their vision restore (limited) vision. In recent years I have urges some entities in this field to implant such a prosthesis in blind born children. Such prostheses would work as does the auditory prosthesis for the born deaf. I expect that this will be demonstrated by 2025. Such a demonstration, I believe, would cause the scientific community to disown Physicalism by the end of that decade. It would also place the challenge of updating the foundation of knowledge at the top of the scientific agenda.