Moravec’s paradox is the hard problems are easy and the easy problems are hard. A computer can beat the world’s greatest chess player at chess, but it cannot beat a spider at getting around. If humans have been working on a problem for a thousand years, you can program a computer to do it. If evolution has been working on a problem for a hundred million years, not so easy.
It turns out that the vast majority of the functional human genome is information processing. A small proportion of the human genome codes for proteins, but most of the important genes, most of what matters, does not code for proteins. It is RNA world data processing, RNA genes, RNA generated primarily to process RNA.
Given that twelve to sixty percent of the human genome is data processing, is software, is programming, that is a lot of information processing – seven hundred megabytes to four gigabytes of software. A lot of this software is instructions on how to build a human being – where and when to express the proteins of which a human is made.
If, however, you have a massive system for processing data, seems likely that the brain is going to use it.
Particular RNA genes are expressed in particular kinds of neurones, often a particular RNA gene being expressed in few hundred or a few thousand very specific neurones in the entire brain, Protein expression is considerably less specific.
Most of the genetic complexity of the brain consists of very large numbers of very specific RNA genes being expressed in very specific neurons. Protein enzymes for editing RNAs are most highly expressed in the brain, and a disproportionate number of RNA genes are expressed only in the brain, and only in very specific neurons in the brain.
The human brain does thirty five times as much RNA editing per unit mass as the mouse brain. The smarter the animal, the more RNA data processing in neurons. Smarter animals not only have bigger brains with more neurons, they have substantially more RNA software expressed and running in each neuron. This is the missing complexity. Humans have about the same number of protein coding genes as a sponge or a flatworm. They have substantially more RNA genes, a large proportion of which are expressed only in quite specific neurons in the brain.
This suggests that neurons process data at the RNA level – that a large part of the evolution towards intelligence occurred in RNA world creating smarter individual free living cells, before cells got smart enough to gang up for attack and defense, and likely before they developed protein synthesis.
If brain data is processed in complex ways in RNA, there is no way that this can be emulated in silicon. Likely we have software that evolved over billions of years, which software is designed to run on RNA molecules in water solution and can only be efficiently run on RNA molecules in water solution.
So, if RNA world data processing, no possibility of emulating the human mind in silicon. Silicon consciousness would have to be built from scratch, rather than by copying existing software, which looks to me like a very hard project..