The reality of the brain as a computer-2

Just as I was thinking about the reality of how the human brain is supposed to work, (see The reality of the brain as a computer-1), the web site THE BIG THINK had an interesting article on that very subject.

My thinking  concerned the question of whether our brains could be said to just function in the same way as a sort of organic computer. The article said that  some cognitive computer scientist still think this  is a useful theory for how the human mind works. Others think that, although the computer like functions are a useful way of describing how the brain absorbs information, they fall short when dealing with the fundamentally human skills of thinking and consciousness.

Thinking about thinking

The article stated that, according to Chris Chatham at Developing intelligence,”The brain as a computer metaphor has lead to a lot of oversimplification in our thinking about thinking”.

It was always understood that different part of the brain did different jobs. It is now known that it is more complex and messy than that. “The brain is not a dump and consciousness is not a place. Synapses are also far more complex than electrical circuits. Neither processing speed nor short term memory capacity are fixed, whereas RAM (computer memory) is.”

A failure of Consciousness

Computers are not conscious. Our human consciousness is a key part to our being human. It’s nature is not yet properly understood. It seems to occur simultaneously across the whole brain.  Also, work with Artificial Intelligence failed to incorporate the skills of common sense and procedural knowledge. These, for some, are also  fundamental components of human consciousness. Therefore, I think that  our human brain cannot be usefully compared with the way computers function, at this point in time.

Aspects of reality

  • If our brains did only function like a machine, they could be compared to a computer. As Steven Hawking said “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers.”
  • If human brains are something more than machines, if consciousness is not neccessarily just a function of computing capacity, then anything may be possible.

What do you think?





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