The empty brain


In Our Own Image, Author: George Zarkadakis.
The Computer and the Brain, Author: John von Neumann.
How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, Author: Ray Kurzweil.
Remembering, Author: Frederic Bartlett.
The Future of the Brain, Author: Steven Rose.

By Robert Epstein – Here is what we are not born with: information, data, rules, software, knowledge, lexicons, representations, algorithms, programs, models, memories, images, processors, subroutines, encoders, decoders, symbols, or buffers – design elements that allow digital computers to behave somewhat intelligently.

Not only are we not born with such things, we also don’t develop them – ever.

We don’t store words or the rules that tell us how to manipulate them. We don’t create representations of visual stimuli, store them in a short-term memory buffer, and then transfer the representation into a long-term memory device. We don’t retrieve information or images or words from memory registers. Computers do all of these things, but organisms do not.

Computers, quite literally, process information – numbers, letters, words, formulas, images. The information first has to be encoded into a format computers can use, which means patterns of ones and zeros (‘bits’) organized into small chunks (‘bytes’).

Computers really do operate on symbolic representations of the world. They really store and retrieve. They really process. They really have physical memories. They really are guided in everything they do, without exception, by algorithms.

Humans, on the other hand, do not – never did, never will.

Given this reality, why do so many scientists talk about our mental life as if we were computers? more>

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