[ExI] Is the brain a digital computer?

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 21 13:50:46 UTC 2010


--- On Sun, 2/21/10, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:

>> I don't see how a 'mental
>> state' can be anything but an arrangement of information,
>> which is also what a 'computational state' is.
>
>> Can anyone throw any light on this?  What
>> alternatives are there?

> Magic

The brain exists in nature as just another natural artifact. It has no unique status as a "computer", except in the imaginations of some foggy-headed people who love computers so much that they imagine themselves as them. 

Confusion arises also because some people believe, naively, that if we can compute x then a computation of x = x.

Consider a system comprised of a man, a hammer, a nail and a piece of wood. The man drives the nail into the wood with the hammer and we compute that process. The resulting computation will contain such facts as the force with which the man wields the hammer and the density of the wood, and it will predict exactly the depth to which the man drives the nail into the wood with each strike of the hammer.

That computation describes and predicts the event perfectly but the event itself does not equal a computation. We can say the same of computations of any other kind of event in nature, including brain events. The trivial fact that we can compute an event does not make the event itself a computation.

Is the Brain a Digital Computer?
http://users.ecs.soton.ac.uk/harnad/Papers/Py104/searle.comp.html

-gts




      


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