Re: Searle: Is the Brain a Digital Computer?

From: Cattell Christopher (
Date: Mon May 28 2001 - 19:35:40 BST

> But what if the mind itself, the thing we call
> consciousness, is nothing but reactions to some more complex set of
> procedures or operations, that can actually be defined formally and
> described in some analogous way to computer programs, syntactically?
> Then, the mind could be considered a computer program and computers
> would be able to evolve to a true state of artificial intelligence.

I think that this is possible, but would be very difficult to prove. If
consciousness was indeed a reaction to more complex and difficult
procedures and operations, isn't it possible that these would be different
to each individual in the fact that everybody has unique thoughts in their
mind. If that were true then the rules that governed these unique
thoughts would have to be found, which I believe would be very difficult.

> If doing it, they would be processing a thought as well.
> What matters here is which of these can be algorithmically defined. If
> assuming that both could be described as an algorithm, they would then
> be computational and thus we could simulate them on a digital computer.

I don't think algorithms could describe thoughts. Thoughts seem to be
random processes and I don't think there would be a sufficient algorithm
to work them out.

> In my opinion, the only pattern one could associate with brain
> processes in a human being, thus helping predict action/reaction pairs
> would be the personality concept. A person tends to react in the same
> way that is defined by its personality. But what exactly is
> personality? There is no way to physically describe it and, as such, to
> explain the events that are processed in the brain. And were back in
> the same hole.

It is true that a person tends to react in the same way most of the
time. But is this really a pattern? I tend not to think so. The reason is
that if it were a pattern then one would be able to foresee what the
person would do. I don't think that people do the same thing all the
time. If we did describe a pattern for personality it is more than likely
that someone would do something that wasn't part of the pattern. We
could, of course, add that personality trait to the pattern, but it
wouldn't take long for something else to break the pattern, this is
analogous to the frame problem.

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