Brain Vs Computers

From: Sam Heighway (
Date: Thu Nov 27 1997 - 11:30:14 GMT

We were talking about the brain last week, and what
methods we could think of to study the brain and its
mechanisms. As we discussed, a lot of research has been able
to show us which parts of the brain are active during certain
activities, but not how those parts actually function.
Probably the most comprehensive idea we came up with was to
use computers to imitate the brain, to see if this would help
us to understand it better.

It is possible, in my opinion, that however our brain was
made (and I am not denying either Evolution or God), it was
formed intentially so that we should never understand how it
works. If we did know everything about the brain, then we
would also be able to manipulate it in many ways. This may be
seen as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you
look at it. It could have serious moral implications, as we
could reach a stage where peoples' private thoughts were no
longer private, where thoughts could be manipulated, memories
could be erased, the possibilities are endless. Maybe humans
should stop being so arrogant that they think they can do

On the other hand, we as psychologists are arrogant in
wanting to know exactly how the brain works, so we look to
computers to help us. One similarity is that if you give a
computer a command that it has never encountered before and
is not programmed to understand, it will not do it. In the
same way, if a human brain encounters something unknown, like
words spoken in a foreign language, it will not understand.
There is a discrepancy in this however. That is that if you
continue to give this computer the same command over and
over, you will not make any progress. On the other hand, if
foreign language is encountered enough by the human brain, it
will eventually pick it up and learn what it has heard. This
is because there are other factors involved. The human brain
can recognise facial expressions, gestures and even percieve
emotion. In this way, it will eventually learn what is being
said, even though the initial words have remained the same.
Computers cannot recognise emotion or facial expression, they
do not have a body language all of their own, so they do not
have the same capacity for learning that we do.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on the matter.
Maybe a bit far-fetched, but I'll let you decide!

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