The Empty Brain
Submitted by Leecy on October 25, 2017 - 5:52pm
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Would this news article provide good reflection as a writing prompt?
The Empty Brain: Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer. (Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in California.) Following is a compilation of statements made in the article. What do you think?
The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.
Senses, reflexes and learning mechanisms – this is what we start with [at birth], and it is quite a lot, when you think about it. If we lacked any of these capabilities at birth, we would probably have trouble surviving.
But 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.
…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?
I love the question, don't you? Do we teach students as though their brains were computers? Please comment. Leecy