Mind/brain vs computer (and internet)
People use all sorts of metaphors to describe the mind, and I want to try this one ........
Essentially computers operate using 6 layers between what is actually happening inside the central processor chip– the 0’s and 1’s of binary, and what the user sees – the app on the screen
1. Binary - inside the central processor chip – a bit can be either 0 or 1
2. Hexadecimal, words composed of 8 bits. For convenience, these are represented as two digits in hexadecimal notation (there are 16 possibilities - 0123456789ABCDEF), these are used in the form 1A, D4, etc. This is how the machine code / assembler language works, and so far this is the most efficient way of programming any computer, but, it is extremely labour intensive to use, thus only used for where maximum speed is required
3. Programming language. In practice, nearly all computers use a programming language such as C++, Fortran, Perl, Java, etc. These are often specialist languages for special types of applications.
4. Desktop or window of some sort, plus devices such as a mouse, keyboard and monitor whereby auser can interact with the computer
5. Program, particular applications are created in these languages. These begin to be visible to the user, but there is just a button that is pressed to make the application work, e.g Explorer, Mail, Word. This is where we get the information that we want, or do our work, or interact with other people using the computer (and in future, give orders to our fridge, etc.) Generally these are single programs operating in a stand-alone way
6. Internet. This is like a new level of functionality, most like the human brain. It is full of links and connections that cause pre-programmed effects to happen – we can click a link to go to a new site, or click a button to get a result we want, we are able to navigate through the collective consciousness
1. Neurons – nerve cells fire and send a signal to the brain, and this causes effects in the brain.
2 unknown – groups of nerve cells have different roles – some are automated (heart and breath and metabolism), some are volitional, others are sensory
3 unknown– groups of brain cells form regions in the brain, and these interact and behave like sub-processors
4. Mind. We are self-aware ……
5. Patterns – we have mental patterns, some that we have been trained or conditioned to do – we agree on the results of multiplications, give the correct change, and is someone mentions the weather, we are programmed to talk about it (here in the UK)
6. Thinking. To an extent, we have autonomous minds and think for ourselves. In other ways, this is usually exaggerated, as we usually manipulate discourses, often mimicking the ways we are shown in the media
If you were to monitor the electrical signals inside a computer, and if you didn’t know in advance that is was a digital device, and that it was using a binary code, then it would be almost impossible to work out that all of these levels existed - you would have great difficulty in interpreting the signals.
I suspect that when we look at MRI scans of the brain, or use probes to record the firing of neurons and other brain cells, we face a similar challenge that we would face with the computer – we can’t interpret what we are seeing, because we con’t know the code for the lowest level, and we have no idea how that relates to the higher levels. We probably have a similar number of levels in our mind/brain system as we do in a computer. The situation is also complicated by the brain/mind question, but I think this 6-level system clarifies the normal simplistic approach.