This week’s reading allowed me to develop my understanding of the human mind and the concept of free will. I have learned more about various scientific and philosophical notions of human thought, as well as of the mechanisms involved in our thinking processes.
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The perception of the human mind as a machine is an idea that seems rather controversial to me. It is clear that most of our thinking processes happen in the brain. The brain, on the other hand, has evolved through a variety of stages to be more efficient and to increase its thinking capacity. In some ways, this process of development can also be thought of as optimization. For instance, if our brain had not developed the structure, it has now, the simplest processes that are involved in our everyday lives would require far more energy and time than we need today. In fact, it would probably be impossible for us to complete some of these processes, such as using technology, or studying complicated diagrams, because of the number of brain resources required to perform them. Indeed, the cognitive development of the brain is somehow similar to the development of technology: what started as a much simpler structure has evolved to be able to complete many complex tasks that were barely possible before. Another similarity between our brain and the machine is the complicated network of mechanisms and cells involved in the thought process. Like in a complex computer, there is a large number of inner structures that allow us to generate thoughts and learn, as well as to read and write. Just as in a computer, the information is processed, analyzed, and saved for future use. Nevertheless, if we understand our thinking as merely the outcome of a set of mechanisms in our brain, does this mean that the concept of free will is unrealistic?
However, another concept that might be at play here is the existence of the soul. Despite the fact that there is no scientific proof, it is a popular notion in philosophy and theology. Many scientists admit that the thoughts and actions of a person cannot be explained solely by the mechanical functioning of the brain. Our motivations and views, I believe, maybe governed by something other than a range of mechanical processes. For instance, there are inner desires that we cannot explain, irrational thoughts that have no logical ground, and so on. Where do these come from, and what parts do our soul and brain play in their creation? Another interesting component of our mind is the subconscious. While many believe that it is also the result of brain activity, there are barely any explanations as to why there is a division between conscious and subconscious. It is also unclear whether our subconscious has a significant influence on our thought processes. This is particularly revenant to the concept of artificial intelligence because if the subconscious indeed is one of the compulsory components of our thinking, it would be impossible to create artificial intelligence without dividing its thinking processes into conscious and subconscious.
Overall, I believe that the materials studied this week provoked me to think more about human thinking and the processes involved in it. This is relevant to the study of artificial intelligence, as the key to creating it is in considering how we think and process information, as well as determining the processes and structures that affect our thinking.