This comparison essay of the human mind and computer as tools for thinking explores the different aspects of ability to perform parallel thinking, information storage capacity, information processing speed, influence by other factors as being the foundations of the strengths of human mind and computers in information processing process, (Lawrence,2006).
There are diverse definitions of thinking relative to the different contextual applications. However, in this context, thinking could best imply a mental process of awareness through reasoning, and recall which aids arriving at rationally decided actions (Sloman et al., 1998). Thinking is also characteristics by rationality, having certain things into consciousness, recalling, seeing possibility, coming up with an idea, holding on to a belief, and mental involvement in analysis e.t.c are all considered to be.
For long time, mind has been believed to involve mental activities of thought and consciousness, and which facilitate human daily functions for its applicability in, and control of all the aspects of human living. Thinking as part of the mind, figures out things and makes sense out of life’s experiences. This is actualized by means of judgment, perception, analysis, clarifying, determination, comparison and synthesis. All these are performed automatically by the mind during thinking process.
The invention of computers in 1950s-1960s was a significant contribution to information processing. Computers are machines which work by processing information input by means of predetermined program(s) to avail output. This is the same manner in which human mind functions, by processing environmental input to bring meaning. In as much as comparison between human mind and computers is as thinking tools is possible, the difference in their processes is inevitable.
First and foremost, the mind is capable of processing different and sometimes unrelated pieces of information at the same time (parallel thinking) while computers can only perform serial information processing. For example, it is possible for the mind to think of a solution to a mathematics problem, practice singing and be engaged in cleaning the house and even more all at ago. This is made possible by the many synapses in the brain which are capable of transmitting many and different signals for interpretation at the same time. A computer on the other hand relies on programs to execute the desired results and this must only be according to the prior programming.
Furthermore, the mind is dynamic with the ever changing environmental experiences which serve as sources of information. It is therefore possible with the human mind to provide the most relevant information based on the current situations and turn out of events. This may not be possible with the computer which relies on frequent updating of the installed programs and/or re-programming to enable it to accommodate the unfolding changes.
It is factual that the human mind, under normal circumstances, is potential of relating the past experiences to the current happenings to predict a rational future. Rationalization is stronger when different factors are considered and their relationship to each another is determined. For this reason, reliable predictions may not be achieved by the computers whose output is determined by the available programs and whose capability to relate all the relevant factors in thinking is limited to the current programs.
Distinctively, the human mind has a very large information storage capacity as opposed to any other information storage device, computers inclusive. This rich source of information, stored over a long period of time, provides a perfect base for logical thinking. This store becomes richer automatically with experience. The mind is further capable of analysis of and relating all the relevant pieces of information from the environment through the different sensory organs to achieve thinking efficiency.
The thinking efficiency of the computers is realized in its ability to process information and to provide reliable out put only according to the manner in which it is programmed and without any other influences such as emotions as is to the disadvantage of the human mind. The logic ability of the human mind is prone to great effect of circumstances and may be skewed to different situations prevailing prior to or even during the thinking process, (Sloman,1998) .
Even though the computers are deficient in storage capacity, the ability to reproduce the stored facts is faster in and without distortion. This is aided by the different programs installed which ensures that the information is available in the form in which it was stored and it is given out only when required and in the form needed. This may not be possible with the human mind which in some instances is prone to interference and forgetfulness.
Thinking by computer is aided by the ability to work for longer duration without getting tired. This ensures that information is given for as long as it is needed without the adverse effects of fatigue as is the case with human mind. Affected by tiredness, the mind is only capable of functioning for a certain relative duration of time after which its efficiency is reduced.
This essay has looked at the efficiency of human mind and computers in thinking process in light of the storage capacity, information processing speed, and external influence among others as key factors to efficiency of human mind and computer in thinking.
Lawrence, R. (2006) closer to truth science, meaning, and the future .Westport:
Sloman, S. A., Rips, L (1998) Similarity and symbols in human thinking .Cambridge: IT