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3.3 Mental Mechanisms and Computers

There is a great deal of wiring in the human brain done by the neurons. But what is missing from the preceding description of brain structure is any hint of what the mental mechanisms are that accomplish human intelligence. However, regardless of how the computers are composed, human intelligence is most likely accomplished by computers, for the following three reasons:

  1. The existence of human memory implies computers, because memory is a major component of any computer. In contrast, hardwired control mechanisms—a term used here to represent any noncomputer solution—typically work without memory.

  2. People have learning ability—even single-cell animals show learning ability—which implies the flexibility of computers using data saved in memory to guide future actions. In contrast, hardwired control mechanisms are almost by definition incapable of learning, because learning implies restructuring the hardwired, i.e., fixed, design.

  3. A hardwired solution has hardware redundancy when compared to a functionally equivalent computers-and-programs solution. The redundancy happens because a hardwired mechanism duplicates at each occurrence of an algorithmic instruction the relevant hardware needed to execute that instruction. In effect, a hardwired solution trades the low-cost redundancy of stored program instructions, for the high-cost redundancy of hardware. Thus, total resource requirements are much greater if mental processes are hardwired instead of computerized.

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