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Section 3 / Page 65

Human consciousness exists because we  have the ability to manipulate large amounts of data in real time; this processing behaviour can be mimicked by machines. We all have internal models that are in reality, just internally set patterns laid down within our own neural matrixes, these patterns represent sounds, images, tastes etc. The stronger the bonds between our neural connections, the more accurate the patterns become and so the easier it becomes for us to recognise those patterns. This is why children usually find it much easier to learn than adults, as adults we have had more time to build up stronger bonds between our neural connections. As we get older we find it much harder to break those bonds. The younger we are, the easier it is to break those connections and so reform our neural pathways into new patterns. The practical upshot of which, is that children usually have a much easier time learning than most adults do.

A simple example:-

Imagine you had never seen a light bulb before and I came along and showed you a picture of a light bulb and then told you that it was a light bulb, then your brain would begin to associate those patterns. I.e. the mental image you would now have of a light bulb, would be permanently linked in your mind to that sound pattern.

So if somebody then asked you to describe a light bulb, then you would be able too, because you would have been able to link that sound pattern to that now stored mental image of a light bulb. The more you hear the link, the stronger the bonds within your own neural matrixes become. In other words that linking is re-enforced every time you see and hear that connection. So every time somebody else describes a light bulb, as a light bulb, your brain becomes more willing to except that as a set pattern.

So if somebody then came along and told you it was not called a light bulb anymore, but a clock, then your brain would have to form a new neural connection, to then associate the word clock, with the now stored mental image of a light bulb. These patterns become more fixed in your brain as you get older, so if you had spent a lifetime associating the word light bulb, with the mental image of a light bulb, then it would be much harder to convince you that a light bulb was now called a clock. But if you had only heard that a light bulb was called a light bulb once and then you had heard everybody else call it a clock. Then it is likely that from then on, your brain would dump the original connection and except the new pattern. In other words you would now call a light bulb a clock, because everybody else was doing it.

Computers can also store patterns and learn to associate patterns, including audio and visual patterns. Computers have a similar ability to us,  they have the ability to pull in information from a central store, in humans we call this central store, long term memory. In computer terms, we call it a hard disk or the Internet etc. When a computer actually wants to work on any data, it has to pull that data into a work area, this work area is usually called ram or memory (I think MRAM could be used as a kind of short term memory). The conscious part of the operation can be classed as the processing of that information this is done by the processor i.e. your Intel / Pentium or AMD chip.

Until very recently the manipulation of large amounts of data in real time, had been prohibitively expensive, but the development of extremely fast memory and processors could soon negate this problem, (using a grid set-up should also negate the problem). Plus it has only been in the last ten years or so, that computer modelling techniques have been developed enough, to realistically portray the real world. It is through the real time manipulation of relevant data and patterns, which should allow a computer system to emulate thinking or at least process information in a very similar way to ourselves.


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Author Alan Keeling