If the mind were arranged like the architecture of a computer system, what might
that look like?
Here's what I imagine!
What do you imagine?
One of the main functionalities of the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) in a computer system is to provide, well, basic input and output functionality.
It's a foundational abstraction layer for interfacing with the outside world; a means of receiving input data and sending output data. For the mind, it is the ability to directly perceive the outside world and to interact with it. In both the context of an (electronic) computer system and the mind, this input/output data is encoded and relayed in the form of modulated electrical impulses.
In the context of a computer system, those inputs are input peripherals such as your keyboard, mouse, webcam, etc., and those outputs are output peripherals such as your monitor, speakers, printer, etc.. In the context of the mind, those inputs are your raw sensory input organs, such as your eyes, nose, ears, skin, etc., and those outputs are your muscles.
In the context of a computer system, I'll refer to the overall system dealing with input functionality simply as input
, and the overall system dealing with output functionality simply as output
. In the context of the mind, I'll refer to the overall system dealing with input functionality as perception
, and the overall system dealing with output functionality as motor skills
Memory allows information to be stored so that it can be manipulated or later retrieved. In the context of a computer system, memory enables the ability to organize, store, compress, predict, manipulate, and synthesize complex data. In the context of the mind, memory enables the ability to perceive, learn, abstract, understand, manipulate, and create complex patterns.
In the context of a computer system, the unique contents contained in memory ("nurture"), along with the unique hardware and its configuration ("nature"), contribute to the temporary state
of that computer system. In other words, part of what makes my computer different from yours is what data I have stored on my computer (operating system, configuration, personal files, etc.), and how my computer operates in the present moment depends on the processes that are currently running and the data contained in the portions of RAM that are allocated to those processes.
In the context of the mind, the unique contents contained in memory (nurture), along with the unique biology (nature), contribute to the individual identity
of that mind. In other words, part of what makes me not you is my unique set of experiences and memories thereof, and how I behave in the present moment depends on my current state of mind and emotion and the thoughts, ideas, and emotions involved.
Data in memory is stored in such a way that every piece of stored information is accessed using another piece of associated
information. In the context of a computer system, information is associated by address
; every piece of information has a unique number that is its address (like a house address, a telephone number, or a domain name/ip adress). In the context of the mind, memories are associated by other memories
; one memory or stimulus leads to another (such as a train/chain of thought, a thought story).
In the truest sense of the word, a processor processes
information; it takes information and does something with it. In the context of a computer system, a processor is a collection of circuitry to perform operations on input data (retrieved from memory or directly from a raw input device) and to return a result. In the context of the mind, the "processor" might be the "thinking part" which is capable of logically and creatively manipulating information (retreived from memory or directly from the raw senses) and drawing logical conclusions and deriving creative by-products.
Types of Processing
In the context of a computer system, there are two different kinds of scaled computation: serial processing and parallel processing.
Serial processing is the processing of information by executing exactly one
step at a time. Serial processing has the advantage of being able to consider all known information at any given time. And it has the disadvantage of having limited scalability (due to physical limitations such as heat and transistor size, it is extremely difficult to continue to create faster and more powerful serial processors after a certain point). In a computer system, the CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the processor dedicated to serial processing (although most CPUs have multiple cores, it is limited to a few since the primary function of a CPU is to provide raw processing power).
Parallel processing is the processing of information by executing multiple
steps simultaneously on temporarily unrelated pieces of data. Parallel processing has the advantage of being extremely scalable (physically a parallel processor is nothing but a large collection of less powerful serial processors which collectively have far more speed and power than a single serial processor could ever have at the same level of practicality; it is a team
or an army
of processors). And it has the disadvantage that it can only effectively execute process which are fundamentally parallel in nature; they operate on multiple pieces of temporarily unrelated
data simultaneously. In a computer system, the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is the processor dedicated to parallel processing (it is usually used primarily for offloading graphical rendering processes from the CPU since rendering graphics is a very intensive and parallelizable process).
Types of Thinking
In the context of the mind, there are two different kinds of thought processes: logical/analytical thinking and creative thinking.
Logical or analytical thinking is the thought process of drawing logical conclusions. Logical thinking has the advantage of clarity, method, focus, order, certainty, unity, and consciousness and being able to organize pre-determined information. And it has the disadvantage of being unable to process large amounts of information intuitively and quickly (limited scalability) and being unable to produce new information. Logic fundamentally is about the necessary implications of what is already known, unity, and order. It isn't about the unknown, different, or chaos.
Creative thinking isthe thought process of synthesizing new thoughts and ideas. Creative thinking has the advantage of being able to operate under vague circumstances, intuition, spontaneity, disorder, difference, and subconsciousness, being able to synthesize previously-undetermined information, and being able to intuitively and quickly process large amounts of information (greater scalability). And it has the disadvantage of vagueness, uncertainty, and being difficult to control. Creativity is fundamentally about the unknown, different, and chaos. It isn't about necessity, unity, or order.Logic draws conclusions. Creativity draws premises.Logic states. Creativity questions.Logic says therefore. Creativity says wherefore.
In the midst of all of the aforementioned capabilities
of computer systems and the mind, there is what to actually do
with those capabilities. It's the content to the platform, like the characters to a play, the lyrics to a song, the driver to the car, the show to the television, and the game to the console. In the context of a computer system, it is the program. In the context of the mind, it is the person.
In the context of a computer system, the program is pre-written by the programmer. The program controls the system following a perfectly predictable algorithm. In the context of the mind, behaviour of the person is influenced by their motivations which are influenced by emotions, free will, and judgement systems (among other things).
Emotions are basic modes of mind which influence decision making. They are experienced as unique subjective feelings and motivations and expressed as specific physical responses and influencing thought processes and decision making.
Free will is the ability of a person to make decisions and take actions regardless of predetermined factors. Since it is fundamentally unpredictable, not based on pre-known information, it is by nature a creative influence on behaviour. It is the ability to be truly
unique by not adhering to any pre-existing formulas.
Judgement is the process of assigning values to things from which to derive decisions. Aesthetic judgement is the judgement of beauty. Ethical judgement is the judgement of moral behaviour. Analytical judgement is the judgement of truth within a logical system. Goal oriented judgement is the judgement of the relationship between possible courses of action to a desired outcome.