In the image of consciousness

(What follows is a vague, messy shadow of an essay. Maybe it’s the point. But as an excuse, consider it an impressionist work instead.)

The computer is a projection of the human mind. It is the physical and external manifestation of philosophical-mathematical thoughts, a machine that runs on theories of representations, logic, and physics. With 21st century computers, much of the machinery has been hidden, such that when the ordinary user taps on her smartphone—a contemporary computer—to create a document, share photos, and communicate with a friend, what is left is a deceptively simple, enchanting experience.

The human mind thrives on stimulus, just as the computer feeds on input. Both possess memories, perform logic, and visualize data. But for both subjects, it is perhaps the first attribute, the capacity for storage of information, that is the most valuable. It is where the treasure lies. It is how value, to put it in utilitarian terms, is retained.

However, especially in this aspect of memory, there are serious limitations in the computer as an analogy for the mind. Computer memory is rigid: unless running software instructs certain pieces of data to be transformed, the data will stay as is, even after years of storage. Whereas human memory is fragile: it is widely known that older memories are less reliable. Rare is the person whose powers of recollection is gifted with perpetual integrity.

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