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What can humans do that computers cannot?
The differences between a human being and a computer can be partly explained by looking at their reaction to an external stimulus. First of all, a computer can process information from external environment only according the predetermined patterns or algorithms. In contrast, a human being can freely choose various ways or strategies of analyzing a stimulus. This is the main reasons why people are capable of independent decisions, but one cannot say the same thing about computers.
Furthermore, one should note that humans’ reaction to a stimulus is affected by their previous experience. In particular, a person can change his/her behavior if it was not successful in the past. This ability is the basis of human learning. Currently, researchers attempt to develop the algorithms for machine learning.
For instance, one can mention such a program like Deep Blue that can adjust its strategies depending upon the moves of a chess player. Nevertheless, computers are very limited in their ability to change their behavior or strategies.
Finally, one should note that humans are able to act irrationally. For instance, people can be influenced by their unique biases, prejudices, or opinions that can hardly be explained or justified through reasoning (Edgar, 2003, p. 452). This is why humans can respond to a stimulus in an unexpected way. In contrast, computers lack this ability. Certainly, irrational behavior of an individual is not always beneficial; however, this is an inherent quality of a human being.
Thus, some of the capabilities possessed by a human being cannot be easily replicated in machines. In particular, one can speak about such aspects as freedom of choice, ability to adapt one’s behavior, and irrationality. At the present moment, computer scientists attempt to address these limitations, but one cannot say to what extent their efforts will be successful.
What can computers do that humans cannot?
There are several things that computers can do more effectively than humans. In this case, one can speak about specific tasks that are performed according to certain patterns (Stillings, Weisler, & Chase, 1995, p. 41). Moreover, these patterns have to be accurately described. For instance, one can mention that computers can easily add, subtract, multiply, or divide numbers that may include thousands of digits. Theoretically, people can also cope with these activities, but it may take them an excessive amount of time.
Additionally, computers can better record and analyze external stimuli to which they are exposed. For example, these technologies can be used by meteorologists who have to analyze numerous data sets. These professionals rely on the ability of information technologies to retain and examine gigabytes of quantitative information that is needed to forecast weather. Again, this activity can be very time-consuming, if humans decide not to rely on computers.
Furthermore, machines can be much better at evaluating different options within a very short time. To demonstrate this point, one can refer to chess computers that can assess millions of moves within a minute.
Thus, computers are much better at doing tasks that follow a certain pattern or logic. With the help of algorithms, machines can perform various activities much quicker than human beings. Nevertheless, information technologies can be effective only in those cases, if a certain activity can be described as a regular set of steps.
Edgar, S. (2003). Morality and Machines: Perspectives on Computer Ethics:
Perspectives on Computer Ethics. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Stillings, N., Weisler, S., & Chase, C. (1995). Cognitive Science: An Introduction. Cambridge: MIT Press.