In computational mind theory, mind is considered as a kind of computation, which along with information resides in patterns of data that are independent of the physical medium that carries them. For instance in telephone systems, a message turns to air pressure, voltages in silicon, light in fiber optic and etc but the content of the message is
unchanged and independent of the medium. In computational mind theory, mind is a system of organs of computation designed by natural selection to solve the kinds of problems our ancestors faced in their foraging way of life. Hence, the brain processes information and thinking is a kind of computation.
The mind-body problem, which argues how mind interacts with matter (body), has been a controversial debate for generations. This debate is about the question that how intangible beliefs, desires, images, plans and goals reflect the world, move our bodies and even shape the world. How the colorless, odorless & tasteless wanting & knowing causes physical events of body. According to Descartes, mind and matter are made of different stuffs that interact in a part of brain called pineal gland. However, in computational theory of mind, another approach is opted. In this theory, beliefs & desires are information, incarnated as configurations of symbols and the symbols are the physical states of bits of matter like chips in a computer or neurons in the brain. Computation science has decoded many of the intangible mental terms. Beliefs are inscriptions in memory, desires are goal inscriptions, thinking is computation, perceptions are inscriptions triggered by senses, trying is executing operations triggered by a goal.
Of course studying the mind without considering its medium (brain) is irrelevant. Circuits made of neurons cannot do exactly same things as circuits of silicon.
For instance, silicon is faster than neuron but a neural circuit can match a larger pattern faster. However, at the same time studying the brain is not enough to understand mind.
In computational mind theory, mind is a form of computation but computer can not be a proper metaphor of mind.
- Computers are serial doing one thing at a time, brains are parallel doing millions of things at a time
- Computers are fast, brain is slow
- Computer parts are reliable, brain parts are noisy
- Computers have limited no of connections, brain has trillions of
To explain how birds fly we use the principles of lift, drag, and fluid mechanics that also explain how the airplanes fly. Airplane is not a metaphor of the bird but same rules and principles are applicable in both.
Reference: How the mind works, Steven Pinker