WIP work in progress 2018-04-04 14:33:13

Research about Thinking, Talking, Computing

abacusThinkingMan Rodin

1 - A History of Computing

2 - What’s in the Box?

3 - Programming

4 - Thinking

5 - Talking

6 - Computing


When I think, I use something I call my attention: …

I seem to be able to direct my attention to only one thing at a time. I have to deliberately switch my attention back and forth if I want to think about more than one thing. Often I am aware of other things going on around me while thinking. If I hear a loud noise, for example, I suspend what I am thinking of and re-direct my attention to the sound. So although I can only atttend to one thing at a time, my mind is obviously doing many things at once. We call this multiprocessing or multitasking. 


Our simple calculators and early computers had only one processor in them, now personal computers and even our cars have many processors.

  … more coming … 2018-04-05


Looking for Clues:
Closing the loop from Thinking to Talking to Computing


Our universe is full of processes - procedures: 

Some processes come from nature:
stars make atoms, atoms make molecules, molecules make cells ...

Other processes come from us: 
children make sentences, mothers bake cookies, factories make cars. 

All of us can do some procedures: 
most children learn to talk, then some do calculus - or music.

Other procedures require more work and experience.
Starting about age 8 in my father’s machine shop after WWII, I swept floors,  
Then later built machines by learning from the experience of others. 

From there I went to physics and then computing. 

In summary:

Nature assembles matter into 
concrete machines, things that we can touch:
        atoms, molecules, compounds - cars, trucks, planes - trees, whales, us

Life also makes abstract machines, that we cannot see and touch: 
We find those 
mainly in our heads and in our languages and computers, although we sometimes observe them in group behavior of plants, animals and humans.

For example, Inside our heads are thoughts: abstract things often appearing as symbols, images, tokens or memes - making words, phrases, sentences, etc. Our thoughts often interact with each other and even, communicating through language, with the thoughts of others.

Click for full size image in new window

Sentences are thought structures - that we know how to build and recognize. How we learn this as children has been discussed for thousands of years.
- Current thinking, led by Noam Chomsky, is that the language mechanism is not learned, but is innate in humans, developing in early childhood into particular languages, growing just like arms and legs.
- Other linguistic researchers, like  Dan Everett, pursue the gradual acquisition of language, beginning 1,500,000 years ago with homo erectus. 

We now build computers, machines that manipulate symbols as Ada pointed out, but not merely numbers but also letters, words, sentences - now also even sounds and images.

These symbol manipulators - our heads and our computers - contain clues:
                                                       clues to thought.

… more coming … 


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