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The idea of the brain as an information processor a machine

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The idea of the brain as an information processor a machine [#permalink] New post 28 Mar 2013, 03:04
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The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulating blips of energy according to fathomable rules—has come to dominate neuroscience. However, one enemy of the brain-as-computer metaphor is John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers Simply follow algorithms, they cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content. Computers are syntactic, rather than semantic, creatures. People, on the other hand, understand meaning because they have something Searle obscurely calls the causal powers of the brain.

Yet how would a brain work if not by reducing what it learns about the world to information—some kind of code that can be transmitted from neuron to neuron? What else could meaning and content be? If the code can be cracked, a computer should be able to simulate it, at least in principle. But even if a computer could simulate the workings of the mind, Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking; it would just be acting as if it were. His argument proceeds thus: if a computer were used to simulate a stomach, with the stomach's churnings faithfully reproduced on a video screen, the machine would not be digesting real food. It would just be blindly manipulating the symbols that generate the visual display.

Suppose, though, that a stomach were simulated using plastic tubes, a motor to do the churning, a supply of digestive juices, and a timing mechanism. If food went in one end of the device, what came out the other end would surely be digested food. Brains, unlike stomachs, are information processors, and if one information processor were made to simulate another information processor, it is hard to see how one and not the other could be said to think. Simulated thoughts and real thoughts are made of the same element: information. The representations of the world that humans carry around in their heads are already simulations. To accept Searle's argument, one would have to deny the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information.
1) The main purpose of the passage is to
A) propose an experiment
B) analyze a function
C) refute an argument
D) explain a contradiction
E) simulate a process
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
C


2) Which of the following is most consistent with Searle's reasoning as presented in the passage?
A) Meaning and content cannot be reduced to algorithms.
B) The process of digestion can be simulated mechanically, but not on a computer.
C) Simulated thoughts and real thoughts are essentially similar because they are composed primarily of information.
D) A computer can use "causal powers" similar to those of the human brain when processing information.
E) Computer simulations of the world can achieve the complexity of the brain's representations of the world.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
A


3) The author of the passage would be most likely to agree with which of the following statements about the simulation of organ functions?
A) An artificial device that achieves the functions of the stomach could be considered a valid model of the stomach.
B) Computer simulations of the brain are best used to crack the brain's codes of meaning and content
C) Computer simulations of the brain challenge ideas that are fundamental to psychology and neuroscience.
D) Because the brain and the stomach both act as processors, they can best be simulated by mechanical devices.
E) The computer's limitations in simulating digestion suggest equal limitations in computer-simulated thinking.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
A


4) It can be inferred that the author of the passage believes that Searle's argument is flawed by its failure to
A) distinguish between syntactic and semantic operations
B) explain adequately how people, unlike computers, are able to understand meaning
C) provide concrete examples illustrating its claims about thinking
D) understand how computers use algorithms to process information
E) decipher the code that is transmitted from neuron to neuron in the brain
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
B


5) From the passage, it can be inferred that the author would agree with Searle on which of the following points?
A) Computers operate by following algorithms.
B) The human brain can never fully understand its own functions.
C) The comparison of the brain to a machine is overly simplistic.
D) The most accurate models of physical processes are computer simulations.
E) Human thought and computer-simulated thought involve similar processes of representation.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
A


6) Which of the following most accurately represents Searle's criticism of the brain-as-computer metaphor, as that criticism is described in the passage?
A) The metaphor is not experimentally verifiable.
B) The metaphor does not take into account the unique powers of the brain.
C) The metaphor suggests that a brain's functions can be simulated as easily as those of a stomach.
D) The metaphor suggests that a computer can simulate the workings of the mind by using the codes of neural transmission.
E) The metaphor is unhelpful because both the brain and the computer process information.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
B


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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor a machine [#permalink] New post 21 May 2013, 05:33
Vercules,
For the 1st question i chose the option as D. Here Two contradictory statements are being discusssed and that is the reason why i chose that option.Can you please explain the correct answer
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor a machine [#permalink] New post 23 May 2013, 04:28
skamal7 wrote:
Vercules,
For the 1st question i chose the option as D. Here Two contradictory statements are being discusssed and that is the reason why i chose that option.Can you please explain the correct answer


Hi,

The first paragraph introduces an argument by Searl and the second & Third paragraph refutes this argument.

If you go through last line of third paragraph, you can confirm this.

Hope it clears your doubt.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor a machine [#permalink] New post 24 May 2013, 08:03
vercules ur GMAT score is pretty impressive bro. i wanted to know whether the GMAT test prep score can be considered close to the actual GMAT score?
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor a machine [#permalink] New post 24 May 2013, 08:17
Expert's post
mohnish104 wrote:
vercules ur GMAT score is pretty impressive bro. i wanted to know whether the GMAT test prep score can be considered close to the actual GMAT score?


Thanks mohnish,

Yes, the GMAT Prep tests are the most accurate indicators of you preparedness for GMAT. The score on GMAT prep can be considered close to the actual GMAT. However, you should consider +- 20 points error to the score. Say you score 700 on the GMAT prep test, then with the same conditions you will score 680 - 720 on the actual GMAT. I will also say that it is the best way to determine your weaknesses on the GMAT. You should take 3-4 attempts on each GMAT Prep test to see all the questions, mostly the harder ones.

Hope this helps,
Vercules
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor a machine [#permalink] New post 24 May 2013, 09:54
Gee thanks a lot Vercules. It was of immense help.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor a machine [#permalink] New post 27 May 2013, 03:38
Vercules wrote:
The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine manipulating blips of energy according to fathomable rules—has come to dominate neuroscience. However, one enemy of the brain-as-computer metaphor is John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers Simply follow algorithms, they cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content. Computers are syntactic, rather than semantic, creatures. People, on the other hand, understand meaning because they have something Searle obscurely calls the causal powers of the brain.

Yet how would a brain work if not by reducing what it learns about the world to information—some kind of code that can be transmitted from neuron to neuron? What else could meaning and content be? If the code can be cracked, a computer should be able to simulate it, at least in principle. But even if a computer could simulate the workings of the mind, Searle would claim that the machine would not really be thinking; it would just be acting as if it were. His argument proceeds thus: if a computer were used to simulate a stomach, with the stomach's churnings faithfully reproduced on a video screen, the machine would not be digesting real food. It would just be blindly manipulating the symbols that generate the visual display.

Suppose, though, that a stomach were simulated using plastic tubes, a motor to do the churning, a supply of digestive juices, and a timing mechanism. If food went in one end of the device, what came out the other end would surely be digested food. Brains, unlike stomachs, are information processors, and if one information processor were made to simulate another information processor, it is hard to see how one and not the other could be said to think. Simulated thoughts and real thoughts are made of the same element: information. The representations of the world that humans carry around in their heads are already simulations. To accept Searle's argument, one would have to deny the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information.


6) Which of the following most accurately represents Searle's criticism of the brain-as-computer metaphor, as that criticism is described in the passage?
A) The metaphor is not experimentally verifiable.
B) The metaphor does not take into account the unique powers of the brain.
C) The metaphor suggests that a brain's functions can be simulated as easily as those of a stomach.
D) The metaphor suggests that a computer can simulate the workings of the mind by using the codes of neural transmission.
E) The metaphor is unhelpful because both the brain and the computer process information.

[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
B


Can someone help explain this one? I was stuck between A and E
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor a machine [#permalink] New post 27 May 2013, 08:28
Hi,

The crucial sentence is this

since computers Simply follow algorithms, they cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content


Which suggests that the brain has something that the computer doesn't - that suggests that B.

The other 2, whilst they might be plausible, are not referenced in the passage, which is required for this question.

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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor a machine [#permalink] New post 08 Jul 2014, 22:53
skamal7 wrote:
Vercules,
For the 1st question i chose the option as D. Here Two contradictory statements are being discusssed and that is the reason why i chose that option.Can you please explain the correct answer


I have the same question as he has. Can anyone please explain why in the first question, D is not the correct choice. For me, OA explanation is not persuasive. Thank you so much!
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor a machine   [#permalink] 08 Jul 2014, 22:53
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