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The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine

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New post 21 Jul 2017, 03:35
GMATNinja your review would really be helpful.

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New post 25 Dec 2017, 10:41
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]

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New post 30 Dec 2017, 17:20
dawnemily6 wrote:
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

Quote:
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

Yes, you could say that two seemingly contradictory ideas are discussed. But is the main PURPOSE of the passage to explain that contradiction? Is the author's intention to simply explain how Searle's idea differs from the dominate view? After reading this passage, would it make sense to say, "In conclusion, Searle's view contradicts the dominate view."?

Not quite. The author does indeed explain Searle's view, which does seem to contradict the dominate view in some ways. But the author is primarily concerned with CRITICIZING Searle's view. The author's main intention is to deny (refute) Searle's argument, so (C) is a better answer.

The following explanation of the passage should provide further clarification: https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-idea-of- ... l#p1867890.

I hope that helps!
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jan 2018, 04:17
1
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.



Passage: Searle

Question: Inference–Metaphor

The Simple Story


Most neuroscientists think of the brain as an information processor. The philosopher John Searle disagrees with this view, arguing that people can understand meaning and content, while computers cannot. The author, however, disagrees with Searle. She presents one of Searle’s arguments, related to simulated digestion, and refutes it. She then concludes that Searle’s argument is incompatible with a fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information.

Sample Passage Map

Here is one way to map this passage. (Note: abbreviate as desired!)

P1:

brain = info processor

Searle: computers can’t really think

Searle: human brain has ‘causal powers’

P2:

Author: brain = info processor

Searle: computer stomach not really digesting

→ computer brain not really thinking

P3:

Author: simulated stomach COULD really digest

Computer is the same, but with info

So: simulated thought = thought

Step 1: Identify the Question

The question asks for a statement that accurately represents Searle’s criticism. The right answer will not be written explicitly in the passage, but will accurately reflect what is written there. Therefore, this is an Inference question.

Step 2: Find the Support

Searle’s criticism of the brain-as-computer metaphor is described in the first paragraph.

“…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.”

Step 3: Predict an Answer

Searle’s criticism is that a computer that follows algorithms can’t understand meaning and content, while the human mind can understand these things. This makes a computer an inaccurate metaphor for the human mind.

Step 4: Eliminate and Find a Match

(A) Searle’s views on experimentation are not described in the passage.

(B) CORRECT. Searle’s criticism is that the human mind has a property that a computer lacks: the causal powers of the brain.

(C) Searle uses this example in order to argue that the stomach, like the brain, cannot be accurately simulated by a computer.

(D) Searle’s criticism does not involve the specifics of how information is transmitted in the brain, or whether a computer can simulate this transmission. Rather, Searle criticizes the implications of such a simulation: a computer simulation, he argues, wouldn’t actually be thinking.

(E) The fact that brains and computers both process information makes the metaphor between them more accurate, not less.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jan 2018, 04:26
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.
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

Spoiler: :: OA
C



Passage: Searle

Question: Main Idea

The Simple Story


Most neuroscientists think of the brain as an information processor. The philosopher John Searle disagrees with this view, arguing that people can understand meaning and content, while computers cannot. The author, however, disagrees with Searle. She presents one of Searle’s arguments, related to simulated digestion, and refutes it. She then concludes that Searle’s argument is incompatible with a fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information.

Sample Passage Map

Here is one way to map this passage. (Note: abbreviate as desired!)

P1:

brain = info processor

Searle: computers can’t really think

Searle: human brain has ‘causal powers’

P2:

Author: brain = info processor

Searle: computer stomach not really digesting

→ computer brain not really thinking

P3:

Author: simulated stomach COULD really digest

Computer is the same, but with info

So: simulated thought = thought

Step 1: Identify the Question

The words main purpose in the question stem indicate that this is a Primary Purpose question.

Step 2: Find the Support

The support for a Primary Purpose question is found in the main point(s) of the passage as a whole, not in any specific detail. Briefly review your passage map to find the support for this question.

Step 3: Predict an Answer

The majority of the passage is spent refuting Searle’s argument. The author finally concludes that accepting Searle’s argument would mean denying the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience. The primary purpose of this passage is to argue against Searle’s views.

Step 4: Eliminate and Find a Match

(A) The passage does propose an experiment (the simulated stomach), but it only does so in order to counter one of Searle’s arguments. The broader purpose, therefore, is to refute Searle’s views about human thought.

(B) The function mentioned here is presumably the information-processing function of the human brain. The passage doesn’t solely present its own analysis, however. Instead, it analyzes this function in order to refute Searle’s analysis.

(C) CORRECT. The passage first introduces, then refutes, Searle’s argument.

(D) The passage does not describe any of its ideas as a contradiction.

(E) The topic of the passage is, in part, the simulation of physical processes (digestion and thinking). However, the passage itself does not simulate these processes. Instead, it discusses some hypothetical simulations (without performing them), and disagrees with Searle’s view on what these simulations would imply.
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The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jan 2018, 05:34
gmat4varun wrote:
Fifth question is something I am still not very clear . How Answer Option A is correct ?

5. From the passage, it can be inferred that the author would agree with Searle on which of the following points?
Computers operate by following algorithms.

In the first paragraph
Searle: computers fallows algorithms and cannot deal with important aspects of human thought such as meaning and content.
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.

In the second paragraph
The author refutes what Searle says, by pointing out that even the brains need to work like algorithms--interpret and transfer the information
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
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jan 2018, 13:40
5/6 Correct.
Reading the passage 2:03
Question 1: 0:39 (Correct)
Question 2: 1:08 (Correct)
Question 3: 0:47 (Correct)
Question 4: 0:30 (Inorrect)
Question 5: 1:03 (Correct)
Question 6: 0:47 (Correct)

Total Time: 6:57

Anyways ,can anyone tell me the difficulty level of this passage? I think it was a 500-600.
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The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jan 2018, 14:00
Transcendentalist wrote:
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.

Spoiler: :: OA
B


Can someone help explain this one? I was stuck between A and E


A: The metaphor is not experimentally verifiable


In the passage Searle did not question the experimental authenticity of the metaphor. Hence Incorrect.

B. The metaphor does not take into account the unique powers

In the passage, the author states that Searle criticizes the metaphor because he thinks the brain powers cannot be simulated simply because it is complex and unique doe every being.

" 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." The words 'meaning' and 'content' are the unique abilities of the brain considered to be important by Searle, therefore he thinks that 'Brain as a computer' is wrong because it would underestimate the abilities of the human brains by comparing it to something inferior. Hence 'B' is Correct.

C. The metaphor suggests that a brain's functions can be simulated as easily as those of a stomach.

Irrelevant and Searle makes no such comparison. Incorrect.

D. The metaphor suggests that a computer can simulate the workings of the mind by using the codes of neural transmission.

This might seem like a good option at first but look at the metaphor 'Brain as a computer'. The metaphor is not suggesting the capabilities of a computer but underestimating the capabilities of a human brain which is Searle's main concern. 'D' is the opposite of the metaphor. Hence Incorrect.

E. The metaphor is unhelpful because both the brain and the computer process information.

This is the opposite of Searle's claim. In the last paragraph the author states "To accept Searle's argument, one would have to deny the most fundamental notion in psychology and neuroscience: that brains work by processing information" which means that Searle was of the view that brains do not work by processing information. Option 'E' states that Searle thought both computers and brains process information which is against the claim of Searle and the whole passage. Hence Incorrect.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine  [#permalink]

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New post 25 May 2018, 12:07
yes3sir wrote:
5/6 Correct.
Reading the passage 2:03
Question 1: 0:39 (Correct)
Question 2: 1:08 (Correct)
Question 3: 0:47 (Correct)
Question 4: 0:30 (Inorrect)
Question 5: 1:03 (Correct)
Question 6: 0:47 (Correct)

Total Time: 6:57

Anyways ,can anyone tell me the difficulty level of this passage? I think it was a 500-600.


Ya I think so. I found it pretty straightforward compared with other passages that were tagged 700-level. Perhaps what makes it easy is that it does not use complex words or jargon and topic is one which all people are familiar with. There are definitely passages which are much more convoluted than this one.
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine  [#permalink]

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New post 30 May 2018, 02:05
AD2GMAT wrote:
1) The main purpose of the passage is to
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.

The correct answer option for this question is A - as provided by various forums.
I was not able to find the clear reason to reject the answer choice E - in this passage, so need your help - how to reject E and select A?
In the passage, I can see the line "John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers Simply follow algorithms," but where does the author agrees with this point?

Regards,
Akash


Hi,

I hope I can shed a light on the issue you have/had.

"John R. Searle, a philosopher who argues that since computers simply follow algorithms, <...>. <...> 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."

From the above quoted sentences, I think it's reasonable to say that the second sentence is the one where the author 'nods' to Searl's idea. Computers and brains process information, simple as that. If the author thought that computers do not work the same way Searl thinks, he or she couldn't have countered the idea that computers and brain can equally perform the same thing. Thus the two can be deemed equivalent.

Perhaps this will help.
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New post 08 Sep 2018, 08:37
Any pointers for Inference question as well?

GMATNinja wrote:
dawnemily6 wrote:
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

Quote:
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

Yes, you could say that two seemingly contradictory ideas are discussed. But is the main PURPOSE of the passage to explain that contradiction? Is the author's intention to simply explain how Searle's idea differs from the dominate view? After reading this passage, would it make sense to say, "In conclusion, Searle's view contradicts the dominate view."?

Not quite. The author does indeed explain Searle's view, which does seem to contradict the dominate view in some ways. But the author is primarily concerned with CRITICIZING Searle's view. The author's main intention is to deny (refute) Searle's argument, so (C) is a better answer.

The following explanation of the passage should provide further clarification: https://gmatclub.com/forum/the-idea-of- ... l#p1867890.

I hope that helps!

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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Sep 2018, 06:43
GMATNinja wrote:
This is indeed a tricky passage, so rather than trying to understanding every detail, make sure you first understand the purpose of each paragraph and then the purpose of the passage as a whole.


hi GMATNinja :-) hope you are having great weekend :) should we apply the above mentioned strategy to all RC passages ? :-)
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Re: The idea of the brain as an information processor—a machine  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Sep 2018, 11:13
1
AD2GMAT wrote:
Any pointers for Inference question as well?

The most common mistake I see on inference questions -- besides basic reading errors -- is overthinking what the word "inference" means. Technically speaking, an inference is something that isn't stated directly in the text, but in reality, the inference might be a really simple, obvious restatement of part of the passage. And sometimes, I see test-takers discard answers because they're "too obvious." In those cases, the answer choice that's "too obvious" is almost certainly correct.

So when you see an inference question, think of it this way: try to discard the four answer choices that are NOT correct based on the passage. The fifth answer choice will obviously be the right answer.

This video covers a bunch of issues in CR and RC, but inference questions are a pretty big part of it.

dave13 wrote:
GMATNinja wrote:
This is indeed a tricky passage, so rather than trying to understanding every detail, make sure you first understand the purpose of each paragraph and then the purpose of the passage as a whole.


hi GMATNinja :-) hope you are having great weekend :) should we apply the above mentioned strategy to all RC passages ? :-)

Basically... yeah. More on that in this article and this video.

I hope this helps!
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