Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Thoughts after completing "What is a Mind?" FutureLearn course

One of the problems with trying to relate the research I did in the 1970s and 80s to the evolution of human intelligence is that it involves many different specialist disciplines. Even if I was 50 years younger I would have difficulty in becoming up-to-date with all the potentially relevant recent research.  The "What is a Mind?" course was run from Cape Town university and perhaps was too philosophical for my liking but I found it useful, as did many other students. I deliberately set out to learn - rather than push my own research - and found discussions with people with many different specialist backgrounds (or none) most stimulating.

My final comment on the course is below

I came to the course with a particular interest – in 1968 I was project leader responsible for designing what could best be described as a intrinsically human-friendly computer. Unfortunately the idea got ditched because it did not conform with establishment views at the time (see http://www.trapped-by-the-box.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/article-algorithms-arent-everything.html). Recently I decided to take a new look at the design and came to the conclusion that what I had been doing was to unconsciously model human short term memory. What is more it suggested an evolutionary route to explain why humans are different to animals.

At the age of 77 I can’t possibly research all the published work relevant to the brain in detail so I found the course a useful check on what I was doing. It also provided the opportunity, through discussing comments with people with very different backgrounds who saw the problem from very different angles.

So thank you Mark (and fellow students) – you have given me the confidence to think that my ideas are feasible – and over the next few months I will be posting details about the evolution of the brain on my blog www.trapped-by-the-box.blogspot.co.uk

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