Some people have compared a computer to a human brain, but if you take the time to think about it for a while you might see that our brain and a smartphone have quite a bit (more) in common with each other…
Both are mostly thought to be single objects yet both are useless without ‘external’, seemingly unconnected, objects upon which they depend to perform their various different functions.
Both objects are actually comprised of many different sub-objects all wrapped up in a single package (with attachments) with very specific functions, many of which operate ‘automatically’ such that we do not have to consciously make an effort to use them. We may not even be aware* that some functions are being performed by the brain or by the smartphone.
Both objects have capacities that far exceed the average ‘user’s’ ability to utilise them all and to the fullest. Both can increase their memory storage capacity allocation.
Almost all users of either object largely try to work out what it can do by trial and error and rarely learn how to use it the way the manufacturer intended it should be used. They learn ‘how to get by’ and do not spend time studying what each specific function is and the best way to get the most out of it for all possible applications.
Both require a constant renewal of energy and will refuse to function effectively if their energy levels are below a certain level.
Both are subject to the occasional annoying breakdown and an expert may be required to be called upon to get it back into working order – this is usually expensive! Only one however, can be replaced and upgraded to a newer model in the event of a breakdown!
Both have almost unlimited memory storage these days although the smartphone recalls it’s memory far faster and more reliably.
People use both to tell them where they want to go although males are less inclined to ask for directions from their brain for this (or other people’s brains for that matter).
Both spend portions of their day when they are not being used (that we are aware of!!!) Both actually continue to function on some levels even if we think they are turned off!
Both can now recognise your own face, but only a smartphone can recognise your own thumbprint. Both can give you a very rough approximation of what the weather is going to be like today and for a few days into the future – neither are more than 90% accurate.
Both have to be programmed (taught) what to do by someone smarter than them although the brain is sometimes capable of learning by self-observation and very rarely by observing others (especially others’ mistakes!) It will be a matter of a VERY short time indeed before our phones can do this better than our brains currently do.
This brings us to what has previously been a point of difference between the two objects… Consciousness!
Few people have a clear understanding of just what consciousness actually IS, other than to distinguish it from it’s opposite – unconsciousness.
I will suggest that a better term might be ‘Awareness*’. The brain is capable of developing something called ‘self-awareness’ – that it is an organic object located in a physical body comprised of squillions of individual cells and that it exists along a timeline from the moment of conception to the moment of death – and some would even say beyond that.
This awareness extends to the understanding that there also exist other objects such as ourselves that have their own version of self-awareness and that sometimes these things can have considerable difference to us while theoretically being largely constructed of the same things.
This awareness (consciousness) is not a continuous thing – it has regular ‘gaps’, periods of ‘un’ consciousness or non-awareness! Like a smartphone this is known as ‘sleep’ mode. (Or sometimes “switching off”). Once the brain comes out of sleep mode/being switched off or into a ‘stand-by’ state, it almost instantly returns to it’s previous level of awareness prior to being switched off – we do not have to retrain the brain, nor do we reprogram our smartphone once a day. The awareness is able to be added to during it’s ‘awake’ state and can acquire and retain new data to it’s accumulated total since becoming aware in the first instance and can use this to modify it’s behaviours. As mentioned in a previous paragraph, smartphones will soon possess this ability; it will learn from it’s own observations and will not require so much ‘updating’ from external sources/other people. It will teach itself certain things about it’s owner/operator and become more ‘user-friendly’, able to offer you better and easier choices in how to maintain your brain’s relationship with it.
So once this point is reached can we say that the smartphone has developed an ‘awareness’ or as we have compared it – consciousness.
Who says that human consciousness is the only kind that exists?