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The potential of machines were thought to be able to eventually encompass “an inductive and creative mind, capable of taking initiative, to which human beings could confide all their problems and obtain instant solutions in return” (Ifrah, 1997: 1679). This misconception in the early days of the computer has carried over even to today. This discussion examines the functions of the human brain in addition to the meaning of knowledge and the limitations of machines as compared to the human mind.
Mechanical computers, unlike the functions of the computer-like brain do not have the capability to determine right from wrong nor can they make judgments, have no feelings and cannot think on their own. Computers cannot reason, imagine, invent, create, express thoughts, manage ideas, make judgments or possess the ability to adapt to differing situations and therefore cannot solve problems that are new to them. Unlike the human brain, computers aren’t conscious of their own being, have no concept of the world around them and cannot execute voluntary activities (Ifrah, 1997: 1616). Because machines are only able to follow directives, they do not possess the capability to be self-aware. If it is accepted that computers do not and will never become aware of their own being, then it is reasonable to ask what enables the human’s biological machine to attain consciousness while the silicon-based computerized ‘brain’ cannot.
Possibly, the answer to this question is the fact that the structure of the human brain is self-organizing. It responds to the individual characteristics and the independent nature of interactions between itself and the particular environment. However other natural, biological systems such as many types of simple ‘animals’ and all plant life encompass a multifaceted, self-organizing interrelationship within its inner mechanism yet are also not aware of themselves. This indicates that though
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