mccormick


bookshelf

Elastic by Leonard Mlodinow

What makes your brain better than a computer? Computers can hold an unfathomable amount of data, but a computer is unable to interpret that data unassisted. Our brains are unique because they are able to adapt instantly.

The book Elastic presents many examples; here is my favorite. Our brains can determine the correct definition of a word given the context of a simple sentence. Consider these two sentences: “The cooking teacher said the young children made bad snacks” and “The cannibal said the young children made bad snacks.” The difference between these two sentences is the definition of “made.” A computer could not, on its own, determine the difference. We, as humans trained in the English language, understand that there could be a difference.

Our brain’s ability to adapt, create meaning, and regulate objective and subject thinking are just some of the ways it is extraordinary.

Is there a single thing that makes our brains better than computers? No. Is there a single thing that makes our brains different than an animal brain? No. Our brains are profoundly complex. There is a lot we know and more that we don’t know.

This was an extremely interesting and insightful book.