Asimov – What is the brain really for?

I saw this courtesy of a CrunchGear article this morning, and I wanted to expound a bit on it here… Really pay attention the to the 1:38 time mark… 

"… we can leave to ourselves those things that computers can't do such things as imagination, creativity, fantasy, intuition, problem solving where we don't have to have the exact conditions to know exactly what's happening we have an intuitive feel for what the solution ought to be…"

It is amazing that this interview may be 20 or 30 year old (the article reference 40, but personal computers 40 years ago were a dream at best) and Asimov not only broaches the crux of why computers were created in the first place, and the challenge that I often feel we HAVE NOT LIVED UP TO…, but also mentions the issues we should be concerned about and watch for as artificial intelligence and cheaper robotics become commonplace.

What are your thoughts?  Like Asimov, I always believed that computers were created to free humans from mind numbing experiences, and to provide "us" more time for other pursuits as opposed to feeling the need to be "plugged in" via technology to make sure we stay on top of the commonplace… 

Has technology advanced so that the human spirit (mind) can evolve into creative theoretical exploration or have "we" simply turned to technology to provide fantasy, problem solving, creative worlds to keep us from thinking?

When you apply this to education, what are your thoughts? Do we leverage computers to eliminate the commonplace, the stressors of our muscles, the mundane, and reserve the classroom to teach imagination, creativity, fantasy, intuition, and problem solving? Or have we moved into leveraging technology to attempt to teacher these mind concepts, while we press on with the mind numbing trivial exercises in "learning"?


2 thoughts on “Asimov – What is the brain really for?

  1. I think that Asimov could not have imagined the ways internet technology has developed. In particular, the current proliferation of social networking tools strikes me as an emergent internet phenomenon with interesting implications for online learning. I wish Asimov was here to see the internet of today.

  2. John,
    Sorry it took me a couple of days to get back to you here. I agree, it would be very interesting to hear what Asimov would think of social media, citizen journalism, and the explosion of nano technology. That said, your comment regarding an “emergent phenomenon” really may ring true with him, but let’s examine a possibility of those two areas merging… think of the proliferation and penetration that Google is making throughout the world and into the very fabric of our lives… the petabytes of data that the google servers are amassing… now overlay nanobot technologies… microscopic computers that can think, replicate, attack an issue, transform, combine, and disburse…
    While most of the uses of nano technology I have seen revolves around single use/action (i.e. the new line of automotive paint that has nanobots infused within the paint to remove scratches based on exposure to air.) as we continue down the road to diamond nanotubes for mass storage leveraging smaller and smaller applets to wearable technology the possibilities can be staggering. (I am really not a chicken little… seriously)
    To me Asimov is providing a warning of be careful of what you wish for… plan ahead… Make sure you are using technology to replace mundane not to control our perceptions of reality?…

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