Dear Christopher:
I found your way of viewing the world very interesting, but there are some points where I disagreed with your conclusions about other people’s behavior. For example, you compare the way people think to the way computers work and say that “the mind is just a complicated machine.” You use the example of the Turing test as proof that computers can act just like humans, but the fact is that after more than fifty years, no computer has actually passed the test. Some of the smartest people in world, with the most sophisticated machines, gather every year to have their computers tested, and they still fail to convince a majority of judges that they are a human rather than a machine.

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I agree that there isn’t a little homunculus in our heads looking out at the world and that in some ways we process information and construct a picture of the world much like a computer does. However, I don’t think that it’s true to say that computers are conscious in the same way that people are or that “feelings are just having a picture on the screen in your head.” If I feel frustrated because the picture I imagined would be on my internal screen at a particular time isn’t, the feeling of frustration is not so simple as a discrepancy between these two pictures. There are a lot of complicated things going on in the human brain that we don’t yet understand, and emotions are more than just that difference between expectation and reality.

You go on to say, regarding the pictures in our minds, that “if it is a happy picture [we] smile and if it is a sad picture [we] cry.” But different things make different people happy or sad. Some people have an illness called depression and almost everything they see in their heads is sad. So there is a lot of complex individual experience that determines what is happy or sad for someone and sometimes a kind of faulty wiring in the brain causes these reactions. I think that equating the mind and the brain is something you should think more about. A brain may just be a very complicated machine and its functions able to be replicated by a computer eventually. The mind, however, could be something quite different. Scientists and philosophers still don’t really understand how the mind emerges from the brain and how we have conscious experiences, emotions, and so forth. Maybe they never will.

This is all to say that you shouldn’t assume that your own mind or all those around you are machines. While your own mind may function quite logically, much like a computer does, other people’s minds and experiences of the world are very different. They are not necessarily rational and predictable.

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