I don't mean that you don't compute. You can compute like you can rotate. But the fact that you can rotate does not mean that you are a motor. That is what I mean when I say 'you are not a computer'. You are not limited to 'computation'. A computer has no choice but to compute. Type 6x6= and it has no choice but to spit out 36. But a human can give several answer. First he can just keep quiet and resufe to answer. He can tell you 6x6=66 or just tell you to and ask your grand mother! Computing 6x6 to get 36 is just one of the things we can do with 6 and 6, not the only thing we can do with it. You might think that this is trivial, or that if we make a computer complex enough, it can begine too behaving like a human. But here, I am going to show you that this is not the case! A simpler version of the brain, say like that of an ant or even a single celled animal always works like a human in the sense we saw above and a computer, however complex, always work like a computer! Complexity is not sorcery that can produce something out of nothing!
The problem with a human being is that he always sees what he wants to believe. That is why if you take your computer to a capenter, he will begine hitting the screws with his hammer. The superficial appearance of a screw means to a capenter that it is a nail! That is how the scientists were bamboozled when they saw a neurone. Did the see some tree-like branches? Then they remembered the logic gates. Soon they were amusing themselves that the dendrites and the axon (and everything 'thin')are wires, the cell body (and everything 'spherical') is a transistor, or even the fancy symbol that they use to depict the so called 'logic gates' and the mealin sheaths were insulators. By the time they were saying that a neurone is featurless 'black box' that merely spits out an 'output' that depends solely on the inputs, alarms were supposed to have already rang and lights should have already flashed! We are dealing with bozos!
But when you close examine, neuron makes no sense as a 'logic gate'. It is something like a tree with 'branches', 'stem' and 'roots'. The 'roots' (called 'dedrites') branches off a single axon and then each branch joins a branch of the adjuscent neuron. So we have just two neurons connected together via myriads of synapses, a synapse in each dendrite. If the neuron were behaving like a logic gate, it would be connected to the adjacent neuron with only a single synapse, not myriads of them branching from the same place! Many dendrites means that each dendrite outputs a unique signals. So the outputs depends on what the neuron itself generates, not mere combination of inputs fed to the neuron. Futhermore, neuron itself is a living cell with DNA etc. It is nothing like a 'black box' of any sort. Instead, it is extreemly complex. So it is not a 'logic gate', since logic gates are 'black boxes' by definition (a 'black box' is a 'device' with only 'inputs' and 'outputs' since 'inputs' uniquely determines the 'outputs' and as such the details of what is inside the 'box' is not interesting).
We can define 'the living' in contrust with 'the mechanical'. The mechanical means that it has no choice. But how do we define 'mechanical' to capture this notion well? I would say 'mechanical is that which can only be acted upon by external forces'. So 'internal forces' adequately captures 'the choice' of the thing getting forced from within. The fundamental difference between a stone and an insect is that the former can only move if knocked, kicked, sucked etc by another object while the latter can move even with no external object pushing or pulling it. It is this way that a living thing is discernible just at a glance. We don't need a microscope or watch them 'reproduce' to tell that something is a living thing. logic gates then fits clearly under 'the mechanical' simply because how a logic gate behaves is completely determined by 'inputs', and nothing from within the logic gate itself. Neuron on the other hand is NOT mechanical, even though indeed it can act like a logic gate. What is taking place within the neuron can determine its output.
Now scientists in this sense donnot insist that a neuron is mechanical. But apparently, they hope that the neuron in turn is an ensemble of mechanical things. So it is a move of goal post! But here, we can also see that there is nothing within the neuron that is acted upon solely by external forces. In other words even if we further dissect a neurone, we still dont find anything like logic gates! Like in the neurone itself, or the entire human brain, we find things that can act like logic gates but which are not reducable to logic gates. Yes, a human as a whole can act like a logic gate. A stupid president can only decide based on a combination of inputs from his advisers! But the very president is absolutely capable of vetoing the pieces of advice. When the behavior of a president is completely predictable from what the minister, the intelligence personnel or even his wife etc tells him, then the president is acting like a 'logic gate'. If the rule is that 'if the minister of defence says we should go to war AND the Pentagon also says so, then the president will command for a war but he will not command for a war if the Pentagon and the minister disagrees with each other, then the president is acting like an AND gate! So we see that things that have choices can easily act like logic gates but it is a coffee time to get a mere array of logic gates to behave like things that can make their own choices! This may be the source of confusion that goes with equating sentient beings with computers.
An even better way to define 'living thing' is that: 'a living thing is any object that can take energy and then use it at its own pace'. The fundamental difference between say a stone and a living thing is the source of energy it uses in its movements. A stone can only move because of an external source of kinetic energy. A living thing, on the other hand, first absorbs energy either as 'potential energy' or it immediately converts the 'kinetic energy' into 'potential energy' and then stores it within itself. Whenever the living thing must use this potential energy, it must first 'ingnite the fuel' in some way, using its own internal movements of some sort. This difference between living things and the non-living ones is crucial as it can explain the origin of the 'freewill'. Of course when you show that even inside the living cells, the 'motor proteins' such as those that helps an enzyme move through the DNA still take in ATP first and then ignites it using its own internal movements, a scientist might be tempted to move the goal post even further. So the ultimate battle field will be to find yet another source of energy that moves the protein molecules themselves, causing them to ignite the ATP molecule by 'pulling off the phosphate' some distance away from ADP (the way you might pull the gun trigger to release the energy in the gun powder).
Before we see the ultimate cause of molecular movements, you might at first be a bit interested with the role of nervous system in muscular movements. But it is seen that at the neuromuscular junction, all the signal from the neuron does is to stop some proteins from inhibiting motion. So the input signal does not behave exactly like a logic gate when determining how musles moves. The exact manner how a muscle moves is still determined by the very molecules themselves. Again this is because the molecules uses its own energy to move, not the energy from the neuron. So what is the source of the energy that the molecules uses to ignite the ATP? Round and round, you will go, but ultimately it comes from the surrounding energies, such as those causing the so called Brownian Motion. Even the atoms emiting light first absorbs energy and stores it by 'changing the energy level of the electron' before spontaneously comming back to the lower energy level, thereby emiting the photon. The keyword here is 'spontaneously', by which the physicists means 'he doesn't know the cause', but we can see that it has internal causes. So the ultimate sourse of the forces that 'ignites' stored energy comes from withing atoms, not externally (in a process dubbed 'spontaneous'). In this way, nature fundamentaly works like living things, not like 'logic gates'! Note that whatever 'ignites' the energy stored in the atomic 'energy levels' does it in the same way the proteins 'ignites' the energy in the ATP! We have absolutely no reason to think that there is anything like logic gates inside a living thing, even when we zoom at it down to atomic levels! There is simply no such a 'black box' whose output is solely determined by its inputs. Every 'box' that you can draw always have INTERNAL causes that might be dubbed 'spontaneous'. I believe that these internal causes inherent in all things is the ultimate source of 'freewill'.
At this point you might note that even a transistor might have its own 'internal causes'. But there are two crucial differences between a transistor and anything that might act as a 'switch' in a living thing. First the transistor is fed by EXTERNAL power source. So 'switching' here is switching an external power. By 'external' here, we mean that the power source is not in any way intrinsic to the 'black box' that is supposed to be 'the decision maker' termed 'logic gate'. So if we wish to say that the sensation of 'freewill' is ultimately due to 'freedom to ignite potential energy', we see that transistors all powered by the same battery have no chance of exhibiting such 'freewill'. The act of 'igniting energy' is not, in any way, tied to the actions of logic gates. So the gates donnot ACTIVELY do anything. They are just that, GATES. They are mere runways for the kinetic energy to flow through, and never active things doing things energetically. So we have no reason to think that there can be anything 'feeling that it is the one acting' inside an array of transistor. There is no energetic action inherent in what we call 'decisions'. All energetic action is solely inside the battery, which is never even ignited!
Second, the electronic circuites are more of designed to read off the outputs as per what the gates SHOULD OUTPUT rather than what they are actually outputting. So even if the transistors themselves made their own decisions, the outputs are corrected accordingly. So electronics circuits are so designed to simply neglect anything that is not simply 'mechanical' in the name of 'they are errors'. This is done by simply reading the voltages above a certain threshold as 'one' and otherwise as 'zero'. But living things are neither digital, nor are they designed to be used by external agents, nor can we, in anyway, define what can possibly be an 'error' as outputted by a neuron.
You might have tried to study a computer but found that it is problematic to understand because they use such 'mental' concepts such as 'remember', 'tell', 'know', 'decide', 'think' etc. Strangely, the 'scientists' never saw it prudent to wait first until we have mastered the mind, then define these terms scientifically before we now check if it make any sense to talk of these terms in the context of a computer. For instance, what sense does it mean to argue that 'a computer remembers' as if 'maintaining stability' constitute 'remembering', but when you suggest that 'nature remembers' the very scientist now begine to fight you? I mean if a computer can be said to have memory, then everything in nature does have memory! This is just one of those many examples where 'studying science' is much more of 'studying the psychology of scientists' than studying the nature!
But as we will briefly see, there is no thinking, telling, knowing, remembering or whatever in a computer. The only thing that happens in a computer is toggling of switches, and nothing more. The similarity between a computer and a living thing is extremely superficial. A program is a series of numbers in binary form. So we might have some 5 numbers, say 3,5,7,8,6. When we have 5 numbers as our program, it means that we must toggle 5 switches, in a certain order,to carry out a given task. So we have switches A,B,C,D,E. 3, switches A, 5 switches B,7 switches C, 8 switches D and 6 switches E. It is a clock inside the CPU that rapidly display outputs. These outputs switches on the programs one at a time, but so rapidly that the computer appears to do it all at once. When 3 is switched on, swicht A is, in turn, automatically switched on etc. Numbers can switch simply because they are actually voltages that are fed to the bases of transistors.
Another program might simpy be 3,4,3,5,7,3,6,2,5,....in other words to increase the lenght of a program, you simply put together those very same few numbers, much in the same way you can construct several words, sentences, paragraphs etc using just 24 letters. This ensures that you can use just 5 switches to do all manner of tasks, depending on how you sequence your switchings. If you switch A, then B then C then D A might switch on the data from the file that stores a number that you pressed and switches it into another file called 'data bus'. B then might switch the whatever in the data bus into a circuit that add numbers. Then C might swich yet another input into the data bus and finaly D switches the whatever in the data bus the other side of the summing circuit. So the program A, B, C and D 'tells the computer to sum two numbers the are fed into the computer'. It is kind of program that you switch it on when you press 'equal sign' in a calculator.
So you can see that a computer is 100% mindless! The neurons donnot toggle switches that way. When what looks like '5' is fed into a neuron, it may OR MAY NOT toggle what looks like switch C. This means that the brain CAN work like a computer but is not REDUCIBLE into a computer. There is no such 'black box' in the entire brain that can ever makes it a must that a number such as '5' must 'toggle a certain switch' even if we check the brain down to atomic level! A computer, on other hand, no matter how complex it will ever be, will always be a combination of 'black boxes' that essentially toggle switches without gaving any other choice but to toggle the switches. Therefore a computer is fundamentally different from the brain. It is not true that they differ in mere complexity.