Humans vs. Computers

Compare a biological mind and a scientific mind.

How computers understand information

Computers are nothing more than calculators at heart. They are very fast at doing arithmetic. This is great for tasks that match what a calculator does—summing numbers for sales, applying percentages to work out taxes, and plotting graphs of existing data.

Even watching catch-up TV or streaming music through your computer doesn’t involve much more than the computer executing simple arithmetic instructions again and again. It may surprise you, but reconstructing a video frame from the 1s and 0s that are piped across the internet to your computer is done using arithmetic that isn’t much more complex than the sums we did in school.

Adding up numbers really quickly—thousands, or even millions of numbers a second—may be impressive, but it isn’t artificial intelligence. A human may find it hard to do large sums very quickly, but the process of doing it doesn’t require much intelligence at all. It simply requires an ability to follow very basic instructions, and this is what the electronics inside a computer do.

Now let’s flip things and turn the tables on computers! Let’s look at the following images and see if we can recognize what they contain.

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