The idea of the brain as a computer is everywhere. So much so we have forgotten it is a model and not the reality. It’s a metaphor that has lead some to believe that in the future they'll be uploaded to the digital ether and thereby achieve immortality. It’s also a metaphor that garners billions of dollars in research funding every year. Yet researchers argue that when we dig down into our grey matter our biology is anything but algorithmic. And increasingly, critics contend that the model of the brain as computer is sending scientists (and their resources) nowhere fast.
Is our attraction to the idea of the brain as computer an accident of current human techology? Can we find a better metaphor that might lead to a new paradigm? Is there something about computers that has indeed identified the very same processes that are operating in our brains, or is it a profound mistake to imagine the organic can be reduced to technology?