Friday, January 24, 2014

What If...

I am taking a continuing education class on how humans make decisions. Since we all make decisions you would think we humans would be better at it.  I made a decision to attend the class on decisions so I could learn how to make better decisions; it's easy to get lost in circular thinking. Finding a way to make better decisions moving  forward in our lives is the goal of this class.  After all if everyone made the right decision life would be different and arguably better. As I have been listening, reading and thinking about this process of deciding, I have become aware of some things. 
One, I spend a lot of wasted time in "decision preparation". That is the time spent imagining what I will decide dependent on future events.  Events that have not happened, and most of the time will not happen, but I spend a lot of time thinking about what I will decide if they do. The odds are at least even that none of the things I have planned on will happen, therefore the time anticipating what decision will come out of the event is wasted. I could have put that mental energy to better use in hindsight.
Second, how is it that computers "decide" things? Do computers make better decisions than humans or are they just faster.  My money is on "faster" and although computers are given credit for complex conclusions, it is all based on millions of tiny immediate decisions.
Since the computer brain is a binary system it can only choose between a 1 and a 0. The entire decision making process of a computer can be distilled to one line of code.  It is called the  "If Then/ Else Loop". Every programmer learns this line of code before anything else is accomplished.  The code basically tells the computer to look at the information or the situation presented.  "If" it corresponds to the condition the computer program is looking for, the computer makes a decision to "Then" proceed with some action.  "If" the condition is something "Else" a different action is taken.  "If then ... else" is one simple decision that leads to more simple decisions and eventually to a complex conclusion.
The computer does not spend its time wondering what the condition or situation will be before it is presented. When presented with a condition or situation the computer never says, "I've seen that before and it turned out bad so this time I will not make that mistake again." There is no preconceived action.  The computer only takes action when the decision is made. 
Only humans make decisions with a "What if loop"  "What if that happens? Then I will do this."  It is a waste of time since "What if" is future fantasy. A computer waits until it comes to a cross road (decision) and goes one direction or the other.  It never anticipates options, it goes with the option based on the immediate information.  A computer does not solve a problem by asking the other bits and bites what they would do. The computer never asks for advice or direction, it only taps its memory for information when it is needed to solve the first "if".
The difference between the human brain and the computer brain is this:  The computer does not know that it has all the information it needs to solve a problem until the problem is posed as a decision. But it does. A computer can be connected to the Internet and have billions of facts to use the second it needs it, but it doesn't know that until the moment. 
Unlike a computer, the human brain is conscious of itself, and its connection to the universe.  We are aware that we can know and rely on that awareness with greater confidence.  We seem to forget that the interface of the entire Internet is human.  The computer did not spontaneously generate, humans made the decision to create it. As each human adds a little bit of programing to the web it becomes the foundation for more and more. Ultimately the entire wealth of the Internet is just the gathering of human knowledge.
Here is my goal.  With the consciousness of knowing that I am connected to a vast universe of ideas, I will start to make decisions like a computer.  I'll wait for the crossroad and continue forward with a "If Then" decision and stop worrying before hand in a "What if" exercise.
As you were,

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