Where to Start?
Brains and Computers
It is certainly not obvious where to start in a description or study of “understanding” or “intelligence”. The terms are roughly synonymous, the main difference being that the second carries rather more suggestion of action. One feature that the brain has in common with a modern computer is a degree of versatility such that no short description can be given of the capabilities of either and no clear indication of a starting point for investigation or study. For the computer, one approach would be to go back to binary information storage and processing, and the use of stored programs, and to follow developments from there, roughly in historical order. Actually, these elementary aspects of computing are now submerged under such a mass of later developments that they would probably not now be the chosen starting points for a textbook or a taught course, but at least we have access to the ideas and intentions of the pioneers of the subject, and examination of these offers one possible starting point.