Department of Psychology Keynote Lecture
Prof Daniel Dennett, Tufts University, Massachusetts
2pm in the Windsor Auditorium
How thinking tools populate our brains and turn them into minds
Human brains are composed, as other brains are, of billions of semi-independent mindless, clueless neurons. How do they get organized into structures that can take on novel routines of activity, execute novel algorithms, without laborious conditioning? It can take a thousand trials to train a monkey to perform a rather simple cognitive task that a human being can learn to perform in a minute or less. Our brains can implement virtual machines by the thousands. How might this be accomplished? By the installation of culturally evolved thinking tools--memes--that permit multiple layers of "software," creating indefinitely deep stacks of virtual machines that run on the underlying neural hardware.