Learning is all About Bending the Brain Into Submission
Have you ever thought about what happens to your brain when you learn?
From a physiological perspective it’s all about the neurons in your brain. Connections form as you learn and knowledge is born. This process becomes more difficult as you get older however people tend to be more focused learners as they get older so the motivational difference can out-way the physiological limitations.
I prefer to think of learning as beating my brain into submission. Sounds violent doesn’t it. I bombard my brain with new information – often. I have a passion for learning. I get excited and start spouting all sorts of newly attained knowledge to people like shrapnel off a grenade.
Currently I’m teaching myself “Ruby on Rails”… It’s a super flexible programming language that platforms like Twitter and Basecamp from 37 Signals are built on. I first thought I’d like to learn it because I liked the name… I then found out it was invented by a Japanese fellow in a kind of zen way. I am a Japophile so I became more interested right away. Now I am neck deep in “object oriented models”, “Controllers” and “Views”. My brain is slowly dropping the defenses to the acquisition of this knowledge and it feels good.
I love the way Isaac Asimov described his robots “feelings” about the 3 laws of robotics. He got inside the robots brains (positronic not neuronic) and described the inhibitions robots felt about breaking the laws. He stated that it was difficult for the robots to overcome each law unless a more powerful force was applied that could override the inhibition. The three laws are…
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
The laws are hierarchical so a robot could not disobey a human unless by doing so it contravened the first law as they had to above all not injure a human. This sets up an interesting dynamic for robots as there would always be situations when the application of such simple laws were not straight forward. What if by disobeying an order to save 1 human, many more would die? How does a robot weigh up the values associated with each option?
Asimov looked at these concepts through the eyes of a statistician. Weigh up the complexities of a situation, balance the pros and cons, assign a value to each option and act accordingly. This is a clever way of dealing with the problem however what is truly interesting is the “bad” feelings the robots experienced when having to make these complex decisions. Asimov took this to the extreme. Some of his robots brains actually “fried” due to conflicting options that caused equal harm to humans. The robot brain frozen by indecision enters the “beach ball of death” that not even a reboot would solve.
Have you ever felt like this when making a decision? You know those decisions where there is no right answer. Both options have bad outcomes and you know it. Makes you feel bad. Poor robot.
This is how I feel when I learn. My brain is resistant to learning a new concept. As I continue to apply myself my brain becomes more supple and then all of a sudden I wake up with a better grasp of the knowledge. I feel good again and proclaim “I love learning”
Lucky my brain doesn’t fry when I am learning… It’s malleable – This is what makes us human.
By Dan Solo | CEO and Founder of NERDI | What would you like to learn today?
Latest posts by White Spaces (see all)
- The Meteoric Rise of Creative Professional Networking site, The Loop - April 17, 2013
- Getting Real about Managing your Cash flow - March 6, 2013
- The Willingness to Think Differently - November 28, 2012