Robot Mind, Human Mind

November 30, 2014 Post Comment Uncategorised

In my book “Gateways to The Zone” is a chapter called Robot Mind, Human Mind.
For many of us, any and indeed most aspects of our performance – and that’s all performance – is predicated on the notion of perfection, of repetitive smoothness, something beyond critical judgement. We are enticed, from quite an early age, into believing that “only the best is good enough”and we carry and place that frame of being a paragon – without really understanding what makes us human.

Robot Mind,
Human Mind

What sets us apart?
Well we know what sets us apart from the animals in terms of brain structure,
and that is the pre-frontal cortex.

To quote Wikipaedia:
This brain
region has been implicated in planning complex cognitive behaviour, personality
expression, decision making, and moderating social behaviour. The basic
activity of this brain region is considered to be orchestration of thoughts and
actions in accordance with internal goals.
We still have primitive areas of the brain, wired to function in the
way we were, countless millennia in our past.
We call this the animal brain or lizard brain.
These and many other areas of the brain are, in
effect, how we are wired. We are, all the time with neuroscience, gaining a
better understanding about the wiring, and about how the brain functions.

then…there’s the Mind!
Now, one of the by-products of the industrial age,
and then the electronic age, has been Man’s pursuit of creating a series of
devices in his own image; devices that can perform – to a level of repetitive
and consistent perfection – a whole variety of tasks previously undertaken
either by humans alone, or by humans using animals in that performing
partnership. It started with simple machines and eventually evolved into
robotics and cybernetics.
Now, in terms of The
, and the Gateways into it, the overriding consideration is about the
Mind – because everything about The Zone
is played out within the infinite confines of the Mind.
We might now all agree that our view of the nature
of consistency is about the quality of repetitiveness. And in our modern
understanding, the extensive and predictable instance of high quality
replication is by drawing a parallel with robots, or the “robotic” approach.
So, I’d invite you to explore here some of the
similarities and differences between Robot Mind and Human Mind.


is linear, is digital, it is creatively simple yet functionally complex and
repetitive. It is not programmed to think, but to gather and analyse data, act
upon it and present conclusions. Robots are, therefore, process oriented and
not goal oriented. Process orientation yields outcomes – while goal orientation
brings rewards. In Robot Mind there is no comprehension of rewards. An advanced
robot will have Frames of Robot Mind (or modes of action or function). Robots
do not have States of Mind, because they do not have emotion or the power of
Robot Mind is activated by an on/off switch.


is vast, infinite you might say. It is analogue, diverse and multi-functional.
Though it too can gather and analyse data and present conclusions, it is creatively
complex. Part of that creative complexity is to recognise patterns and perceive
connections well beyond the capabilities of Robot Mind. Human Mind comprehends
both process outcomes that yield conclusions AND goal driven outcomes which
yield rewards. Human Mind has Frames of Mind. And it has States of Mind as well.
It has States of Mind because humans have emotions and the power of Thought.
States of Mind are not straight-lined, they fluctuate between levels; and these
fluctuations are taking place all the time.
Human Mind is activated by consciousness.
There is often some confusion in Human Mind between
conclusions and rewards. In Robot Mind there are only conclusions. What possible
rewards might there be for Robot Mind? Certainly not “Well done Robbie! Here’s a shot of extra special lubricating oil! Or
maybe a zap of some supercharged electrical impulse!”
Or maybe, “You’ve just earned yourself a promotion!
That will mean new components and therefore a new Identity!”
In a contest
between two Robot Minds there is no emotion and there is no reward. In the
outcome of one Robot Mind overcoming the other, the only reason is superiority
of attributes and faculties. There is no “I am” in Robot Mind

human qualities
At a BBC Promenade Concert in 1988 there was a
performance of the Grieg Piano Concerto. The soloist was a piano roll made by
Percy Grainger in 1921.
Now interesting as it was to ‘hear’ Grainger playing
‘live’ well after his death, and remarkable as was the conducting of Sir Andrew
Davis in stitching together the fabric of the real orchestra in the Albert Hall
to the fingerless keyboard activity – what was MISSING that evening, for the
Of course, it was the HUMAN element of a live
soloist. We experienced the amazing robotics of the machinery that linked the
piano roll to the grand piano. We enjoyed the mechanical performance committed
some time in 1921, when Grainger was in his ‘prime’ you might say – but the
performance was, to put it bluntly, just mechanical. Percy Grainger wasn’t
there. It wasn’t even a sound or video recording of Percy Grainger playing the
piece live. In 1921, Grainger was in a studio, with an orchestra no doubt, and
the key strokes were ‘captured’ within the Duo-Art
piano roll recording system, and then – probably – edited into the final,
saleable product.
In every human performance there needs to be the “human
element”; that intangible element that elevates everything aesthetically
meaningful in the performance in human terms; lifting it away from the
mechanical, and away from the robotic.
Within the Robotic Mind there is no such place as The Zone. It is an essentially Human
experience played out in the infinite confines of the Human Mind.
The interesting reflection on the piano roll
performance is that if there was to be a repeat performance today, then the
piano roll would sound the same – exactly the same as back in 1988 or 1921 –
and yet the orchestra would be and sound different.
Because of Human Mind, no two human performances are
ever the same – as exemplified by the famous quote by Heraclitus of Ephesus ~

man ever steps into the same river twice. For it is never the same man and it
is never the same river.”

(“Gateways to the Zone is available in paperback from Amazon, Lulu Marketplace, or indeed your local bookstore. It is also available in eKindle format from Amazon.)