The human brain is a paradox. It’s about 1400 cc in volume, and approximately 1.5 kg in weight. It contains approximately 86 billion neurons that fire away to produce our senses, our intelligence, and indeed, constitute our “self”. All that we are capable of, as an intelligent species, is possible due to this little mass of cellular network. Yet with all our intelligence, we have not yet fully deciphered how the brain actually does it.
Even as early as childbirth, a baby can already recognize her mother’s face, and likes it more than strangers’ faces. By about three months, the baby starts to read expressions on human faces, and can distinguish emotions such as happiness, anger, fear, and sorrow. In fact babies can even read these emotions from hearing voices.
How is it that a baby comes equipped with such amazing ability to detect these subtle nuances? Could a super-computer do that?
Here’s a little story- a minor digression, if I may. It is a famous story about Pablo Picasso, that you may have heard. He was sitting in a cafe in Paris one day. Another patron, recognizing the great artist, approached him and asked him to do any sketch for him on the back of his napkin. He also offered to pay any reasonable sum that the artist might demand.
So Picasso agreed, and did a quick sketch on the napkin. While handing it back to the gentleman, Picasso demanded a rather large amount of money for the work. The admirer was horrified: “How can you ask so much? It only took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years.”
The point is, although the baby looks like it is only three months old, we are the result of 4.5 billion years of evolution. Some “knowledge” we acquire from books, from our environment, from our teachers, from life itself.
The other vast repository of knowledge is the one that we carry- in our genes. It is not surprising that the baby does what it does, because it carries that knowledge inside.
We are programmed to pass on knowledge through our genes onto our progeny. Indeed, it may almost seem like our only purpose here is to pass on knowledge, ensure the continuity of life through reproduction, and thereby, ensure the continuity of knowledge.
To that end this blog may be Δ+