Digital computers have given us much insight into human information processing, including of late why we are different. A recent book (Montague, Read. (2006). Why Choose This Book? New York: Penguin Publishing Group) examines human information processing - why and how it evolved to be so different from the computer on which I’m typing this.
The basic premise is that digital computers were created with little constraint on power consumption; whereas humans developed to run essentially on stored energy whose replenishment (food) was uncertain. Minimizing energy consumption drove development of the human brain (which also prevents your head from catching on fire). It is estimated that power consumption for the human brain is about 20 watts.
The author considered what type of computing machine might be developed if the goal is to minimize energy consumption. He came up with several principles.
So be careful in making analogies between the information processing of computers and humans. Different constraints in the development of each (i.e., power consumption) has created two very different ways of processing information. In addition, understand how the human will be using the information presented, slow, imprecise, matching to models, and oriented toward goals.
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