How Can We Use Computer Programming to Increase Effective Thinking

Once a while we might find ourselves in situation when we think “I wish I knew this before” , “Why I did not think about this before” or “Why it took so long to come to this decision or action”. Can computer programs be used to help us to avoid or minimize the situations like this? Having background in computer science I decided to look at human thinking patterns and compare them with the learning computer algorithms.

The situations mentioned above as well as all our actions are result of our learning and thinking. Effective thinking and learning drive good decisions and actions.

As mentioned on Wikipedia [1] – “Learning is the act of acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing, existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information.”

Learning very closely connected to thinking. New information often can lead to new thoughts or ideas and during the thinking process we often come to the need to learn something new, to extend our knowledge.

Thinking is a process of response to external stimuli, and if thinking is effective it results in changes to or strengthening of world views, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, behaviours, skills, understanding, and knowledge.
Thinking and learning have the same outcomes, so have to be very closely related.” [2]

Current computer algorithms can be very intelligent due to the latest advances in computer sciences. Computer programs can learn information and use this information for making intelligent decisions. There are a number of computer fields associated with learning. For example machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement learning successfully provide computer algorithms for learning information in many different applications.

After learning computers make decisions based on learned information and programming instructions created by programmers.
Computers can not think (at least as of right now). Human beings can think and they are very flexible in the process of making decisions. For example they can get new ideas or apply knowledge from totally different domain area.

While computers can not think, the computer programs can be very flexible – nothing stop us from combining several algorithms to cover all or most of all possibilities, nothing stop us to produce more intelligent program.
Just simple example – program can sort apple from pear based on color, or it can use color and shape. In the second case it will be more intelligent and more accurate. If needed we may be could add even more attributes like weight, smell.

Humans have the ability to think and foresee some future situations but not always use this ability. Often people make actions following same patterns or following other people or just picking the easy or random option. It can work well but not always. And here computers can help to humans – as the computer machines can access and process a lot of information and calculate different alternatives and choose optimal solution.

Computer programs use algorithms. Scientists create algorithm and then it coded into program. Can algorithm be created for increasing effective thinking? Different people use different ways of thinking , even for the same problem. However even for different problems, we can see common thinking patterns like following from simple to more complex, dividing the something complex into smaller pieces or using similarity. Some patterns are used often some not. Can we program those patterns? In the next post or posts we will take a look at learning and thinking patterns in the context of how they are programmed for the computers.

1. Wikipedia – Learning
2. The Relationship Between Thinking and Learning

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