THE HUMAN AS AN INFORMATION PROCESSOR
Human progress and uniqueness are both founded, in practical terms, on an ability to process information effectively. In less tangible, but equally visible terms humans have been distinguished by their humanity; such specifically human traits as altruism, self-sacrifice, love, and faith. It is no accident that benevolence is a synonym for humanity. In contempory times, progress (in the guise of scientific discovery and development, and their engineering application) has, for some, eroded the notion of human uniqueness: (a) partly by 'explaining' the universe and apparently, thereby, denying the need for God and any special relationship He might have with humanity; (b) partly by explaining the human as a purely physical mechanism lacking any intangible component or vital spark; and (c) partly by creating increasingly sophisticated replacements for supposedly unique human talents. This paper considers the relationship between humans and their artifacts, and attempts to justify the view of the human as an information processor. The paper goes on to examine the implications of that view for our ideas of human uniqueness in the contempory world, especially a world in which the current epoch is described as the Information Revolution. An information revolution would seem to impinge directly on humanity's private preserve both by challenging human uniqueness, and by threatening to render humans redundant within the society they have created. The conclusions are that people continue to make exaggerated claims on behalf of science, including information technology, and that humans will continue to be unique as purposeful, spiritual beings. However, this is no reason for complacency. There is too much wrong with the human community. As computers do for brains what steam engines and the like did for muscles, we must bend our unique humanity to the benefit of humanity. If we fail in this we shall truly cease to be human.