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  • All human beings, all persons who reach adulthood in the world today are programmed biocomputers. None of us can escape our own nature as programmable entities. Literally, each of us may be our programs; nothing more, nothing less.

    Despite the great varieties of programs available, most of us have a limited set of programs. Some of these are built in. In the simpler forms of life the programs were mostly built-in from genetic codes to fully-formed adult reproducing organisms. The patterns of function, of action and reaction were determined by necessities of survival, of adaptation to slow environmental changes and passing on their genetic code to descendants.

    Eventually the cerebral cortex appeared as an expanding new high-level computer, controlling the structurally lower levels of the nervous system, the lower built-in programs. For the first time, learning and its faster adaptation to a rapidly changing environment began to appear. Further, as this new cortex expanded over several millions of years, a critical size cortex was reached. At this level of structure, a new capability emerged: learning to learn.

    -- John C. Lilly. M.D.