This has come up before I believe. One of the many problems with that article, in my view, is that Epstein seems to view information and the processing of information very narrowly. When I look closely the article seems to me to dissolve into trivialities:
If by “information” he means the Shannon sort, where you’re communicating across a channel, then your brain obviously processes information. What else does he think those spikes are doing?
If by “computer” he means a programmable Turing machine, then (aside from the trivial sense in which any sufficiently complex lump of matter can be programmed to do Turing-complete computation) your brain obviously is not a computer.
If by “retrieve knowledge” he means activating relevant learned representations in response to internal and external cues, then this is obviously something the brain is doing.
If by “store memories” he means making changes in response to experience such that those representations are likely to be reactivated under relevant circumstances in the future, then again, obviously the brain does this.
The thing is, he doesn’t mean those things. He means symbolic algorithmic computation, which no one seriously thinks is happening in the brain in the first place. I think the problem I have with his article can be boiled down to this excerpt:
“Misleading headlines notwithstanding, no one really has the slightest idea how the brain changes after we have learned to sing a song or recite a poem. But neither the song nor the poem has been ‘stored’ in it. The brain has simply changed in an orderly way that now allows us to sing the song or recite the poem under certain conditions.”
The “orderly changes that allow us to recall” are exactly what we mean by storing memories and retrieving knowledge. He’s just thinking like a 1960s computer scientist, and the field has moved on from such simplistic views of information processing many years ago.
Anyway, that’s my rant on Epstein.