I conjecture that all minds are real-time control systems.
In this post I will explain what that means and why it seems to be true.
Creatures and Real-Time Systems
Consider, if you will, artificial creatures that exist in either the real world or some model thereof. These [ro]bots do not know the environment beforehand, at least not all of it. Sure they may know and learn some universal traits of the environment. But there will always be changes.
And those changes can happen quickly. Meanwhile the creature itself can move very quickly. Even if it doesn’t want to move, it may be moved. Or it may fall down. All of these interactions are happening in a range of speeds dictated by physics.
An artificial creature that lives just in a software simulation could have a lot of freedom as far as time spent thinking before reacting. This freedom is not necessarily available in reality.
In software land, it’s quite easy to make a program that responds much slower than an animal to events. And any system, be it software or a mix of hardware and software, can get fouled up temporarily and miss a deadline. In fact, that’s the normal state of affairs for a lot of the computing devices you interact with on a daily basis.
Does your desktop or laptop computer or tablet or phone respond to every one of your interactions instantly and consistently? Of course not. Cheap general-purpose consumer computing devices and operating systems (e.g. Linux, Windows, Darwin) are slower or faster depending on what else they are processing and what other networks/systems they are waiting on. They are at best soft real-time.
The consequence of a missing a deadline on a soft real-time system is merely annoying the fuck out of the user. But for other applications, such as patient heart-rate monitoring, aircraft jet engine control, car airbag deployment, offshore drilling platform positioning, etc. we have hard real-time systems.
The consequence of missing a hard real-time deadline could be fatal to either the system or to various humans involved. Or as Payton and Bihari  put it, “A timing constraint is hard if small violations of the constraint result in significant drops in a computation’s value.”