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Brainpower


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14 replies to this topic

#1 MickinPlymouthUK

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 08:20 AM

Hi, just a 'fun' question to kick around - What's the processing power (in computer terms) of the human brain?
I mean, just how 'powerful' is the brain compared to computers?
For example we know that the computer in Sidewinder air-to-air missiles has had billions of dollars poured into its development through a series of upgraded models over the past 40 years but it still can't tell the difference between an aircraft target and a 2-cent firework decoy flare... ;)

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#2 jgweed

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 08:26 AM

Thank heaven the human brain is not a product of the military-industrial complex that gives us 500 dollar coffee pots.
Cheers,
John
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#3 JohnWho

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 08:52 AM

I don't know the answer to your question, MickinPlymouthUK,

but I've certainly met some people who are in need of a RAM upgrade!

:thumbsup:


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but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!


#4 cowsgonemadd3

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 09:05 AM

They do know the brain is like what 700 terrabytes? If you do a search on the internet you may find out some estimates.

#5 jwinathome

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 09:11 AM

Thank heaven the human brain is not a product of the military-industrial complex that gives us 500 dollar coffee pots.
Cheers,
John


Ummm....hate to burst your bubble, but the military-industrial complex that gives us 500 dollar coffee pots is a byproduct of the human brain.

#6 MattV

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 01:15 PM

Thank heaven the human brain is not a product of the military-industrial complex that gives us 500 dollar coffee pots.
Cheers,
John


Ummm....hate to burst your bubble, but the military-industrial complex that gives us 500 dollar coffee pots is a byproduct of the human brain.

Hah!! :thumbsup:

The brain/computer comparison isn't really a realistic one because the brain is capable of something no computer has ever been capable of - independent thought. No computer has ever been able to create something truly unique (although, to be fair, there aren't too many human brains that can do that, either).

We're still on the frontier of understanding exactly how the brain does what it does. Most of us know how to operate an automobile, but how many know exactly how everything in it works? Not many, I'd venture. A lot of us probably know the basics of how an internal combustion engine works. But how many know even that much about a transmission, or the differential gears? We're at about that level concerning how the brain works. We have a general idea, but we don't really understand the details. A computer engineer can look at a detailed blueprint of a system, and knowing the symptoms of a malfunction, can trace it to the precise component causing the problem. Our understanding of the brain will only let us say that the problem is "somewhere in this area" (slight exaggeration; we can do a little better than that).

Studies in the US and Great Britain have researchers now theorizing that human thought is far more complex than electrical activity in the brain. Evidence now points to thought processes starting at the quantum level. This makes the question one not just of biological processes, but also of sub-atomic physics. I started to read an article on this subject, but by the time I'd reached the third page I was completely lost.

So I don't think a meaningful comparison of the power of computers to the power of the brain can be made. We know exactly how computers work. We can design them to meet specific needs, or as general purpose systems that can perform a multitude of tasks; the user(s) define those tasks. We still don't know how the human brain really works. Most people can drive a car, even though they don't know how it works. Some people can use their brain, even though we don't know how it works. Most people that use computers don't have a clue as to what's going on inside that box after it's turned on. I think, that once the functioning of the brain is truly understood, it will be found that it's computing power is far vaster than anyone has yet dreamed.


Mod Edit: Merged 2 posts into one. ~tg

Edited by tg1911, 07 August 2007 - 02:09 PM.


#7 yano

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 11:15 AM

What's the processing power (in computer terms) of the human brain?

That's a very good question. As MattV pointed out a computer cannot be smarter than huamns. However, what makes them so efficient or seem "smart" is the ability to do math in a millisecond. It takes a second just to think about the problem. This is where computers have the edge over us. However, since the question was "what the processing power..." you probably could find an answer. But you would have to do numerous tests. I'm sure a neurological doctor could provide us with an answer. :thumbsup:

Edited by yano, 17 August 2007 - 11:15 AM.


#8 Ryan 3000

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 11:26 AM

I read a PCMag article about that... let me find it (rustling thru old magazines) here it is!

Ahem..."At IBM's Almaden Research Center, just south of South Francisco, Dharmendra Modha and his team are chasing the holy grail of artificial intelligence. They aren't looking for ways of mimicking the human brain, they're looking to build one neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse."

OK I'll sum it up for you. The mouse brain has 16 million neurons, 128 billion synapses. A Blue Gene/L Supercomputer with 8,192 processors can think at 1/6 the speed of a mouse's brain. Every 6 seconds, it thinks like a mouse thinks in 1 second. The human brain is 3,500 times more powerful than a mouse's brain. So a Blue Gene/L Supercomputer would need 21,000 seconds, or 350 minutes, or 6 hours, to compute what the human brain can compute in 1 second. A supercomputer would need 172,032,000 of today's processors to think as fast as a human. That puts it in perspective, doesn't it?

Edited by Ryan 3000, 17 August 2007 - 11:28 AM.

No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land.

#9 jwinathome

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 11:33 AM

I read a PCMag article about that... let me find it (rustling thru old magazines) here it is!

Ahem..."At IBM's Almaden Research Center, just south of South Francisco, Dharmendra Modha and his team are chasing the holy grail of artificial intelligence. They aren't looking for ways of mimicking the human brain, they're looking to build one neuron by neuron, synapse by synapse."

OK I'll sum it up for you. The mouse brain has 16 million neurons, 128 billion synapses. A Blue Gene/L Supercomputer with 8,192 processors can think at 1/6 the speed of a mouse's brain. Every 6 seconds, it thinks like a mouse thinks in 1 second. The human brain is 3,500 times more powerful than a mouse's brain. So a Blue Gene/L Supercomputer would need 21,000 seconds, or 350 minutes, or 6 hours, to compute what the human brain can compute in 1 second. A supercomputer would need 172,032,000 of today's processors to think as fast as a human. That puts it in perspective, doesn't it?

Disclaimer: The following is in jest...

Maybe if we just wait several million years, random chance will produce it.

#10 Ryan 3000

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 11:36 AM

This is probably one of those government programs nobody would fund if they had the choice to allocate their own taxes, what good does this do the world? :thumbsup:
No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land.

#11 MattV

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 12:01 PM

This is probably one of those government programs nobody would fund if they had the choice to allocate their own taxes, what good does this do the world? :thumbsup:

It provides material for Science Fiction writers. :flowers:

#12 jgweed

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 12:05 PM

And jobs for a bevy of grad students.
Cheers,
John
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#13 Wildabeast

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 04:42 AM

I've certainly met some people who are in need of a RAM upgrade!


The older I get, the more RAM I need.. :thumbsup:
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#14 Ryan 3000

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Posted 20 August 2007 - 08:47 PM

I've always wanted more RAM. I'm convinced that I was designed in the days that they couldn't conceive needing more than 16Kb of RAM. That explains a lot of things...
No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land.

#15 jwinathome

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Posted 21 August 2007 - 07:24 AM

Me personally, I could use some more "cache"...so I can buy my wife a new "case" (house).

I drank a lot of coffee this morning, going to empty my temp file.




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