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Old 10-29-2011, 01:14 PM   #1
Hamlet53
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Computers versus Brains

From the latest issue of Scientific American:

Computers versus Brains


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For decades computer scientists have strived to build machines that can calculate faster than the human brain and store more information. The contraptions have won. The world’s most powerful supercomputer, the K from Fujitsu, computes four times faster and holds 10 times as much data. And of course, many more bits are coursing through the Internet at any moment. Yet the Internet’s servers worldwide would fill a small city, and the K sucks up enough electricity to power 10,000 homes. The incredibly efficient brain consumes less juice than a dim lightbulb and fits nicely inside our head. Biology does a lot with a little: the human genome, which grows our body and directs us through years of complex life, requires less data than a laptop operating system. Even a cat’s brain smokes the newest iPad—1,000 times more data storage and a million times quicker to act on it.

Last edited by WT Sharpe; 11-01-2011 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 10-30-2011, 10:32 AM   #2
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Hmm... a number of people are looking at it, but very few have anything to say about it.

Of course, raw computing power is only one measure, and the reason a machine with as much power as a supercomputer can't land on its feet if dropped upside-down, or beat John McEnroe at tennis.

Scientists have yet to develop a way to quantify the "power" of the nervous system. They have discovered that parts of the nervous system are capable of providing feedback and guidance to local muscles without sending a signal all the way to the brain, allowing for faster reflexes and more accurate muscle movements. Part of this ties to memory, all of it adds to processing, and it means that the human organism's brain is a lot more than just the organ in the skull... the entire nervous system is an integral part of the memory and processing system of the brain, and the two should not be divorced and quantified separately.

How would that change the proportions noted above? No one can say. But if we are measuring more than raw computing power, those proportions will be radically different.
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Old 10-30-2011, 12:00 PM   #3
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I fail to believe that my cat is somehow smarter than an iPad. I'd be surprised if my cat tested higher than a piece of toast on an intelligence scale.
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Old 10-30-2011, 05:28 PM   #4
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What does an iPad do that's so "smart"? Present you with a file when you ask for it? Anyone can get a piece of electronic gear to respond to a button-push. Let's see an iPad sneak onto the kitchen counter to lap up the whipped cream in my coffee when I'm not looking!
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Old 10-31-2011, 07:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
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I fail to believe that my cat is somehow smarter than an iPad. I'd be surprised if my cat tested higher than a piece of toast on an intelligence scale.
That's your cat and the diagram is showing the average cat. My cat is actually smarter than the supercomputer, just less motivated.
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:05 AM   #6
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I fail to believe that my cat is somehow smarter than an iPad. I'd be surprised if my cat tested higher than a piece of toast on an intelligence scale.
It merely depends on how you define "intelligence".
I'm sure if your cat designed the test, we'd all fail horribly.

Also, how did they measure the Megaflops a human brain is capable of? Did someone actually sit down and do 2.2 billion million floating point operations in a single second? I'd like to see that.
I don't think it is a fair way to measure a brain anyway. I admit I have no better idea, though. But it seems to be too limiting, reducing the brain to just this. Unless we translate every thought into a float-point operation without realizing it?
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Old 10-31-2011, 02:02 PM   #7
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Old 10-31-2011, 04:49 PM   #8
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The energy consumption is conclusive proof that the human brain is green, not grey.
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:09 AM   #9
Steven Lyle Jordan
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Head for the hills! SkyNet is coming!
Heh. Alarmists...
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Old 11-02-2011, 09:42 AM   #10
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i do believe that brain is just overrated !
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Old 11-03-2011, 12:36 AM   #11
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:04 AM   #12
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