Human Brain vs. Computer

Steve Lee lees at acpub.duke.edu
Mon Apr 12 18:38:13 EST 1993


In article <9304122059.AA18896 at net.bio.net> cliff at WATSON.IBM.COM ("Cliff Pickover ", 914 945-3630) writes:
>I'm looking for some interesting and unusual facts comparing and
>contrasting the human brain and the computer in terms of speed,
>structure, memory, and various capabilities.  This is for a talk.
>Any interesting facts would be welcome.
>Thanks, cliff at watson.ibm.com

Although I find this interesting, I think that the comparison is grossly
simplistic and unrealistic.  for starters, the brain and the computer
are two totally different systems.  Most computers are digital machines
that process infor serially.  There are a few computers, mainly high end
supercomputers that use parallel processing extensively; the best
example I can think of would be the Connection Machine by Thinking
Machines Inc which, I think (there's alot of stuff off the top of my
head, sorry, feel free to flame or advise me), has 64,000 processors in
parallel.  But, no computer comes close to the brain in that respect.  I
believe the brain contains some 10 billion neurons with up to 100
trillion interconnections.  Also, computers and people excel at very
different things.  What we find difficult, computers find very easy -
such as scanning and encyclopedia for strings, or matching genes from
huge data pools, or solving complex mathematical systems.  but, things
we find second nature, language, speech, visual recognition, motor
control, etc, computers have thus far, failed miserably in comparison.
Also, although we have a great deal of knowledge about the workings of
computers (we make them) and presumable there is someone out there who
could tell you how each little logic gate and PNP junction works to
shunt electrons and do all sorts of things.  But, I'd pay BIG BIG money
to meet the person who can tell you exactly how the human brain works.
The human brain is extremely and unbelieveable complex and every day
science discovers more about this mushy 3.5 pound organ and stands in
awe.

well, that's my humble two cents worth.  thanx for humoring me.  and
good luck on your talk.

-Steve



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