SV: Capacity of the brain

Ken Collins KPaulC at
Sun Sep 5 02:48:06 EST 1999

Martin Knopman <mknopman at> wrote in message
news:7qt09m$bkv$1 at
> Ken Collins wrote in message ...
> >Jan Vorbrueggen <jan at> wrote
> >message
news:y43dwwzaws.fsf at
> >> Quite so. I'd say the three-dimensional character of the wiring and its
> >> plasticity is what makes otherwise inferior hardware that performant.
> >> our estimate of the complexity of a single cortical neuron is still
> >growing.
> >>
> >> On the other hand, cortex runs at less than 100 Hz. The difference in
> >> operating frequency of about 10^7, currently, can make up for a lot.
> >
> >Forgive me, please... 'inferior hardware'?

> >[...]

> I believe that Jan is talking about inferior in terms of raw speed and
> straight computational ability, not the adaptability of the components.

in terms of 'raw computational ability', the brain is to supercomputers as
supercomputers are to handfulls of stones, and then hegely-a-lot-more (there
are no adequate analogies in common usage).

the only 'problem' has been the fact that folks who work with, and design,
computers have been short-sighted in their definition of constitutes
'computation' ('calculation'), viewing only the stuff of the
'stumbling-blocks' that they routinely encounter as constituting

but 'computation' is exceedingly-much-more than 'arithmetic'.

the brain does Topology, awesomely... in a way that takes one's breath away.

folks have, in fact, been blind to such because the brain does it so
exceedingly-rapidly... remember, starting with nothing, the brain invented
everything that's in 'technology'. how much 'computation' is in-there? how
much 'computation' does it take to start with dirt and end up on the moon,
or whatever? :-)

and, yet, to put the reality of it into perspective, the whole of
'technology', and all it's produced, is relatively nothing when juxtaposed
against what the brain accomplishes in a single 'instant', effortlessly.

> Personally, I would be very surprised, seeing the efficiency which
> tends to expose (to 'demand'), if the internals of neurons (down to the
> genetic level) are not utilized in the computational processes of the
> But that's raw, naive speculation.

no, it isn't. the genetic stuff constitutes the 'blueprint' for the
generalized processor, so it's all in-there.

the thing is, the genetic 'blueprint' is for a =generalized= processor.

to the degree that it were otherwise, the genetic stuff would be
anti-adaptation, and, therefore, anti-survival.

you know, all that's going on, in this thread, is yet another instance of
the brain's being cast in terms of the most-advanced contemporaneous
'technology'. it's been the same way since ancient 'times'. and all such
reduces to is folks who're responsible for this or that 'advanced
contemporaneous technology' patting themselves on the back, in celebration
of their (worthy) accomplishments... has nothing to do with the 'brain'.

despite such indulgence, the brain remains the brain, a 'vessel' that
'=contains=' the Universe, despite all efforts to 'pigeon-hole' it in terms
of this or that contemporaneous terminology.

drawing one's self up to it in glimpse of its fullness is humbling...
there's nothing 'inferior' in-there, and it's to our benefit to learn from
it's awesome inherent beauty.

Forgive me, please... been cooped-up for a month of 20-hour days
[programming], and all of this is just 'bursting-out-of-me' since i
encountered this thread.

cheers, ken collins

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