It's pretty well known at this point that computers are quickly catching up with humanity as far as brain power is concerned. Storage-wise, we've been long surpassed by machines, and powerfully fast computers can run circles around the human brain in solving complex equations. On the other hand, humanity wins in the brain's sheer computational power and energy efficiency, and if 1983 Cold War classic War Games is to be believed, their ability not to explode trying to win a game of noughts and crosses.
At least, for now.
IBM's Blue Gene supercomputer has already surpassed the processing power of some of our weaker animal relatives; mice, rats and cats, and according to IBM's research paper, the human brain isn't that far ahead.
The brain contains on the order of 20 billion neurons that are connected by roughly 200 trillion synapses. IBM's Blue Gene supercomputer has 147,456 parallel processors, each with about 1GB of working memory. This has enabled them to simulate about 4.5% of the human brain. That only leaves an estimated 732,544 processors left to add in to equal the processing power of one human brain - a task IBM says it will complete by 2019.
Sounds a bit like Terminator and Skynet - when was Judgement Day, again? And how long until we see Joshua from War Games playing Global Thermonuclear War? Matthew Broderick won't always be around to save the day.
We know about the apocalyptic aspect of Moore's Law of computers, but it's worth revisiting here. Processing power on par with the human brain could spark real, thoughtful artificial intelligence and bring about the singularity of science fiction, a point where computers are smart enough to make themselves increasingly intelligent through iteration and design, outstripping humanity and becoming the most intelligent things around. Would this be beneficial to humanity or mean our end as the dominant species?
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