Project Blue Brain

IBM Project Blue Brain is a supercomputer designed to emulate the mammalian brain. It is the size of four refrigerators. Blue Brain can handle over 20 trillion operations a second.

Does Blue Brain sound impressive? It is. By the end of 2007 Blue Brain had simulated one column of the neocortex of a rat with 10,000 neurons and 30 million synapses.

Blue Brain still has a way to go before it even comes close to the full power of a rat brain. And the human brain is not only very much more powerful than Blue Brain it is also very much more efficient than Blue Brain.

Differences Between Brains And Computers

Some of what follows comes from Ten Important Differences between Brains and Computers, see:

One important difference between brains and computers is that the brain processes information in parallel, it relates ideas between different parts of the brain whereas a computer processes serially, step by step, seeking information from defined addresses in its memory, one idea after another. The human brain is far more flexible than a computer, but the computer is very fast.

Unlike computers, the same components in the brain perform processing and memory. Computers process information from memory using central processing units - CPUs, and then write the results of that processing back to memory. No such distinction memory and processing units exists in the brain.
As the neurons of the brain process information they modify their synapses. Human brains restructure themselves as they think, enabling them to grow. Brains learn, computers do not as yet learn.

And the brain has much, much more processing power than any computer yet built.

Accurate biological models of the brain would have to include some 225,000,000,000,000,000 interactions between cell types, neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, axonal branches and dendritic spines, and that doesn't include the estimated 1 trillion glial cells which may or may not be important for neural information processing.

Many scientists involved in the development of artificial intelligence believe that AI will not develop until far into the future, if ever: others believe we shall see AI within a decade. I am inclined to believe that AI will develop earlier simply because past predictions of progress in computing have always been unduly pessimistic.

Thomas J. Watson, the president of IBM who oversaw that company’s greatest growth, forecast that the world would need only four computers!

Over the past three years, scientists at I.B.M. have been developing a computer called Watson after the former chairman of IBM. Watson answers questions put in everyday human language or “natural language,” as computer scientists call it. Search engines like Google and Bing do not do this, they steer you to a website where you might find the answer. Watson provides the correct answer itself, like a human brain and Watson is not connected to the Internet, Watson provides the answer from within its own memory.
Computer scientists have long regarded this sort of artificial intelligence as real AI, because it allows machines to converse almost naturally with people, who just ask questions instead of typing keywords into a search engine.

Watson the computer recently competed on the TV quiz show Jeopardy, and beat its human opponents. This does not show that Watson can think; only that Watson, like all computers, is incredibly fast.

Humankind made a great leap forward with the development of tools to perform physical tasks. Hammers and chisels and ploughs and bulldozers and complex machines have made it possible for humans to perform manual work much more quickly.
Computers are a second step in human evolution, they are tools that help us think, far surpassing their predecessors like the abacus and pocket calculators. They have also changed the face of commerce. It is now possible for Indian programmers to process US data. US companies now export skilled IT jobs as well as factory jobs.

Brains Can Think

The most basic difference between brains and computers is that the human brain can think, but a computer cannot. What does this mean? Basically computers and the human brain are different, they are structured differently, they ‘think’ differently. The difference is illustrated very aptly by this passage that I found at
Arinocdcg to rencet rseaerch, the hmuan brian is plrectfey albe to raed colmpex pasasges of txet caiinontng wdors in whcih the lrettes hvae been jmblued, pvioedrd the frsit and lsat leetrts rmeian in teihr crcerot piiotsons.
The fcat taht you are ridenag tihs now wtih reaitvle esae is poorf of the thoery.

In the Tmeis aitlcre, Dr Reoaesln MhActcry, a neruo-phylcoogsy lruecter form Knig’s Ceglloe, Cgmdbriae, ssegegtud taht hmuan bnegis are albe to usnatdnerd jeublmd up wdors buaecse the hmaun bairn parimliry raeds the mannieg rehatr tahn the piothenc cnontet of wdors (the sdnuos of the wrdos and leertts.

We can read this, a computer cannot. That flexibility illustrates a major difference between a human brain and a computer.

Never believe that you cannot be a success in school. You have an enormously powerful brain and if you use it to your full potential then you can achieve just about anything. The limits of the human brain are unknown. It is the most powerful computer in our universe.

The only limits on your mind are the limits you impose on yourself or the limits you allow other people to impose on you.

Society will try to keep you in ‘your place’ the social stratum you were born into.

Do not despair; even if society stacks the deck against you it is still possible for the average student to become an A+ student. You have an enormously powerful brain, you will outperform in school, college or university if you learn to use that powerful brain.

Copyright © Michael F. Petty, 2011. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. MICHAEL PETTY is a leading authority on accelerated learning, IQ, Neuro Science and brainwave entrainment. He has a BA from Durham UK, an MA from Calgary and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was a Canada Council Doctoral Fellow and his 1980 research on change in IQ scores, published in the British Journal Educational Research is still cited in Psychological texts. His latest book is Michael Petty, IQ Unlimited, Amazon Kindle. Visit Dr Petty’s website at