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Computer Intelligence and Processing

  1. Oct 1, 2007 #1
    I know this may seem like a simple question to some of you experts out there, but I was thinking today about how much computers have advanced and how they allow us to make substantial progress in design and simulations and stuff. Actually, what got me thinking about it was in my propulsion book they mentioned that computers have "opened up wonderful possibilities for translating basic knowledge, and the results of test experience, into better designs."

    My question is this - If human knowledge and capacity invented the computer, how is it that they can have such immense memory capacity and intelligence over the human brain, and why does it continue to improve? What internal processes go on within a computer that are independent of human invention or conceptualization? I guess a more colloquial way of asking this is how do computers "think" and "do", and at a level far beyond human capacity?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2007 #2
    Sorry, the reason I put this in this section was because I also have read about the desire to build a "quantum computer" in the future. How does quantum mechanics come into play when designing a high intelligence computer, and does this tie in to my question above? Thanks.
  4. Oct 2, 2007 #3


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    Your question has nothing to do with quantum mechanics per se. Well, it is true that modern electronics uses semiconductors, whose classical behaviour is dictated by quantum mechanics, so in a way, computers work "because of quantum mechanics", but it is not their basic principle. Computers could work also with entirely classical components, such as valves and so on. It wouldn't be very practical though.
    Quantum computers are totally different beasts, they have the laws of quantum mechanics at the heart of their operation. They are as of yet to be build and shown to work.

    A modern computer is in fact a very simple device in its principles. It is basically what's called a "finite state machine".
  5. Oct 2, 2007 #4
    Sorry, you can move this to the computers section if you'd like.
  6. Oct 2, 2007 #5


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    I'll move this to the General Technology -- Computers forum, where it should get some answers pertaining to the design and capabilities of computers.
  7. Oct 2, 2007 #6


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    Didn't we factor 15 with a quantum system?
  8. Oct 2, 2007 #7

    D H

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    This is my one thousandth post, so I had better make this good.

    First, computers don't think. They are simple, mindless automata. They do arithmetic and logical calculations faster and more accurately than we can do in our heads. So does an abacus. We use machines like abaci and computers because we aren't very good at doing logic and math in our heads. You can think of a computer as a very fast abacus.

    Computers store some things better than we do. So does paper. We commit things to paper because our memories are not suited to the task of exact memorization. Even a simple file cabinet stuffed with technical papers, meeting notes, etc., does a better job of "remembering" than we do. You can think of a computer disk as a very big file cabinet.

    What makes a computer different from an abacus or a file cabinet is our ability to program them. This is a limited capability. We do not know how to program computers to make them truly "think". We can program computers to imitate some aspects of thought. Such systems are brittle and don't fool humans for long.

    Why would you think that a human invention has to be limited to human capabilities? A simple electric motor can lift far more than can even the strongest human. People can't fly, but airplanes sure can. We strap on scuba gear because people can't breathe underwater. We build machines because they enable us to do things that we simply can't do with our bare hands and bare minds.
  9. Oct 2, 2007 #8
    R.Penrose, “Shadows of the Mind”, Oxford Univ. Press, 1994.

    Regards, Dany.
  10. Oct 3, 2007 #9
    It continues to improve due to human imagination, cognitive ability, ingenuity, intelligence, etc.

    The human brain might have more memory capacity and potential than a computer, and definitely has more intelligence than a computer.

    The processing and cognitive ability of the human brain is far superior to computers. It's been said that if the worlds population were doing a random calculation on a calculator at the same time, a super computer could equally process the equivalent. All of the super computers combined could not even process what goes into just one thought in the human brain.

    Let's say you have a crowd of 100 people. Pretend that all of their memories have been wiped clean, so that what you tell them is all they know. You assign each of them a number from 1-100. You then tell each one of them a short story about some of your memories.

    You now have the ability to ask the crowd any number from 1-100 and you'll get a story that corresponds with the number you assigned them. You would also be able to ask about parts of a story that you have forgotten, getting a response from a person with a corresponding number. If the portion of the story you asked about was similar to another story, you might get more than one response, and would have to listen to both of them until you remembered which story you were trying to remember.

    The ability for 100 people to have individual numbers assigned with stories or information that you gave them does not give them hardly any intelligence at all. Even if it were billions of people, they would individually and collectively most likely have less intelligence than bacteria.

    Computers are almost 100 % dependent on human guidance. Software programs that operate in hardware devices that control robots to manufacture microprocessors are amazing. They are in no way intelligent. They make mistakes due to technological glitches and human error and are not expected any time soon to reproduce at will, think for themselves, or improve on their own.

    Aside from decay, microbial influences, conspiracy theories, etc, the answer from my understanding of the scientific community is nothing.

    There are some incredible advances in Artificial Intelligence, yet there is no expectation that a computer, conventional or quantum will be able to produce an original thought anytime soon.
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