Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

When will computer hardware match the human brain?

  1. Dec 17, 2003 #1
    When will computer hardware match the human brain?

    (Received Dec. 1997)
    Hans Moravec
    Robotics Institute
    Carnegie Mellon University
    Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890, USA
    net: hpm@cmu.edu
    web: http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~hpm/


    This paper describes how the performance of AI machines tends to improve at the same pace that AI researchers get access to faster hardware. The processing power and memory capacity necessary to match general intellectual performance of the human brain are estimated. Based on extrapolation of past trends and on examination of technologies under development, it is predicted that the required hardware will be available in cheap machines in the 2020s.

    Complete text at http://www.jetpress.org/volume1/moravec.htm
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 18, 2003 #2
    Any opinions on how plausible all of that is, what the consequences will be if true, and so on?

    In the same category but going a bit further is "How long before superintelligence?" by Nick Bostrom.
  4. Dec 25, 2003 #3
    The pure calculation speed of the computers have long exceeded the human brain, however, the "creativity" of the computers may take more than just a few decades to exceed the human brain.
  5. Dec 28, 2003 #4
    In an article in Byte magazine (April 1985), John Stevens compares the signal processing ability of the cells in the retina with that of the most sophisticated computer designed by man, the Cray supercomputer:

    "While today's digital hardware is extremely impressive, it is clear that the human retina's real-time performance goes unchallenged. Actually, to simulate 10 milliseconds (one hundredth of a second) of the complete processing of even a single nerve cell from the retina would require the solution of about 500 simultaneous nonlinear differential equations 100 times and would take at least several minutes of processing time on a Cray supercomputer. Keeping in mind that there are 10 million or more such cells interacting with each other in complex ways, it would take a minimum of 100 years of Cray time to simulate what takes place in your eye many times every second."
  6. Dec 28, 2003 #5
    that really isn't true, while computers may be able to crunch numbers more effectively then a brain, the calculational capacity of a computer is much less than a brain, it is about the equivilent of a cockroach currently. The difference is parallel processing ability. Remember a computer can only do one calculation at a time. The brain, while it calculates slower, can do thousands of calculations simultaneosly. You can talk, walk, chew gum, breath, beat your heart, look at things, hear things, and do a hundred other things subconsciously all at the same time. I believe, that high speed supercomputers do something around

  7. Jan 4, 2004 #6
  8. Jan 18, 2004 #7
    OK, the brain has billions of cells.. each cell may have between one and thousands of connections, constantly growing and other dying.

    A transistor has three (?). And they can store.. 2 states? A brain cell has a state between 0 and 1.

    So.. err.. never.
  9. Jan 18, 2004 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    An individual neuron is a very complex little machine, and can support different states in different locations, and coordinate the different states inside the cell. It's more like a simple CPU than a bit switch.
  10. Jan 18, 2004 #9
    I am not sure...but it's not possible :(
    As my teacher told, as your eye can't see your self...thus your brain doesn't know how it works :(
  11. Feb 3, 2004 #10
    Indeed. One of the best ways to describe a neural network is consider each neuron to be a small computer (it can also 'store' a number of variables). These 'computers' interact with each other in a strictly defined manner.
  12. Feb 3, 2004 #11

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    When a computer first has an out of circuit experience and then creates its own religion.

    My real guess; dont know. There is too much about the brain and potentially other related mechanisms to consider. For example, Chopra argues that the immune system is a part of our "intelligence". He describes it as a circulating intelligence. He is not the first to argue that intelligence is not limited strictly to the brain. Could a complete description of our mind require other factors not even considered yet?

    Not my idea but I thought it was worth mentioning.
  13. Feb 3, 2004 #12
    The brain is one of the most complicated things on Earth.

    I vote never.
  14. Feb 20, 2004 #13
    I vote soon!
    (and transisters have more then 2 states, it is an analog devise-within limits, and its range is about half as much as a nauron-Push-pull anybody?)
  15. Mar 25, 2004 #14


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A transistor may be an analog device but those in computers are designed to operate in 2 states. Until you design and perfect an analog computer, it will be more of the same old. Faster, more memory, etc. Until a system is self aware, it is not even comparable to the human brain. I seriously doubt that if you took all of the computer power that has EVER existed and networked it to the best of our abilities it wouldn't even resemble an incredibly crude human brain even at slow speeds.
  16. Apr 8, 2004 #15
    The first computers were analog :cool:
    But i think it would be more like bio-neural circutry (as on Star trek(little c thingy) Voyager)
  17. Jun 25, 2004 #16
    Any way! A human can simply design a computer by using his brain effort but a computer will never design a human at any means. That means a human brain is capable of doing much more than anything under the sun. Thats the reality and it will remain till then!!!!
  18. Jul 11, 2004 #17
    When do you think we will make a computer that can learn and think for itself? a computer with free will? a computer with emotions?

    do you think we will ever invent thinking, feeling, "alive" robots? eg AI
  19. Nov 20, 2008 #18
    I do think that the human brain can do more than that we do. Everything in the universe, the earth, planets, is bases on frequence, electromagnetic frequence, and like they call shakings. The way humans react, or every being, is instructed by the universe, by the sun, if the sun changes in magnetude, we beings in the universe depending the sensitifness, reacts different to what the universe instruct to do. Everything is based on light, frequence and shakings. just like electricity but in higher form, level.
    The brain reacts on what it is told to do, if you go to higher level of shaking, thinking, frequency with the mind, the neuron will start getting scharper of level of sensitifness. will shake in whitch way it is instruct to do.

    In the recent society, learning patern, the human mind is not instructed how it can evolved how to use the mind in a better way. the society gives on the informatie what is has been doing for the last 1000 of years to do. When you start acting with the mind in a different way, the mind will in collaboration with the nature make a different way how to deal with situations. So it will avoid things people don't want. Society, people think about money how to survive, to earn as much as possible to have a good live. that is really good, at stake of the planet place they live on.
  20. Nov 21, 2008 #19
    I don't know if it's mathematically possible. I remember reading in "Introduction to the Theory of Computation" by Michael Sipser, that Kurt Godel, Alan Turing, and Alonzo Church discovered that computers can't solve certain "basic" problems which are solvable to humans - such as being able to prove if a mathematical statement is true or false.

    Scientists in the field of neurology know very little about the human brain, the very fact that humans aren't digital shows what kind of difficulties an engineer might face in trying to recreate the human brain.

    Besides, isn't the very definition of "artificial intelligence" is intelligence being mimicked is intelligence? That if something acts intelligent then it is intelligent? I think when some people talk about a machine being as "smart" as a human they're talking about something that acts alot like a human but is missing something somewhere.
  21. Nov 22, 2008 #20
    I dont think its possible. Humans can think original thoughts. We can create something absolutely unique which has no connection to anything around us. One example is chess. I think I read somewhere that the total number of possibilities for two or three consecutive moves is over 4 billion, but a grand master intuitively picks out the best ones.

    Also, if you've read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence" by Robert Pirsig, then the arguments he brings up as to how we get ideas and think creatively are based not on mathematical calculations but more on intuition unique to every person. I dont know if Im being very clear, but the book's worth a read in any case. This question is more one of philosophy than anything else.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook