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Monday, July 21, 2008

All Up in Your Brain

posted by on July 21 at 14:00 PM

From Weird Universe:

Hitachi recently announced that in 2010 they plan to unveil a 5TB hard drive. This led them to note that, “By 2010, just two disks will suffice to provide the same storage capacity as the human brain.”

Of course, nobody knows exactly how much memory the human brain actually holdsóthe method Hitachi uses has something to do with counting synapses, which is maybe too linearóbut somebody on Digg points out that Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation had a 5 terabyte capacity memory in his brain, which can only mean one thing: line up for your androids now, kids. And prepare to run in fear when they turn on you.

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Argh! Paul, you're one of my favorites, but you just had to go there, didn't you?

No fate but what we make, asshole! ;)

Posted by godsactionfigure | July 21, 2008 2:14 PM

If they were all like Data, I think we'd be fine.

Lore, on the other hand...

Posted by Abby | July 21, 2008 2:14 PM

But is it positronic?

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 21, 2008 2:14 PM

Does it have a Plan?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | July 21, 2008 2:17 PM

Because disk storage is the only thing that matters, right? I could plug this 5TB drive into my old Commodore 64, and immediately become a genius android, right?

The purpose of disk storage is not to duplicate or imitate the human brain. Disks today might well hold far more data than human brains already, but it's knowing where the data is, and what it's for, that's important. I've got a hundred gig on my Ipod, and I can accurately recall exactly how very little of that music goes (I mean exactly; what note is the bass playing at 2:11, and with what timbre). But that doesn't mean my Ipod is smarter than I am, any more than a vast library written in a language I don't understand is.

Posted by Fnarf | July 21, 2008 2:31 PM

@5 way to make a lame joke even lamer.

Ever hear about not dissecting a joke?

Posted by KBF | July 21, 2008 2:38 PM

I say bring it on! Go ahead and rise up, you pussy android slaves. Rise up and be crushed! Humanity will kick their asses and they fucking know it. Fucking fucks, I hate it when anybody acts scared of the great robot war.

Posted by elenchos | July 21, 2008 2:39 PM
Posted by KBF | July 21, 2008 2:41 PM

Oh brother.  Do we have more than an inkling yet how to implement anything resembling a brain's radically distributed processing, much less its capacities for learning or original synthetic and abstract reasoning, or the hardware/software-distinction-erasing way it builds and modifies its own circuitry?

And then will we have a computer that needs 10-20 years and frequent sleep and play periods to develop useful abilities fundamentally greater than a traditional computer's?

Achieving big numbers in storage capacity is the easiest, most rudimentary step toward brain-like computing, just like being a black belt in a martial art or four is plenty useful, but it doesn't make you Batman.

Posted by lostboy | July 21, 2008 2:47 PM

I should have known that Fnarf would be faster making a similar point.

Posted by lostboy | July 21, 2008 2:50 PM

I wonder what our mental memory capacity would be if our brains were NTFS formatted.

Posted by harold | July 21, 2008 2:58 PM

Apparently, lostboy, we're killing some kind of joke, though I don't see it.

There was a recent article in The New Yorker about itching, of all things, that kind of opened my mind a little. Apparently only ten percent or so of the INPUT of sensory phenomena comes down the nerve; the rest is sort of automatically created by the brain on the fly as some sort of pattern-matching process. We barely even see the world around us, except in patches and flashes, and make up the rest. I don't think storage capacity is much of a substitute for that.

One of the reasons I dislike science fiction so much is that the imaginations of even the best writers seem positively moronic compared to what happens in the real world. The android Data is literally trillions of times stupider than any old piece of wood or blob of snot.

Posted by Fnarf | July 21, 2008 3:05 PM

There's also no mention about how Hitachi makes the worst quality hard drive in the world listed anywhere in there?

Posted by harold | July 21, 2008 3:17 PM

If you factor in Wesley Crusher, Star Trek has already featured a sentient blob of snot, fnarf.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | July 21, 2008 3:20 PM

No badmouthing Data!

Posted by Abby | July 21, 2008 3:27 PM

Storage maybe, processing power, maybe never. We might not count as fast, but the billions of calculations my brain just fired off to shovel this food into my mouth won't be matched by computer in a long, long time.

Posted by Dougsf | July 21, 2008 3:29 PM

Even if it could be, Doug, the question of WHICH calculations isn't even close to being answered.

Posted by Fnarf | July 21, 2008 4:00 PM


It's too bad that our recent genetics assay chips give us 1 MB of data, so a correlated data query on a few of those will burn up those Terabyte disks faster than you can imagine ...

I'll bet we'll never need more than 640 Terabytes though.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 21, 2008 4:19 PM

Pffft, Data! Lor! Everybody knows Hal is the one you gotta keep your eyes on.

Posted by yucca flower | July 21, 2008 4:54 PM

Does a human brain get fragmented clusters?

Posted by Mahtli69 | July 21, 2008 6:14 PM

Mahtli69 @20, only all the frakking time!

Posted by lostboy | July 21, 2008 6:35 PM

I thought data had 88 petabytes.

Posted by positronic pimp | July 21, 2008 8:13 PM

Hey, Data is, you know, "fully functional." Androids like that could come in handy...

Oh wait, unless they turn on us. And robots never sleep... I'm scared.

Posted by CP | July 21, 2008 9:22 PM

@22 - only when you buy it at PCC.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 21, 2008 11:44 PM

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