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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Computer to Rival

Kelly Clancy  
The New Yorker
February 15, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

Computers are often likened to brains, but they work in a manner foreign to biology. The computing architecture still in use today was first described by the mathematician John von Neumann and his colleagues in 1945. A modern laptop is conceptually identical to the punch-card behemoths of the past, although engineers have traded paper for a purely electric stream of on-off signals. In a von Neumann machine, all data-crunching happens in the central processing unit (C.P.U.). Program instructions, then data, flow from the computer’s memory to its C.P.U. in an orderly series of zeroes and ones, much like a stack of punch cards shuffling through. Although multicore computers allow some processing to occur in parallel, their efficacy is limited: software engineers must painstakingly choreograph these streams of information to avoid catastrophic system errors. In the brain, by contrast, data run simultaneously through billions of parallel processors—that is, our neurons. Like computers, they communicate in a binary language of electrical spikes. The difference is that each neuron is pre-programmed, whether through genetic patterning or learned associations, to share its computations directly with the proper targets. Processing unfolds organically, without the need for a C.P.U.

The article is here.

Note: Consciousness is a product of evolution. Artificial intelligence is a product of evolved brains.