Brain Powering

via Daniel Florien comes this fascinating account of the human brain and the energy required to run it:

According to Kwabena Boahen, a computer scientist at Stanford University, a robot with a processor as smart as the human brain would require at least 10 megawatts to operate. That’s the amount of energy produced by a small hydroelectric plant. But a small group of computer scientists may have hit on a new neural supercomputer that could someday emulate the human brain’s low energy requirements of just 20 watts–barely enough to run a dim light bulb….

[The new idea] trades the extreme precision of digital transistors for the brain’s chaos of many neurons firing, with misfires 30 percent to 90 percent of the time. Yet the brain works with this messy system by relying on crowds of neurons to shout over the noise of misfires and competing signals.

That willingness to give up precision for chaos could lead to a new era of creative computing that simulates the unpredictable patterns of brain activity. It could also represent a far more energy-efficient era — the Neurogrid fits in a briefcase and runs on what amounts to a few D batteries, or less than a watt. Rather than transistors, it uses capacitors that get the same voltage of neurons.

Much more here.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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