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Human Brain vs CPU

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hey all,

this is a short paper I wrote when I was in eighth grade. It explains the similarities and differences between the human and computer brain.

The Human Brain vs. The CPU

For many years, scientists and sci-fi enthusiasts have wanted to create their own forms of artificial intelligent life. One thing that has to exist in order for intelligent life to exist is the brain. Scientists knew this, and slowly they developed the computer. In the 1950’s, the computer was a monster machine that weighed two tons and took up an entire laboratory. Now computers can be built small enough to fit on the head of a nail. This quick advancement of technology is giving scientists hope that they may one day be able to equal, or even surpass the brain in function, speed, and reliability. There are many similarities between the computer brain and the human brain from a functional and organizational standpoint, but there are also many differences, especially in the physical standpoint.

The human brain and the computer brain, otherwise known as the Central Processing Unit or CPU, are very similar in many ways. First, both are separated into many sections, each with its own functions. The human brain has areas for sight, sound, smell, etc. The computer brain has areas for recognition, comparison, arithmetic, etc. Second, the human brain is composed of a massive network of billions of interconnected neurons. The computer brain is composed of a massive network of billions of interconnected transistors. The third similarity is that the human brain can only interpret one thing: pulses of electricity. In other words, either a neuron fires, or it doesn’t. The computer brain is similar in that it also only interprets electrical signals. In other words, a transistor is either on or off. The fourth similarity is that the human brain, each time it ‘wakes up’ performs a check on itself to be sure every part and function is accounted for. If the brain finds something missing, it immediately goes into panic mode. Each time the CPU ‘wakes up’ it first clears its registers, then it performs the POST, or Power On Self Test. In this hardwired test, the CPU checks to be sure all parts and functions that were previously recognized are still accounted for. If a crucial part of the system is missing, the CPU will emit a series of loud beeps. The number of beeps is a code that reveals which part is missing. The computer will then go into panic mode and will cease all operations either until the part is returned, or the appropriate changes are made to the BIOS. The fifth similarity between the human brain and the CPU is that both can understand only one particular hard-wired language. This language is called Binary. It consists of series’ of 0s and 1s which stand for on (1) or off (0). Just for the sake of information, our spoken language is actually ‘software’ just like the computer’s many programming languages are ‘software’. They all must be converted to Binary to be processed.

The human brain and the computer brain are also very different. First, the theoretical processing power of the brain in prime conditions is 4 gigaflops, which is unfathomable in the computer world. The CPU’s theoretical processing power in prime conditions is about 3 teraflops, and this can only be achieved with the new ‘Cell’ processor. The second difference between the computer brain and the human brain is that the human brain is composed of soft organic tissue made mostly of fat. The computer brain, however, is composed of hard, inorganic materials made mostly of silicon and copper. The third difference between the two brains is that the human brain’s software—the mind—exists only metaphysically. Truth be told, no one really knows what the mind is, though they like to think they do. The software of the CPU—the BIOS—is hardwired into a special chip called the CMOS, which is kept alive via a small trickle of electricity from the battery contained in all computers. The fourth difference is that the human brain has the ability to make generalizations. The computer, on the other hand, does not have this crucial ability. The fifth difference is that the human brain has the ability to learn. In other words, the human brain has the ability to create new neuron connections, and get rid of old ones. The computer brain does not have the ability to learn. Its transistors are hardwired, therefore new ones cannot be added, but old ones can ‘die’.

As you have no doubt understood from the above text, the human brain and the computer brain and indeed both similar and different. However, we must always remember the biggest difference of all, the fact that computers can easily be destroyed by an EMP (electromagnetic pulse). This is our only safeguard against them in the unlikely event they do surpass us as the dominant intelligent life forms.

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