Artificial Intelligence—On a Par With a Worm
“YOU may have heard a lot of talk this past year about neural networks, parallel processors, multiprocessors and other commercial and academic attempts to build computers on a scale closer to the human brain. But one thing you may not have heard much about is what this effort actually means or what the new technologies are really accomplishing. A friend at a neural network company told me that in terms of ‘biomental’ evolution, today’s products can compete head-to-head with a level of intelligence on par with a worm. Only a worm, you ask? Yep, a worm. Attempting the feats of the human brain would require . . . well, a human brain.”—Computerworld, February 27, 1989, page 21.
The brain accesses information by electrochemical impulses. “Even though such impulses are notoriously slow—about 100 feet per second [30 m/sec]—they still outperform electrical impulses over metallic conduits, which can travel about one foot [0.3 m] per nanosecond or a billion feet [300 million m] per second.” One of the most awesome computer units available today has 65,536 processors for manipulating information and is the size of a washing machine, yet “the brain squeezes 150,000 times as many processors into the human skull.” The most expensive computer is an autistic savant. It can calculate as fast as you can feed the numbers into it, but try to get it to make a rational decision and it breaks down.
The article in Computerworld concludes: “The point of this whole exercise is simply to show you how difficult it is to try to replace the human brain with a hardware or software architecture of any type. Under even the simplest of conditions, the brain is still the original computer, and all other models—whatever their performance benchmarks—are imitators that crawl in comparison.”