#061 DFQ

Apparently I was the first to coin the term necktop computer.

In the eighties, while on the lecture circuit in the US and Europe, I was invited to give the keynote address to a series of IBM conferences in Monte Carlo.

I introduced CVSTOBVS as ‘software for the brain’ and referred to the brain as a necktop computer. It highly amused the executives in the audience so I kept in my talks for a laugh. By 1989 I had written it up in a best-selling book entitled Software For The Brain and now it’s common currency.

There are over a billion PC users worldwide. Today’s PCs are way more than 100 gigabytes where a byte is just a single storage unit of information (at eight bits) or about one printed character. 100 gigs is 100 million kilobytes or 100 billion bytes. So, a billion PCs multiplied by 100 billion bytes is Wow! that’s a lot of personal computer power.

How many necktop users are there? There are presently around 7 billion necktop users on planet earth. This number is increasing at the rate of 3 necktop users every second or 1.7 million every week.

In your brain a byte is, say, the strength of a synapse but your necktop has rather more than 100 billion bytes or synapses. It is a vast network of around ten times as many and each one of your neurons has up to 50,000 connecting wires (dendrites) with synapses.

1000 billion neurons multiplied by 50,000 synapses multiplied 7 billion necktops equals … whew! that’s a lot of brainpower on the planet.

Professor Jacob Schwartz of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University put some figures together to give some idea of the capacity of your brain. He says that”rough quantitative guesses lead us to estimate that the long-term memory available to the brain is about 10,000 trillion bytes” and that “the computing rate needed to emulate the entire brain on a neuron-by-neuron basis may be as high as 1,000,000 trillion arithmetic operations per second”.

Dr Schwartz goes on to say that “it is interesting to compare these exceedingly coarse estimates with corresponding figures for the largest supercomputer systems likely to be developed over the next decade. These will probably not attain speeds in excess of 1 trillion arithmetic operations per second which is about one-millionth of the computation rate that we have estimated for your brain”.

More recent research finished in 2010 says that the total computing power that all the worlds computers can do in a second is about equal to what ONE HUMAN BRAIN can do in a second!

You and I, with our human brains are so preposterously over endowed with thinking hardware that it’s almost impossible to comprehend. But let’s try.

What if you were the major shareholder of the world’s most intelligent enterprise, a network of ten billion computers linked together as parallel processors, producing a vast intellectual output of global messaging?

Well, you are!

Units of Intellect

Take a closer look. The atoms of your brain are called nerve cells or neurons. Each neuron is your fundamental intellectual unit – an information-processing
system. The basic product of these units is: messaging.

Neurons are perfectly designed messaging systems. They have two ends: a receiving end and a transmitting end (or an input end and an output end).

At the receiving end each of your neurons has a convenient tree-like system of dendrites – input wires – which can receive information from other neurons. A neuron may receive messages in from thousands of other neurons and may, in turn, send its messages out to thousands of other neurons.

Messages In and Messages Out

Suppose we call a message in, a MI. And, a message out, a MO. So we have MIs and MOs.

A neuron receives MIs (messages in) from other neurons. It then sends a MO, a brief electrical pulse lasting about a thousandth of a second along its output wire, the axon. Axons are like ‘telegraph wires’ that transmit electrical signals along their own length. At the end of its wire the axon’s electrical signal is transformed into a chemical output – a neurotransmitter.

A neurotransmitter is a package of chemical information which has an effect on the neuron that receives it in much the same way that a fax or an email is a package of information which has an effect on you when you receive it. The way this chemical package effects the neuron receiving it is by causing a change in its electro-chemical activity.

To Send or Not To Send, That’s the Decision

Just as you may or may not respond to an email or fax you receive, your neuron behaves the same way. Sometimes a neuron responds to a MI. Sometimes it doesn’t. When a particular cell sends out its own MO signal it’s because it has received enough MIs from other cells to exceed a threshold amount.

Thus each of your nerve cells acts as a tiny decision unit. If the incoming messaging is above a certain level, it responds with a MO. If not, it stays silent. If your neuron does respond to its incoming messages we say it is excited, if it stays silent we say it is inhibited.

You have more than a trillion neurons – tiny molecular computers. Like other computers they have a broad selection of MOs that they can send out. Each of your neurons acts as a unit of control receiving MIs and sending MOs within the distributed network you call your brain. Each of these units is processing its inputs/outputs at the same time as are all the other units, so they achieve ‘parallel computation’.

Your brain is the ultimate parallel processor! Its billions of parallel processing units are constantly taking in information MIs. These messages are processed and changed. Then new information MOs are sent out all over the global network. Your brain is the supreme intelligent enterprise. And guess what, you are the major shareholder.

DFQ #061:

What offers you the most hope from this lesson?

Why do you think that?

369 thoughts on “#061 DFQ

  1. What gives me most hope from today’s lesson is that I have a vast amount of Neck Top computing power available to me, that to date I have not accessed. Having recently read Incognito by David Eagleman which covers similar subject matter to today’s lesson, I now understand that the more I think about thinking the more likely I am to be able to access and utilise the wealth of untapped resources within my own brain, which in turn will help me to make further progress with my aim to develop to my full potential both within my career and as a person.

  2. My “brain is the supreme intelligent enterprise…and (I’m) the major shareholder”. That offers immense hope that I can take charge of my thinking without feeling apologetic about it. Decisions about what I think and don’t think lie one me. I can direct my attention and manipulate it at will and thus direct my life as I want it in the midst of all factors competing for my attention. As a major shareholder in my brain and thinking enterprise I am responsible for managing and preserving the enterprise.

  3. We each have tremendous potential and from my perspective we have so limited who we are and what can do/be.

    If it takes all of the computers to equal one human brain–we are vastly underutilizing our potential.

  4. We are very powerful beings and we have barely tapped into our potential as genius thinkers. Just to think that each neuron has its own thinking processor …………..that is truly amazing !!!!!!!!

  5. What offers you the most hope from this lesson?
    Software for the brain cvstobvs

    Why do you think that?
    It is fine to know all kind of power and possibilities our brain can develop. However my concern is to be a better thinker and a doer as well. I need to develop and balance both abilities much better.

  6. My mind is very powerful but my decision making process can be uncontrollable at times.

  7. If the brain is a good metapho as the mechanisms of neural information processing.for the creation of artificial intelligence.its easy to think that neurons are essentially being.it help the brain to carrid out CVSTOBVS.why the computer is a limited mechanisms that can be fixed by human brain.

  8. “To send or not to send, that’s the decision.”

    I think it is the implied ‘sense of control’ that offers the most hope. There is something that we could do to bring the inhibited neuron to the excited state.

  9. “More recent research finished in 2010 says that the total computing power that all the worlds computers can do in a second is about equal to what ONE HUMAN BRAIN can do in a second!”
    In other words computers do not have intuition!

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