Cambridge University geneticist Aubrey de Grey has famously stated, “The first person to live to be 1,000 years old is certainly alive today …whether they realize it or not, barring accidents and suicide, most people now 40 years or younger can expect to live for centuries.”
"I and many other scientists now believe that in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogram our bodies' stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, ageing. Then nanotechnology will let us live for ever,"
The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem. You might have only a few gigabytes of storage space, similar to the space in an iPod or a USB flash drive. Yet neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes). For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.
I for one am interested to see what happens. What are your thoughts?
Difference # 1: Brains are analogue; computers are digital-
It’s easy to think that neurons are essentially binary, given that they fire an action potential if they reach a certain threshold, and otherwise do not fire. This superficial similarity to digital “1′s and 0′s” belies a wide variety of continuous and non-linear processes that directly influence neuronal processing.
Difference # 2: The brain uses content-addressable memory-
In computers, information in memory is accessed by polling its precise memory address. This is known as byte-addressable memory. In contrast, the brain uses content-addressable memory, such that information can be accessed in memory through “spreading activation” from closely related concepts. For example, thinking of the word “fox” may automatically spread activation to memories related to other clever animals, fox-hunting horseback riders, or attractive members of the opposite sex.
Difference # 3: The brain is a massively parallel machine; computers are modular and serial-
Difference # 4: Processing speed is not fixed in the brain; there is no system clock-
The speed of neural information processing is subject to a variety of constraints, including the time for electrochemical signals to traverse axons and dendrites, axonal myelination, the diffusion time of neurotransmitters across the synaptic cleft, differences in synaptic efficacy, the coherence of neural firing, the current availability of neurotransmitters, and the prior history of neuronal firing. Although there are individual differences in something psychometricians call “processing speed,” this does not reflect a monolithic or unitary construct, and certainly nothing as concrete as the speed of a microprocessor. Instead, psychometric “processing speed” probably indexes a heterogenous combination of all the speed constraints mentioned above.
Difference # 5 – Short-term memory is not like RAM
Difference # 6: No hardware/software distinction can be made with respect to the brain or mind-
For years it was tempting to imagine that the brain was the hardware on which a “mind program” or “mind software” is executing. This gave rise to a variety of abstract program-like models of cognition, in which the details of how the brain actually executed those programs was considered irrelevant, in the same way that a Java program can accomplish the same function as a C++ program.
Difference # 7: Synapses are far more complex than electrical logic gates-
Another pernicious feature of the brain-computer metaphor is that it seems to suggest that brains might also operate on the basis of electrical signals (action potentials) traveling along individual logical gates. Unfortunately, this is only half true. The signals which are propagated along axons are actually electrochemical in nature, meaning that they travel much more slowly than electrical signals in a computer, and that they can be modulated in myriad ways.
Difference #8: Unlike computers, processing and memory are performed by the same components in the brain-
No such distinction exists in the brain.
As neurons process information they are also modifying their synapses – which are themselves the substrate of memory.
Difference # 9: The brain is a self-organizing system-
This point follows naturally from the previous point – experience profoundly and directly shapes the nature of neural information processing in a way that simply does not happen in traditional microprocessors.
Difference # 10: Brains have bodies-
This is not as trivial as it might seem: it turns out that the brain takes surprising advantage of the fact that it has a body at its disposal.
Originally posted by 2manyquestions
reply to post by watchitburn
That's pretty cool. As for our brains getting full, OK... obviously you would start forgetting some things and replacing them with new memories. I sure as hell don't remember everything I've ever done....not consciously anyway. Besides, if technology keeps expanding as it has, I'm sure we'll solve that little problem with iCloud for the brain,.... or some kind of memory expansion device. I don't see problems. I only see solutions.
I don't think the sum of all knowledge is what takes up the most space, even if one person could learn it all. It's everything you have done throughout your life, it's all still in there.
Originally posted by speculativeoptimist
Maybe our brains will grow in size or density? Plus, how big is the sum of all knowledge anyway? Anyone know?
Originally posted by watchitburn
That not just people being born now, but you and I could very well live to be 200 - 300 years old 1,000 yrs. Or forever.