CAN A THINKING, REMEMBERING, DECISION-MAKING, BIOLOGICALLY ACCURATE BRAIN BE BUILT FROM A SUPERCOMPUTER?
MARCH 3, 2008
[To compare the majesty of the human brain to our well-worshipped computers]..
Markram estimates that in order to accurately simulate the trillion synapses in the human brain, you’d need to be able to process about 500 petabytes of data (peta being a million billion, or 10 to the fifteenth power). That’s about 200 times more information than is stored on all of Google’s servers. (Given current technology, a machine capable of such power would be the size of several football fields.) Energy consumption is another huge problem. The human brain requires about 25 watts of electricity to operate. Markram estimates that simulating the brain on a supercomputer with existing microchips would generate an annual electrical bill of about $3 billion. But if computing speeds continue to develop at their current exponential pace, and energy efficiency improves, Markram believes that he’ll be able to model a complete human brain on a single machine in ten years or less.