Brain PowerMay 16, 2012 at 02:33:10 AM
I've always enjoyed computing math problems in my head, and much prefer the human approach to a calculator. (What's 17 x 24. I dare you!)
So how does the human brain compare to a computer, anyway?
Human storage capacity is estimated at 100 terabytes, or 100 trillion data points. (One terabyte is equal to 1,000 gigabytes, or 1 million megabytes.) By comparison, my desktop computer holds one terabyte.
But as we know, computers are getting bigger and stronger all the time. "Moore's Law" notes the tendency of computers to become twice as powerful about every two years. Does that mean we'll be able to build computers more powerful than the human brain within a few decades?
Forrest Wickman, writing on Slate.com, says it's impractical. The brain is remarkably energy-efficient, running on about 12 watts ― the electricity it takes to light some high-efficiency light bulbs. The amount of energy needed to run a computer as powerful as the human brain would be approximately one gigawatt of power, equal to the energy currently consumed by all of Washington, DC.
By the way, 17 x 24 is 408.