Key idea: If we don’t even know how much information storage a human brain can hold, you can imagine how hard it would be to transfer it into a computer.
Original author and publication date: Guillaume Terry- June 9, 2022
Futurizonte Editor’s Note: We don’t know exactly when there will be a fusion of human brain and computers. Perhaps never, perhaps very soon.
From the article:
We often imagine that human consciousness is as simple as input and output of electrical signals within a network of processing units – therefore comparable to a computer. Reality, however, is much more complicated. For starters, we don’t actually know how much information the human brain can hold.
Two years ago, a team at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, US, mapped the 3D structure of all the neurons (brain cells) comprised in one cubic millimetre of the brain of a mouse – a milestone considered extraordinary.
Within this minuscule cube of brain tissue, the size of a grain of sand, the researchers counted more than 100,000 neurons and more than a billion connections between them. They managed to record the corresponding information on computers, including the shape and configuration of each neuron and connection, which required two petabytes, or two million gigabytes of storage. And to do this, their automated microscopes had to collect 100 million images of 25,000 slices of the minuscule sample continuously over several months.
Now if this is what it takes to store the full physical information of neurons and their connections in one cubic millimetre of mouse brain, you can perhaps imagine that the collection of this information from the human brain is not going to be a walk in the park.
Data extraction and storage, however, is not the only challenge. For a computer to resemble the brain’s mode of operation, it would need to access any and all the stored information in a very short amount of time: the information would need to be stored in its random access memory (RAM), rather than on traditional hard disks. But if we tried to store the amount of data the researchers gathered in a computer’s RAM, it would occupy 12.5 times the capacity of the largest single-memory computer (a computer that is built around memory, rather than processing) ever built.
The human brain contains about 100 billion neurons (as many stars as could be counted in the Milky way) – one million times those contained in our cubic millimetre of mouse brain. And the estimated number of connections is a staggering ten to the power of 15. That is ten followed by 15 zeroes – a number comparable to the individual grains contained in a two meter thick layer of sand on a 1km-long beach.