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Kwabena Boahen: Making a computer that works like the brain



been there, done that. Danny Hillis created a massively parallel computer architecture over 25 years ago (

But any process that can be done in parallel can also be done serially. The hardware is incidental. What is preventing progress in thinking machines is our limited understanding of intelligence, common sense reasoning, knowledge representation, etc. By definition, a von Neumann architecture computer can preform ANY process which can be precisely described. So we only need to improve our theories on intelligence, not our computing architecture, to achieve intelligent machines.

Max: the question isn't whether the architecture can do those things, but whether it can do them efficiently.

Max: the question isn't whether the architecture can do those things, but whether it can do them efficiently.

...and without too many bugs, apparently. ;)

...and to do the massive numbers of calculations and do them efficiently (and in a robust fashion, to ward off failure -- which really means with redundancy), we need to construct and utilize a better...

...architecture. There's no way around it. It's a classic chicken and egg problem. Real thinking machines (i.e. grey grease) evolved the way they did for a reason... because they work, despite continual chemical attack.

Some other wiki jumping off points for this new and exciting area of research:

One thing that fascinates me is the possibility that consciousness itself might have its roots in quantum superimposition of states. Even more speculative stuff, but I have strong suspicions that many of these ideas are steps in the right direction to a better understanding of cognition -- which may have to be non-algorithmic at its core.

Rather than being about making a human-like thinking computer, I think it's more about making a better computer that runs on less electricity. Remember he compares the amount of electricity a super computer uses (like 1200 households or something) to a laptop, that compares to a human brain's energy.


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