Minds and software

So, from time to time I tell people this, and I’m trying to work out a really good way of putting it for a upcoming album.

Our minds have, according to wikipedia, 100 billion neurons. A typical high performance computer, capable of producing very-nearly-real experiences, has about 2 billion transistors – our minds in fact have 20 times more neurons than the most powerful microprocessors made. In addition, a neuron is not a transistor. A more accurate approximation for a neuron might be a small microcontroller, or about 50,000 transistors.

This leads us to conclude, without even discussing things like synaptic interconnections, that our minds are vastly more powerful than the computer systems we use. If you believe the above approximations, the amount by which our brains could hypothetically outperform a computer system are astonishing. And yet, while the computer in front of me has no trouble simulating any sort of reality, my mind has a very hard time feeding me anything other than nightmares when I am asleep.

What is missing – or wrong – is the software that I am running. It is completely reasonable to think that my mind should be able to handle the day-to-day business of survival (work and the like) as a background task, while leaving my conscious foreground experience free for whatever adventures I would like to have, and should in addition be able to give me experiences that are not consistent with, for example, the physical laws of this universe (since my mind is trading in information)

Leave a Reply