Stephen Hawking fears the scary Hollywood scenario of Terminator: Genisys could come true, and this time there’s no Arnold Schwarzenegger to save us. But even though the world’s fastest supercomputers are fairly amazing, is the human brain still the reigning champ?
In a related report by the Inquisitr, the fastest supercomputer in the world happens to be the Chinese Tianhe-2 at 33.86 PetaFLOPS, which beats the U.S. Titan fairly badly in processing power. Earlier in 2014, the total combined performance of all top 500 supercomputer systems grew to produce several hundred PetaFLOPS.
In the long run, Stephen Hawking believes artificial intelligence could end the human race, and claims that computer AI can be “more dangerous than nukes.”
“The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful. But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” Hawking said. “Once humans develop artificial intelligence it would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate.”
Notice that Hawking put an emphasis on the word “full” when he described the current state of artificial intelligence. Essentially, Hawking is describing the concept of the singularity, a point in time when machine intelligence beats out all the human brains in the entire world in not only processing power, but also true consciousness. Attaining that goal has yet to be achieved, and simply throwing processing power at the problem is apparently not the answer.
Earlier this year, it was claimed the Turing test had been passed by an AI that attempted to simulate a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy named Eugene Goostman. While that made for good headlines, what Alan Turing really wanted was a computer AI that could “produce more ideas than those with which it had been fed.” Yet this machine AI calledEugene managed to fool real humans with cleverly programmed tricks only about 30 percent of the time. Eugene was also passed off as a human teenager, and it’s believed any odd quirks in communication were ignored as teenage immaturity, which may have increased the success rate.
A single human brain alone is more powerful than some of the world’s supercomputers, processing power approximately around 20 PetaFLOPS, which is roughly 20 quadrillion floating point calculations per second. This is based on factoring the capability of the brain’s 100 billion neurons, each with over 1,000 connections to other neurons, with each connection capable of performing about 200 calculations per second. Keep in mind that there are different ways to estimate the processing power of the human brain, but we now know each neuron is capable of multiple operations per cycle and can reconfigure itself on the fly for different types of calculations including addition, multiplication, scalar equations, perhaps even quantum mechanics!
Huge mainframes usually beat this level of power now, though computers for the most part still crunch data in succession per processor while the brain is massively parallel, which is a much more complex processing pipeline infrastructure. The memory capacity of supercomputers definitely beat the 100 Terabyte estimate for the human brain, although it’s possible some sort of exotic compression is used. To put things into perspective, Japan’s K supercomputer can produce 10.5 PetaFLOP/s and its 82,944 CPUs took 40 minutes to simulate one percent of one second’s worth of human brain activity.
Terminator: Genisys also features cyborgs that are capable of walking around on their own power to cause havoc. These supercomputers we’re talking about weigh hundreds of tons, are housed in warehouses thousands of square feet, while the average brain is 56 cubic inches and weighs 3.3 pounds. These machines eat enough power to drain the pocket book of the average citizen in less than a day, and scientists have discussed building a massive facility with huge cooling requirements and a nuclear power plant to provide the necessary energy to fully simulate the human brain. Meanwhile, human brains operate at full speed at much lower temperatures, fit in a relatively small cranial box, can be powered by beer and chips, and yet still manage to beat out a machine AI without any Hollywood special effects required.