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> Brain and computer Issue: 2012-2 Section: 17-19

Romanian

 

Cosmin Manolescu, Vlad Enache

 

In the 21st century, the computer has become a mundane object, used by the majority of people every day. But for what?

It is used for entertainment, comunications, for work, transfers of data etc. But how many of us are reallly interested in the story behind this machine, indispensable today and more importantly, how may we improve it?

We propose, for the begining, a little history lesson!

 

Introduction to the world of IT

The computer, in its current state, is based on the features described by John von Neumann:

  1. 1. It has to have an entry point, through which we can introduce an infinite number of variables and instructions. DECLARE;
  2. 2. It has to have a memory, from which it can read the variables and instructions and in which it can store the results. READ;
  3. 3. It has to have a computing unit, capable of doing aritmetical and logical operationswith the variables from the memory. PROCESS;
  4. 4. It also has to have an exit point, through which an unlimited number of results can by transmited to the user. WRITE.

These features are the logical basis of the way a computer is organised, as well as at Software level and also at Hardware level.

Now we know how the logical parts of a computer work, but what was the inspiration for the computer?

Well, as most of our inventions, it has a model in the nature, and that is no other than the human brain itself! This concept was first introduced by the Romanian psychologist and biologist Stefan Odobleja, as described in his book „The Consonantist Psychology”, in 1938, introduced ten years before the concept was adopted and published by Norbert Wiener, who is considered the father of Cybernetics.

 

The Brain and his relation with the computer

The brain, part of the central nervous system, is located in the skull. In his composition dwell a multitude of neurons bound together through synapses. Through these synapses passes all the data in the form of electrochemical pulses, creating electrical fields. The brain controls vision, hearing, taste, smell and equilibrium. He is also the location of the human conscience and ability to reason.

Although the neurons composing the brain are all identical, upon the multitude of tasks they have, the neurons are grouped in lobs: frontal lobe, temporal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, so that the different signals coming to the brain would have a known and separate destination. For example: the Frontal lobe has the ability to recognise future consequences resulting from current actions, overrides and suppresses unacceptable social behaviour, and determines similaritys and differences between things and events. Therefore, it is involved in higher mental functions.

The way the brain operates it’s not different than the way the computer operates, again showing that the brain was the original model.

- DECLARE: The stimuli coming from the outer environment are picked by the sensory organs, which then transform them in electrical pulses. These pulses will be transmitted, based on their type, through the specialized nerves to the brain, to the specific lobe.

- READ: Upon the arrival of the new stimuli, the brain begins comparing them with other similar data from his memory. It is because of this reason that we do not wander when we see, say, a new lamp, because our brain recognizes the pattern, no matter it’s colour or size.

- PROCESS: After the brain recognizes or understands (if a phenomenon is completely new) the brute pulses of the stimuli, he begins to make a myriad of operations with them: to combine them (this being the process of imagination), to sort them based on their type, to stock them and,in the end, if he deems them no longer usefull, to even erase them completely from the memory.

- WRITE: This phase refers to, on one hand, providing of commands, based on the content of the stimuli, to the internal systems (like the endocrine system or the muscular system) and, on the other hand, to the communicate with the outside world (the processed data is presented to other human beings through language, writing etc.).

 

As a conclusion, the brain shares many aspects with the computer: he is responsable for processing informations, and also coordination of our entire systems and actions, the very way the microprocessor governs all the actions made by a computer.

 

Possible future evolutions of the IT

Knowing how it operates and its model, let’s think about this machine’s future, from the brain-computer analogy perspective.

 

1. A network of neuronal style organized computers

A first improvement, which does not require modifications to the hardware, is the development of a computer network, capable of sharing their tasks in order to solve complex projects. In order to better explain this concept let’s think about the way the brain is organized and functions. The brain consists of numerous identical neurons, which can make similar tasks. These neurons are grouped into clusters (ie groups named lobes) which are designed to fulfill certains tasks (vision, speech, etc.). Similarly, we can talk about a network of identical computers grouped so as to distribute among themselves certain sub-tasks, within more complex tasks or project. Take for example a factory: think about one central server to which the man allocates a complex project. The server shall communicate with all the computers within the network, allocating to each of them smaller and simpler tasks. Eventually, the server shall collect the results of the other computers’ activity and shall aggregate a final result

 

2. Ability to produce new ideas (Artificial intelligence)

The ability to create is a very important characteristic of the humans, but what if the computers can create new thinks as well? Today, the computers learn according to the creationist theory. Thus, everything the computer knows comes from the human that programmed the computer. What if the computers will be able to learn from an evolutionary perspective?

Thus, we can teach the computer to collect information from the external environment, to process and compbine it, aiming at creating and imagining new things.Imagination is about recombining information stored in our memory. Therefore, if a computer would be able to combine itslef elements in its memory, creatively, staring from a certain tasks given by humans?

 

3. Conscience

It would be the ultimate development in a computer, this giving it the ability to think absolutely everything we think. Imagine what if we could combine the logic and processing speed and power of a computer with our abilities to understand the phenomenons in the environment, to adapt to them and create new ones. This idea has been debated at long over the last years and made the subject of many SF movies.

Many of us wonder whether such a computer evolution would be necessary, would they be able to continue to help us in our projects if they will develop their own conscience?

We believe that though it would mean a great techmological and biological achievement, giving the computer a conscience might not be a such a good idea. Thus, we would create a being the thinks like a man, maybe having no interet to serve us; it will have its own will and will be far more intelligent than us, able to think deeper and faster than us and which will eventually see as as enemies.

Ultimately,computers mprovement should be a priority for us but it should never be allowed to exceed its condition as a tool of the humankind.

 

Bibliography

 

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