Scientific Sense Podcast

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Excess power

A recent study in the Journal of Neuroscience replicates the process of daydreaming in a computer simulation. It is a reminder that the most important asset of humanity – 7 billion brains – is significantly underutilized. An evolutionary quirk endowed humans with a massive organ that finds itself with little to do most of the time. It can control and operate the most sophisticated robot on Earth with less than 10% of the available power. The rest, is simply wasted – and out of sheer frustration, it ventures into daydreaming and night dreaming.

Humans have been attempting to use excess computing power in interesting ways. The Internet finally connected islands of processing power but the use of available excess computing power in the network is still in its infancy. Computing power, however, is a trivial resource compared to brain power – that remains largely disconnected and wasted. Productivity of modern societies is likely highly correlated with its ability to connect brains and use wasted brain power to solve complex and interesting problems.

A technology, akin to the Internet, able to connect brains and utilize the available excess capacity, is needed for humans to take the next step. This is a societal problem – something that the “singularity” peddling technocrats are ill-equipped to understand.

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