AI versus the human brain
According to prescouter.com, the brain easily keeps the current lead in intelligence over machines for a number of reasons. First, it has the ability to store and process the information within the same units, neurons, and their synapses. Second, apart from the superior architectural design, the brain clearly holds the advantage in the numbers of the cores if neurons are assumed for the comparative role. Advanced supercomputers have up to 10 million cores, while the brain features nearly 100 billion neurons.
“In computer science, significant research is directed to creating new computing units modeled according to neuronal function. This direction is referred to as neuromorphic engineering. In neuroscience, most efforts are directed towards understanding, as well as preventing age and disease-induced deterioration of brain function. Relatively small efforts are put to research for enhancing overall processing power and functioning of the normal human nervous system. Enhancing human brain power by interfering with the basic functional parameters, may provide the sufficient counterweight to the “existential risks” posed by the rise of AI,” wrote Giorgi Kharebava.
In the developed brain, significant improvements to architecture will be nearly impossible to implement in the near future. However, temporary or even permanent improvement to the brain’s processing speed could be a much easier reach for current neuroscience. The cognitive power of the brain, in its significant parts, is a reflection of two processes: impulse conduction in the axon and synaptic transmission. The speed of these functions is the key to a better processing power and is highly variable in the brain. Maximizing or even enhancing these parameters through molecular manipulations may significantly boost overall processing speeds, hence cognitive function.
source: Wall Street Daily
AI can be simply divided into two streams: Generalised AI, which we call as Machine Learning (ML) and Applied AI, which focuses on replicating human behavior, such as making robots. “Artificial intelligence (or AI) is a system of computing that aims to mimic the power of the human brain. We have more than 100 trillion neurons, or electrically conducting cells in our brain, that give us the incredible computing power for which we are known. Computers can do things like multiply 134,341 by 989,999 really well, but they can’t do things like recognize human faces or learn or change their understanding of the world. At least not yet, and that’s the goal of AI: to devise a computer system that can learn, process images and otherwise be human-like,” wrote Torah Kachur for cbc.ca.
In either case of generalized AI (ML) or applied AI, we see that the system learns from historical data and parameters that learning into higher order or logic, or pattern recognition, and does its job.
According to journal.thriveglobal.com, as of 2017, brains still have a leg up on AI. By comparisons, human brains can process far more information than the fastest computers. In fact, in the 2000s, the complexity of the entire Internet was compared to a single human brain. After all, brains are great at parallel processing and sorting information. “They are so good at some activities that we take their strengths for granted, like being able to recognize a cat, tell a joke, or make a jump shot. Brains are also about 100,000 times more energy-efficient than computers, but that will change as technology advances,” said Frits van Paasschen.
At the same time, estimates are that computers will surpass the capability of human brains around the year 2040, plus or minus a few decades. Whenever computers reach “human capacity,” they may just keep right on improving. They are not burdened by the constraints that hold back brains. Neurons, for example, are the brain’s building blocks and can only fire about 200 times per second, or 200 hertz.
When it comes to differences, http://scienceblogs.com, points out 10 important differences between the brain and the computers, that you can read about here.
To multitask or not? This is the question
When I was little, my parents taught me to do one thing at a time and do it the best possible. Not trying to start ten projects or jump from one thing to another without finishing what I began first. Although I’ve always had the internal push to do several things at one time, I kept remembering their advice and trying to stick to it. As much as possible. Back then, the idea of multitasking wasn’t around and known to us, but I believe they were right. And recent studies seem to back them up as well.
According to Larry Kim, Founder and CTO WordStream, our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time, and bombarding them with information only slows them down. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller notes that our brains are “not wired to multitask well… when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”
This constant task-switching encourages bad brain habits. When we complete a tiny task (sending an email, answering a text message, posting a tweet), we are hit with a dollop of dopamine, our reward hormone. “Our brains love that dopamine, and so we’re encouraged to keep switching between small mini-tasks that give us instant gratification. This creates a dangerous feedback loop that makes us feel like we’re accomplishing a ton, when we’re really not doing much at all (or at least nothing requiring much critical thinking). In fact, some even refer to email/Twitter/Facebook-checking as a neural addiction,” said Larry Kim for inc.com.
As shown by Marketing Week, Academics at Vanderbilt University found evidence in 2006 that the brain’s frontal lobe creates a “bottleneck of information processing that severely limits our ability to multitask”. The proliferation of media channels and devices makes this worse. Another study, published by Stanford University researchers in 2009, found “heavy media multitaskers are more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli and from irrelevant representations in memory”. And this hampers the ability to switch between tasks.
We can shift our focus really fast, sometimes it takes just a 10th of a second. But the time doesn’t matter as much as the bandwidth the brain requires to move back and forth. Now that might affect your performance, and might also affect the quality of the work that you finally produce.
New research suggests the possibility that cognitive damage associated with multi-tasking could be permanent.
A study from the University of Sussex (UK) ran MRI scans on the brains of individuals who spent time on multiple devices at once (texting while watching TV, for example). The MRI scans showed that subjects who multitasked more often had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, the area responsible for empathy and emotional control. Unfortunately, the research isn’t detailed enough to determine if multitasking is responsible for these affects, or if existing brain damage results in multitasking habits.
Moreover, there have been studies that show women are generally better at multitasking than men. Also, people who thought they were the best at multitasking are almost always in fact the worst. In fact, multitasking seems to be something not all of us are truly able to achieve, as only about 2% of the population is formed of super multitaskers (people who are truly able to do several different activities at the same time without losing efficiency or losing quality as they do all that work). Most of us don’t have this gift.
According to Forbes, the problem with trying to multi-task is all that shifting back and forth between tasks isn’t all that efficient because, each time we do it, it takes our brain some time to refocus. So while it might seem efficient on the surface, it isn’t – studies show that multi-tasking can reduce productivity by as much as 40%.
More than that, a study published by the American Psychological Association concluded that the ability to switch between tasks, which they term, “mental flexibility” generally peaks in the 20s and then decreases with age, in average of 30.9% from a person in their 40s to a person in their 70s. The extent to which it decreases depends upon the type of tasks being performed. The information is back up by another study, this time around conducted on UK soil, at the University of London where the results have shown that the participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks, experienced an IQ score decline similar to those who have stayed up all night. Some of the multitasking men had their IQ drop 15 points, leaving them with the average IQ of an 8-year-old child.