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Caroline Feldman's picture

Computers are not brains

The discussion on Thursday was interesting when we compared brains and computers. I agree with professor Grobstein when he said that it is a “bad” analogy (like comparing an action potential to a wire). For a computer to run properly, it must not make any mistakes. If we were to cry out whenever a neuron in our brain made a mistake, we would constantly be screaming. Thus reliability is the most pronounced difference between brains and computers. On the flip side of the error rate of neurons lies a remarkable fact about neuronal information processing systems (i.e brains) in contrast to computers: Brains are remarkably insensitive to hardware problems. Unlike computers, brains can still function even when a large number of their components, neurons, have broken down, whereas conventional computers stop working when a single wire is broken. There maybe no noticeable subjective or objective decrease of function in a human brain that has lost a large portion of its neurons and connections. In next class, I hope we further discuss the analogy that neurons are computers.


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