Thursday, February 09, 2006

Human brain simpler than Microsoft Word?

Futurist Ray Kurzweil has claimed that human brain would be simpler than Microsoft Word! And he bases his conjecture on the fact that the brain's design is embedded in the genome, which itself is only between 30-40 million bytes of information - less than M$ Word. On the face of it, this looks very convincing. But, if we think deeper about it, the genome is more like a language definition, which may be a mere 30-40 million bytes, but the set of all valid constructs in the language can be indefinitely large. Interested people can read up this article on formal languages to find out how.

In plain terms, the genome itself may be small, it gives information about how to model the brain, but it is not the model for the brain itself. So, it is not as if a digital emulator program 40 MB long can act like a brain, it can only "manufacture" brain(s) if you have the "appropriate apparatus." I'm reminded of this quote by Carl Sagan: If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.

Update: Of course, the quoted word "apparatus" abstracts away a whole Universe by itself. People have talked about the biochemistry and biophysics involved in the making of the brain and much else.


Blogger sri said...

well, i certainly can't figure out why ms word decides to format my document its own way and why i cannot get it to produce a simple (according to silly me) formatting right.

so, that's the only explanation. it is more complex than my brain! if i work with it any longer, it may soon take over.. ;)

February 10, 2006 4:51 PM  
Blogger Sundar said...

@Sri: Ha, ha ... I can't refute this conjecture. ;)

February 10, 2006 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Sanket said...

On a side note, Open Office Writer is slow. In fact, slower than the slowest brain ever. :D

February 10, 2006 5:53 PM  
Blogger Archonix said...

It's quite speedy on my machine, but that's probably because I have the autoloader on and have also turned off the JVM they insist on loading by default. I don't want a scripting language in my written documents thank you.

Hah, but then, that's my choice. :)

Follwing a link from the inq... toodle-pip!

February 10, 2006 7:26 PM  
Blogger CapZap said...

I have followed futurists' predictions since I was a kid in the 1950's and NONE of them have come to pass. The only reason people like Kurtzweil have an audience is that they pander to the curious and the uninformed.

I do have to say that Kurtzweil has no fear of being termed a fool after he's gone.

February 10, 2006 9:12 PM  

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