Re: BLUE GENE and confusion about flops and tops and whistles

From: Russell Wallace (
Date: Fri Mar 31 2006 - 09:59:06 MST

On 3/31/06, turin <> wrote:
> <So Blue Gene is doing 260 teraflops. I thought the brain was supposed to
> do 1-15 petaflops or am I wrong?

More like 1-15 exaflops.

<But here it says we do only 22.8 teraflops, I mean since the computer is
> running in "real time", that would clock us <at 22.8 teraflops yes?

No, that's only a tiny fragment of a brain they're doing, and not all the
functionality of even those few neurons at that.

Functional replication of the functionality of early auditory processing
> (which is quite well understood) has yielded an estimate that agrees with
> Moravec's assessment based on signal processing in the retina (i.e. 10^14
> ops <for whole-brain equivalent replication).

It's highly questionable whether that scales to the whole brain, and it
doesn't take into account full (rather than instantaneous) functionality.

But the brain probably does something like 10^18 - 10^19 flops using
algorithms designed to exploit the strengths of neural hardware. If you look
at how the 10^14 estimate was derived, it's what would be required to
produce similar capability using algorithms designed to exploit the
strengths of von Neumann hardware; and for that, it might be a plausible
guess. So we have:

A: 10^18 - 10^19 flops (rough estimate) to run an upload.
B: 10^14 flops (very rough estimate) to run a complete, highly optimized AI.
C: ? flops (no data) to create an AI.

I am thinking either an upload would be very very dangerous or very very
> safe. I cannot see how there would be a wishy washy upload unless it was
> incorrectly instantiated or kept on the equivalent of AI sedatives all day
> long.

In fiction that would likely be true; the upload would either be a hero, in
which case all his actions would be for good, or a villain, in which case
all his actions would be for bad; either way, everything he did would work
as planned unless thwarted by his opposite number.

In reality an upload will be restricted, like the rest of us, by the
unpredictability of the world; he'll have advantages (potential immortality)
and disadvantages (likely slower thinking speed (computers have lower ratios
of internal bandwidth to memory than brains) and uncertain legal status, at
least for awhile - the second mightn't sound so important until you think
about how many restrictions it would put on what you could practically do);
as usual, I expect real life to be a lot more complicated than fiction.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:56 MDT