Posting in Design
Here's an interesting fact: Smart people have faster impulses in the brain than less intelligent people. That's all according to one Cambridge profes...
Here's an interesting fact: Smart people have faster impulses in the brain than less intelligent people. That's all according to one Cambridge professor by the name of Ed Bullmore. But as far as getting any smarter, tough luck. British scientists made a convincing case for why our brains have reached full capacity: Human brains would consume too much energy.
Simon Laughlin, professor of neurobiology, at Cambridge University told The Sunday Times: ‘We have demonstrated that brains must consume energy to function and that these requirements are sufficiently demanding to limit our performance and determine design."
There's a chance the human brain could start to conserve energy and bring us back towards the size of the noggins of our Neanderthal ancestors. The researchers took into account the structure of the brain and figured out how much energy brain cells consume.
Mathematically speaking, the brain is an energy hog. It's physically smaller than the rest of the human body, yet it consumes 20 percent of our energy. Energy is needed to fire electrical impulses so neurons can communicate with each other and also maintain the health of the cells to keep the tissues in the brain alive.
To get any smarter, the brain would need extra energy and oxygen, something all the coffee and Red Bull in the world probably can't provide. Also, in the The Sunday Times story, the researchers say there's a link between how connected different brain areas are and IQ. However, there isn't enough energy to keep up with any increase in brain power.
Say it ain't so that brain connections can't get much better than this. Perhaps, this is as good as it gets.
With the way things are going with the Internet, maybe we can off-load some of the work onto computers and save some energy. If you recall, a recent study showed that the Internet affects your memory. On the upside, we've been able to overcome energy hurdles when building computers, so maybe there's a chance we can do the same for human brains. If not, then scientists can always try to use machines to augment human intelligence or the other way around.
According to a recent Time magazine feature:
46 years later, Kurzweil believes that we're approaching a moment when computers will become intelligent, and not just intelligent but more intelligent than humans. When that happens, humanity — our bodies, our minds, our civilization — will be completely and irreversibly transformed. He believes that this moment is not only inevitable but imminent. According to his calculations, the end of human civilization as we know it is about 35 years away.
via The DailyMail but the story originally appeared in The Sunday Times
Related on SmartPlanet:
- Scientists a step closer to creating artificial brains
- Using the Internet affects your memory, study says
- Scientists grow a brain-like network in the lab
- Last text message: 'Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL's brain bank'
- Scientists create a mind-reading machine: let's brain talk to computer
Aug 1, 2011
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This article isn't bad, but it isn't so good either. I'll make a few points. A significant part of intelligence is actually short term memory, like registers in a CPU. We have evolved what we need, but chimps have more. An increase in short term memory capability would probably use little energy and significantly increase intelligence. The human mind is horrible inefficiently designed (that's saying something about something that efficient). It was created by evolutionary process, which has drawbacks. It has been said that a mouse brain is a lizard brain with a cortex on top. A human brain is a mouse brain with a big neo-cortex on top of that. Think about it. It's got history working against it's efficiency. Now, without needing to set off humor, I'm actually shockingly intelligent and use my mind to it's limits trying to solve a vast problem of how humans can adapt to the currently changing ecology, genetically and strategically (you try it sometime). I'm also more physically robust and powerful than 99.9% out there. It could be argued (along the lines of this article) that it takes my physique to power my mind. ... The point of this though is that I have seen much smaller people with much smaller heads with similar intellectual capability... Really, to carry that further, one of my main studies of genetics is about hybridization and I can tell you about some very normal sized hybrids with shocking intelligence. It's not about size only. Design is very important. No matter how you look at it though, the human brain is amazing. What I have found is beyond what you would imagine. The future is more complicated than Mr. Kurzweil thinks. PS. The neanderthals used a great deal of their brain for spatial location. According to the experts on the subject, they were unlikely to get lost.
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Okay, for starters saying that 'and bring us back towards the size of the noggins of our Neanderthal ancestors' is just wrong, neanderthals are not actually our ancestors and they did in fact have bigger brains than we do http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/03/13/from-neanderthal-skull-to-neanderthal-brain/. Secondly, we can easily support a bigger brain with the food we have (in the first world), the only reason it hasn't gotten bigger is because natural selection doesn't really apply to us anymore, not that it's predetermined to get bigger. Last of all, it will one day be possible to install computer chips into our brains which would increase both brain power and memory. So really, this article doesn't make much sense.
If we can not increase power consumption of the brain we still can update "software". Those who multiply decimal values are much faster than those who try Roman digits-)!
I was thinking if our brains are at the max and every extra energy brains uses for performance maybe we need to give brains some extra energy! electricity!! It could be from 3 V to 9 V or 12 V or even more! how about lithium core near our heart with button to give us some boost! not bad right? but the problem is that core would be consumed fast so we will need to charge him almost every hour, but idea not bad?
Even if that is true, brains can always figure out ways to be more efficient with energy and find shortcuts to improve speed and intelligence
Dear Smart Planet, brain's evolution is wonderful! Our mind, throughout time, had to cope with ever demanding challenges. It had to grow and adapt to a complex and ever changing environment, solving problems of all sorts. In such course, it found a way to optimize its own resources thorugh smart patterns. Intelligence, as it is, can be defined as an evolving capacity to think and save energy at the same time. When we think, the neuronal connections, thanks to tens of thousands of synaptic buttons, can choose the most economic pattern to reach a solution. It's this ability that allowed us to improve our skills. The problem of having more performing brains in the future is thus not limited by a possible shortage of energetic juice. It's true the brain consumes a lot of calories and a scientist burns more calories than a professional sportsman, but the brain has still a long way to go. Einstein said we use a little percentage of our brain. What he meant is that the power of mind may find unexpected ways to further evolve, and it may succeed in doing it even with a smaller amount of energy too. The brain is way too complex and unknown to us, to let us draw a conclusion. The most interesting point is that in its rapid evolution, he bacame so smart to be unable to explain itself. It's a paradox. And behind this paradox, the meaning of life is probably buried. Carlo Muttoni
every time miss dickinson writes about the human brain it gets more comments or retweets or facebook post than any other articles. people must like braIn talk. the most fascinating instrument known to exist. what about just being right handed or left handed or ambedextrious? known fact lefties and ambedextrious peoples use more areas of their brains. alot of good comments here, i've wondered myself about technology and civilaztions, but it is human nature to not want civilization to end, it may change, but not end, unless catastrophic event or you know something like that...the big one
can apparently put half their brain to sleep at will. This could be one way to solve the problem if we could affect human evolvement. But that takes a lot of time. I fail to understand (pun intended) why our brains would suddenly just stop to improve. If our brains use 20% of our energy to function now, what is to stop them from using 21% in time. After all, since we have cars and other such vehicles we don't use our energy for much else, except driving around to find a parking spot near a gym. Is "morbidly obese America" just an intelligencebomb waiting to happen? Yes, that must be it. Those sneaky americans have had us thinking that they are just fat slobs (sorry if that's you), when they are infact preparing for even more overbearing world domination. Ooops, I think I just went o.t.
I assume that interfacing the brain and computer is not far away and much like in the Matrix, we will be able to download or at least have access to virtually anything online or in our "files." The problem is the age old one of not having too much intelligence, but not enough wisdom. I used to say, "If I were King, my first proclamation would be that we would not be allowed to progress technologically any faster than we have progressed psychologically and spiritually...." Which would leave us at about the stage of the light bulb. And, where there is a Dow Jones, there should also exist a Tao Jones. Well, we've all seen the Sci-fi movies. We know what's coming... Incredible advancements and.... doom. We have the intelligence. It's wisdom and foresight that we lack. See ya in the funnies. - Your Local Blade Runner
If this article is actually based on something (which is questionable) it is likely on computer modeling of brain functions. Like most of our computer modeling it would be incomplete and so it's results would be as well. While the brain undoubtedly has some energy limits, there is absolutely nothing to say that we can't evolve higher energy and oxygen resources - in fact we already have compared to our more primitive ancestors. Given the state of the genetic research these resources could be increased in a rather short period of time - as in one generation to the next. Only really dumb people believe they can't smarter.
The Daily Mail is obviously not a peer reviewed journal. The researchers and the institute they are associated with are not mentioned. True, with our current genetic structures probably do limit the brain's functional capacity, but there is room for improvements through both genetic engineering and future technologies. I doubt that the opinion stated above, is a be all end all proposition.
I think there's more to intelligence than processing speed. For instance, in the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, speed is just one of four broad aspects of performance which are evaluated--the others being verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, and working memory. It's possible to score well above average in the latter three but still be a slow processor. I suppose you could say "slow mind thinking, but doing so quite well when it gets to where it's going." As an interesting aside, you may be wondering what happened to quantitative reasoning. It's now included in the broader verbal measurement, which can only lead us to conclude that mathematics is indeed a language.
Kurzweil's not to be lightly dismissed...we're finding ways to directly interface electronics to the brain--much of what happens in the brain deals with information retrieve--externalizing that would decrease the load. The more interesting question is: Why are some brains faster? As far as increasing capacity goes there are a large number of short and long term approaches. Long-term, we should be able to jack up the oxygenation rate for blood and provide the brain with energy faster via DNA engineering. Heat dissipation can be approached the same way--ridges to create more surface area of the skull would work. Short term artificial cooling. It's probable that we can raise the operating temperature--there are cases of people with normal body temperatures well over 102F. Not a lot, but people with higher body temperatures seldom get sick and thus often are outside the medical system. Which leads me to wonder if there is an inverse correlation between body temperature and intelligence...
To increase the capacity of the human brain using direct technology, brings me out in a cold sweat. Surely, as the population continues to grow, what we should be doing is using the Internet to make greater connections between brains of people that would become more and more specialised in smaller portions of subjects. That has a good side effect in that we would all have to learn to work and get along much better. In nature, Bees, Ants, Termites, Dolphins, Whales, Lions etc. all work together to get their food. If we have to become reliant on a few people with 'Tefal' heads (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsNwtBv3PI0), to progress man, what happens if they all come down with the flu at same timetime?
Is it now just Urban Legend that we only use 1/10th of our entire brain space? There is much of our brain that is sitting like empty storage just waiting to be used. Also for using more of our minds - let us not only think in the way of IQ. Super athletes also have great mind capacity for coordination and strength and timing. Well trained athletes also use much brain power same as Einstein. Instead of Manipulating numbers the athlete is manipulating muscles and making split second decisions and...... Such Athletes need much energy for their muscles and organs AS WELL AS their brains. One reason computers can run calculations quicker than the human brain is that computer has much less to think about (pardon the pun). Even if we hook up a camera or microphone - the computer just records the imput. Computer doesn't make determination 9say in dim light) of whether person is holding a gun or is an immanent threat (as in case of soldier or police). Computer may record or even identify a sound - but can it make split second judgements and choose an action based on that judgement? A computer may sniff out radon or natural gas - but that is it. Our brains deal with hunger and emotions and reasoning and temperature and ......... and moving hands and feet without consciously thinking about it. Brain keeps heart and lungs always working. These are all things that a computer does not do. I don't like the idea of attaching a lesser thing (such as CPU) to our brains and expect our brains to work better. Just adding my opinions.
There are 2 elements to apparent intelligence. 1) The rate the neurons fire and transmit between the nodes. 2) The number of connections between the nodes. Having multiple pathways to the needed information and making those pathways more efficient is apparently the key to having higher intelligence. That said,intelligence is not quite the same as knowing what to do with the information and even knowing what to do does not always allow you to execute the actions related. Consider things that require speed, muscle mass, or coordination. There seems to be a tendency among higher IQ to not train their bodies to the extent they are distracted by the need to feed their minds. In other words, time devoted to generating the pathways in the mind is time not spent working in the physical world. Music (playing/dance) is one of the bridges that seems to offer opportunities to feed both. Other artistic endeavors requiring a certain "touch" like painting of model making likely also create bridges. I think we might be able to stimulate minds to create the paths, but I'm concerned about messing with the chemistry to increase the rate of operation. We don't want to burn out the nodes like you can when you over clock a cpu. We need to optimize for the "equipment" that is installed. :-)
"There???s a chance the human brain could start to conserve energy and bring us back towards the size of the noggins of our Neanderthal ancestors" 1. The Neanderthals were not our ancestors, but either a sub-species of homo sapiens (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) or a closely related human species (Homo neanderthalensis). 2. At birth, the Neaderthal cranial capacity was the same as modern humans, and as adults the Neanderthals had a larger cranial capacity than modern humans.
I do not believe this. I once saw photo of a (magnified) slice of Einstien's brain compared with a normal brain - the difference was that Einstien's brain had a much greater capillary density than the normal brain, suggesting that a genius brain gets more oxygen. Perhaps the path to smarter people is the path that increases average brain capillary density.
The difference between smart and average is the speed of neurons and the connectedness of different brain areas. It sounds like that the human brain has reached its best performance as can be produced naturally. This is similar to intelligence in spiders; the brain of a spider is formed around its throat with a bigger brain making the throat so small that the spider can only ingest liquids like blood. Humans are good at making tools. The early tools were extensions of the body, to increase reach, increase power and to make better tools. Language and writing have been extensions to the mind, to document the past and to explain the world. Combining extensions to the body and mind has given us the high technology we have today. Given this trend, humans may find a way to overcome the limitations of the brain. It is possible that a series of events can break down our ability to maintain technology and lose the knowledge to make high tech tools. It should be interesting to see how far we can go with what brains we have and the extensions to ourselves.
You wrote, "There's a chance the human brain could get smaller, as a way to conserve energy - bringing us back towards the size of the noggins of our Neanderthal ancestors." If current human brains increased in size then perhaps our brain volume would equal that of the larger brained Homo Neandertalis. Wheather that would increase our brain power is up for argument. Perhaps as with Homo Florensis, a bigger brain is not necessary for intelligence?
Quote:Smart people have faster impulses in the brain than less intelligent people. quote: maybe the answer would be to increase those impulses like overclocking a cpu? same energy consumption but faster running speed.
Perhaps we can figure out a way to hook zip drives into the brain for extra storage and a CPU or 2 for extra computing power with an external power source or maybe a solar powered one. So we could sit out in the sun and get extra power for our brain processes.. But then since we are so good and minaturizing components, we should be able to insert them into the brain cavity and wire them in to the processes. Interesting ideas.
The article on why humans can't get smarter does an adequate job of defining a problem, but is way too negative. If brains need more energy to get smarter, than the answer is to get them more energy--that's simply a biomedical problem of the sort we've solved many times before. I have no doubt some scientists are already saying, "oh yeah, we can too get smarter." Seems to me there should be a way to increase the oxygen-carring capacity of blood which would increase the energy nourishment of the brain. Or perhaps an external energy source could be attached to the skull in a hat that would feed micro-jolts of electrical energy into the brain via a few key electrodes. This brain problem is a relative limit, not an absolute one.
So does this mean I can sit at home and calculate the quadratic equation 100 different ways instead of running 5 miles? hehehe
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...is one of the first things we are using portable computers for...mobile phones are rapidly evolving, and are likely to be one of the first pieces of hardware integrated on a commercial basis. As far as specialization goes... specialization of all individuals is an evolutionary dead end. Humans are generalists, and even now multiple specialists in different fields have difficulty communicating. Of course, if we were to make logic based instead of emotion based decisions, things might run more smoothly. At the moment we still are often tied up as a society because of various emotional reactions to proposals. In the real world, specialists do not communicate better between themselves, in fact the reverse happens--the more specialized you are, the harder it becomes to communicate with specialists outside your field.
or around that time. i forget which country invented the robot but, someone did program one to determine if someone holding a gun was a threat and whatnot
program a computer to make those decisions and it will, it will be artificial intelligence, based off human intelligence,the programmer or multiple personalties of multiple varibles of different humans decisions., but what you are saying isn't impossible.
Do you 'not like the idea' because you think it won't work? It might not. But effective intelligence is a function of a number of factors--processing speed seems to be one of them. Currently, we have different sub-processing systems in the brain, and the mind is divided too. Managing the body and keeping aware of external threats are two semi-automatic subsystems. You react to a possible threat before your conscious of the threat. Certainly you would require time & training to use such an attached processor, and it's most likely to be used for memory storage & retrieval and specific tasks which can be easily assigned to a computer. Self-aware machines would be able to interface and handle such tasks much better than a simple computer. Your cases where a computer doesn't make determinations are wholly off base...computers can and do make such decisions, and faster than people with the exception of visual processing, which we are rapidly accelerating. A 'split second' for human reaction time is ~500milliseconds on a current generation cpu that is a very long time--time for millions of operations. More on a parallel system. Computers can and do anything that you can tell them to do--the limitation on what can be done is in the human mind, not the hardware. How fast things can be done depends upon many issues.
...and definitions vary. But one definition is 'speed of learning' which includes new data and new processing--speed of programming. (Paths being ~ equivalent to programs) This ability is directly related to how often you exercise the ability--if you stop learning, after awhile you will find it much more difficult to learn. "There seems to be a tendency among higher IQ to not train their bodies to the extent they are distracted by the need to feed their minds. " It's a perception, but it isn't necessarily true because people see it that way. Exceptional talent often comes with multiple abilities, often including physical abilities. It's far too late to start worrying about using chemistry to rank up the brain--we've been doing that for centuries
As recent studies have shown signs of Neanderthal genetics in people with European backgrounds, at least some of us have Neanderthal ancestors. Given #2, going back to the size of the Neanderthals may be a reasonable choice. But brain and mind are very different things however closely related. Comparisons of brain size per se is a poor predictor of intelligence. There seems to be no strong correlation. And there are people out there living normal lives with brain structures which differ drastically from the norm in both size and arrangement.
So...you're saying that smart people are more dense than the majority of the population? Hmmm..who knew that being thick could be an advantage!
This is an interesting idea. This article and most comments seem to be thinking from a context of "individual." A fuller notion of language includes the exchange of information among individuals. Perhaps evolution may develop along the lines of "group think" (as in two heads are better then one) as contrasted with trying to develop individual superstars of thinking. I think humanity has barely scratched the surface of possibility with what deep and prolonged truly collaborative engagement might enable. Hell, if we could all simply work together toward our collective best and long-term interests, we might not even need super powered individual brains in the first place. And as we live in a more harmonious environment and can devote more resources to creating more engaging and hospitable environments for the development of our young, our higher brian functions may reveal as yet unseen (or rarely seen) capacities that might be all but invisible from our brains as they develop in a world such as ours.
good catch that Neanderthals did in general appear to have bigger brains than modern humans - and they lived alongside them and were probably not the 'ancestors' No-one understands yet why they died out even with those bigger brains. Possibly they did not talk as well. Perhaps they overheated.
I think implants with some kind of life time power source to increase brain function would be the great to help anyone with limited, damaged or even to increase brain functions.
I couldn't agree more! Clearly getting energy into the body isn't a limiting factor - you only have to look at the vast volume of excess-calorie-munchers waddling down the street. That leaves a biochemical issue with converting the energies into a usable flow to the brain. However, even that I'm dubious about for two reasons: 1) Were Einstein, Newton and Galileo's brains 'bigger' in volume than the average 'thicko'? I doubt it 2) If Homo Neandertalis had a bigger brain that functioned, then it would seem it is biochemically possible to support a bigger brain given sufficient energy. I therefore conclude that this whole article is flawed. I think I'm relatively intelligent, but no-where near as sharp as say Prof. Stephen Hawkings - so there is clear room for increasing existing capacities within similar brain-sizes. What I'd like to know is what percentage of Prof. Hawkings Brain is being used. Until we have people that we're sure are using 100% of their capacity and have brains the size of Homo Neandertalis, then clearly there IS room for improvement so far as mental capacity goes.
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We see people with amazing talents for mentally calculating say pi to 20000 places, learning a new language in a week, drawing stunning pictures from memory, playing complex piano pieces after one hearing, Kevin Peak recalling facts, etc. What about Newton, Einstein and other very clever people? My guess is that the human brain is capable of much more than we currently use it for. What we need to do is work out how to use it better. Maybe computer intelligence will combine with our brains to enhance tham, You can see the Net as brains wired up... (http://iphone4jailbreak.mobi/)
How could we fully compare our brain function to a primitive ancestor, with no living primitive ancestor being alive to compare to? ddugerbiocepts, sounds like your information is questionable and incomplete. Oh, and ddugerbiocepts; thanks for the laugh, as you stated, "Only dumb people believe they can't smarter." Thanks for the laughs guy
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To do that, we should need a way to suppress our emotional responses, since those are what we routinely use to make decisions. We don't 'need' much of a brain at all to do most of our living--few people are actually using much of their time thinking. In fact, it seems to me that the only real purpose a brain serves is to help organisms adapt to changing environments. In an unchanging environment, a high-powered brain is little help--in fact, it is likely to go unused.
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