The TOP500 lists Los Alamos’s IBM Roadrunner as the fastest supercomputer on the planet. It was designed to model the decay of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
- Speed: 1.71 PetaFLOPS (quadrillion Floating Point Operations per Second; quadrillion = 1000 trillion)
- Memory: 103.6 TiB (tebibyte; over 1000 gigabytes)
- Power: 2.35 MW
- Cost: $125 million
When artificial intelligence experts compare the power of the human brain to that of computers they use the number of neuronal connections that the brain has.
The human brain has approximately 50-100 billion neurons, each of which contains about 1000 synapses, or connections to other neurons. This means, when adding up all neuronal connections, there exist about 100 trillion connections within the human brain. In addition to that, there is one more consideration that AI experts use: how many times a second can each of these connections fire? In other words, how many calculations per second can these connections make? It turns out they can fire about 200 times a second.
Therefore, the human brain’s final processing power comes out to the equivalent of 2,000 trillion calculations, or 2 petaFLOPS!
That is an absolutely amazing number! It is immense and yet look at our fastest supercomputer. The IBM Roadrunner can do the processing equivalent of a human brain! Admittedly, it is only being used for one purpose, whereas the human brain is extremely diverse in its functions. For those wondering when our computers will reach the processing capability of our brains need no longer ask. The time is now. The new question is when will these computers be redirected to perform human-like thinking and will they take on artificial consciousness?
According to pioneers in AI research we will have artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness at, and possibly exceeding, our level by 2022-2030.