Re: Human-level CPU power crossover date

From: Jimmy Wales (
Date: Thu Apr 12 2001 - 12:40:50 MDT

James Rogers wrote:
> [...] Problems are bound by speed or bandwidth, but I think it has
> been pretty firmly established that computational speed is not the driving
> factor in intelligence. Unfortunately, bandwidth hasn't been nearly as
> forthcoming as speed technologically.
> This has led me to believe that Moore's law is not a significant factor in
> the advent of an AI driven singularity. The growth of bandwidth is
> exponential, but it is doubling at a *much* slower rate than computational
> speed.

James, I hear what you are saying. This is very interesting. :-)

One of the most compelling things about Moravec's analysis of raw speed is that
he gives a fairly compelling defense of his numbers. Of course, he would be the
first to agree, I believe, that it is a "rough" guide, but at least it is a guide
that is quantifiable. Further research on the brain can give us a better idea
of the brain's MIPS, and projections about the future MIPS of computers in that
neighborhood of course become more accurate the closer we get to that future.

Do you think it is possible to give a similar analysis of memory bandwidth? In
other words, you speak about memory bandwidth in silicon growing exponentially
but more slowly than speed. And you speak about silicon memory bandwidth still
being dramatically less than brain memory bandwidth. Can we quantify this in some
way? At least, roughly?

How should we measure memory bandwidth? How much bandwidth does the brain have?
How much bandwidth do current supercomputers have? How fast is that growing?

There are many other quite possibly relevant questions, of course. But we could
leave those until later. Questions like: how much of the brain is actually used
for intelligence, as opposed to being used to run our automatic biological functions?
To what extent can the speed advantage of silicon _make up for_ a lack of memory
bandwidth? Those are obviously tough questions, but they might be easier to contemplate
seriously if we had a measure of bandwidth.

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