Your Brain = Lake Michigan

We talked to Kevin Drum for today's Marketplace Tech. He's got a long piece out for Mother Jones on a topic we're familiar with: robots replacing humans in the workforce.

The good news is Drum seems optimistic about this robot utopian future, where highly intelligent machines will do all our work for us while we sip cocktails and play ping pong (or at least that's what I hope to be doing in 2040). There is a caveat: economists, policy makers and the rest of us need to think about using our extreme computing powers of the future to increase equality--not widen the income gap. 

Drum touches on a lot of numbers -- and I thought one particular set was pretty interesting. That set is the computing power of our brains:

Computing power is measured in calculations per second-- a.k.a. floating-point operations per second, or "flops" -- and the best estimates of the human brain suggest that our own processing power is about equivalent to 10 petaflops. ("Peta" comes after giga and tera.)

What does all of this have to do with Lake Michigan? Drum says if you turned 10 petaflops into their equivalent in fluid ounces, you'd get the volume of Lake Michigan. And he thinks that by 2025, your average computer will have that same capacity for computing. 

About the author

Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...