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I Don't Mind Being Corrected At All

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Posted by Phillip Martin on May 20, 2003 02:53:21 UTC

If nobody corrected me, how would I know when I was wrong?

Kyle (mind if I call you Kyle?): "One tiny nit to pick:
[Phillip] said we have 100 million neurons...
actually we have 100 billion neurons."

How very true, we don't have hundreds of millions, but hundreds of billions. I can't remember the actual numbers, but it was either

1. Men average about 1 trillion brain cells, 400 billion neurons, and 600 billion glial cells (support cells for neurons); women average about 900 billion brain cells (90% * that of males), with 400 billion neurons and 500 billion glial cells.

2. Men average about 1 trillion brain cells, 300 billion neurons, and 700 billion glial cells; women average about 900 billion brain cells (90% * that of males), with 300 billion neurons and 600 billion glial cells.

Anyway, thank you for that major correction.

Kyle: "Don't worry, at least in the near future, even the smartest computers won't have the common sense that you have. Although we take ours for granted, it is almost impossible to to algorithmically program software that can mimic the type of decision-making that we call "common sense"."

But what if it programs itself? At the end of last year, several people got together at our school and discussed just that. I was one of about half of the people arguing for it being complicated. After a couple hours of discussion, we agreed that it would probably be terribly simple to get a computer to begin to comprehend (organizing data in a coherent manner), bad word choice, I know. I remember watching a special (on TDC, or perhaps PBS) where a computer was left alone without being programmed, but with various sensors attached to it. The seemingly random information began being organized into gradually more coherent patterns, but I don't remember anything else about the show.


Phillip Martin

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