Posts Tagged ‘network’

The Internet: resembling the human brain

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

nerve cellsApparently the human brain has a structure very similar to that of the Internet: “a vastly interconnected network”.

If the brain has a hierarchical structure like a large company, as neurology has long held, the “to” and “from” diagram would show straight lines from independent regions up towards a central processing unit: the company’s boss.

But instead, the researchers saw loops between differing regions, feeding back to and directly linking regions that were not known to communicate with one another. This is a better fit with the model of vast networks such as the internet.
Source: BBC News

The BBC News article goes in to the specifics of what this means for our understanding of the human brain, but I’d like to flip the perspective around: what does it mean for the potential of the Internet?

If the Internet is similar to a human brain, does that mean that – in due time – it may start doing similar things? Such as, you know, think?

Supercomputers: relics of the mainframe age

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Computer chipThe biannual supercomputer Top 500 list has been published once again, listing the 500 most powerful supercomputers currently in existence. You can see the list on the BBC website in a nice infographic and sort it by various metrics: speed, manufacturer, OS, and country.

The accompanying BBC news article puts this list in proper perspective. Many of the world’s most powerful computer systems aren’t made public, so will be absent from this list. Additionally, supercomputers may become an obsolete technology – networked computing seems to hold the keys to the future.

Distributed computing applications such as Seti@Home and Folding@Home have already demonstrated that by combining the processing power of many standard desktop PCs you can do things way beyond the reach of current supercomputers for a fraction of the cost.

On top of that a distributed network of connected computers more closely resembles the way the human brain and nervous system work: independent computer nodes [neurons] communicating through a vast interlinked network [synapses].

The potential of networked computing is growing exponentially. Ever more devices are being connected to the Internet, adding their processing power to the total. Supercomputers, for all their awesomeness, are relics of a bygone era – the mainframe age. The network is the supercomputer of the Internet age.