Complex Human Brain and a 1948 Dodge

Complex Human Brain and a 1948 Dodge
1948 Dodge

When I was a kid, I had a classmate who could take his 1948 car apart so that every part was lying on the garage floor. He could then put them all back together and have the car working in one afternoon. I bought that 1948 Dodge from him, thinking I could do the same thing. However, he understood the design of the engine, and I didn’t. No car can compare to the complex human brain.

As scientists learn about how the brain operates and the magnitude of its component parts, the complex human brain becomes even more amazing. Different parts of the body allow signals to travel at different speeds. Signals travel through your skin at a modest rate of one mile (1.6 km) per hour. Your spinal cord has alpha motor neurons that allow signals to travel at 268 miles (431 km) per hour. That means signals from the extremities of your body can get to the brain almost instantaneously.

The design of this system is hard to fathom. There are roughly 100,000 miles ( km) of nerve fibers in your brain. The minimum number of neural connections (or synapses) in the human brain is 100-trillion. That is about 1,000 times the number of stars in our galaxy. The number of neurons in the human brain is 100-billion. Those statistics only begin to describe the complex human brain.

At our 50-year class reunion, I asked my friend if he could still tear down his car and put it back together in one afternoon. He said that he couldn’t. What’s more, he said that with the complex design of modern cars that enables them to do much more than the 1948 Dodge, he didn’t want to. As I started my 2018 car and looked at all the buttons and sensors on the dash, I understood what he was saying. That old Dodge got me from point A to point B, but it offered none of the creature comforts of today’s cars.

People talk about “artificial intelligence” taking over for human brains. But the brain does far more than just run through a simple path of mathematical logic. Your brain is a complex creation of an ultimate Engineer who built it to do an amazing number of things that we call “living.”

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Sophia the Robot Speaks at DePauw University

Sophia the Robot
Sophia the robot carries the title of the world’s “first artificial intelligence-fueled android.” She became a citizen of Saudi Arabia in October, has a face that can show expression, metal hands, and a clear skull that shows the working wires of the artificially intelligent brain. An AP news report said that “in past interviews, Sophia has expressed a desire to be immortal, a mother, and smarter than humans.”

Dr. David Hanson is the creator of this interesting computer, and he owns a company called Hanson Robotics. This robot functions through a Wi-Fi connection and has a large memory for storage of information and a large vocabulary. At DePauw University Dr. Hanson was showing what robots can do. He predicts that robots can be designed to look and function in very human-like ways making them a part of the lives of humans in the future.

The definition of “human” is the real issue here. If you define humans in terms of what they can do, then in the future robots might be considered human. The fact that this robot has been made a citizen of Saudi Arabia shows that the government there has a mechanical definition of what a citizen is, and Sophia can do everything their test requires. What is interesting is that this robot did not happen by chance. It is the product of an intelligence, David Hanson, who worked as a designer with the Walt Disney Imagineering team.

The biblical definition of a human is a living being created in the image of God. That image allows spontaneous expression of guilt, sympathy, self-sacrificing love, and the capacity for creativity in art and music. In this case, being human allows the creation of an interesting computer that copies much of what humans possess. However, neither Sophia the robot nor any other android will ever possess those things that make humans special.
(Watch an interview with Sophia in Saudi Arabia.)
–John N. Clayton © 2017