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The Computer and the Brain

At a hundred pages, a fifth of which is the preface, this is a slender book that compares the 1950s state of the art computer and neuroscience, but more importantly gives the answer to the burning question in oncology: how much are a few months of overall survival benefit worth? Well, if you are John von Neumann and you have boney metastasis from a cancer of unknown origin eating away first your energy and then your mental capacities while your are writing a series of lectures on how similar and different brains are from “modern-day”1 computers, and you are way ahead of your time in thinking about both, well, the answer to that question is quite a lot. It is in fact an unthinkable loss that he died before he could even finish his writing, let alone hold the lectures.

It was also somewhat eerie to read about the comparison between humans and machines shortly after Apple announced its quite literally game-changing M1 processor. There is fierce competition among the big tech companies to build the Skynet of our universe, and as of last week Apple is winning.

  1. i.e. 1950s, though apparently the architecture hasn’t changed at all, save for the size and number of the components. ↩︎

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