Big data and your memory

Computers are getting smarter than humans. There is nothing we can really do about it, we can maybe delay the inevitable… We can also try to use the same ideas that computers are using and get some advantage over other fellow humans. This post has been inspired by this and this articles.

Big data and memory

Computers have a huge memory, which can be larger than a human memory. This memory can store a lot of examples and data, also called big data. Human memory is not that big, probably ~2 petabyte of information, but it is very thoroughly interconnected. This means, that while computers can access more data, human brain can evaluate more complex situations and reach finer level of understanding. When we are talking about chess, computers play better than humans. A computer analyzing 12 chess moves plays approximately as good as a human master analyzing moves, however, the computers can easily analyze more than 12 moves and a person cannot raise his computational capabilities that fast. This means that we cannot compete with computers at tasks that require huge computational capacities, but we can more than match them in most of the tasks we need to deal with in real life.

The robots I know are stupid

Smart robots are not yet available with current technology. In fact, it will probably take another 30 years till a robot will become as smart as a human, which gives us pretty much time to practice and improve. We do already have robots that can drive, but compare Siri to human assistant: humans are much better understanding what we need and finding solutions. It is easy to assume that this state of affairs will remain in the future, however, the projections made by Ray Kurzweil and other experts show otherwise. With the introduction of new computational technologies, such as quantum computers, the robots will eventually become much smarter. Ten years ago self-driving cars would appear unrealistic, today they are inevitably present on some roads, they are safer than human drivers, and they will probably replace us behind the wheels.

I can be a cyborg, right?

When we work with computers we become very smart. Using search engines and social networks we get access to all the data we need and all the people we need (well, almost….).
Mixing human intuition with computational abilities of “the cloud” we get the best of both worlds. With time we get additional robotic devices: what started with computers, spreads to phones
and wearables, soon we will also have robotic implants that will connect us to the world wide web whenever we need. As long as we can use computers and remain humans we can basically get the best of both worlds.

What is memory training good for?

With rapidly changing technology and new capabilities, we may wonder why we need the memory training and speedreading. I started the post from strong connectivity of human memory, and this is also the idea I want to finish the post with. While we can access a lot of information, we can be truly creative only with the stuff that resides in our brain. Problem solving, creativity, art are the basic achievements of human culture. These activities cannot be performed using search engines. We need to actively manipulate our memories, create new connections and new associations. Maybe robots will master these activities too, and maybe we will outperform robots. In any case, our memories make us truly human.

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