Human Beats Watson….On Energy…and Opposable Thumbs

While I love science and techiness, I have to admit I somehow found IBM’s Watson beating up on the humans on Jeopardy depressing.   Then I came across this post on Andrew Sullivan’s site. Quoting Jonah Lehrer in Wired:

One of the most remarkable facts about the human brain is that it requires less energy (12 watts) than a light bulb. In other words, that loom of a trillion synapses, exchanging ions and neurotransmitter, costs less to run than a little incandescence. Or look at Deep Blue: when the machine was operating at full speed, it was a fire hazard, and required specialized heat-dissipating equipment to keep it cool.

OK, I feel better. For now.  But we’re always improving battery capacity and we’re developing nanotech computing and sooner or later we will tap solar and wind energy properly and that energy gap will close. (The sun shines 10,000x more power on the Earth in second than what we consume in all the forms of power we currently use.)

In the future, I plan to lay my hope on the one thing that separates humans from a lot of species: our opposable thumbs. Because at some point, we will have loaded enough data into a computer that it can figure out its energy supply all by itself but it won’t be able to get up and doing anything about it.

Or will it?