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Capacity of the brain

Bill Skaggs skaggs at bns.pitt.edu
Tue Aug 31 14:50:14 EST 1999


schreudje at my-deja.com writes:

> Thomas K. Landauer (Bell Communications Research) estimated the storage
> capacity of the human brain at around  1.5 x 10**9 bits.
> (somewhat low?) see: Cognitive Science, vol. 10, 477-493 (1986)
> Reasonable? No idea.. too many assumptions.
> 
> Robert Schreuder

Yes, about 200 megabytes!  It's a cool paper, but he wasn't actually
trying to measure the capacity of the brain, he was trying to measure
the amount of information that a person knows.  He also assumed
optimal compression of the information.  It seems unlikely that the
brain stores information in anything like an optimally compressed
form.

As you say, the calculations involve a lot of assumptions---still it's
provocative to think that a person's entire lifetime knowledge base
might fit on a single CD-ROM!

	-- Bill



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