Is the internet bigger than our brains? Watch

University of Derby Guest Lecturer
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There is no doubt that the size of the collective knowledge of the internet outweighs that of any single human brain. Perhaps, though, size really doesn’t matter – it is what you can do with all that information that does. Besides, if the information on the internet is simply the total of what we humans have put there, perhaps there is nothing to really worry about. On the other hand …




Kevin Silber is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Derby. Kevin will also be hosting a public lecture, discussing this topic in more detail. The lecture takes place at the University of Derby on Thursday 31 January from 5.30-7.30pm.
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Kallisto
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The "knowledge" of the internet is nothing more than a collection of people's informations. A lot of it is useful but in turn the same amount is irrelevant nonsense. The internet is a mix of a bin and a treasure with good and bad things at the same time. And only people can realize it, the internet never.
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She-Ra
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Surely the internet holds more information than our brains? Because it's the collective consciousness of billions of brains....

I'm wondering does the internet make us hold less information and effectively make our desire to hold on to information less so because we know that information is easily obtainable...
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the bear
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if the internet were a brain it would be on Jeremy Kyle.
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Noodlzzz
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A brain is more than just information. It is consciousness, reason (and not) and emotion.
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Qup
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(Original post by Noodlzzz)
A brain is more than just information. It is consciousness, reason (and not) and emotion.
The brain is a pattern recognition device, man. All the information that the brain can access is already there, it just needs to be in the correct configuration to access it, which occurs using sensory stimuli.


Also, the internet (interconnected networks) is not something that "contains information", it is literally just a collection of networks.

I think the term you are looking for OP is "world wide web", which is a global database where data can be communicated to and from a computer connected to the "internet". And yes, the WWW does "contain" more knowledge than the brain.
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Noodlzzz
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(Original post by Qup)
The brain is a pattern recognition device, man. All the information that the brain can access is already there, it just needs to be in the correct configuration to access it, which occurs using sensory stimuli.


Also, the internet (interconnected networks) is not something that "contains information", it is literally just a collection of networks.

I think the term you are looking for OP is "world wide web", which is a global database where data can be communicated to and from a computer connected to the "internet". And yes, the WWW does "contain" more knowledge than the brain.
What about when the brain goes wrong, from hallucinations in a few to cognitive biases in the many? The brain is more than pattern recognition.
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Qup
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(Original post by Noodlzzz)
What about when the brain goes wrong, from hallucinations in a few to cognitive biases in the many? The brain is more than pattern recognition.
Trust me when I say that it really isn't that much other than a glorified pattern recognition system. Plus, the brain "going wrong" would mean that neurons composing it have failed to perform appropiate tasks, or in other words, they have malfunctioned and are hence acting abnormally.

To add to this, in regards to hallucinations... those are perceptions in the absense of external stimulation from the environment; they are produced due to an abnormal bio-chemical reaction within the brain that encourages neurons to behave in some way that causes a certain perception to occur, regardless of the body's response to its environment.

And awareness (consciousness) is simply the result of the brain deciding to filter out specific perceptions (tactile, audible, visual, temporal, etc.) due to them not being considered "revelant" by the brain to its own survival and that of its host's body.
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She-Ra
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(Original post by Noodlzzz)
A brain is more than just information. It is consciousness, reason (and not) and emotion.
I agree...

But then is emotion simply energy in motion [e-motion] that we tag as meaning something though? i.e. "nervousness is just excitement without the breath?"
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Noodlzzz
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(Original post by Qup)
Trust me when I say that it really isn't that much other than a glorified pattern recognition system. Plus, the brain "going wrong" would mean that neurons composing it have failed to perform appropiate tasks, or in other words, they have malfunctioned and are hence acting abnormally.

To add to this, in regards to hallucinations... those are perceptions in the absense of external stimulation from the environment; they are produced due to an abnormal bio-chemical reaction within the brain that encourages neurons to behave in some way that causes a certain perception to occur, regardless of the body's response to its environment.

And awareness (consciousness) is simply the result of the brain deciding to filter out specific perceptions (tactile, audible, visual, temporal, etc.) due to them not being considered "revelant" by the brain to its own survival and that of its host's body.
There is no doubt of the neuroloigcal and biological underpinnings of perception. But I argue that the brain is capable of more than a computer of how it creates things that I believe a machine cannot - emotion, love, irrationality and consciousness (which is very different from awareness, a computer can be aware but (not yet anyway) conscious (which is also not entirely understood in neuroscience, but goes a little something a long the lines if oscillation of neurons))
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University of Derby Guest Lecturer
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Let me add some more substance to this discussion with a bit more information on what my lecture will be about. It is a little long but I hope it will add context to the excellent discussion that is already unfolding

In this lecture, Kevin Silber will explore the idea that the internet has now overtaken the human brain as the most intelligent entity on the planet. Combining information from the fields of Psychology, Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence, he will explore the capacities of the mind, the brain and the best computers around to examine the limitations of each. He will pit the speed of computer calculations against the learning capacity of the brain and the mind’s ability to appreciate humour and sarcasm.

If we examine what the internet is good at we are all familiar with its speed of processing. For example, type anything into Google and it will return a set of option websites, articles and so on in the blink of an eye. Our brains cannot compete with such data access. However, that is probably where the internet stops in terms of outsmarting a human. The internet is non-selective, it cannot process information in a reasoned way. This is the critical difference in determining the ‘bigness’ of our brains. An example will serve to illustrate this.

Imagine you are looking at a photo of a chair that you have never seen before. You instantly recognise it as a chair. That photo could have been taken from any conceivable angle in 3D space and you would still instantly recognise it as a chair. In addition, you would instantly know what a chair can be used for – not just to sit on- and would also be able to instantly relate it to other chairs you have encountered, to the kind of décor it would look good in, to your knowledge of style, materials, and so on. It might trigger memories (that’s like a chair we used to have when I was growing up) or a multitude of other thoughts. It is these aspects of human brains that make them bigger than the internet.

A further issue for debate resides with artificial replication. If the mere size of the internet was all that mattered, why would we struggle to replicate even the simplest of human capabilities with artificial intelligence? Granted we have some startling achievements like Asimo, the robot that can walk up a flight of stairs but we are hardly impressed when that ability is displayed by a 10 year old. We have yet to see sophisticated examples of computers (or the internet) appreciating humour.

There is no doubt that the size of the collective knowledge of the internet outweighs that of any single human brain. Perhaps, though, size really doesn’t matter – it is what you can do with all that information that does. Besides, if the information on the internet is simply the total of what we humans have put there, perhaps there is nothing to really worry about. On the other hand …


I will welcome further comments
Kevin Silber
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She-Ra
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(Original post by University of Derby Guest Lecturer)

If we examine what the internet is good at we are all familiar with its speed of processing. For example, type anything into Google and it will return a set of option websites, articles and so on in the blink of an eye. Our brains cannot compete with such data access. However, that is probably where the internet stops in terms of outsmarting a human. The internet is non-selective, it cannot process information in a reasoned way. This is the critical difference in determining the ‘bigness’ of our brains. An example will serve to illustrate this.
I feel like we could say this about cameras and long-exposures. The human eye can't focus for as long as 15 seconds so our ability to see something like the Aurora in all it's vibrancy is near on impossible other than it's green glow (i.e level three) but a camera with the right ISO and exposure setting can capture it beautifully and sees what cannot be seen - what our eyes and brain cannot process.

But that's where it ends because we have to give that camera the command..... and at the same time the camera doesn't know what it's looking at. It's also providing information in an image.. we select that image based on the emotion we feel when we see it. If it resonates.

And when the internet provides information we also select what we engage with based on resonance - no algorithm can make us feel something but it leads our brains down a path - our brains retain control.

I think I've gone off on a tangent... but it feels interesting to explore.
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University of Derby Guest Lecturer
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(Original post by She-Ra)
no algorithm can make us feel something but it leads our brains down a path - our brains retain control.
This brings up so many separate debates, such as free will versus determinism or the issue of artificial intelligence. If no algorithm can make us feel then the suggestion is that there is something more than our brains. After all, neurophysiology is just a set of biological algorithms. The interesting question is 'what kind of algorithms?'. Perhaps when we think of computers like the ones we have in our homes we are thinking of the wrong kind. Machines that use connectionist principles (a computer that can genuinely learn from its experiences) might be ones that can learn to 'feel' and that have as much control as we humans do.

I have also gone off on a tangent - it is so easy to do.
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barror1
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I mean content-wise, wouldn't it depend on how much of the internet we can convert to our long term memory? Like hypothetically there is no reason why we could not but (from what I know) we do not have exact storage capacities for the brain or a number for the exact amount of information on the internet. If you could, how would you test how much can be converted to the LTM?
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(Original post by University of Derby Guest Lecturer)
There is no doubt that the size of the collective knowledge of the internet outweighs that of any single human brain. Perhaps, though, size really doesn’t matter – it is what you can do with all that information that does. Besides, if the information on the internet is simply the total of what we humans have put there, perhaps there is nothing to really worry about. On the other hand …




Kevin Silber is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Derby. Kevin will also be hosting a public lecture, discussing this topic in more detail. The lecture takes place at the University of Derby on Thursday 31 January from 5.30-7.30pm.
The internet, in my opinion, does carry more knowledge because our brains forget pieces of information as we get older and the amount of knowledge that can be stored is limited.
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Dizzydaisy37
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The internet has a huge database but it doesn't have a human brain's emotional intelligence, processing speed or decision making skills; it can only work off of a set of programs and cannot work for itself.
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RazzzBerries
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(Original post by the bear)
if the internet were a brain it would be on Jeremy Kyle.
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JMR2019.
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(Original post by Noodlzzz)
A brain is more than just information. It is consciousness, reason (and not) and emotion.
Then are you a dualist, I.e. you think there is a separate physical brain, and a ‘mind’ which experiences consciousness?
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Kallisto
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(Original post by Noodlzzz)
A brain is more than just information. It is consciousness, reason (and not) and emotion.
In this point, I don't dare to contradict you. But when I reading the word 'bigger', I associate the ability to get and keep informations and I don't doubt that the internet always wins in terms of this. I personally can't imagine that a human brain is capable of doing this in that extent too. It has another qualities as you mentioned and that is why the brain of a human is more precautious than the data record of the internet.
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University of Derby Guest Lecturer
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(Original post by barror1)
I mean content-wise, wouldn't it depend on how much of the internet we can convert to our long term memory? Like hypothetically there is no reason why we could not but (from what I know) we do not have exact storage capacities for the brain or a number for the exact amount of information on the internet. If you could, how would you test how much can be converted to the LTM?
I'm not sure it would be feasible, or even useful, for any single human being to possess that much information. Besides, a lot of the information on the internet is incorrect.
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