Microtubule made of tubulin elements

One of the advantages of being in the Google-plex in Mountain-View is that I can listen to interesting talks. Today, I went to see A New Marriage of Brain and Computer – Why ‘The Singularity’ Is Bogus, which was very interesting. I won’t pretend that I understood everything, but it was nonetheless very instructive. In particular the model of how the brain work I had was pretty dated. What seemed interesting was research showing that the basic processing unit of the brain is not the neuron, but much smaller units called microtubules. Those tubules are present in unicellular organisms and explain how those organisms can “think” and learn. The way these microtubules process information would be similar to cellular-automata.

This model influences the singularity theory by increasing the processing power by twelve orders of magnitude, which pushes the singularity back into the area of quantum computing. The second point of the talk was that micro-tubules behave not so much as classical processing unit but have quantum states. Because of this, communication between neurons are not limited to electrical spikes in the synapses, but can also occur at points where they are joined.

The rest of the talk was about how consciousness might be a state of quantum coherence between entities in our brain. This theory is called the Orchestrated Objective Reduction. The implications are interesting, but I must admit my understanding of quantum physics is such that I have trouble grasping this fully. I don’t now if this is bogus or not, but nobody in the room seem outraged…

4 thoughts on “Microtubules…

  1. La theorie du calcul quantique dans le cerveau n’est pas nouvelle ca date des annees 70 mais personne n’as jamais prouver quoi que ce soit et peu de gens y accorde le moindre credit.

    Personnellement je pense qu’elle n’est qu’une tentative de plus d’humanocentrisme et de minimisation de la puissance de l’informatique.

  2. Perso, je pense que le taillage en pièce de la théorie de l’homéopathie par Ars Technica m’a prouvé que les gens aiment tellement les théories quantiques qu’ils tentent de les mettre à toutes les sauces.

    Autant je ne peux qu’approuver toute tentative de démonter les théories des fanas de la “fin de l’histoire”, autant celle-ci me paraît particulièrement fumeuse.

  3. Les articles qui parlent de micro-tubules sont bien plus récents que les années 70. Ce que j’ai trouvé intéressant est le fait que le type ne s’est pas fait tailler en pièces alors qu’il présentait chez Google, devant une assemblée similaire à celle qui écrit dans Ars Technica.

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