Energetics of the Brain and AI

Sapience Technical Report STR 2016-02

Author: Anders Sandberg

Does the energy requirements for the human brain give energy constraints that give reason to doubt the feasibility of artificial intelligence? In Energetics of the Brain & AI I review some relevant estimates of brain bioenergetics and analyze some of the methods of estimating brain emulation energy requirements.

Turning to AI, there are reasons to believe the energy requirements for de novo AI to have little correlation with brain (emulation) energy requirements since cost could depend merely of the cost of processing higher-level representations rather than billions of neural firings. Unless one thinks the human way of thinking is the most optimal or most easily implementable way of achieving software intelligence, we should expect de novo AI to make use of different, potentially very compressed and fast, processes.


  • Computer and brain emulation energy use
  • Brain energy use
  • Information dissipation in neural networks
  • Energy of AI

Cite as: Anders Sandberg. “Energetics of the Brain & AI”. Sapience Project, Technical Report STR 2016-2, February 2016

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