Evolution vs. Technology: Comparing the Human Brain to Google (Infographic)

The Evolution of Human Head Computers

Human beings and all life as we know it could not survive without search. If all search algorithms were to disappear in a single instant and no longer function, humans would cease to exist at that very same moment in time. This may seem like an exaggeration, but it isn’t. The single most complex search engine in the world is the human brain and without it, humans would cease to exist. It may seem arbitrary if not a bit tasteless to begin this book by discussing the human mind, but we will also end the book with a very similar – yet much more technical of the same topic. 3.8 billion Years ago, in the primordial soup that covered the earth, the conditions were just right for complex organic compounds to form in a relatively stable fashion. This process is called the primordial soup theory and was proposed by Alexander Oparin and John Burdon Sanderson Haldane in 1924. Compounds and the atoms they are made up of want to become stable. By bonding together and forming more and more complex molecules, a larger number of atoms were able to attain a full valence shell and keep it for a longer period of time. These organic compounds began to aggregate in larger and larger groups by undergoing further transformation and becoming more and more complex. This process is what led to the first version of life as we know it- Archaea. 2.6 billion Years later, this process (now called biological evolution) led to the development of our first human ancestors.

Search Engine Basics

A search engine is a software system that searches for and identifies items in a database that are relevant to an input query. Search engines are best known for their use on the World Wide Web where they are used to locate information across the vast number of websites. Search engines can be implemented in any instance where information must be retrieved from a database and ranked by relevance. Examples of search engines that don’t rank websites include Amazon product search (ranks products), facebook search (ranks people/companies), linkedIn search (ranks people), and the IAFIS automated fingerprint identification used by the FBI (ranks fingerprints). This book focuses on search engines that locate information in webpages across the internet. Examples of popular web search engines include:

Google Aol Search Infospace Dogpile
Bing Wow Info.com Alhea
Yahoo! Search WebCrawler DuckDuckGo ixQuick
Ask MyWebSearch Contenko Yandex


To be classified as a modern web search engine, a program must do the following:

  1. Store Information
  2. Retrieve Information from Storage
  3. Parse Information


How Search Engines Mimic the Brain

The evolution of the nervous systems is really where our story begins. Neurons are specialized cells that carry messages between the brain and other parts of the body and are the basic units of a nervous system. A large ball of neurons called the brain is in charge of storing and retrieving the information relayed to it from neuronal response to environmental stimuli. This system is highly analogous to modern day search engines. Neurons (web crawlers) collect information about their external environment (the World Wide Web) and relay that information to the brain (search database) where it is stored (indexation) in the form of memories. In response to neuronal input (search query), the brain must resolve the meaning of the input (query disambiguation), store information about that input (user Meta data), reliably locate previously stored information (Information Retrieval), organize that information by importance (ranking algorithm), and provide an appropriate response (Search Engine Results Pages – SERPS — this is where SEO comes into play. At its core, Search Engine Optimization is simply organizing data in a way that is easily found, understood, and stored by a search engine. The boost that your website’s rankings receive as a result of SEO optimization services aren’t based off of some unjustified & artificial set of principals but are rather a direct and logical result for making a search engine’s job easier.

Are computers the next step in the evolution of the human mind? As the capabilities and prevalence of modern day digital devices continue to increase, so does our dependence on those devices. Prior to 1973, cell phones did not exist. On the evolutionary scale we are hardly a blip in time beyond their invention yet our daily activities strongly rely on their operation for a variety of tasks including information retrieval, mathematical computation, and scheduling.

We have established that the nervous system was the world’s very first search engine but is it still the best?

Summary Table of Infographic Above

Brain Google’s Search Engine
Computational Nodes ~1 billion neurons ~2,376,640 servers as of 2013
Net Weight ~3 lbs 68,922,560 lbs (@ 29lbs each)
Employees 1 (self) 61,814
Years in Development 3.8 Billion Years Founded Sept. 4, 1998
Storage 2.5 petabytes (2.5 million gigabytes) 100 million gigabytes (130 Trillion Web pages)
Facial Recognition in Photos 97.53% 99.63% Accurate (Facenet)
Yearly Operational Expenditures $29,979 $63,080,000,000


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