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Computer vs. Human Time

I got interested in comparing the experience of human time to computer time. I didn’t double verify the exact numbers below. Take it with a grain of salt. I think it’s interesting, if only from a sci-fi perspective.

Computer InformationComputer TimeHuman TimeHuman Information
1 CPU cycle0.3 ns1 sAdd two small numbers in your head
Level 1 cache access0.9 ns3 sA number scribbled in the margin of a piece of paper
Level 2 cache access2.8 ns9 sSomething written a few pages away
Level 3 cache access12.9 ns43 sA term you have to look up in the index at the back of the book
Main memory access120 ns6 minSomething you wrote in your notebook, but aren’t sure exactly where
Solid-state disk i/o50 µs2 daysA book from the local library
Rotational disk i/o1 ms1 monthA book you have to research, find, order, and have mailed to you
Internet: US East to West40 ms4 yearsSomething you have to get a college degree to learn
Internet: North America to Europe81 ms8 yearsSomething you learn after starting your career
Internet: North America to Australia183 ms19 yearsSomething you learn after a career spent in the field
Virtual OS reboot4 s423 yearsIt takes generations of people to figure this out
Physical system reboot5 m32 millenniaSince the time people were hunter/gatherers
Modern home computers, 1980s to 2020s40 y40,000 millenniaLonger ago than the Earth itself even exists

I’m not exactly sure where the original source for this is, but here is an example: Here’s a neat trick for understanding how long computer processes take.

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