Positronic Matrix/Positronic Brain
Data’s brain is a positronic matrix, a tribute to legendary sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov. Asimov’s “positronic brain” imbued robots with true sentience, though he was a little vague on how it did that, and the term “positronic” didn’t really mean anything.
Positrons had only just been discovered at the time, which made “positronic” a futuristic sciencey-sounding word. But Asimov’s influence is such that the positronic brain is the standard go-to for sci-fi robotic brains.
Believe it or not, it was the slapstick comedy duo Abbott and Costello who were the first to feature a positronic brain outside of Asimov’s stories, in the movie Abbott and Costello Go To Mars. Before Star Trek: The Next Generation, Positronic brains were also featured in the Avengers comics, Dr. Who, Buck Rogers, and the German comic book series Perry Rhodan.
So, what could a “positronic brain” be? Well, a positron is the anti-matter equivalent of an electron. Just as electrons produce electronic energy, it’s theoretically possible that positrons could also produce a positive electric charge, in the same way that multiplying negative numbers results in a positive. In that regard, a positronic computer would be functionally the same as a standard electronic one. Except antimatter has a tendency to annihilate everything on contact with matter, so the positronic computer would have to be entirely made from antimatter, and completely insulated from matter. So in reality Data’s positronic brain would be significantly more complex, but otherwise not significantly different from whatever standard computer was available.
This kinda figures, since Data has 800 quadrillion-bit (100,000 TB) storage memory, with computational speeds of 60 trillion operations per second. There are already data farms with that storage capacity, and the K supercomputer built by Fujitsu more than ten years ago is capable of 10.51 quadrillion computations per second, about 17,500 times Data’s processing capability