Are we on the brink of creating a computer with a human brain?

#1
And last month, Professor Markram claimed, at a conference in Oxford, that he plans to build an electronic human brain 'within ten years'.

If he is right, nothing will be the same again. But can such an extraordinary claim be credible? When we think of artificial minds, we inevitably think of the sort of machines that have starred in dozens of sci-fi movies.
But in other ways, a brain is quite unlike a computer. For while our computers are brilliant at calculating the weather forecast and modelling the effects of nuclear explosions - tasks most often assigned to the most powerful machines - they still cannot 'think'.
Two years ago, a team at IBM's Almaden research lab at Nevada University used a BlueGene/L Supercomputer to model half a mouse brain.
Half a mouse brain consists of about eight million neurons, each of which can form around 8,000 links with neighbouring cells.

Creating a virtual version of this pushes a computer to the limit, even machines which, like the BlueGene, can perform 20trillion calculations a second.
The 'mouse' simulation was run for about ten seconds at a speed a tenth as fast as an actual rodent brain operates. Nevertheless, the scientists said they detected tell-tale patterns believed to correspond with the 'thoughts' seen by scanners in real-life mouse brains.
Some worrisome responses:
o-- They are copying a brain without understanding it.
o-- Would turning it off constitute murder?
o-- Would performing experiments upon it constitute torture?
o-- Would this human mind, for example, automatically feel guilt or would it need to be 'taught' a sense of morality first?
o-- And how would it respond to religion?
o-- Indeed, are these questions that a human mind asks of its own accord, or must it be taught to ask them first?
Source: Are we on the brink of creating a computer with a human brain? | Mail Online

The article said "this just isn't pie-in-the-sky", but I think it is. We don't even know everything about the brain and they want to start creating to build an electronic human brain? Seems a tad far-fetched to me.

Still interesting to think about, though. Maybe in the distance future, but the next 10 years? I'm not holding my breath.
 

Obsessiforge

- Diderot Reborn -
#2
there have been predictions the other way around, that soon there'd be a computer that would have processing power equal to that of the entire human race combined...maybe we should try to reach that milestone before we try to replicate the nuances of our own brains...but that's just me.
 

ExpectantlyIronic

e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑
#3
I'd be interested in knowing how they made an isomorphic copy of a mouse brain, because if they can do that, they can do a human brain. It's not like the two are fundamentally different. There is a great deal of uniformity across the brain, in that its seemingly functionally important components are neurons and the chemical synapses between them, and I doubt they're arranged in a very specific manner on the small scale. So duplicating a brain seems feasible, if a whole lot of work.

As for the simulation being conscious, it very well could end up being as much, but then so could the laptop I'm typing on right now. Heck, I've wondered before if the Grand Canyon doesn't think, albeit very slowly, since you can encode data in the movement of rocks just as you can in neurons and synapses or the state of vacuum tubes. Who knows? Though, if the simulation is built the way I think it will be, its not going to have a bunch of memories or anything, or at least no coherent ones, and it'd likely be numb, in the sense I doubt they'll try to feed it input to duplicate tactile sensations.
 
Last edited:

ExpectantlyIronic

e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑
#4
Discover featured an interview with the guy heading up this project, and he said the idea is to use the simulation to reverse-engineer and thus better understand the brain and neurological diseases. He sounded like an epiphenomenalist (someone who thinks of consciousness as having no causal role in the brain) as he spoke of consciousness as an emergent property of certain systems. He also said that all the necessary technology exists to create the simulation, and all that's delaying his team is the funding.
 

Shikimi_Farkash

Registered Member
#5
I find it interesting that no one has mentioned the fact that hooking the brain up to the computer could fry them both. How exactly do they propose to accomplish such a feat while frying neither brain nor computer?
 

Earth

Registered Member
#6
How could the brain live within the computer? I just don't find it possible.
 

ExpectantlyIronic

e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑
#7
Shikimi_Farkash said:
I find it interesting that no one has mentioned the fact that hooking the brain up to the computer could fry them both. How exactly do they propose to accomplish such a feat while frying neither brain nor computer?
Not sure what the OP has to do with hooking a brain up to a computer, but you can facilitate communication between the brain and a computer with fiber optics after properly treating the neurons to be hooked up; as described in another thread I started.