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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
http://bluebrainproject.epfl.ch/
The Blue Brain Project was launched by the Brain Mind Institute, EPFL, Switzerland and IBM, USA to simulate the brain from the molecular to the whole brain level.
This project requires precise quantification of the brain's micro-architecture (BMI expertise), the state-of-art approaches to simulate complex systems (IBM expertise) and powerful supercomputing (available in the new Blue Gene/L Supercomputer).
The first phase of the BBP will be to replicate, in software, the Neocortical Column (NCC) composed of 10'000 morphologically complex neurons and 10x8 synapses for real-time simulations.
The neocortical column constitutes the quantum leap from reptiles to mammals and is considered to be the elementary network of neurons that can act as a unit exhibiting some of the most complex functions of the brain. The NCC sees to have been repeatedly duplicated in evolution to form the neocortex - the beginning of mammalian intelligence (see The Brain: Our Universe Within).
An accurate replica of the NCC is the essential first step to simulating the whole brain and will also provide the link between genetic and molecular levels of brain function and cognitive functions. There are numerous other potential benefits of simulating the Neocortical Column.
The second phase of the project will be to a) simulate a NCC at molecular level detail and b) to simplify the NCC for repeated duplication, recapitulating the evolutionary process, to simulation progressively large brain regions and eventually the whole brain.
Sorry for not posting this before. This is really great news for computational neuroscientists.

But it’s also dangerous, from an AI perspective. There’s a threshold in the rise of capabilities. There’ll probably be no progress until they suddenly get insect-level intelligence, for instance. These are the hazards of duplicating natural selection’s handwork.

But as usual, I believe that this is better than no research at all, specially if the researchers become concerned with safety issues.

This will be a direct concern to AI researchers as well, since they’ll be able to learn from the strategies adopted by the brain. Researchers on cybernetics, working on neural interfaces will profit even more from this research.

But the theoretical reasons alone are sufficient to warrant this kind of inquiry.

I’ll be following their progress as closely as possible :)
 

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Hmm... although I think that the replicational approach isn't exactly the best avaible solution, I agree with you as well that this is interesting nonetheless...

... although it really seems to be a big jump... well it should bring some interesting conclusions and important discoveries, regardless of the results
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Proto said:
Hmm... although I think that the replicational approach isn't exactly the best avaible solution, I agree with you as well that this is interesting nonetheless...
Yep, it's not the best approach to Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), but it's a workable approach.

Building an AI from bottom-up would probably be faster, provided one had a functioning theory of the mind. But no one has proved such a theory yet, and there's virtually no funding for such research.

Proto said:
... although it really seems to be a big jump... well it should bring some interesting conclusions and important discoveries, regardless of the results
Even if the field of AI does not make a quantum leap with this research (an unlikely possibility, I reckon), the field of computational neuroscience will profit immensely. Even neuroanatomy and cognitive psychology would be reap the benefits of whole simulation of the human brain.

Imagine what would happen if the researchers cracked the neural code...

Let us hope that IBM keeps the researchers well-funded :)
 
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