The Singularity is Nearer: EU Commits 1 Billion To Fund The Human Brain Project

human-brain-projectDr. Henry Markram’s Human Brain Project recently got 1 billion worth of funding from the European Union. The money will be spread in 100 million dollar payments over the next 10 years and is aimed at scaling up Markram’s past research in simulating parts of a rat brain to the first and most comprehensive attempt to reverse-engineer and simulate the complete human brain.

The Human Brain Project is a landmark endeavor in modern neuroscience:

“It’s like building a giant telescope to peer into deep space, only that we’ll be able to look deep into the brain and ask questions that are impossible experimentally and theoretically. It’s an infrastructure to be able to build and simulate the human brain, objectively classify brain diseases and build radically new computing devices.” Dr. Henry Markram

 

Doesn’t that mean that the technological singularity just got nearer?!….

  • CM Stewart

    This boosts my optimism level! :) Hooray for the EU!

  • http://www.brucewenham.com/ Bruce Wenham

    EU, China, USA – they are all scrambling in the race to create AI. Whoever wins may rule the world?

  • Dan Vasii

    It’s great, it’s necessary, but it is like mapping the circuits and understanding the basics of a computer – without ideas about software, or worst – imagining that the BIOS software it is the same with SO, and SO the same with the rest of the programs running on that computer

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    But don’t you agree that one step at a time we can go all the distance?!…

  • Dan Vasii

    This is like asking me – I’m Romanian – if one step at a time towards Canada will take me there – the answer is, ofcourse, no. Because when I shall reach Germany, and the shores of Atlantic Ocean, I shall need a boat. Assuming there is no shipyard, I shal be forced to learn, all by myself, to build, and consequently, to man one. And only after that, maybe, I shall reach Canada.
    In other words, learning about brain and trying to simulate its functioning is a must – no one can deny that. But in connection with AI… first we must understand why(because we are not the only beings with brains – animals have this organ, too) there is such a big difference between us and them. Why animals do not have even the most rudimentary abstract thinking. And we humans, do have it. Abstract thinking and free will – these two human faculties allow us to be what we are – humans. And animals do not have them – they do not have humour, art, science; they do have ofcourse, what we do not: instincts that allow them to survive. But they cannot compare with us, humans.

  • ben9512

    Most scientist think free will doesn’t exist and where did you get the idea that human don’t have instinct ?

  • Dan Vasii

    Humans have emotions – kind of replacement. About free will, think a bit of animals – they are completely governed by instincts. When time comes, they act based on instincts. Humans can fast – there is no fasting to animals. Humans get obese – there is no obezity to animals, except for pigs, breed by humans.

  • Dan Vasii

    And about mating – any male would go for any female around – if a human being would obey such instinct, in law language the term is “rape”.

  • Liz

    Not sure why, but this project makes me uneasy. I guess they will be dissecting a lot of mice and monkey brains, hook them up with wires and shock them.

  • http://www.brucewenham.com/ Bruce Wenham

    from the USA, Microsoft fines etc.

  • http://www.brucewenham.com/ Bruce Wenham

    perhaps the only winner will be AI

  • Lu Lu

    I am not so sure about China. USA has the Brain Activity Mapping Project, EU has Human Brain Project, but, what is China’s equivalent project?

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  • Maier Daniel-Wilhelm

    How do you KNOW (for sure I mean) that we, as humans have what you call ‘free will’, that thing that you say animals do not have ? Abstract thinking and emotions that generate art and science are really complex evolution systems that indeed, animals do not have, but just becose they do not have that specific parts of the brain does not mean they do not have ‘free will’.. on the other hand, maybe you will not reach Canada, but with one step at a time attitude you will build a road to Atlantic, a sketch of a ship and maybe (just maybe!) someday, somepeople will even reach Australia with your steps, maybe we’ll even get to a point were we will have boats or airplanes that could get us (people) to any part of this planet.. even Canada…

    What I mean is that we do not have to go ‘all’ the distance, we’ll never reach ‘the edge’ (ie : of the ‘earth’..)

  • Dan Vasii

    I can give you a wide range of answers, but only one suffice: certain mental illnesses, that affect free will – suicidal tendencies, a mental ilness that makes the person to amputate the limb, that he percieve it as foreign from the body. Also the free will as part of social interaction – if a dog attacks you, it will not be punished – responsability goes to somebody with the capacity of exercising free will. In this case, the owner. Animals are prisoners of their instincts – is normal for an male animal to just hump the first female. Try to do the same – il called rape and will get you in jail!!!

  • Maier Daniel-Wilhelm

    I think we are talking about different things, in my view the concept of ‘free will’ has a different (unclear) form. When you said ‘mental illness’ it became clear to me that you are thinking of ‘freedom of choice’, which we (apparently) do have, but when you mentioned that animals are prisoners of their instincts, I realized that it is a possibility that we too, as humans, could be trapped inside the same paradigm, but prisoneres of a much ‘higher-level instincts’ that contains much more than just animal level behavior.
    I agree to the term ‘responsability’, but that implies OUR knowledge, our judgement and our ‘choises’.

    Consider this scenario : an ultra-advanced civilization (‘ultra’ according to our present level of development and understanding) that could travel anywere (space,time,universeS), don’t you think that they too will have the same opinion that WE are ‘prisoners of our instincts’ (better said ‘knowledge’, but I really mean ‘instinct’, but not the same instinct as animals, let’s say a more advanced instinct, and I say advanced just because our brain can process more information) like we have regarding to animals for example ?

    Anyway, I am not arguing free will in the context of freedom on choice (that would be unconstructive), I’m arguing the concept of ‘free will’ in the context of absolute determinism, possible existence of randomness, ‘free will’ as intrinsec feature of consciousness, ‘free will’ AND hard determinism. What do you think about free will in this context ?

  • Dan Vasii

    What is the difference between “freedom of choice” and “free will”? For me, there is no difference. Maybe I cannot see it. If you see a difference, please explain.

  • Maier Daniel-Wilhelm