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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?!….

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  • 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

  • https://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 ?

  • friedrichofholymoly

    Maybe…. but in what way will ‘they’ rule? Mind control? ‘president’ Obozo and the USAG, and Janet baby et al. would just love that.

  • Rick_Buggy

    Where did the EU get 1 BILLION anything?? Thought they were broke?

  • 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
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  • http://www.lifefulfilling.com/ Roger J. Zamofing

    Swiss physicist Dr. Peter Meier from Zurich, founder of APS Applied Personal Science, claims unheard by arrogant neuro sciences and humanities since 1979 that humans have and are a unique functional principle that can be modeled and described by a vector language more precise that the usual language we use in all attempts of understanding. He is not asking for a Billion EUROS but only to let him proof his findings to be right or wrong by following scientific rules with personal integrity. However he is not in this “peer review” and “self admiration society” called science today. All his work on a new science for human understanding called APS Applied Personal Science he has financed himself even up to the instrumentalization with already proven applications in personnel development and case histories in a medical applications. He made already more than 10’000 analysis of humans of all gender, races, ages and societies. Politicians, historical people, business leaders, people in power, outstanding competencies, teams, cultures etc.

    But here now with this kind of “brain research project” we will only find the right answers to the completely wrong questions and this will cost a horrible 1 billion EUROS for nothing. Might be another and better way to manipulate people with more virtual and “human” projections that are “politically more correct” than using drugs and simple force. In fact it’s nothing more than what is doing the NSA – collecting data that make no sense for you and me only to control an manipulate the masses. However there is no way to really understand unique humans with that approach or even “build” a human brain.

    Did we change anything since we know to have a left and a right brain and how neurons function or in which area of the brain we actually think? As a former Tony Buzan Mind Mapping and NLP-Trainer I know practically of what I speak about. Only with a fundamental change of paradigm and overcoming neurolinguistically traditionalized thinking errors starting with Plato some 2’500 years ago we can prevent men from any more thinking catastrophes becoming also human catastrophes.

    So, what in fact is the purpose of the so closed, ignorant and arrogant EU Human Brain Project? It’s the same mess as the CERN search for the “God particle” which they call a “cultural breakthrough in understanding”. All thanks to stupid EU taxpayers working more seriously in everything they do for earning their life.

    Only on the DNA-level we also would and can understand unique humans and we need therefore to model what in german is called “Wirklichkeit” (based on innate cause; natures laws). It’s not so important what goes on in the “black box” if we understand really the inputs and the outputs not only described by our simple languages but with a more complex vector language e.g. physics.

    So all neuro-sciences only give the right answers to the wrong questions because humanities do not understand humans above philosophical or psychological discussions about. We are all in a closed thinking pre-trans-trap full of prejudices about our being.

    But it’s true we are becoming better and better in manipulating the masses by projections of virtual realities to fool them any more; away from their real life and it’s fulfillment. That all is against your and my LIFE… and after all we are not understood with a personal relevance. Me as a consultant working on boundary conditions to control them with integrity. What about you dear reader… are you open to know who you really are?

  • http://www.lifefulfilling.com/ Roger J. Zamofing

    Absolutely right! Thanks for that comment because it’s pointing to the weak point of this stupid Billion Euro project. This is rather a road block and not a corner stone for our future societies and science. First we need really to understand our MOS=Mental Operating Systems with personal relevance and than interlink them into normative networks like in the computer world too. Otherwise we only study mass phenomenas leading to nothing more than to proof our prejudices about us. It’s like building houses without an engineer to calculate statics and finally all that is the same as the “Tower of Babel” leading into an absolute disaster and proofs only these scientist to be not competent to answer any questions leading to a better understanding of how our brain and we really work as individuals. As you said, they only map the circuits of the computer… Thanks

  • http://www.lifefulfilling.com/ Roger J. Zamofing

    Sure, if we know in which direction we want to go, but otherwise we would go only around in closed circles – this is so since 2’500 years at least.

    By the way: creativity is an act of rebellion and if I would do the same as any “politically correct” scientist and “peer” is doing to get funding, I would better work in any factory instead of calling myself a scientist. I am therefore not for science but for UNDERSTANDING… This project is far away from create understanding and serve life of as many as possible. It’s only for the sake of a few in power to get well funded jobs for nothing…

  • http://www.lifefulfilling.com/ Roger J. Zamofing

    Right too, but without understanding functional principles you also make a thinking error e.g. Termites, Bees and Ravens are in fact very intelligent and unique “personalities”. The so called “free will” is not so free as you might think. You can give meaning to 8 unimportant, emotional states of being or to 16 important states of being. If you mix that up you are trapped already and cannot learn anything from these brain studies. Within that framework however you can give meaning to what is only, or you only create your own virtual world as kind of “self-made creator” or better sorcerer’s apprenticeship. You do not understand anything about LIFE and it’s innate cause and effect, so before playing around a little bit with AI you better learn that lesson first and then make the next steps if you think it to be still necessary towards life of as many as possible.

    That might be mass attractive but not very useful for LIFE. This mostly failed in history and also in science. So first please do not underestimate animals and do not think always in the same categories as you have been trained to do. It’s a fact that apes stems from men and not men from apes as Darwin thought. Why: They are more intelligent and do not destroy their own living space…neither create intellectual bullshit!

  • http://www.lifefulfilling.com/ Roger J. Zamofing

    See above comment on the difference. You can only give meaning to what is and that is not “free will” but some kind of “freedom of choice” is there in fact. But back to the ongoing discussion which is more or less philosophical without any experiments. So let me tell you again that humans ARE and HAVE a functional concept out of 1728 oegp’s (open ended generative principles) and so there are theoretically 10 billion unique possibilities (humans) such as me and you. This means understanding humans at the level of DNA would lead us away from senseless discussions about what we learned at school and from people that are dead already and neither did understand anything about real life. Mostly footnotes of Plato and his cronies and later people like Darwin etc. The problem with people is only that they are not interested in solutions but rather in problems to discuss about which is seemingly more rewarding, e.g. up to 1 billion Euros.

  • http://www.lifefulfilling.com/ Roger J. Zamofing

    If it would be not so serious I could laugh about. Hahaha

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