New Scientist ran an article on Monday titled, Mission to build a simulated brain begins. It opens with,
An effort to create the first computer simulation of the entire human
brain, right down to the molecular level, was launched on Monday.
Blue Brainâ€ project, a collaboration between IBM and a Swiss university team, will involve building a custom-made supercomputer based on IBMâ€™s Blue Genedesign.
The hope is that the virtual brain will help shed light on some aspects of human cognition, such as perception, memory and perhaps even
On the one hand, it reads like bad sci-fi. “Mission to outer space begins!” or some such grandiose scheme involving peta-hyper-chrono-drive spaceships and (gasp) mechanical brains!
On the other hand, it strikes too close to the heart dismiss lightly. We can get so caught up with fights like evolution vs. creationism that we lose sight of the real mysteries in the universe. The question of how brains actually work has intrigued me for decades.
I remember trying to get a handle on it back in college. I took two 400 level courses at the same time,
I hoped that if I took
Today my hope is rekindled. Over the last few months, I have bumped into literature that the brain works more like an orchestra than a digital computer (The Music of the Brain). This seems much more reasonable to me. Rather than try to force the brain to work like the model that we have at hand, we may have found a model which more closely matches reality.
“Blue Brain” may just be a key component in this discovery journey. We may finally have the computing power to actually test our theories.
We’ve come a long way in the 25 years since I was at the University of Michigan. I can’t wait to see how much we know 25 years from now.