The artificial brain
With the recent development of technologies such as brain imaging or nano sciences, what was science fiction a few years ago is now taking shape Two distinctive projects target at assembling an artificial brain following the human brain pattern.
* SyNAPSE on one side, which is basically developed by IBM with HP and US university labs and is funded by DARPA (US army)
* Human Brain Project on the other side, developed by 87 Europeans institutions
NEW (2015) -> little update on the project : WIRED - First step toward mapping the human brain
It’s a huge challenge with 4 stages :
1- define the complete human brain map
2- build an electronic neuron, silicon based
3- organize the billions of connections
4- feed it with information
Is it important to do this ? Well, as an example, 30% of the European population suffers from various mental disorders. It’s more than any other kind of disease. Understanding how and why could be a huge step forward in medicine and neurosiences.
Also, all computers built since the ‘60ies follow the same architecture imagined by John von Neumann in 1943 (!!!). In this architecture, memory is separated from the calculation unit. And both of them are regulated by CPU (central processing unit). What a loss of time !
The brain doesn’t work like that ! Memory, calculation unit and central processing exist at the neuron level. It’s much more efficient.
When it all comes together, rather soon, we speak of cognitive computing. It’ll probably be more like a network of artificial brains linked together than a single super-powered machine. A bit like the Internet now.
Will it be more intelligent than us ?
At some stage, yes. It’s inevitable. Its growth will be exponential.
Will it feel emotions ?
It’s practically certain. Emotions are essential to decision making. Emotions are the essence of intelligence.
Will it have a conscience ?
I always thought that complexity brings conscience. Think of dolphins, they are self-aware. When you place a mirror in a basin, they look at themselves. If superior mammals are able to do it, I’d bet cognitive computer would do it even better.
Should we fear it ?
It all depends on the fear you’ve got. There’s a sense of guilt that brings the human race to think that a superior intelligence will suddenly decide that we are bad and should be erased. But we’re not all bad ! Genocide is the way of mad dictators, not sensible machines…
Revolution is on, let’s live long enough to see it !