The Future of Humanity Institute, founded and run by IEET founder and chair Nick Bostrom, has just published a roadmap of the scientific research and technological innovations required to eventually completely model the human brain in software.
Whole brain emulation (WBE) is the possible future one-to-one modelling of the function of the human brain. It represents a formidable engineering and research problem, yet one which appears to have a well-defined goal and could, it would seem, be achieved by extrapolations of current technology. Since the implications of successful WBE are potentially very large the Future of Humanity Institute hosted a workshop in Oxford on 26-27 May, 2007. Invited experts from areas such as computational neuroscience, brain-scanning technology, computing, and neurobiology presented their findings and discussed the possibilities, problems and milestones that would have to be reached before WBE becomes feasible. The result of the workshop is the following roadmap.
“An ambitious project to create an accurate computer model of the brain has reached an impressive milestone. Scientists in Switzerland working with IBM researchers have shown that their computer simulation of the neocortical column, arguably the most complex part of a mammal’s brain, appears to behave like its biological counterpart. By demonstrating that their simulation is realistic, the researchers say, these results suggest that an entire mammal brain could be completely modeled within three years, and a human brain within the next decade.”