As subtle as a flying brick.

A pink sliver of rat brain sat in a beaker.

The simulated brain – “The scientists behind Blue Brain hope to have a virtual human brain functioning in ten years… Dr. Markram began by collecting detailed information about the rat’s NCC, down to the level of genes, proteins, molecules and the electrical signals that connect one neuron to another. These complex relationships were then turned into millions of equations, written in software. He then recorded real-world data — the strength and path of each electrical signal — directly from rat brains to test the accuracy of the software.” Is it possible to digitally simulate a brain accurately? Can it only be analog? And are there quantum effects to be considered?

+ Some other AI/brain robot projects:

Blue Brain is controversial, and its success is far from assured. Christof Koch of the California Institute of Technology, a scientist who studies consciousness, says the Swiss project provides vital data about how part of the brain works. But he says that Dr. Markram’s approach is still missing algorithms, the biological programming that yields higher-level functions…

Despite the challenges, the push to understand, replicate and even re-enact higher behaviors in the brain has become one of the hottest areas of neuroscience. With the help of a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, IBM is working on a separate project with five U.S. universities to build a tiny, low-power microchip that simulates the behavior of one million neurons and ten billion synapses. The goal, says IBM, is to develop brainy computers that can better predict the behavior of complex systems, such as weather or the financial markets.

The Chinese government has provided about $1.5 million to a team at Xiamen University to create artificial-brain robots with microcircuits that evolve, learn and adapt to real-world situations. Similarly, Jeff Krichmar and colleagues at the University of California, Irvine, Calif., have built an artificial-brain robot that learns to sharpen its visual perception when moving around in a lab environment, another form of emergent behavior, a form of spontaneous self-organization. And researchers at Sensopac, a project backed by a grant of €6.7 million ($9.3 million) from the European Union, have built part of an artificial mouse brain.


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