Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Artificial Brain

This article is about research that has been going on for a few years now that can have potentially life-saving results. The research is being done by Henry Markram who has been fascinated by the brain ever since he was about fourteen years old. His interest was sparked when he realized that there might be molecular explanations to mental illnesses and could therefore be cured by drugs. Once he got to med school he decided to drop out so that he could understand the brain more, which he thought would help advance drugs that could cure mental illnesses.
His main research now consists of a supercomputer that has nearly ten thousand microchips that act as neruons and can replicate the brain to a decent extent. He has received over one billion dollars in funding for his research and hopes that his developments in replicating the brain will allow for more effective drugs and for a better understanding of the brain.

This is a picture of neurons and you can see how
these could resemble connections in a computer with the long bands
 (wires in a computer)  all connecting to one another (would be the microchip, where they all connect).
This advancement and research, to me, is important because it can potentially affect millions of people who suffer from illnesses that we barely understand. One part of the article talked about how Dr. Markram learned that his son had autism and even though he has quite an extensive knowledge of the brain, being that he is a neruoscientist, he could do nothing for his son. I think that every scientist's ultimate goal should be not to just merely write a stack of papers in his life but to try and improve the life of as many people as they can. Dr Markram is a great example of how new science advancements can improve many people's lives if they succeed and even if only a small percentage of research actually yields results that could improve people's lives, it is still worth it. Beyond the fact of the impact of this research it is truly an extraordinary feat to accomplish as the brain has more than 10 trillion connections in it and creating a model of this is extremely meticulous. Maybe this research will spark other ideas or even give more motivation to create more powerful computers like quantum computing. This tech could even be used for other things like more advanced drones that could even be more human-like.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting idea and it is very possible. The brain is really just a bunch of neurons and neurons themselves aren't all that complicated. It is exciting but kindof scary to think that the technology to build an artificial brain is not all that far away.

    I like that you made the connection that the research done to better understand and treat problems with the human brain could have helpful implications in other fields. Sometimes we can stumble upon interesting discoveries that we weren't looking for. We've talked in class about how NASA does this a lot.