Written by Nita Farahany, professor of law and philosophy at Duke University
Pick up a newspaper any day of the week and you’ll likely see articles breathlessly describing our progress towards unlocking the mysteries of the human brain. If the 1990s were the decade of the human genome, marked by the Human Genome Project (the world’s largest collaborative biological project), this is the era of the human brain.
With projects such as BRAIN and the Human Brain Project now well underway, and billions of dollars of private funding advancing neurological research and discovery, the future of brain science is within sight.
When he launched the BRAIN initiative in the United States, President Barack Obama said: “As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away, we can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter between our ears.” Unlocking those mysteries will be transformative for society. Which is terrific, and terrifying. Consider the possibilities:
Read more on World Economic Forum website, published on Thursday 21 January 2016.
By Dr Llewellyn Cox, Principal, LieuLabs
Why Your Mind Will Never Be Uploadable.
The rise of computing and the exponential rate of increase in processing speed pose an intriguing questions for scientists; what happens when computers become smarter than their human masters — the so-called “Technological Singularity”. Will machines take over? Would they turn on humans and destroy us? Will we increasingly integrate computing modules into our bodies to cure disease or enhance our natural abilities? What effect does all of this technology have on issues of equality and power among the various members of the human race?
One of the popular philosophies attached to this futurist realm is the idea of transcendence (now a major motion picture!). That is, the concept that a person’s mind could be digitally uploaded to a computer, thus “transcending” the limitations of the biological body to acquire immortality. It’s a relatively widespread idea that has been written about extensively in popular science literature, even making a cameo in an episode of “The Big Bang Theory”. It is also a major theme for followers of Transhumanist philosophy. As the world focuses more and more on the implications of our technological development, transcendence is becoming one of those concepts in popular science that are so widely-known that they become accepted as inevitable, regardless of the state of current scientific knowledge regarding their actual feasibility. Fortunately, no one reading this in the early 21st Century will achieve immortality by uploading their mind to Amazon. Read More
Rhonda Shrader, published originally on Essinova Blog, March 19th, 2013
Swissnex San Francisco recently hosted a discussion between top scientists from the University of Geneva and Stanford on how neuroscience is changing the understanding of the mind and cognition, and the impact in other fields. The debate is part of an ongoing World Economic Forum series exploring the link between neuroscience, economics and policy.
Like every other science, neuroscience has its fashions. Two enormous theoretical projects have just been introduced–the EU’s Human Brain Project aiming to “simulate a complete human brain in a supercomputer” and the NIH’s $3B Brain Activity Map.On the non-theoretical, side, there is increasing interest in applied sciences such as behavioral economics and adaptive technologies.
Which approach will ultimately prove effective in the global quest to understand the brain? Three themes emerged from this lively debate. Read More