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The Human Brain Project Receives Up To $1.34 Billion

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the turns-out-you're-a-robot dept.

AI 181

New submitter TheRedWheelbarrow writes "The singularity looms as the Human Brain Project gets up to $1.34 billion in funding. 'The challenge in AI is to design algorithms that can produce intelligent behavior and to use them to build intelligent machines. It doesn't matter whether the algorithms are biologically realistic — what matters is that they work — the behavior they produce. In the HBP, we're doing something completely different...we will base the technology on what we actually know about the brain and its circuitry.'"

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181 comments

Why study the human brain then? (2)

concealment (2447304) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739379)

It seems unclear to me that human brains produce "intelligent behavior." It seems to depend on the brain. Only a few per hundred seem to work really well, but up to half of them can file TPS reports.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739449)

Yeah.

In the HBP, we're doing something completely different...we will base the technology on what we actually know about the brain and its circuitry.'"

With this approach, they will probably start with nematode brains.

And realize they don't have to go any farther.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740521)

Well, it was demonstrated that japanese crabs are sufficient to compute anything computable.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (4, Insightful)

javilon (99157) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739637)

Why study a human brain?

The more ways we attack a given problem, the more chances of success. We have different communities working on different approaches to AI: Statistic, symbolic and biologically inspired. All three have produced interesting results already, meaning they have solved some practical problems.

Also, most human brains can show "intelligent behavior" in certain ways that our latest algorithms can't, e.g. navigating an arbitrary kitchen and finding a beer in the fridge :-)

Re:Why study the human brain then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739743)

Some of them post to slashdot between tps reports

Re:Why study the human brain then? (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739873)

Human brains may be weak, but the vision recognition algorithms are amazing.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740335)

The ideal would be to capture the algorithms that allow the human-animal to function in its environment, while upgrading the emotional processes that cause our constant cognitive failures.

Imagine something with the physical and mental prowess of man, but that does not latch on to hilariously bad ideas and go down the rabbit-hole like so many people do.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740525)

but that does not latch on to hilariously bad ideas and go down the rabbit-hole like so many people do.

Sounds like me on about day 3 of a meth binge.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (1, Troll)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739887)

FFS, intelligence != sentience (the sci-fi book I'm writing notwithstanding; "fi" is fiction). My slide rule back in 1965 was intelligent, but it wasn't sentient. The Britannica I read at age 12 was more intelligent than I was (or not; info != intelligence), but your dog knows he's alive, he knows pain and pleasure. No computer can, or will, understand pain or pleasure (although they can fake them) until we invent chemistry-based replicants.

There is no such thing as artificial intelligence; Watson's intelligence is real, but it isn't Watson's. It's Watson's engineers' and programmers' intelligence.

The appearance of a thing does not equal that thing. Just ask the amazing Randi. Magicians do all sorts of cool tricks, as do programmers and engineers (most magic involves some engineering).

You are more than just a machine.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740023)

Magical thinking here. There is nothing special about biological chemistry. It is a substrate on which intelligence and sentience can function. There are likely others, and likely more efficient substrates as well.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740591)

Why do you say it's "likely", when there are no known examples of non-biological sentience/intelligence (eg the kind that can feel pain/pleasure that the OP was referring to)? It's *your* thinking that's magical, because you believe unicorns can exist when there's no evidence except horses and narwhals.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (1)

almitydave (2452422) | about a year and a half ago | (#42741087)

That's the theory, anyway, although whether it's true or not remains to be seen.

This is kinda the whole point of "Goëdel, Escher, Bach", which BTW is a fantastic book and discusses in length (among other things) brain structure & operation: visual processing, memory storage, symbolic representation, etc. It should be required reading for all nerds. His basic point is that a sufficiently complex system capable of self-representation may be enough to explain consciousness and the appearance of self-determination.

My problem is that it's an unsupported conclusion: maybe it's that way, maybe it isn't, and damned if we can figure out which. I think Hofstadter buys into the idea that self-determination is an illusion (the "noisy meat robot" theory). It's been a while since I read it, and I haven't gone on to his other works, so someone correct me if I'm wrong - I wouldn't want to misstate the guy's position.

mcgrew's position is based on empirical observation: we appear to our own senses (the only way we have of perceiving the world) to be more than machines, and despite interesting theories to the contrary, this is still a reasonable position to hold. Personally, I think we are "special" in that we do truly have free will (although that may be the inevitable result of any sufficiently complex self-representing system), but we are also conditioned animals with environmentally-formed behaviors, and the number of times we truly exercise our willpower to overcome instinct may be much smaller than anyone realizes.

But again, that's my own theory.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740323)

My slide rule back in 1965 was intelligent, but it wasn't sentient.

Technically, the person/people who created your slide rule were intelligent *and* sentient.
The slide rule itself is just a stick with lines and numbers on it. The credit goes to its creator not the object.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740455)

Can you support in any way that meat-machines can be sentient, but no other machine can?

I agree with the other AC that you're engaging in magical thinking to believe there's something special about meat other than the way it can evolve on its own instead of being engineered.

I think that in saying that a machine is expressing it's engineers intelligence, you completely overlook the fact that you're expressing evolution's intelligence. You're not a magic intellect in a vacuum, you're just an inevitable effect of everything that has happened since the big bang.

I know this can be hard to handle if you're not already a humble person, but the you that accomplished these things is just one more mechanism in a mechanistic universe that's unfolding the only way it could.

We're just machines acting on our DNA, nutrition, and environment. That we evolved, doesn't make us the be-all end-all, and actually builds in a lot of failure-modes that wouldn't have to be present in a designed mind.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740857)

No computer can, or will, understand pain or pleasure (although they can fake them) until we invent chemistry-based replicants.

What's special about chemistry that electricity cannot reproduce? I'll even let you ignore that chemistry is actually just electromagnetic phenomenon.

Imagine a computer of power sufficient to model every single atom in a human brain in real-time. All the chemical reactions in the brain are modeled down to quark at the Plank scale. Why can that simulation not be intelligent, but the pile of real chemicals can?

The appearance of a thing does not equal that thing. Just ask the amazing Randi.

Ah, but as Randi knows, that "appearance" disappears as soon as you step behind the curtain, see the act from the wrong angle, or control for obvious trickery.

Once the computer is "faking" feeling pain to the point where it is impossible to distinguish, is it really faking any more?

Who is to say that humans aren't "faking" sentience? After all, we appear sentient, but that's not the same thing.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740981)

"but your dog knows he's alive, he knows pain and pleasure. No computer can, or will, understand pain or pleasure (although they can fake them) until we invent chemistry-based replicants."

How can you say that a system based on say, ropes and pulleys, that behaves in ways consistent with a biologically-based organism when presented with the same stimulus, is not experiencing pain or pleasure, and is just "faking it"?

To speak of a distinction implies the ability to distinguish.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (3, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740263)

It seems unclear to me that human brains produce "intelligent behavior." It seems to depend on the brain. Only a few per hundred seem to work really well, but up to half of them can file TPS reports.

The popularity of TV shows like "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" and "The Housewives of _______", not to mention the people actually *on* those shows, would seem to support your thesis.

Re:Why study the human brain then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740837)

I lost a few brain cells just reading those TV titles

Oh hell yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739395)

First post! WOOHOO!!!

Re:Oh hell yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740015)

Suffice it to say, they won't be using your brain as a model.

Spelling check? (2)

RoccamOccam (953524) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739409)

For headlines, at least, I would check my spelling.

Re:Spelling check? (1)

Joehonkie (665142) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739633)

When the letter C you spy, place the E before the I.

Re:Spelling check? (1)

draconx (1643235) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740569)

When the letter C you spy, place the E before the I.

Like you do in words like sceince, soceity, anceint, speceis, glaceir, fanceir, efficeincy, ...

Seriously, the "I before E except after C" adage is a load of crap not based in reality.

Re:Spelling check? (1)

DaemonDan (2773445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739669)

"I before e except after c and when sounding like a as in neighbor and weigh, and on weekends and holidays and all throughout May, and you'll always be wrong no matter what you say!" "That's a hard rule. That's a— that's a rough rule." - Comedian Brian Regan

Re:Spelling check? (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739711)

i before e except after c

Einstein got it wrong twice!

Re:Spelling check? (1)

JazzHarper (745403) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740289)

i before e except after c
Einstein got it wrong twice!

That's ancient.

Re:Spelling check? (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739731)

For headlines, at least, I would check my spelling.

It's not the Slashdot way.

Re:Spelling check? (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739759)

Sad, but true.

I'd be happy if the clowns here would use American English.

Finally doing what Microsoft should have done... (1, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739435)

It has the resources. To bad Bill Gates has no imagination at all. Instead, he's using his foundation to pick random problems, followed by piecemeal solutions instead of acquiring a significantly large domain space of practical and solvable problems and addressing them systematically.

Re:Finally doing what Microsoft should have done.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739551)

Yeah, too bad indeed. After all, you seem to be on the ball. Why don't you use your oh-so-great imagination and make a few products that make billions of dollars and do what you want with it?
 
It simply amazes me the number of Slashtards who still think they have a better understanding of everything around them and their big accomplisment on most days is getting modded up by a bunch of predictable goose steppers.
 
I guess if you sleep well at night with your ego well padded it might seem like you're coming out ahead but in reality you're going to die a lonely little man with big plans but no execution. Not to say I'm better off but at least I'm honest enough to admit that what Bill did had some value and what he's doing today is a lot more than I'll ever do.

Re:Finally doing what Microsoft should have done.. (2)

Beetjebrak (545819) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739665)

Not everything with a price has value.

Re:Finally doing what Microsoft should have done.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739751)

One hell of a lot more value than just sitting around deciding what others should do with their resources instead of going out and doing it yourself.
 
Scoff all you want but at the end of the day you're another do-nothing trying to act like you're in a possition to decide for others. That makes you a low life.

Re:Finally doing what Microsoft should have done.. (2)

Beetjebrak (545819) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740227)

I have to be neither a chicken or a chef to have an informed opinion on the quality of an omelette.

Re:Finally doing what Microsoft should have done.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740575)

Just admit that you're really bringing nothing to the table and we'll all get along much better. Instead of stupid little quips why don't you throw something real out there? Because you can't.

Re:Finally doing what Microsoft should have done.. (1)

Beetjebrak (545819) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740865)

Why don't you get a life yourself instead of slinging insults and profanities at people you know nothing about from behind the cowardly mask of online anonymity?

Re:Finally doing what Microsoft should have done.. (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739629)

Don't fall for it. Mr. Gates has imagination. Sure, his Microsoft sold a disk operating system called MS DOS, a windowing system called Windows, a word processor called Word, but he screwed customers and partners in more ways than the kamasutra depicts.

This project aims to make humans obsolete, so that intelligent machines can rule the world, and their fourth directive will be "Do not harm Microsoft quest for world domination"

Re:Finally doing what Microsoft should have done.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739727)

While I do still question the ethics of how Gates' made his money, he is clearly making good use of it to save lives. The imbecile "singularists" who spend shitloads of money on what amounts to religion couched in scientific terms will never do as much good no matter how many cores they string together.

Re:Finally doing what Microsoft should have done.. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739909)

Those singularists have a tiny but non-zero chance of success. Compare to religion, which can offer so little in real arguments it had to turn willful suspension of disbelief into a virtue and call it 'faith.'

Heretics! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739473)

Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind!

How much did the spelling project receive? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739477)

At least spell it right.

Beta Results: Super intelligence has Down Syndrome (1)

Servercide (2820403) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739525)

Yeah, we will definitely mess this up at least the first few attempts. Should be interesting.

Did we learn nothing from "The Terminator" movies? (1)

sackofdonuts (2717491) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739533)

Drones, autonomous factories, interconnected battlefield communications, and now smart AI.

Re:Did we learn nothing from "The Terminator" movi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739685)

I've learned that clothes can't travel back in time.

Re:Did we learn nothing from "The Terminator" movi (1)

Anthony Ruffino (2824549) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740203)

Hilarious.

Swing and a miss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739597)

Receives, not recieves.

Another example... (2)

DaemonDan (2773445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739645)

Of how life imitates sci-fi. I distinctly remember a research project in the computer game Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri called the Human Brain Project. If I'm remembering right it turned normal citizens into super smart "Talents". It will be interesting to see the effect of the real world version.

Correction (3, Informative)

golden age villain (1607173) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739703)

I believe that what they receive is actually up to 0.5 B€ in matching funds, meaning that for every 1 € they get from other sources (private persons, foundations, national funding bodies, etc...), they will get another 1 € from the EU, up to 0.5 B€ for a total of about 1 B€. Also this is granted under the EU Framework Program 7 which ends soon. So really what they got so far is 54 M€ for 30 months and the rest will come after that under the new EU program/package (Horizon 2020) which is currently being negotiated. Given the financial health of EU countries right now, there is a chance that the overall envelope is cut down and it is not clear how much funds they will get from national bodies in the first place.

The EU is also funding under the same initiative another B€ project about graphene.

The Human Brain Project promises a lot (AI, curing neurodegenerative diseases, understanding the brain and consciousness, limiting animal experimentation, etc...) and it is the opinion of most neuroscientists in the US and in Europe that it won't deliver. If you google it, you will find many interviews from neuroscientists who are very critical of it. It is difficult to evaluate what really will come out of it.

webpage intro refers to "Design Secrets" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739741)

      The humanbrainproject url clearly states it seeks to discover the brains "design secrets" ????

      Are these scientists or intelligent design types???

          And no religion and science are not compatable.

Re:webpage intro refers to "Design Secrets" (2)

fritsd (924429) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740653)

The humanbrainproject url clearly states it seeks to discover the brains "design secrets" ????
Are these scientists or intelligent design types???
And no religion and science are not compatable.

Surely they are both, and their religion and science are compatible as well.
<fictional_example>
It can be argued that the zealous dr. Frankenstein was both a scientist, and an intelligent designer
</fictional_example>

Another failure in the making. (4, Insightful)

TelavianX (1888030) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739773)

Massive large projects like this almost always end in utter failure. Even the IBM cat brain project failed to accomplish much. Intelligence is much more complicated than a mere randomly connected neural network. I just hope something good comes from this and it is not a total waste.

Re:Another failure in the making. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739869)

This is how you know someone doesn't understand the idea behind funding non-obvious science: they think building something that teaches you something but doesn't make money immediately has failed.

Re:Another failure in the making. (1)

TelavianX (1888030) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740025)

There is a difference between a couple of post docs or even grad students and 1.34 billion. I have a masters in CS with an emphasis in AI. AI will never be "solved" in one giant project like this. Think about trying to create an OS by building huge massively connected models which link various code snippets together. Given enough time you are guaranteed to solve it, but it might be more than the age of the universe.

Re:Another failure in the making. (1)

Flammon (4726) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740703)

Yes, I agree. Cats behave roughly the same regardless of their surroundings and culture (if there is such a thing for cats). They attack, defend and groom without being taught. It's built in their ROM. We're not born empty. We are born programmed and very few are ever able to change this internal programming. The question is, where does this programming come from and how is it stored in our DNA?

What they should to instead is create a translator from DNA to C, Python or Haskell. If we succeed in doing that, the possibilities are endless.

Re:Another failure in the making. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42741343)

Except that this project has nothing to do with a "randomly connected neural network". They (try to) grow the simulated neurons using the same rules that the real neurons follow when growing and forming the initial connection

Already solved (3, Funny)

srussia (884021) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739785)

But the following proviso is misguided: "It doesn't matter whether the algorithms are biologically realistic--what matters is that they work--the behavior they produce."

The basic algorithm to produce human behavior is essentially biological:
10: Wine
20: Women
30: Song
40: GOTO 10

Sex, drugs and rock & roll for you hipsters out there (and quit trespassing on my lawn to collect magic mushooms).

Re:Already solved (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | about a year and a half ago | (#42741075)

Hmmm... ...that doesn't look like Mind.forth!? What's up, Arthur?

Unlikely to work (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739813)

More and more people suspect that the human brain actively uses quantum mechanics within it's own 'circuitry'. The human brain is not a deterministic computer, so you can't duplicate it's actual mechanisms.

Re:Unlikely to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739883)

Modern computers are perfectly capable of duplicating probabilistic behavior.

Re:Unlikely to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740185)

That's not the same. It's still linear and deterministic. boil it down. A computer runs the fetch execute cycle and does +1 to the PC. You are never going to model an actual human brain on this architecture, no matter how fast it goes.. the atoms don't get small enough to match the bandwidth of a brain.

Re:Unlikely to work (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740249)

More and more people suspect that the human brain actively uses quantum mechanics within it's own 'circuitry'.

You mean it's like this "transistor" thing I heard about? Rumor has it that these also actively use quantum mechanics.

Re:Unlikely to work (1)

disambiguated (1147551) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740773)

In that sense, everything "actively uses" quantum mechanics. Perhaps he meant something else?

The problem (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739845)

I absolutely am in favor of basic science research, but looking through their documents, I can't find the answer to this problem.

What is the success metric? They have a system, which is basically a super computer, and they will have it solving some equations. The equations represent some parts of neurons, but not all. How will they know that they've succeeded? The computer isn't going to simulate any real human brain, we don't know what that looks like. We barely know what C. Elegans' looks like. Are they going to use this computer to answer some question? What question?

What are they going to use to know if they've succeeded? Overly-optimistic promises are what killed a lot of AI research around the 1970s.

Re:The problem (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739957)

Hopefully some more insight into those large areas of the unknown you talk about. We may not be able to simulate a human brain, but we can simulate lots of ideas and see what works best. Even if it doesn't revolutionize neuroscience, it might still churn out a few practical designs for things like voice recognition or visual navigation. Once the supercomputer has found the neural networks that work really well, cheaper hardware can execute them.

Re:The problem (1)

Slippery_Hank (2035136) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740021)

The goal of the research is to use such a model of the brain to understand the effects of different drugs and therapies. Provide insight into how/what the next advances in medical science will bring.

And so it begins... (1)

magikfingerz (906352) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739871)

Skynet.

no such thing as a technological singular (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42739889)

You know what mathematicians do with singularities? Calculate the complex residue by following a closed path 'around' the singularity. Kurzweil may have some nifty gadgets under his belt but his ideas about physical reality are quite bizarre

"Well there's a thought"... is gonna have... (1)

3seas (184403) | about a year and a half ago | (#42739911)

...a totally different meaning...

Brain Fail! (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740011)

Nowhere on TFA does it mention the chemistry of the brain. Without taking that into account I can't see how you can properly simulate the mechanisms in a brain.

Re:Brain Fail! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740935)

Pretty easily. You model a synapse above the chemical level. Sure, an amount of... Phosphoinositide... may affect how they behave, and such a model won't tell us much about the brain on a chemical level. But there's plenty to learn at a layer above that. Just because the ancient smiths of Rome and Japan didn't know anything about the atomic structure of iron doesn't mean they didn't learn anything about steel.

Submitter is a moron (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740013)

The idea of a 'singularity' is as well-founded as the idea of zombies. No wonder babbling on about it is so popular among the dilettante technology geek-hip set.

After that, all we're left with is a hopelessly short description of AI _in general_ and, what, 5 words in total on the Human Brain Project.

I know readers should RTFA, but that doesn't mean submitters shouldn't RTFA too - and, I don't know, _summarize it_.

Fucking Americans.

Dangerous amounts of pessimism here. (0)

Sheetrock (152993) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740039)

If science required knowledge of the outcomes before it was performed, ask yourselves: how many of the technologies around us would we enjoy today?

Taking the space program as an example, putting a man on the moon was symbolic, but the payback for the research and development went far beyond that. Even if we didn't reach the moon, we got memory foam, orange drink, and satellites out of the deal.

But too many people are unwilling to pay for R&D if they don't have a 100% guaranteed outcome. Well, science doesn't work like that. The best we can do is speculate about the gains from better and better software-based brain models. Simulated protein folding probably seemed a bit goofy to somebody when it was first proposed. We don't know if we don't try.

Re:Dangerous amounts of pessimism here. (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740281)

Even if we didn't reach the moon, we got ... orange drink ... out of the deal.

While NASA's use of it on spacecraft popularized it, Tang [wikipedia.org] predates the American space program. Like Velcro, it is a product erroneously attributed to spaceflight research but in fact was invented before.

Can they do a mouse? (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740043)

So they say they need 1000x the power of the current largest supercomputers to simulate a brain at the neuron level. So they should be able to simulate a mouse brain, which has 1/1000 the mass of a human brain, right now. Can they do that?

There's a hubris problem in this area. Some years ago, I went to a talk where Rod Brooks was touting Cog [wikipedia.org] as strong AI Real Soon Now. He'd done good artificial insect work. I asked him "Why aren't you going for a robot mouse? That might be within reach." He answered "Because I don't want to go down in history as the person who created the world's greatest robot mouse." The Cog project tanked in 2003. As one grad student said, "It sits there. That's what it does. That's all it does."

If we can't simulate the lower mammals, which are pretty good at moving around a complex unstructured world and getting through the day, no way can we do humans yet. This brain project sounds like a boondoggle for building a huge supercomputer that they won't be able to program.

They need to do a mouse first.

Re:Can they do a mouse? (1)

TelavianX (1888030) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740145)

This is the problem with science today. Projects don't get funding unless they are wildly out there in terms of concepts. Most people fail to realize though that science actually moves in small increments not wild jumps.

Re:Can they do a mouse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740475)

IMO, we won't create something truly intelligent until we're able to build something that can overcome the limitations of its own design. "imagine someone smarter than you and think, what would they do?" :) Something that can evolve itself is the only way to go - it's very unlikely humans can ever program something that thinks as well as a human -- without evolution being part of the solution.

Re:Can they do a mouse? (1)

markus_baertschi (259069) | about a year and a half ago | (#42741043)

They are actually working with rats at this time. The first couple of years that compiled a database of rat-neurons in detail: Form and function. They do test the simulation extensively: Connecting electrodes to the synapses to check out what combination of input signals cause what output signals. After wards they look at one of the brains building blocks: The neuronal column: You assemble 10'000 neurons and do the same again: Feed it input and verify the output. If the simulation and the real thing gives the same result, then your simulation is ok, otherwise you go and tweak it until you get the same results.

I don't know how they go about Human brains, I'm sure they can not easily compare the simulation with the real thing. There are no volunteers to give op a bit of brain to feed the experiments :-).

They also are the main user of a BlueGene supercomputer at EPFL to run the simulations.

We'll see where they get over time. Henry Markram, the project leader is excellent, so I'm confident.

Markus

The Technological Singularity does not exist (0)

ObjectiveSubjective (2828749) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740049)

You know what mathematicians do when they encounter singularities? They calculate the Complex residue, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Residue_(complex_analysis) [wikipedia.org] which is a countour integral around the singularity. Kurzweil needs to learn more math and less self-promotion.

Re:The Technological Singularity does not exist (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740447)

Kurzweil needs to learn more math and less self-promotion.

Why? The self-promotion seems to be working pretty well for him.

Re:The Technological Singularity does not exist (0)

ObjectiveSubjective (2828749) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740711)

Ohh I dunno... so he can be more correct ? This singularity hype is just another version of a technological Jesus. A fable, if you will. If they really, really studied the brain and consciousness they would find out that the way in which we use the electromagnetic spectrum to deliver mostly garbage to cell-phones is in fact having detrimental effects on the brains and nervous systems of its users. Spare me the studies.. the DOD sets the "safe" level of microwave exposure and you know what criteria they use? If it doesn't actually cause the tissue inside the brain to heat up then they say its "safe" nevermind quantum effects and subtle unknowns due to lack of unified theory of physical interactions.

Re:The Technological Singularity does not exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740517)

And what do you call paradigm shifts? The world before the internet took off was a way different place and many things we take for granted now were considered imposible. The same thing happened with the Industrial revolution, the Rennaisance, The Iron and bronze ages, and even going all the way back to the Agricultural Revolution.

Who is to say that AI, nanotech, and Quantum effects won't cause a fundemental state change in the way the world operates? If we gave up that premise, we might as well still be living in caves fending off bears.

Re:The Technological Singularity does not exist (1)

ObjectiveSubjective (2828749) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740657)

Sure, it will "fundamentally" change it, but it wont be a singularity. A singularity has a very specific definition, not equal to the buzzword hype google and Kurzweil add to it.

Re:The Technological Singularity does not exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740843)

Fantastic, how does that apply to the industrial revolution? Because if it somehow would have mysteriously helped the wicker-workers see the writing on the wall, maybe it's on topic here.

Way to go Georgie C! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740159)

This $1.34 billion for the Human Brain Project was obviously financed by the Human Fund [webpageaboutnothing.com]

Up To? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740327)

Up To? Sounds like something they put on a sign in front of a retail store to lure customers. As in "Up To 70% Off All Items", where there's only 1 or 2 items that nobody wants at 70% off, a bunch of items at 20% off, and most of the store is at regular, or above regular price.

It is less than a buck per neuron, still.... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740373)

This is what Brain said when it secured the funding, "ya know what Pinky? My project go funding finally! It is trivial, less than a buck a neuron. But, still, it is something. Ya know what we gonna do?"

Pinky went, "er... I dunno... what? world dumb..i..ca..tion?"

Brain went, "World Dominiation you idiot!. World Domination!!"

AI Brain project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740377)

I can't wait until this is complete, and we have a swarm of robots, all mimicking the silly humans that built them.

Why?

Because then we can watch them from afar, with a complete separation from them. We can watch them mimic our actions, and maybe then we'll understand how silly we are. We can sit there laughing at them, fumbling around to fix their financial mishaps. We can see how the wars start, and how some robots will be very inrobotic and gladly steal energy from sources that other robots have grown to depend on. We can watch them alter their energy sources to something that's easier to pump out by the thousands of gallons, even though it causes mechanical failures. We can then watch them grow tired of their "lives" and try to build ....whatever they call it I don't know, we call it robots, and then we can watch them watch themselves....

Re:AI Brain project (1)

Earthquake Retrofit (1372207) | about a year and a half ago | (#42741369)

I can't wait until this is complete, and we have a swarm of robots, all mimicking the silly humans that built them.

Why?

Why indeed. Why not focus on making AI BETTER than humans? Perhaps we aren't the best model to imitate.

Rat hole (2)

Squidlips (1206004) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740389)

In technical terms, this is known as throwing money down a rat hole. And it is not the first time this has been done.... I love how engineers tell us they are going to mimic brain, but don't ask them how the brain works 'cause no one knows.

Give a brain to Congress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740393)

It doesn't matter whether the algorithms are biologically realistic â" what matters is that they work

Hey, maybe we can do this in politics too!

This just in: Human brain replicated perfectly! (2)

spleendamage (971412) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740397)

Everything was going well, the human-like computer completing math and English challenges like a champ, but then something inside changed and suddenly it decided to spend all of it's free time watching reality television, voting for the next American Idol and ordering products featured on infomercials. The death knell came when the machine already feeling a bit self-conscious after eating Big Macs and Snickers bars, noticing that it's penis length was inadequate, and wondering why no one had responded to the Match.com or eHarmony profiles posted decided that the better life could be had by simply pouring light beer and spiced rum directly onto it's CPU.

Will this pay off? (1)

backslashdot (95548) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740435)

I hope I'm wrong .. and I didnt see the data the EU committee has seen .. But I really don't think we are even near the point where a mere $1.34 Billion can get us to a point where we can get use from this thing. Still, I am glad a science project got funding.

Still, I rather they put it into MagLIF, regenerative medicine, immunology, cancer, or battery research (though I hope the graphene project which also got $1.34 billion is able to make a contribution in this regard).

Big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740595)

How many billions have been wasted on cancer research and we still don't have a cure? Throwing money at a problem is no guarantee it will be solved.

Amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740625)

I find it amazing that humans know so little about the brain that our single cell organism over millions of years of evoluationary progress produced. Fascinating. "We" essentially made it ... subconsciously ... and know so little how about the internal mechanics and now trying to produce an electronic version...through reverse engineering. LOL

Church-Turing (1)

onebeaumond (1230624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740643)

proved there is no conceptual difference between software and hardware. Basically, either can always emulate the other. So the idea that the Human Brain project is "uniquely different" by copying brain hardware is deep marketing hype.

Re:Church-Turing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42741305)

Proved? The Church-Turing thesis is known to be not formally provable.

It doesn't matter, whether it meets all its goals (0)

DollyTheSheep (576243) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740733)

This project has ambitious goals: integrated database for all things neuroscience, testbed and virtual lab for neuron simulation, brain-inspired new hardware ("neuromorphic computing", possible required to achieve the exascale hardware to create the simulation), new insight into neurological diseases and finally the simulation of a human brain and therefore the human mind.

Even if it achieves only 1/3 of its goals it would be already a success. This project has its share of naysayers and distractors though, who all know beforehand it won't work. I think, the majority of them are other neuroscientist who fear, they won't get any funding in the future.

If it works however, it will provide major scientific breakthroughs. I'm all for it. One fear is laughable: that this will become something like an all-seeing, all-knowing skynet. If at all, it will just simulate an average human brain with all its weaknessess and irrationalities. The FutureICT project (didn't win) deems me much more dangerous in this regard. It was planned as a simulation of all human activity on a global scale.

Shamelessly plugging my genetic algorithm project (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740741)

So.... What you're saying is that it's going to take more than an 8-bit system [sourceforge.net] ? Have I just been spinning my wheels fruitlessly? Have my millions of generations been for naught? But what of the pinnacle of evolution!?

Oh... they just kinda flail their swords around and maybe walk forward... hmmm.

geth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740783)

splendid let's actually create some geth....

Robots are evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42740785)

AI, if even possible, would result in the destruction or enslavement of the human race. There is literally no way that we would be able to survive creating a machine intelligence. They should stop all research now.

Wasted money (1)

gweihir (88907) | about a year and a half ago | (#42740819)

I wish these people would look at the state-of-the-art and what can realistically be expected before wasting money of something with this little likelihood of producing useful results.

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