Monday, June 06, 2005

Building a simulated brain: I've often wondered how long it would take before something like this would be attempted by scientists. This classic staple of science-fiction and philosophy thought experiments may apparently soon become a reality:
An effort to create the first computer simulation of the entire human brain, right down to the molecular level, was launched on Monday.

The "Blue Brain" project, a collaboration between IBM and a Swiss university team, will involve building a custom-made supercomputer based on IBM's Blue Gene design.

The hope is that the virtual brain will help shed light on some aspects of human cognition, such as perception, memory and perhaps even consciousness...

Until now this sort of undertaking would not be possible because the processing power and the scientific knowledge of how the brain is wired simply was not there, says Charles Peck, IBM's lead researcher on the project.

"But there has been a convergence of the biological data and the computational resources," he says. But efforts to map the brain's circuits and the development of the Blue Gene supercomputer, which has a peak processing power of at least 22.8 teraflops, now make this possible.