Tag Archives: Stanislav Lem

The Blue Brain of Lausanne

The Blue Brain of Lausanne

(Update Nov. 2009): German Article on Zeit Online http://www.zeit.de/2009/21/PD-Markram

On futur:plom I stumbled over a link to an article „Out of the blue“ on seedmagazine which describes the Blue Brain Project (with some nice simulation videos) from Lausanne here in Switzerland. It started in 2005 and aimed in a first step at creating a digital model of a single neuron.

In December 2006 the project reached the goal of simulating 10’000 neurons, which equivalents a 0.5 x 2 mm slice of a rat brain. To get me right: This project is not about emulating a brain by translating brain work into digital code in form of a tamagotchi – this is a supercomputer with 22.8 teraflops to simulate neuron networks on a biological level. The computer doesn’t think like a brain, the computer is acting as a neuron network.

Neuron with simulation data mapped in color.

Neuron with simulation data mapped in color.

Next step will be simulating a whole rat brain, then a human brain. The road map of ten years to this point may be a bit scary, but I like the approach because this is not reductionist science. By digitally rebuilding a brain we may get a better understanding of nature, which is more a holistic system than a four-dimensional machine. We may enjoy a paradigm shift in the near future… :please:

Now the really interesting part is about consciousness. Will this computer get one? Today I think possibly yes, because I don’t see consciousness as something mystical – thinking words, imagine pictures and planning strategies is simply an evolutionary advance. But there’s too this kind of consciousness one can reach by hushing the brain. In ordinary words: Will this computer get charity? Mercy? Will it see dying soldiers simply as collateral damage?

I guess so. In fact, from a certain point of view, the individual is not important – only the surviving of the system is. Valuation of individuals is a relatively new phenomena and actually bad for the gen pool.

It depends on what is defined as the system. Is it a tribe or an ethnic group, humanity or the earth, the universe? At this point Stanislav Lem comes to mind, especially his story „Golem XIV„. This technological singularity judged war simply as illogical (By the way: „Golem XIV“ is a must read in many ways!). However, I don’t think such computers will find a benefit in meditation – aside from standby mode.

Since „Out of the blue“ is a nine page read, you can get a small excerpt if you click on read more. And what do you think: Can a technological singularity reach higher consciousness? Speaking in the concept of souls: Can a machine get a soul? Or can humans „bewitch“ machines and get them a soul? Or is anyway everything illusion, including me typing this?

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