Virginia Technology Today

Perspectives is a blog designed to discuss future trends in technology.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Building a Better Brain

OK that’s likely a stretch but what about being able to build interfaces into the human brain that will allow one to be more efficient in certain operations or maybe help individuals who may have various handicaps live more productive lives.  The human brain is a pretty remarkable machine.  The average brain packs a hundred billion or so neurons, connected by a guadrillion constantly changing synapses in to the size of a cantaloupe (Furber 2012).  With this level of complexity, is it even practical too think one could even attempt to build a better brain. 

This idea has fueled science fiction writers and brain-mind-computer researchers such as Ray Kurzwell for decades (Hiemstra 2003). Imagine that one could replace part of a damaged brain with a computer chip that perfectly replicates the brain or use instrumentation to ‘read’ brain activity and the use that information to program a computer chip.  Could this be the beginning of the downloadable brain (Hiemstra 2003).

Individuals like Steve Furber are starting to experiment with ARM chips to help facilitate this process.  Today’s implementation takes over 600 chips and is far from being able to simulate even the simplest task but if one dares to dream, you can see that today’s research is like the first mainframes of the 1970’s. 

The work of Mr. Furber may be setting the stage of what is possible within the next 30 years.  While we may not be able to replicate Mr. Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation we may be able to build interfaces that will help individuals like Geordi La Forge regain his eyesight.  After all haven’t some of the most innovative solutions from our generation been influenced by popular culture and science fiction?

Below are a couple of interesting new articles and quotes about the Bionic Brain that I hope you find interesting.

                  The Future is Closer Than You Think


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