On the one hand, it shows how difficult the task is. On the other, the fact that we have come this far promises more and better things. It will be interesting to see whether this technique or the cyborg-like brain cell/circuit hybrids will dominate the race to insert higher functions into electronic circuits.
US researchers have simulated half a virtual mouse brain on a supercomputer. The scientists ran a “cortical simulator” that was as big and as complex as half of a mouse brain on the BlueGene L supercomputer.
Brain tissue presents a huge problem for simulation because of its complexity and the sheer number of potential interactions between the elements involved.
Half a real mouse brain is thought to have about eight million neurons each one of which can have up to 8,000 synapses, or connections, with other nerve fibres.
Modelling such a system, the trio wrote, puts “tremendous constraints on computation, communication and memory capacity of any computing platform”.
I still believe that no matter how good a brain simulation a computer can create, it will never become an independent mind. Animal brains are electrochemical systems and simulating just synapse firing patterns will never approximate the effect of neurotransmitters and hormones on the brain. Having said that I do believe that one day the simulations will get so good that they could fool a Turing Test.
Would a computer mind have a soul?