mouse_computer.jpg

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?



  1. Awake says:

    Would a computer mind have a soul?

    Wouldn’t we have to ascribe souls to all things with minds before we start thinking if artificial intelligence has a soul?

    We are willing to debate is a circuit board can have a soul, while we automatically dismiss the concept that, for example, a seal pup might have a soul, and therefore can be clubbed without compunction?

  2. OmarThe Alien says:

    Whether or not machine mind will ever have a soul, at some point in time/development there will be those machines who can bullshit us into thinking that it does, as do many humans.

  3. BgScryAnml says:

    Is this really news, everyone knows they have been using a Timex Sinclair TS1000 to simulate all the aspects of the conservative and liberal brains since the early 1980′s..

  4. Fred Flint says:

    Would a computer mind have a soul?

    As Captain Picard said about Data, “I don’t know if he has a soul. Do you? Do I?”

  5. Sam says:

    Searle already showed that the Turing test would be ineffective. But that matters little, there is nothing inherently special about organic brains. Don’t mistake complexity for divinity.

  6. Ken in Berkeley says:

    Why can’t a computer simulation become an independent mind? Granted, it will require a heck of a lot more computing power than we currently have to simulate the synapse firing patterns of a complex electrochemical system, but it should be possible. If analog music can be simulated on a digital disc, than brain functions can also be simulated, only there will be a quadrillion times more information to assimilate. :)

  7. Smartalix says:

    6,

    Would you want a compressed digital copy of your analog mind?

  8. JoaoPT says:

    #7
    With or without DRM ???

    The DRMless version is more expensive but better encoded…

  9. Ken in Berkeley says:

    #7, a digital copy of my analog mind would be wonderful.

    I could reload my brain in case I got senile in my old age, plus I could swap discs with other people and exchange knowledge more efficiently than by merely conversing on blogs. ;)

  10. Smartalix says:

    Yeah, but every once in a while you’re found drooling on the sidewalk hoping someone will reboot you.

  11. John Paradox says:

    RE: digital copy of analog mind

    Gives a whole new meaning to ‘blue screen of DEATH’!

    J/P=?

  12. KVolk says:

    Instead of soul how about self aware.

  13. Rob says:

    It may be real hard to simulate half a mouse brain, but it only takes a few lines of code to simulate a Chimperor brain:

    int main(int ac, char *av[])
    {
    if (ac > 1)
    {
    if (!stristr(av[1], “islam”))
    printf(“Bomb it!”);
    else if (!stristr(av[1], “domestic”))
    printf(“Slash it!”);
    else if (!stristr(av[1], “hurricane”))
    printf(“Ignore it!”);
    else if (!stristr(av[1], “email”))
    printf(“Delete it!”);
    else
    printf(“Smirk”);
    }
    }

  14. joshua says:

    #13…Rob….you win the fart bag award for being the first **one note Charlie** to put Bush into a post that has nothing what so ever to do with him.

    I’m no Bush lover….but I do like to read and comment on topics that have absolutely nothing to do with Bush, and actually NOT see a comment about Bush.

  15. David says:

    I prefer the mouse mouse. Forget the mouse brain. This cyborg mouse is here today!

    http://www.quixoticals.com/2007/04/creating-mouse-out-of-mouse.html

  16. TJGeezer says:

    #15 – Love that link! “Quixoticals” is a great name, too.

    I guarantee they didn’t model that supercomputer run on the mouse in our house, whom we have taken to calling Mrs. Morris (presumed spouse of Morris the Mouse). Mrs. Morris got into a live trap and back out again – with the bait. So we bought some sticky traps. She lost a few hairs, but managed to eat the bait right off the trap.

    My wife frets over the cats when I mention poison, and traditional traps give my wife the willies. She outsmarts our cats. So what the hell, Mrs. Morris doesn’t eat much. Now we keep a small plastic container open in the corner under the sink, filled with Quaker Oats oatmeal (uncooked). Mrs. Morris seems to understand the quid pro quo because she eats there and then leaves to wherever she lives, not leaving crap all over. We think she lives outside in a large planter alongside the house and gets in through the water pipe opening or something.

    Don’t know if she has a soul, but she certainly do gots soul, plus she’s clearly smarter than I am. It’d take ten supercomputers to model half her brain. I’m pretty sure she could join Mensa if she wanted to demean herself.