Friday, April 12, 2013

Reason #284: The BRAIN Initiative

Early last week, President Obama unveiled the latest of what his administration is calling its Grand Challenges (capital letters and everything)--a prospective $100 million research project called the BRAIN Initiative, which stands for pretty much what you'd think it stands for.

The goal of the Initiative is to map the pathways of the human brain, similar to how the Human Genome Project, well, mapped the human genome. That operation was indeed revolutionary, and today the cost to have your genome totally sequenced has plummeted from the initial $100 million (the same amount BRAIN started with, as it happens) to a mere $7000, which isn't totally out of the question for people interested in the ultimate in personalized medicine.

Mapping the brain, though, could be even more interesting given where artificial intelligence research is these days (and, sure enough, among the several existing research groups who will be contributing to the Initiative are DARPA, they of horrifying robotic insect swarm and equally-horrifying headless cheetah fame). All this is only even possible thanks to the exponential growth of modern processing power, known as Moore's Law, which means that the smarter computers get, the faster they continue to get smarter (ask me about the Singularity sometime).

Does this mean that in a few years we'll be able to carry around a backup of our entire brain on a flash drive? No idea. Let's find out, shall we?

Further Reading - BRAIN Initiative Challenges Researchers to Unlock Mysteries of Human Mind - 21st Century Grand Challenges

Wikipedia - Moore's Law

1 comment:

  1. I'm starting to put my tax brackets together now and looking for ways to reduce earned income. Good thing I can contribute to an IRA until April.