Whole Brain Emulation (WBE)

Whole brain emulation (WBE), is still decades, perhaps more than a century away. Outside of the pure science challenge, it could make us confront some of the most daunting questions about what it means to be human, and where man ends and machine begins.
The term “whole brain emulation” might sound new, but chances are you’ve seen it across popular fiction. In a 2008 whitepaper, futurists Nick Bostrom and Anders Sandberg of the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute published the first roadmap for WBE.
They identified three core components: 1) scanning a brain 2) interpreting the brain data and building a software model and 3) simulating this model “so faithful[ly] to the original that, when run on appropriate hardware, it will behave in essentially the same way as the original brain.” It’s closely tied to the concepts of “mind uploading” and “downloading”–but even that phrasing needs some unpacking.
The “brain” is that biological mash of neurons and synapses that makes you think, feel, and experience. The “mind” is more ambiguous: Some view it as separate from the brain, others as intrinsically woven together.

1 thought on “Whole Brain Emulation (WBE)

  1. shinichi Post author

    Whole Brain Emulation: A Huge Step for Neuroscience

    https://www.theleadersglobe.com/science-technology/whole-brain-emulation-a-huge-step-for-neuroscience/

    Machine interfaces today can link up brains to play tetris together. Like it’s not hard enough to find a place for the L-shaped block without another cerebrum trying to overrule you.

    Whole brain emulation (WBE), is still decades, perhaps more than a century away. Outside of the pure science challenge, it could make us confront some of the most daunting questions about what it means to be human, and where man ends and machine begins.

    The term “whole brain emulation” might sound new, but chances are you’ve seen it across popular fiction. In a 2008 whitepaper, futurists Nick Bostrom and Anders Sandberg of the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute published the first roadmap for WBE.

    They identified three core components: 1) scanning a brain 2) interpreting the brain data and building a software model and 3) simulating this model “so faithful[ly] to the original that, when run on appropriate hardware, it will behave in essentially the same way as the original brain.” It’s closely tied to the concepts of “mind uploading” and “downloading”–but even that phrasing needs some unpacking.

    The “brain” is that biological mash of neurons and synapses that makes you think, feel, and experience. The “mind” is more ambiguous: Some view it as separate from the brain, others as intrinsically woven together. We’ll leave that debate to philosophy 101 courses.

    Getting your head into the cloud is not just a computer and neuroscience question. Humans have been philosophizing about what the mind is and how it relates to the brain for centuries.

    Now, as great as android uploads would be, whether the individual would survive is another question (complicated even further by questions of faith and religion), according to Susan Schneider, philosophy professor and director of the AI, Mind and Society Group at UConn. Schneider noted she finds it “crazy” that consciousness could be transferred to another location.

    The mind consists of cognitive, affective, and experiential qualities, and all three contribute to what we understand as the human experience, according to Green. Neuroscience researchers understand how neurons, synapses, and electrical signals make the brain work. Higher-level cognition and real-time observation, a little less so.

    In his day job, Kenneth Hayworth, president and co-founder of the Brain Preservation Foundation, works on mapping insect brains, with plans to graduate to mouse brains soon. For scale: A fruit fly or ant has about 250,000 neurons; a house mouse, 71 million. The human brain…86 billion. So yeah, mapping a human brain is going to be hard.

    Randal Koene, chairman of Carboncopies said he would be “astonished” if scientists had even a simple mind upload of a mouse within 20 years, but “equally astonished” if the human brain isn’t emulated in the next century.

    Recently Elon Musk’s secretive brain-machine interface company, Neuralink, unveiled flexible brain “threads.” All you need is a few holes drilled in your skull to implant strings finer than a human hair into your brain. The ultimate goal? To “achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”

    What Neuralink and related companies, such as Kernel, are working on is about as cutting edge as it gets. But the technology is focused on linking up mind/brain and computer, not creating a brain emulation that sits on hardware. Neuroscience research labs across the world are demystifying the human brain, one small step at a time. Companies like Musk’s Neuralink are working on brain-computer interfaces, a complimentary tech that will inform future emulation.

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