Mouse Brain

April 28, 2007 · Posted in News 

This is from a BBC News article entitled, “Mouse Brain Simulated On Computer”.

The team, from the IBM Almaden Research Lab and the University of Nevada, ran the simulation on a BlueGene L supercomputer that had 4,096 processors, each one of which used 256MB of memory.

Using this machine the researchers created half a virtual mouse brain that had 8,000 neurons that had up to 6,300 synapses.

The vast complexity of the simulation meant that it was only run for ten seconds at a speed ten times slower than real life – the equivalent of one second in a real mouse brain.

That’s a lot of computer firepower for one second of mouse brain activity. So, it’s going to take a lot of effort to attain, say, a whole weeks worth of mouse brain.

What do mice think about?

For that matter, how do we know what mice think like, and are we sure we got it right during that one second.

Even if we do know the inner workings of the mouse mind and we build this huge computer that duplicates it exactly, what do we do with it? Do we move on to a ferret simulator? In a brave new world, can we someday envision a possum computer?

It seems silly but I’m sure it isn’t. I was always bad in science class. I couldn’t see the logic in cutting up a frog because I had absolutely no interest in someday cutting up humans.

I am sure the reason we are simulating a mouse brain leads to furthering the idea of artificial intelligence. Someday we will have a computer that can think just like a human. I think of the quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s (you’ll be missed Kurt) book “Galapagos”, “thanks a lot big brain”. Vonnegut was saying that even though the human brain is the biggest in nature and therefore, we are running the place, our work has a lot of holes in it.

So, it seems to me the true goal of artificial intelligence is to, eventually, improve on the human brain. Being humans, how will we know if we did? We will only be able to assume. I know this from watching bad science fiction movies from the ’50s and ’60s.

Bottom-line; if we now have one second of mouse thought, we are a very far cry from computers taking over and making inferior humans their slaves.

By the way, my guess is that one second of mouse thought involves food, sex, or survival.

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