Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Get your brain into a computer

White Matter Fibers:  Human Connectome Project
One of the more interesting research projects taking place right now is the Human Connectome Project (HCP).  The goal of HCP is to construct a digital map of the human brain called a Connectome.  The intended goal of the HCP is to paint a picture of just what exactly takes place in a healthy human brain, as well as contribute a body of work that will help in researching multiple brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

The process is one that is anything but simple.  There are more than 90 million neurons in a typical brain, with over 150 trillion synapse associated with these neurons.  For a successful connectome map to be created all neurons and synapse must be accounted for in the representational model.  However, once the map has been made, it can be locked into a digital model, essentially a virtual clone of the scanned human brain.  As of now, the technology for scanning the brain and creating these maps takes time, but it is getting faster as the research continues.
Eventually (and this is just my assumption) , given a large increase in computing power over the next few years, one of these digitized brains will be so well mapped and constructed that it will be able to function within the computer that it resides.  A virtual copy of human mind.  A digital brain transfer.  The idea of it reminds me of a really bad Emilio Estevez movies from the early 90's called Freejack.  The whole movie is built around the idea of storing a brain inside of a computer while the search (led by Mick Jagger of all people) for a new human host for the brain takes place.  Although a rather forward thinking movie for the time, it failed to recognize that once the brain becomes digitized and a fully functioning consciousness exists in the virtual realm, there would be no need to return to the human body.  The potential for this new virtual brain would far supersede even the greatest of intellects.  For this new digimind would essentially be one with the entire global network that it would undoubtedly exist within.  The implications for such a being would be one of immeasurable proportions.

Freejack (1992)

The world as we know it exists through the personal filter of own minds.  What we think we "know" is purely the electronic network that is our brain; our connectome.  Once that neural circuitry can break free of the constraints of the human body, our species may finally be able to make the leap into a state of existence that for now can only be left to the imagination.  Space travel, living for 1,000,000 years, a fully collective consciousness, time travel.  Through the connectome, we may have the possibility to achieve not only these things but many, many, more.

For actual information on the HCP from the people that really know what they are talking about, please visit


All brain mapping images provided by the Human Connectome Project

No comments:

Post a Comment