[extropy-chat] DARPA Ends Brain Reverse Engineering Project

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Sat Mar 17 05:31:08 UTC 2007

Quoting from the brief announcement, "map cognitive functions to
neurological structures, and design psychologically-based and
neurobiologically-based cognitive architectures."

I would be interested in whether anyone really *knows* what is going on in
this area (really)?  Unlike, say the visual processing system, or the
auditory processing system (which Ray touched on in TSIN), is the cognitive
processing system currently understood at all?  I don't follow this field,
so I have no idea whether neuroarchitectural understanding (perhaps via
fMRI) has reached the point where we have tied our external understanding of
what is going on to precise biological architectures (which IMO is what they
were going after).

The best working understanding I have is something along the lines of
Calvin's explanation of local groups of neurons representing patterns or
thought (ideas or memes if you will), some copying and natural selection
taking place, with "intelligence" being some combination as to numbers of
simultaneous patterns which can be "held onto" at sub-conscious level
combined with some "wisdom" as to which of those patterns individually or
when combined would serve to produce an interesting or meaningful result.

I do not put the development of AGI or FAI in the same category as
understanding "functional mapping onto neurological structures" (without
which neurobiologically-based cognitive architectures would be impossible).

So was the problem that we simply do not have the tools yet (e.g. fMRI
resolution, or fine scale mapping of dendrite trees at billion neuron
level?) to accomplish stated goals of the project?

And were most of the proposals directed at solving problems of emulating how
various researchers "think" the brain should work -- rather than how the
brain actually works?

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