[extropy-chat] DARPA Ends Brain Reverse Engineering Project

Ben Goertzel ben at goertzel.org
Sat Mar 17 13:50:41 UTC 2007

The one team I know well, that was funded under this project, was 
building more of a cognitive science inspired AI architecture than a 
detailed brain emulation.  They may not have been representative though. 

But note the wishy washy language of "biologically INSPIRED cognitive 
architectures."   (BICA)

It's sorta like then a TV show claims to be "Inspired by actual 
events."  This is weaker than "Based on a true story"  ;-p

We certain don't have the brain mapping tools to understand how the 
brain works in any detail at this point.  We don't know how the brain 
represents the concept of "cat" let alone "cats are animals" let alone 
more complex declarative, procedural or episodic knowledge.  So we 
cannot create "Based on a true story" cognitive architectures, only 
"Inspired by actual events" architectures ;-) ...

Ben G

Robert Bradbury wrote:
> 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?
> Robert
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