Artificial Intelligence research seeking “Strong AI” – essentially a self aware, conscious computing system where the machine would think as effectively as humans, had languished for many years after initial hype failed to pan out.
Thankfully, this line of research is now coming back online in a very big way, with enough funding and supercomputing power to usher in the biggest technology breakthrough in the history of humanity. Thinking computers would revolutionize the world in many ways, allowing much more efficient resource development, utilization, and conservation. Barring the unlikely scenario of an “unfriendly AI” that would seek to destroy humanity, a “friendly AI” would bring massively faster problem solving and, very likely, would improve at a spectacular rate leading to greater and greater technological breakthroughs.
Where President Obama has proposed a “Brain Mapping Project” it’s not yet clear yet that full funding will be realized: http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/brain-initiative
Europe, however, has now pledged a billion Euro to the Human Brain Project under the stewardship of the man who is arguably the most knowledgeable in this field, Henry Markram. You can read Dr. Markram’s guest post here at Technology Report comparing his original “Blue Brain” project with the Darpa SyNAPSE efforts in the USA.
Although the “cat brain controversy” was somewhat contentious, we’re hoping Dr. Markram’s desire to cooperate with others across the brain project spectrum – much as happened during the human genome project – will become the standard.