Social Media Sidebar

Announcement

Please sign up, comment on articles and bring your friends!

Current poll

PlanetTech is asking:

What do you think about our new web site?

Love it, indeed
Really good solution
Same as old one
The old one was better
This is a new option

Quote of the day

People say we're running out of energy. That's only true if we stick with these old 19th century technologies. We are awash in energy from sunlight.

 

Ray Kurzweil

 

Billionaire Paul Allen Pours $500 Million Into Quest To Find The Essence Of Humanity In The Brain

RATE THIS! +1
Posted in Science on 23rd Mar, 2012 01:49 AM by AlexMuller

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is donating $300 million of his $14 billion fortune in his eponymous Allen Institute for Brain Science to fund new projects to map and observe the human brain and, in Allen’s words, “to one day understand the essence of what makes us human.” That brings the total amount Allen has invested in the Institute to $500 million.

 

The announcement was made at a press conference today in Seattle and in a commentary in Nature, one of the world’s best scientific journals, written by Christof Koch, the Institute’s Chief Scientific Officer, and R. Clay Reid of Harvard Medical School. They lay out a way of doing brain research that involves optogenetics, a kind of deep stimulation of the brain using light, connectomics, the study of connections in  the brain, and brain observatories, ways of monitoring what happens in the brain in real time. Right now, because the mouse is smaller and simpler, much of the early efforts focus on the mouse brain. One of Allen’s new efforts is to map the visual connections between the brain and the mouse. There, mice have perhaps 2 million neurons involved in vision, compared to 5 billion such cells for humans.

 

“If you start out as a programmer, as I did in high school, the brain works in a completely different fashion than computers do,” Allen said, calling the effort “fascinating” and “noting that he’s been touched by neurodegenerative diseases” — his mother has Alzheimer’s. On the call he noted that while it’s possible to teach a student — a human brain — to program a computer in a matter of years, a computer can’t learn to function like a human brain even given a lifetime of opportunity. “”You can’t create an artificial intelligence,” Allen said, “unless you know how the real thing works.”

 

“We know that such an expensive project will have critics,” Koch and Reid write.  “The resources required could fund hundreds of other projects, so why focus them in this way? Our response is that funding agencies are already spending billions of dollars on many smaller projects across all areas of biomedical research, and the Allen Institute wants to pioneer a new approach. We want to understand one piece of brain tissue by integrating knowledge across techniques and scales, rather than distributing the funds more widely.”

 

Ed Boyden, an associate professor at the MIT Media Lab who is one of the pioneers in the field of optogenetics, echoed that sentiment. “The Allen Institute is assembling an extraordinary set of tools to tackle brain circuitry in a vertically integrated way, from the parts lists to how they all work together,” he wrote via Facebook chat. “It is impossible for an ordinary lab group to bring all these pieces together.”

 

Allen’s remarks were eloquent and inspiring, and I have included them in full below.



Read original article » Back to category

Comments



 

Recent headlines

  • Posted in Science on 2017-09-23 08:31:24
    Fly me to the Moon: For some, lunar village takes shape..read more
    Posted in Software on 2017-09-23 08:22:48
    One year later, Microsoft AI and Research grows to 8k.....read more
    Posted in Science on 2017-09-23 08:14:46
    Big Antarctic iceberg edges out to sea..read more
    Posted in Business on 2017-09-22 18:42:50
    To Achieve 100% Renewable Energy, We Need Way Better.....read more
    Posted in Medicine on 2017-09-22 18:31:20
    How the poliovirus can be used to battle lethal cancers..read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-10 01:33
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-20 07:17
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Software on 2013-10-20 06:43
Pirate Bay Browser Clocks 1,000,000 Downloads..read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-10 02:10
Google reportedly investing hundreds of millions into new.....read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-14 03:13
Endothelial Cells Can Repair and Regenerate Organs,.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Staring at Your Phone Could Be Making You Short Sighted..read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Oculus Rift virtual reality headset coming to mobile, but.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Delivering drugs via nanoparticles to target mitochondria..read more

Recent Blog Posts

  • Posted by AlexMuller
    Scientists probe Neptune's depths to reveal secrets of icy.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    New terahertz imaging approach could speed up skin cancer.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Rebutting the claim that antidepressants do not work..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Artificial neural networks decode brain activity during.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Four Earth-sized planets detected orbiting the nearest.....read more

Login to your Account

Login to your PlanetTech Account here

Username:
Password:
Remember me
or

Create a New Account

You just need username and password

The following errors occured:
Username:
Email:
Password:
Verify password:
Remember me