Obama Brain Study To Make Artificial Intelligence A Reality Or Hurt Science?

The Obama brain study may make artificial intelligence a reality within a decade. The primary focus for the Obama brain study is develop the technology essential to understanding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but understanding how the brain is designed to function in full may also make it possible to recreate.

According to the New York Times, President Obama made the brain study one of the touchstones of his State of the Union address:

“Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar. Today our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s. They’re developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs, devising new materials to make batteries 10 times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation.”

The Obama brain study is referring to the Brain Activity Map project by the National Institutes of Health. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, a recently announced European project that will invest 1 billion euros in a Swiss-led effort to build a silicon-based “human brain” that is simulated by a supercomputer.

The Obama brain study is a $3 billion project that will begin in March. Zap2It points out that “while Obama predicts finding the key to Alzheimer’s, others say potential exists for new artificial intelligence technology.” This has some people worried that the government is on a path toward creating a Skynet like from the Terminator series.

Besides worrying about Arnold Schwarzenegger knocking down your door, some scientists feel that Big Science is gobbling up all the available money in a wasteful fashion. The Atlantic Wire reports that while artificial intelligence might be conceivable after the Obama brain study, the boon from its efforts might not be worth the effect it has on science overall.

UC Berkeley biologist Michael Eisen argued against such “Big Science” projects, calling ideas such as the Obama brain study a threat to science:

“The lesson I learned from ENCODE is that projects like ENCODE are not a good idea. I think it is now clear that big biology is not a boon for individual discovery-driven science. Ironically, and tragically, it is emerging as the greatest threat to its continued existence.”

What do you think about the Obama brain study as proposed? Do you think it’s a threat to science?

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