Will We Ever Be Able to Upload Our Brains? – ComputerShopper.com

The path to completely mapping every aspect of a brain is complicated. It requires incredibly precise scanning of the neurons, the cells that carry electrical impulses, as well as the synapses that link them together. The end result is a 3D rendering called a connectome, and the good news is that science has already made one.

The bad news is that it was of a Caenorhabditis elegans roundworm, which has 302 total neurons in its brain as compared to a human beings 86 million. A task with that complexity would take, as Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, told Smithsonian, a million electron microscopes running in parallel for 10 years.

Current science is split on whether technology will ever reach a level where that task is possible. That roundworm connectome, however, has already seen a digital life. In 2014, the OpenWorm project that mapped the brain decided to replicate it as software and install it in a Lego robot that was capable of the same sensory and motor actions as the biological model.

Without any additional programming, the team claims the robot worm behaved identically to a real one, recoiling from touch and moving towards food. Its not an exact analog, as the nerves in the worms body are approximated by hard-wired sensors, but it proves a point.

Already were raising some pretty intense questions hereis this Lego replica of a roundworm a sentient being? Is it distinct from the worm it was copied from? These are the kind of issues that will come to the fore as we get closer and closer to whole brain emulation.

That hasnt stopped some people from trying to sell it already. In 2018, startup Nectomeannounced that it had developed a method to preserve the human brain until the date that advanced scanning methods are practical. Only one issue: it has to be fresh. As in, you have to be alive when they do the process, which kills you.

Thats a pretty bold bet to take on the future, but Nectome CEO Robert McIntyre believes in his technology, pitching it as a way to save your precious memories rather than create a full digital simulacrum of your consciousness. Over 30 people have put down a $10,000 deposit to be on the list for preservation.

Other researchers are taking a more granular approach to digitizing the mind. Researcher Theodore Berger at the University of Southern California is developing an electronic prosthesis for the hippocampal region of the brain, generally recognized as the area that manages memory. The device monitors and encodes the sequence of neurons firing and can then replay them.

In rats, it was able to restore a memory of pulling levers in a sequence. A rat brain is significantly less complex than a humans, but the general principle is the same. Bergers team is investigating human applications to help people with brains damaged by Alzheimers and other degenerative diseases.

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Will We Ever Be Able to Upload Our Brains? - ComputerShopper.com

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