As part of the ongoing effort to put human intellect on top, some scientists argue we should ditch brain-to-body in favor of "encephalization quotient," or EQ, which quantifies brain mass relative to the average for animals of that type and size. Ours are 7.4 times larger than expected. They do better with EQ, clocking in around four or five times larger than average for their ilk. Their smarts might be due in part to spindle cells--large neurons thought to enable complex behaviors in great apes and a select few other species. If man's best friend seems dimmer than his wild cousins, it might be because a wolf-size dog has a significantly smaller brain.
Few times in history has mankind ever united to solve a single goal. Even the ultimate moonshot in history--putting a man on the moon--was driven by international competition rather than unification. So it's perhaps fitting that mankind is now uniting to understand the organ that fundamentally makes us human: our brain. First envisioned in 2016 through a series of discussions on the "grand challenges" in neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, the International Brain Initiative (IBI) "came out" this week in a forward-looking paper in Neuron. Rather than each country formulating their own brain projects independently, the project argues, it's high time for the world to come together and share their findings, resources, and expertise across borders.
Another year begins, and another science fiction concept is becoming science fact. If that sounds incredible, consider that it's already happened in studies with rats and monkeys, and in a limited way with humans as well. None of the studies have quite accomplished mind reading, but they have bridged the chasm between brains in a way that didn't seem possible until now. The most notable non-invasive study involving humans, so far, showed that people sitting in different rooms can play a simple computer game together by using equipment that enables each person to "communicate" information via brain waves. It was a basic test of the theory, but it worked, and it demonstrates what's possible as the technology advances.
Computer brains are becoming more intelligent -- we've been trying to work out who is smartest and sharpest since since the dawn of video games if not before. Computer'brains' in the world of Artificial Intelligence don't actually function organically, like a human brain, obviously. But as we continue to build new and ever more powerful layers of functionality into the machine brain, they can start to'ape' some of our human imperfections and nuances in an attempt to be more like us. Software application developers (and their IT'Ops' operations buddies) are working hard to move statistical models into computer brains and advance not just AI, but the inextricably closely related area of machine learning which helps feed the practice of'automation', which in and of itself has become the darling buzzword of the IT industry in recent times. Data intelligence firms like Elastic are building machine learning functions into their software as fast as they can.
For centuries, scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying the human brain have attempted to unlock its mysteries. The role the brain plays in human personality -- as well as the myriad of disorders and conditions that come along with it -- is often difficult to study because studying the organ while it's still functioning in a human body is complicated. Now, researchers at The Allen Institute for Brain Science have introduced a new tool that could make such study a whole lot easier: functioning virtual brain cells. The fully 3D computer models of living human brain tissue are based on actual brain samples that were left over after surgery, and present what could be the most powerful testbed for studying the human brain ever created. The samples used to construct the virtual models was healthy tissue that was removed during brain operations, and represents parts of the brain that are typically associated with thoughts and consciousness, as well as memory.