Beginning this year, a cooperative project consisting of thirteen (yes, I said ’13’) European regions along with 80 or more ‘partners’ will endeavor to unravel the mystery known as the human brain. The initial phase of this project involved building “an integrated system of six ICT-based research platforms, providing neuroscientists, medical researchers and technology developers with access to highly innovative tools and services that can radically accelerate the pace of their research.[…]…a Neurorobotics Platform, allowing neuroscience and industry researchers to experiment with virtual robots controlled by brain models developed in the project.”
Get that? The HBP is building a massive, data scraping, supercomputer complex that (they hope) will simulate the human brain. They seek to transform computational models and medicine–in fact, they go on to state that:
…the brain manages billions of processing units connected via kilometres of fibres and trillions of synapses, while consuming no more power than a light bulb. Understanding how it does this – the way it computes reliably with unreliable elements, the way the different elements of the brain communicate – can provide the key not only to a completely new category of hardware (Neuromorphic Computing Systems) but to a paradigm shift for computing as a whole, moving away from current models of “bit precise” computing towards new techniques that exploit the stochastic behaviour of simple, very fast, low-power computing devices embedded in intensely recursive architectures. The economic and industrial impact of such a shift is potentially enormous.
Paradigm Shift? Is anyone else beginning to think ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘transhuman’ potentialities? Neuromorphic computing? Cue the Transformers! While I applaud these scientists for recognizing God’s wonderful, marvelous, and oh-so-mysterious creation, I am astounded by their hubris. Do they really believe they can mimic the human brain/mind in silica?
If you check out the site’s FAQ section, you’ll see that the group has considered the ethics of their goals:
But as in other fields of science, it also possible that knowledge will be abused – deliberately – e.g. to create new weapons, – but also involuntarily – when society does not realize the power and consequences of new techniques and technologies. […] Similar considerations apply to technology. Computing technologies implementing the same principles of computation and cognitive architectures as the brain have enormous potential to improve industrial productivity and offer new services to citizens. However, they could also be used to implement new systems of mass surveillance and new weaponry. If such systems came into widespread use they would undoubtedly have a huge impact on patterns of daily life and employment – some beneficial but some potentially not.
Adding to the concerns, the HBP is planning to use graphene in this miraculous artificial brain. Graphene is the little wonder of carbon conformations–a single layer of pure carbon in a crystalline sheet that is the current darling of computer science. Carbon is that ‘666’ element–six electrons, six neutrons, six protons–that represents mankind. By inserting graphene into a supercomputer, one cannot help thinking about the ‘iron mixed with clay’ prophecy in Daniel 2. Could such a supercomputer provide a ‘fit extension’ for spiritual entities? I don’t know, but I can certainly imagine that it could. As a writer, I can imagine many things–and if I can imagine it, you can bet the enemy has already considered it.
Perhaps, the HPB group should consider the old adage that once the jinn is out of the bottle, it’s very difficult to put it back. Or better put, once the fallen angels are out of the pit, only God can put them back. Aren’t you glad He is the one who’s really in charge? Me, too.