Reverse-engineering the human brain so we can simulate it using computers may be a reality by 2030. It would be the first step toward creating super computers that are more powerful than the human brain by being networked into a cloud computing architecture to amplify their processing capabilities powered by intelligent algorithms, says Ray Kurzweil, artificial intelligence expert and author of The Singularity is Near.
“The singular criticism of the singularity is that brain is too complicated, too magical and there’s something about its properties we can’t emulate,” Kurzweil told attendees at the Singularity Summit over the weekend reported wired.com. “But the exponential growth in technology is being applied to reverse-engineer the brain, arguably the most important project in history.”
Reverse-engineering some aspects of hearing and speech has helped stimulate the development of artificial hearing and speech recognition, says Kurzweil. Being able to do that for the human brain could change our world significantly, he said. The key lies in decoding and simulating the cerebral cortex — the seat of cognition. The human cortex has about 22 billion neurons and 220 trillion synapses.
“A supercomputer capable of running a software simulation of the human brain doesn’t exist yet. Researchers would require a machine with a computational capacity of at least 36.8 petaflops and a memory capacity of 3.2 petabytes — a scale that supercomputer technology isn’t expected to hit for at least three years,” according to IBM cognitive computing researcher Dharmendra Modha. By next year, IBM’s ‘Sequoia’ supercomputer should be able to offer 20 petaflops per second peak performance, and an even more powerful machine will be likely in two to three years.