The goal of the latest research effort is to better understand the human brain so that machines may emulate our biological capabilities. Today, our minds and our machines each excel at two differing functions — while humans are able to quickly recognize patterns and learn, machines are far better at processing large amounts of data. The sweet spot, then, would be to design an AI that can not only learn as well as humans can, but do so with the speed of a robot.
“This is a moonshot challenge, akin to the Human Genome Project in scope,” said project leader David Cox, assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology and computer science. “The scientific value of recording the activity of so many neurons and mapping their connections alone is enormous, but that is only the first half of the project,” Cox continued. “As we figure out the fundamental principles governing how the brain learns, it’s not hard to imagine that we’ll eventually be able to design computer systems that can match, or even outperform, humans.”
Of course, if the project proves to be too successful, the Harvard researchers conducting it could turn out to be the last people on earth who are gainfully employed.
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