Thomas Laussermair

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Thomas Laussermair
Posted almost 3 years ago
Is it feasible or desirable to ever completely understand the human brain?
I agree with Barry Palmer on this: "We do not need to map the workings of every brain cell, we only need to learn the principles." No two brains are exactly alike. In fact, your brain is not the same it was a few years prior. So understanding can only relate to the general principles of how information is stored, recalled and processed in the brain. I believe the more we understand about the human brain the more we will be able to create systems which can process information in similar ways. The notion that our brains are too complex to understand themselves is not supported by evidence. Humans can understand and create very complex systems; no single person does (or needs to) understand everything about how an iPhone works right down to every transistor on its chip. But a group of engineers can collectively understand it and reliably produce (and over time optimize) such a device. Whether it will do more harm than good? This is an age-old question about technology. Suppose we got self-driving cars which are so good that they reduce the traffic fatalities by a factor of 100x. Of course it is a good thing to make traffic safer; however it may also eliminate professions like taxi drivers, take away the joys and freedoms of driving. There is no either-or answer. Lastly, a good book on this is Jeff Hawkins' "On Intelligence". (He also gave a TED talk on intelligence.) He closes in a chapter "The Future of Intelligence" with thoughts on areas where machines will become far superior than humans (speed, capacity, replicability, sensory systems). I think it is most fascinating to ponder what kind of intelligences can be built based upon the principles observed in the human brain.