You’d think that overseeing an entire issue of The Scientist focused on artificial intelligence would cause my mind to wander far into the future—robotic researchers formulating digital hypotheses, whizzing about in sleek, metallic labs.
But it is the construction of advanced neural networks that attempt to mirror the architecture and function of the human brain (see “Building a Silicon Brain,” here) that truly blows my meaty mind. Scientists have progressed to the point of assembling models of brains, built with inanimate components, that simulate the functioning of their biological counterparts. These brain mimics can perform impressive feats of pattern recognition, calculation, and decision making. Some even border on human-like intelligence, learning and adapting their behavior based on inputs they receive through sophisticated sensors.
…[I]t’s how this technology informs our understanding of human biology that interests me most.
…[N]ow we’ve arrived at a point where a human brain, made from that same muck that gave rise to the first life forms, can conceive of, build, and manipulate models of itself that serve to teach that same lump of biological matter about its own inner workings. The master is becoming the student.
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