1962 - present
The key differentiator of Homo sapiens from all other species both living and extinct is our superior brain. In looking to the future, certainly brain related functions played a huge role in my evaluation of possibilities related to the answers.
Henry Markram is a neuroscientist and Professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. His Blue Brain Project is one of the preeminent studies of the mammalian brain with the goal of completely simulating the brain in a computer. The Blue Brain Project subsequently became the core of a European €1 billion 10-year initiative to study the human brain called the Human Brain Project. The Human Brain Project was launched in 2013. A parallel project, funded by the Obama administration in the US is called the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), also launched in 2013. Markram has boldly predicted that complete understanding of the human brain will be achieved by 2023. He recently published the simulation of a small portion of a rat brain. Although a remarkable achievement, it fell far short of his previous prediction to simulate a full rat brain by 2014. This failure to come anywhere close to achieving his projections has led many neuroscientists in Europe to question the likely success of the Human Brain Project as well as Markram's leadership of it.
Understanding the human brain and its genetics is a major focus of multiple scientific and technologic approaches to not only solving many neurologic disorders, but to fundamentally altering Homo sapiens as a species. It is central to achieving the singularity and other futuristic predictions regarding our species and research in this area heavily imbued the journey. One key focus of these studies is to be able to completely understand the "connectome" of various species. The connectome is a description of all of the neuron connections in a brain. So far, the only species in which the complete connectome has been published is that of a worm called C. elegans. This worm has 302 neurons in its brain. Progress is being made in describing the connectome of a fish called the zebrafish as well as the mouse. The zebrafish brain has 100,000 neurons and the mouse brain has 71 million neurons. The human brain has 85 billion neurons! We have a long way to go to get from simulation of 302 neurons to 85 billion and hopefully, both the Human Brain Project and the BRAIN Initiative will help get us there.
Click on links to other players in my journey below.