Terry Sejnowski

1968 - present

 The Human Brain in a Computer

Terry Sejnowski is what I would call a singularitarian. He directs the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. His research into neural networks, brain computation, and brain functionality at the synaptic, electrical and chemical levels has made him one of the preeminent neuroscientists in the world. To me, he is one of the many eminent scientists that brings credibility to the singularity notion.  He has pioneered the modeling of brain activity in a computer in exquisite detail.

The following is from his website: "Terrence Sejnowski has turned to computer modeling techniques to try to encapsulate what we know about the brain as well as to test hypotheses on how brain cells process, sort and store information. While other scientists have focused on mapping the physical arrangement of neurons (tracing which cells connect to which), Sejnowski is interested in a more functional map of the brain, one that looks at how sets of cells are involved in processes—from filtering what we see to recalling memories. To collect data on brain function, Sejnowski records the electrical activity of select sets of cells, as well as analyzes thin slices of autopsied brains. He uses that information to create and refine computational models on how the brain stores information for different activities. Through these models, he gets a better understanding of what information different cell types encode, what molecules are needed and how signals move throughout the brain. At the same time, he learns how diseases such as schizophrenia or Parkinson’s might alter these patterns."

Brain modeling, neural networks and the singularity are all part of the journey as described in the chapter on electronic evolution.

Click on links to other players in my journey below.