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View Diary: Computerized Brain To Be Completed by 2020 (180 comments)

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  •  Basically correct . . . (2+ / 0-)
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    AoT, Code Monkey

    and let's clarify what they are doing. They are trying to simulate the working of a brain on a supercomputer. How that would be useful for studying drugs I can't really see.

    There are major conceptual and practical problems with this anyway. In order to learn, a human needs sensory and motor apparatus in order to explore the world. This elaborate computer program would have no way of doing that. It could not actually do useful thinking, it seems to me. To get computers to do that, you need a fundamentally different approach, basically what IBM is doing already by building huge data bases and associational and decision rules, e.g. Watson.

    This project does not seem to me to be a route to AI or to any evident military application.

    •  Modeling (1+ / 0-)
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      If you can create an accurate model of the human body and create accurate models of diseases you can design cures.

      Newsflash, it is already happening.  The pharmaceutical companies are working with the DOE.

    •  Welcome to biophysics (5+ / 0-)
      How that would be useful for studying drugs I can't really see.
      The principles behind biophysics/quantitative biology is to model biological systems from the very basics and then simulate how they would act.  It's the difference between prediction and experimentation.  I can take a pen and drop it off my desk, observe the way it falls, repeat a bunch of times, and come to the conclusion that this is how my pen will fall most every time.  Or knowing the physical laws involved, I can predict with fairly good accuracy what will happen.  Even simple biological systems are insanely complex (the number of individual physical interactions going on in a single cell at a given time is astounding), so before modern computing hardware came onto the scene, it wasn't practical to take such an approach.  It's still a time consuming and difficult process, and there are always limitations based on what we know and the scale of the simulation, but there are research groups out there picking apart just about every disease and part of the human body you can think of in this manner.

      Once you have such a simulation of a biological system of interest, it's possible to run a gauntlet of drug trials in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost, at no risk to humans.  While not adequate to say a drug is safe or effective and should be on the market, this sort of process has the potential to help zero in on promising candidates for full development.

      •  Or examine the efficacy of torture techniques (1+ / 0-)
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        and methods of coercion and persuasion. MKULTRA 2?

        This isn't CT, MKULTRA actually happened. Discussion could easily go that way, though...

        •  But (2+ / 0-)
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          AoT, bunsk

          Any medical advance can be used for torture, period.  Any invention can be used to hurt people in new and creative ways, and given enough time, it undoubtedly will be used in such a way.  There are sickos; sometimes we slip up and let them have control.  It's pointless to worry about any one thing and go "but they could use that for..."  They can use a rock to smash someone over the head.  They can use a car to run someone over.  The can use an artificial nerve to repeatedly paralyze and heal someone as a form of torture.  Give a man a tool and he'll find a way to use it as a weapon.

          Meanwhile to say we don't understand how most psychotherapeutic medication works would be an understatement.  It's a long history of taking shots in the dark and going "well, this kinda works for some people".  Getting a better picture has the potential to help countless people live full and healthy lives.

          •  "Sickos" in control (1+ / 0-)
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            The problem is, sickos in charge is not a "slip up" -- it's a consistent, predictable pattern.

            •  Because sickos are drawn to power (2+ / 0-)
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              atana, bunsk

              and the competent, well intentioned person is the exception, not the rule.

              The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

              by AoT on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 10:16:29 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

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