Blue Brain: The Future?

Human brain is the most valuable creation of God. Human intelligence is attributable to the brain. “Blue brain” is the name of the world’s first virtual brain. Today, scientists are researching to create an artificial brain that can think, respond, take decisions, and keep anything in memory. The data stored in the natural brain can be uploaded into the computer.  After the death of the body, the virtual brain can act as the human.

Keywords: Nanobots, Neurons, Sensory System, Brain, Intelligence

What is Blue Brain?

The Blue Brain System is an attempt to reverse engineer the human brain and recreate it at the cellular level inside a computer simulation. The project was founded in May 2005 by Henry Markram at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. Goals of the project are to gain a complete understanding of the brain and to enable better and faster development of brain disease treatments.

  • In 2015, scientists at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) developed a quantitative model of the previously unknown relationship between the glial cell astrocytes and neurons. This model describes the energy management of the brain through the function of the neuro-glial vascular unit (NGV). The additional layer of neuron-glial cells is being added to Blue Brain Project models to improve functionality of the system.
  • IBM is now developing a virtual brain known as the Blue brain. It would be the world's first virtual brain. Within 30years, we will be able to scan ourselves into the computers. Through this interface, the data stored in the natural brain can be uploaded, into the computer.


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There are three main steps to building the virtual brain: 1) Data acquisition, 2) Simulation and, 3) Visualisation of results

Data acquisition: This involves taking brain slices, placing them under a microscope, and measuring the shape and electrical activity of individual neurons. The neurons are typed by morphology (i.e. their shape), electrophysiological behaviour, location within the cortex, and their population density. These observations are translated into mathematical algorithms which describe the form, function, and positioning of neurons. The algorithms are then used to generate biologically-realistic virtual neurons ready for simulation. tmu.ac.in/college-of-computing-sciences-and-it/wp-content/uploads/.../0416216.pdf

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Simulation: The primary software used by the BBP for neural simulations is a package called NEURON. This was developed starting in the 1990s by Michael Hines at Yale University and John Moore at Duke University. It is written in C, C++, and FORTRAN. The software continues to be under active development and, as of July 2012, is currently at version 7.2.



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Example NEURON cell builder window

The simulation time-step for the numerical integrations is 0.025 ms and the time-step for writing the output to disk is 0.1 ms.

BBP-SDK:  The BBP-SDK (Blue Brain Project - Software Development Kit) is a set of software classes (APIs) that allows researchers to utilize and inspect models and simulations. The SDK is a C++ library wrapped in Java and Python.

Visualisation of Results: RTNeuron is the primary application used by the BBP for visualisation of neural simulations. The software was developed internally by the BBP team. It is written in C++ and OpenGL. RTNeuron is ad-hoc software written specifically for neural simulations, i.e. it is not generalisable to other types of simulation. RTNeuron takes the output from Hodgkin-Huxley simulations in NEURON and renders them in 3D. This allows researchers to watch as activation potentials propagate through a neuron and between neurons.

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RTNeuron visualisation of a neuron
Blue Gene/P

The primary machine used by the Blue Brain Project is a Blue Gene supercomputer built by IBM. This is where the name "Blue Brain" originates from. IBM agreed in June 2005 to supply EPFL with a Blue Gene/L as a "technology demonstrator". The IBM press release did not disclose the terms of the deal. In June 2010 this machine was upgraded to a Blue Gene/P. The machine is installed on the EPFL campus in Lausanne (Google map) and is managed by CADMOS (Center for Advanced Modelling Science).

Now there is no question on "How the virtual brain works". But the question that arises is "How actually the human brain will be uploaded into it".

Uploading Human Brain

  • The uploading is possible by the use of small robots known as Nanobots.
  • These robots are small enough to travel throughout our circulatory system.
  • Travelling into the spine and brain, they will be able to monitor the activity and structure of or central nervous system.
  • They will be able to provide an interface with computer while we still reside in our biological form.
  • Nanobots could also carefully scan the structure our brain providing a complete readout of the connection.
  • This information, when entered into a computer, could then continue to function as us.
  • Thus, the data stored in the entire brain will be uploaded into the computer.

Potential Uses of Blue Brain
  • Use in the case of "Short term memory"
  • Potential use to cure "Parkinson's disease"

Hardware & Software Requirements

  • A Supercomputer
  • Memory with a very large storing capacity
  • Processor with a very large storing capacity
  • Wide network
  • A program to convert electric pulses from the brain to input signals
  • Nanobots, which act as an interface between the natural brain and computers

Merits

  • Using intelligence of a person after death
  • Allowing the deaf to hear via direct nerve stimulation
  • Activities of different animals can be understood

Demerits

  • Costly procedure of regaining the memory back
  • We become dependent on computers.
  • It can be hacked by the technical knowledge against us.
  • Computer viruses will pose an increasingly critical threat, and this another form of fear with respect to human cloning.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we might be able to transfer ourselves into computers at some point, which is both beneficial as well as harmful to human society. Using the Blue Gene supercomputers, up to 100 cortical columns, 1 million neurons, and 1 billion synapses can be simulated at once. This is roughly equivalent to the brain power of a honey bee. Humans, by contrast, have about 2 million columns in their cortices. Despite the sheer complexity of such an endeavor, it is predicted that the project will be capable of this by the year 2023.

Harshita Srivastava

Harshita Srivastava
A Developerpassionate about E-commerce projects related to Java J2EE technology with RDBMS services. Done training on Java Enterprises with Devops as well as a Merit Holder of the University. Currently working as Software Developer with eWandzDigital Services.

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