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Digital Brain by 2023? Maybe

It may be possible to simulate a human brain down to the cellular level by 2023, according to Henry Markram, the director of the Brain Mind Institute at the Ecole Polytechnic Federale De Lausanne.

He made the prediction on Monday, in the “Simulating the Brain — The Next Decisive Yearskeynote speech at the ISC11 in Hamburg. He told attendees that biological scientists are “facing a massive tsunami of data”.  They need their computing resources to rise to the challenges of simulating a brain from its basic data processing and communications unit — the neuron — upward.  Markram added:

The brain is 30W, a million kilometres of fibres and a thousand trillion synapses. The energy efficiency is incredible, astronomical. We’d need about an exascale [one exaflops, 1018flops] to get to the human brain at the cellular level [by 2023].  To do this you have to do a global integration.  You have to integrate all the science from the genes up to the phenotype, database the information and apply reverse engineering to look for rules and patterns.”

2023 is only a realistic date if academic funding models and computing resources continue to develop as anticipated, Markram noted.

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