Brain Exercise: How to Build a Brain
Figuring out how to build a brain is a very powerful intellectual exercise for sure, but the project is a long way off.
Michael S. Gazzaniga is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he heads the new SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind. He is one of the leading researchers in cognitive neuroscience, the study of the neural basis of mind. In 1961, Gazzaniga graduated from Dartmouth College. In 1964, he received a Ph.D. in psychobiology from the California Institute of Technology, where he worked under the guidance of Roger Sperry, with primary responsibility for initiating human split-brain research. In his subsequent work he has made important advances in our understanding of functional lateralization in the brain and how the cerebral hemispheres communicate with one another. Gazzaniga's publication career includes books for a general audience The Social Brain, Mind Matters, and Nature's Mind. His most recent book Who’s In Charge investigates the question of free will in light of current neuroscience.
The question of when we’ll be able to build a brain to act and think like us is so far off in the future in my opinion but it’s interesting to think about because it forces you to actually see what you have and to try to quantify it in a way that could be instantiated in an artifact. That’s a very powerful intellectual exercise for sure, but the details of that involve figuring out the fine connections that are going to underlie so many of the differences between all of us. It is just a horrendous problem. We can barely figure out the C. Elegans, a little worm that has a very small number of neurons where we have trillions of interactions.
So I think it’s a long way off and I don’t think we’ve conceptualized yet well enough how the brain gets its job done to maybe abstract all of that activity in our brain into meaningful units to which we can then think about how to move those around to build a brain. I just think we’re too far away from that, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know a tremendous amount about the brain and how it does its work, which has exploded in the last 50 or 60 years.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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