Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

Making a 1:1 copy of the brain without understanding its mechanisms is pointless, because there's no way to bracket the problem. You don't know how low-level you have to go: if there's only a single crucial quantum interaction, you have to model that level as well, increasing the complexity many orders of magnitude (if you have to model quantums or atoms, the simulation wouldn't even fit on earth I'm afraid). Similarly for the higher levels: it's obvious that brain development depends crucially on a stimulating environment (and meaningful interaction with it), so are you going to simulate a complete environment and upbringing? Reminds me of the Sagan quote "if you want to make apple pie, you first have to invent the universe."

In a similar vein, we have succeeded in copying (digitizing) the full human genome. But, to actually do something with that requires an even greater tasks of understanding what all those genes in it actually mean (what the proteins they express do). For the brain we haven't done the former, let alone the latter. I believe there's more point in trying to understand the working of the brain or mind on a more abstract level.

I agree with you that an more abstract understanding would be more useful than a naive copy, however I think calling it "pointless" is a bit of an exaggeration. Imagine being able to make an indistinguishable 1:1 copy of your own brain at the exact moment at which you die, voilĂ  immortality. Tad Williams wrote an interesting bit of fiction about exactly this called the Otherland series - well worth a read.

Not to mention that simply building such a copy would yield its own set of insights.

I'm afraid 1:1 brain copies will stay in the realm of science fiction, so it's not an exaggeration. This paper provides some more food for thought on my position: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/coli.2009.35...

Applications are open for YC Winter 2018

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact