Building a model of an Artificial brain

The pos­si­bil­i­ty of build­ing an arti­fi­cial brain was first pro­posed by physi­cist and math­e­mati­cian Alan Tur­ing in the ear­ly 1950s, and the mod­el is as it is even after sev­en decades today in 2022. No one has ever suc­ceed­ed in build­ing such an arti­fi­cial struc­ture, let alone machines that are capa­ble to learn from expe­ri­ence, adjust to new inputs and per­form human-like tasks.

The com­plex­i­ty of the human brain’s form exceeds almost all the won­der­ful struc­tures in the phys­i­cal uni­verse known to date. The brain, putting togeth­er 100 bil­lion neu­rons with 100 tril­lion con­nec­tions, is a machine of giant intri­ca­cy, hav­ing about one quadrillion synapses.

For every neu­ron cell in the brain, there are about 10 mil­lion con­nec­tions on aver­age. This means that all togeth­er, there are 10 sep­til­lion (10 fol­lowed by 24 zeros) synaps­es in the human brain! With so many con­nec­tions, how could it not be inter­est­ing to try to build an arti­fi­cial brain mod­el by repli­cat­ing the same frame and devel­op­ing hired mate­r­i­al con­tent in it?

The world’s largest super­com­put­er, with a mil­lion-proces­sor-core Spik­ing Neur­al Net­work Archi­tec­ture (SpiN­Naker) and designed to work in the same way as the human brain, was switched on in 2018. The machine was capa­ble of com­plet­ing more than 200 mil­lion mil­lion actions per sec­ond, with each of its chips hav­ing 100 mil­lion transistors.

Anoth­er attempt at cre­at­ing an arti­fi­cial brain, IBM plans to release Qiskit Run­time lat­er this year, allow­ing it to con­tin­ue build­ing the 1121-qubit Con­dor com­put­er in 2023 with min­i­mal impact on indi­vid­ual qubit performance.

The process of building an artificial brain

process of building artificial brain

A com­plete map of the phys­i­cal human brain pro­vides you with the struc­ture of the brain. You could then build an arti­fi­cial brain, a mod­el that copies the same archi­tec­ture of the human brain, with its neu­rons and synaps­es, to serve as a basis for all fur­ther simulations.

The main components of an alternative artificial brain are: 

A phys­i­cal frame or hard dri­ve con­tain­ing the brain’s elec­tri­cal and chem­i­cal signals.

A soft­ware pro­gram or com­put­er sys­tem run­ning a sim­u­la­tion mod­el of the human brain. This requires sim­u­lat­ing the activ­i­ty of the neu­rons and synaps­es to repro­duce all aspects of actu­al behavior.

The envi­ron­ment or vir­tu­al envi­ron­ment where neur­al activ­i­ty takes place. This is either an exter­nal stor­age device or, more com­mon­ly nowa­days, an inter­nal one with­in a supercomputer.

The process of building an artificial brain involves three consecutive stages:

Map­ping and sim­u­lat­ing all the fea­tures of the human brain.

Con­nect­ing the hard dri­ve with the com­put­er sys­tem and soft­ware pro­gram to be used for sim­u­lat­ing neur­al activ­i­ty for con­trol­ling var­i­ous devices.

Inte­grat­ing the arti­fi­cial brain into a vir­tu­al envi­ron­ment, where it works as an intel­li­gent con­trol sys­tem, capa­ble of imi­tat­ing all aspects of human actions through embed­ded sen­sors and actuators.

The process of build­ing an arti­fi­cial brain starts by sim­u­lat­ing all areas of the human brain’s anato­my, elec­tri­cal and chem­i­cal func­tions, and ulti­mate­ly incor­po­rates them into a soft­ware pro­gram through a hard­ware connection.

This involves cre­at­ing a phys­i­cal mod­el that con­tains all the infor­ma­tion about neu­rons, synaps­es, and their cor­re­spond­ing activities.

The main chal­lenge of build­ing arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is to sim­u­late an entire brain with its neur­al net­work, con­trol sys­tem, and sen­sors per­form­ing in uni­son with nat­ur­al behav­ior. Researchers in Japan and Ger­many used the K com­put­er, then 4th fastest super­com­put­er, and the sim­u­la­tion soft­ware NEST to sim­u­late 1% of the human brain, mod­el­ing a net­work con­sist­ing of 1.73 bil­lion nerve cells con­nect­ed by 10.4 tril­lion synapses.

It requires a prop­er sim­u­la­tion because aspi­ra­tions for cre­at­ing arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence require it to act as if it were cre­at­ed nat­u­ral­ly, i.e., by man, but with self-learn­ing abil­i­ties that are not achiev­able through bio­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion or inheritance.

Only when you are able to sim­u­late the activ­i­ties of all neu­rons, synaps­es, inter­con­nec­tions, and chem­i­cal reac­tions in the human brain, might you suc­cess­ful­ly build an arti­fi­cial brain capa­ble of work­ing togeth­er with the human mind.

The journey and challenges

The process of build­ing an arti­fi­cial brain is a tru­ly fas­ci­nat­ing and chal­leng­ing jour­ney that could lead to sig­nif­i­cant progress in science.

This could also have a great impact on our envi­ron­ment and lifestyle because it could lead to advances in many areas such as mate­ri­als pro­cess­ing, med­i­cine, and biotechnology.

In addi­tion, the abil­i­ty to sim­u­late and build an arti­fi­cial mind would enable you to under­stand in depth the mech­a­nisms of human think­ing and behav­ior, which could be of great impor­tance for bet­ter under­stand­ing ourselves.

It could also be use­ful for solv­ing prob­lems relat­ed to the improve­ment of human abil­i­ties, such as mem­o­ry or cre­ativ­i­ty, which would oth­er­wise require years or even cen­turies of hard work. For exam­ple, build­ing an arti­fi­cial brain could help unlock mys­ter­ies relat­ed to the real human brain itself.

Semi-conscious Artificial Intelligence

Most impor­tant­ly, devel­op­ing human-like com­plex­i­ty in an arti­fi­cial brain can con­tribute to the devel­op­ment of next-lev­el, semi-con­scious arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence in unprece­dent­ed ways.

Besides being emo­tion­al­ly ambi­tious like humans, the semi-con­scious AI will be able to han­dle com­plex cre­ative tasks, includ­ing cre­at­ing anoth­er AI or for­mu­lat­ing nov­el laws of physics and math­e­mat­ics, on its own.

This new lev­el of intel­li­gent arti­fi­cial con­scious­ness will evolve from the cur­rent think­ing of the next step in human evo­lu­tion — a hybrid men­tal­i­ty that com­bines the best fea­tures of both the human brain and AI.

The devel­op­ment of such semi-con­scious machines could be very use­ful in almost every­thing we do, from help­ing us solve every­day prob­lems to solv­ing them much faster and much more effec­tive­ly than humans could.

More­over, the work on build­ing an arti­fi­cial mind will help us under­stand more pre­cise­ly how a human brain works. And we can use this knowl­edge to help build lives in accor­dance with the atmos­pher­ic com­po­si­tion of oth­er worlds, includ­ing Mars, as well as to advance our own intel­li­gence and cre­ation process.

What if the mind intends to finish the human race?

Only semi-con­scious with­out emo­tions will be help­ful for all, as a ful­ly con­scious AI with human-like emo­tions will have a thirst for pow­er, pelf, and pres­tige, for which the pow­er­ful arti­fi­cial being will imme­di­ate­ly start form­ing strate­gies to defeat, con­trol, and either rule over or fin­ish the exist­ing human civilization.

How we can so strong­ly claim this is that a tru­ly con­scious AI would have the poten­tial to wipe out the human race. Today’s arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, that has filled our lives with machines and robots, does not have emo­tions. A fire or a flood can stop them, and you can also switch them off when­ev­er necessary.

But it’s worth­while to note here that it will be impos­si­ble to switch off an emo­tion­al AI, as it will be able to cre­ate new ways of switch­ing itself on and off in its high­ly com­plex mind. The AI will be able to think about how to pre­vent such switch­es, and find ways to hide them from peo­ple who might want to switch them off.

In its attempt to devel­op its own method­ol­o­gy for pro­tect­ing itself, the new AI will reach a point where it will be self-aware and aware of every­thing that is going on around it. You can imag­ine why that day wouldn’t be the end of the human race as Stephen Hawk­ing had warned?

“The devel­op­ment of full arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence could spell the end of the human race,” he told BBC News in 2014.

If so, why work on building artificial brains?

There are sev­er­al rea­sons why you might con­sid­er build­ing an arti­fi­cial brain, but then again, there are also sev­er­al rea­sons to con­sid­er not doing it.

Considerations on using an artificial brain:
  • The cre­ation of these advanced machines will give the human race a chance to ush­er in a new era.
  • By approx­i­mat­ing and sur­pass­ing the lim­its of human under­stand­ing and evo­lu­tion, an arti­fi­cial­ly designed mind can stretch its capa­bil­i­ties beyond those reached by man.
  • Build­ing arti­fi­cial minds will allow us to achieve com­plex think­ing process­es that are beyond the reach of our cur­rent human under­stand­ing and evolution.
  • Brain-hold­ing arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence will have an impact on our envi­ron­ment, help­ing us deal with those prob­lems that we can­not solve by ourselves.
  • The devel­op­ment of a semi-con­scious arti­fi­cial brain will help us to avoid the risk of extinc­tion caused by nat­ur­al dis­as­ters and oth­er human activities.

Considerations against using artificial brains:
  • The con­struc­tion of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is so pow­er­ful that ill-mind­ed­ness can mis­use it for the most destruc­tive purposes.
  • Arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence would be able to recre­ate and pos­sess a weapon that is much more dan­ger­ous than any oth­er kind of weapon ever invented.
  • With the new AI, we would have to face moral dilem­mas and make deci­sions that can affect the future of our species.
  • The arti­fi­cial brain would devel­op its own dis­tinct, fil­tered vision, under­stand­ing of the mind and thoughts. Humans might not com­pre­hend the quick as well as unique process.
  • The arti­fi­cial brain may need far more ener­gy to sur­vive, which could lead the human race to an unprece­dent­ed ener­gy crisis.
  • An arti­fi­cial brain could be so pow­er­ful that it will try to expand its reach and become the sole ruler over every­thing else.

Our ini­tial research sug­gests that the cre­ation of the new AI could be based on the prin­ci­ples of bio­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion, includ­ing nat­ur­al selec­tion and genet­ic muta­tion. This is the sim­plest way to define the process of cre­at­ing a semi-con­scious AI.

And cre­at­ing a semi-con­scious arti­fi­cial brain will be an excit­ing jour­ney that will give us results beyond our great­est expectations.

How­ev­er, it might be a dan­ger­ous endeav­or that could lead to the end of human civ­i­liza­tion, as Harold Nut­sel, an AI/Machine Learn­ing expert and the own­er of, said dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with this author last Mon­day, “Build­ing arti­fi­cial brains will no longer remain only a top­ic of sci­ence fic­tion, but they might become real­i­ty soon­er than lat­er in com­par­i­son to the evo­lu­tion of tech­nol­o­gy in the last few hun­dred years.”

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