Professor Henry Markram, a doctor-turned-computer engineer, announced that his team would create the world's first artificial conscious and intelligent mind
by 2018. If Dr. Markram's project ( Called project 'Blue Brain') is successful it will change the definition of what is human. Among the questions that will be raised are, does a functioning, reasoning brain require a physical body to be considered human? Would a functioning, conscious intellect in a computer be afforded human rights? If someone pulled the plug on the computer would it be murder?
Markham is approaching the project in a radically different way than that used by other AI researchers. He is attempting to map the neural network into a computer using extremely delicate dissection of brains (beginning with a rat's brain and ultimately a human brain) and duplicating it precisely into the computer.
Even his critics concede that he has the intellect, money and equipment to make the attempt possible. The human brain is the most complicated object on the planet and duplicating it in computer will require an extremely powerful computer – Markham believes such a computer will be available by 2018. As the current capacity of computers doubles about every 18 months, if that trend continues by 2018 capacity will have grown by a factor of 1000.
If Dr. Markram is successful it will have not only philosophical, moral and ethical import but will present some interesting challenges to religions – primarily will it have a soul? And will it have the “original sin” baggage? Of course the real tragedy would be if it turned out to be a Baptist.
Coincidentally, Markram's lab is just a few miles from where Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein