Many of you may feel that sci-fi books and movies in general stretch unproven concepts in science to such an extent that it is hard to suspend your belief and enjoy them. This is particularly true in neuroscience based science fiction. I am not a voracious reader of sci-fi, but from what I have read, I can say sci-fi books or movies never bother to explain the science or technology – whether it is current or futuristic – behind the concepts they throw around. From a commercial point of view, what they do may make sense and I am not totally against it. I just published a science fiction (Slaves to Neurons) in which I try to explain the current advances in the fields of brain simulation and nano technology and a robotics programmer’s attempt to see if machines can go through an emotional experience. I give the details of the experimental design and the technology that I foresee, will be around in forty or fifty years from now. Will this approach be a turn off for the readers? Are the readers only interested in fantastic, but absolutely unrealistic/unbelievable scenarios in sci-fi? I am sure there are a lot of sci-fi fans who are really interested in the science behind a story.
University of Waterloo researcher Chris Eliasmith and his team have built a software model of human brain (http://www.tgdaily.com/general-sciences-features/67819-artificial-brain-spaun-passes-iq-tests). This model, called SPAUN, can imitate human brain with a 2.5 million virtual neurons. The important thing to note from these studies is that SPAUN makes mistakes just like human do. It can remember the first and last item in a list better than the items in the middle, just like us. Computers do not make such mistakes. This model will certainly help neuroscience research and this approach is certainly valid but my question to other researchers who simply want to put a human brain inside a machine is this. Why build a machine that is flawed just like us? I believe the future machines should all be based on computation methods that are used in present day computers. This technology will eventually create machines that will be more powerful than the human brain, but will still be under human control because it is created by human. This is like a 500 kg elephant that is much more powerful than a 75 kg man but obeying his orders!!