BigNeuron launch promises quantum collaborative leap

Just as yesterday’s BAMblog was touting Nick Bostrom’s video lecture entitled “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers and Strategies”, an initiative called BigNeuron was being launched on the other side of the world at The Allen Institute for Brain Science (press release here).

The link? Just past midway on the video, Bostrom starts talking about whole brain emulation, by which a three-dimensional connectivity matrix can be built through combining thousands of powerful images of microscopically fine slices of brain. The science is certainly more complicated, and the Allen Institute press release helps to make things clearer.

While the science of creating neuronal-level maps of brain matter is established, what has yet to be done is to agree a standard set of algorithms by which the emerging datasets can be analysed and compared, with the result that progress is still slow. The BigNeuron project, involving a collaboration of 13 major academic and research centres around the world, aims to consolidate a common approach to neurological research to ensure faster progress with future work.

The immediate objective of the project, in the words of the Allen Institute itself, is “a set of open-source, community-based tools for neuroscience studies, standardized protocols for researchers to create their own neuron morphologies, and a rich library of morphological feature definitions and algorithms to provide a foundation of quality metrics and classification organized in an openly available database of single neuron morphology data.”

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