Scientists have joined in the Human Brain Project to develop a detailed simulation of the human brain in a supercomputer.
More than 200 researchers from 80 different organizations are working on this project of the European Commission that has nearly $1.6 billion in funding.
The project, which is one of the Future and Emerging Technologies, will officially start later this year and it will take about 10 years to simulate all of the 100 billion neurons connected by 100,000 billion synapses in the human brain.
The project’s website noted that we lack even a “casual understanding of the way [brain] events … produce cognition and behaviour,” while more than a century of research has yielded little understanding of “how changes in the synapses between neurons help us to remember important events in our past”.
“With today’s technology, an exascale computer capable of simulating a cellular-level model of the whole human brain would probably consume about a Gigawatt – billions of euros worth of electricity every year.” The project’s FAQ on computing noted. So, the project is really a huge thing.
The team’s alternative is described as follows:
So what we plan to do is build fast storage random-access storage systems next to the supercomputer, store the complete detailed model there, and then allow our multi-scale simulation software to call in a mix of detailed or simplified models (models of neurons, synapses, circuits, and brain regions) that matches the needs of the research and the available computing power. This is a pragmatic strategy that allows us to keep build ever more detailed models, while keeping our simulations to the level of detail we can support with our current supercomputers.