IBM Cat Brain Simulation called a hoax

Henry Markram: Visualizing Synaptic Maps onto ...
Henry Markram Image via Wikipedia

Ridiculous pretense building upon pipedream smoke, this is the feeling a recent fight between computer scientists working on brain simulations seems to communicate. Two scientists have been pursuing the dream of simulating a simple mammalian brain (neurons, axons, ion channels and all) in a computer. One of them, Dharmendra Modha, says he did it, the other, Henry Markram, that the whole thing is a hoax. This, despite the fact that  Modha’s project got a very significant award. Read the article and then the comments. Draw your own conclusions.

In February 2008, the National Academy of Engineering issued a grand challenge to reverse engineer the human brain, sweetening a pot neuroscientists had already been stirring for a long time. There are as many theories of mind as there are researchers working on it, and in some cases there is a real grudge match between the theorists. And maybe it’s because they’re both affiliated with IBM in some way, but it seems that none of these are more bloody than the one between IBM Almaden’s Dharmendra Modha and EPFL‘s Henry Markram.

So it wasn't strictly a surprise when Henry Markram, the lead on the EPFL Blue Brain project, took umbrage at the publicity IBM's project received last week. He sent the following letter to IBM CTO Bernard Meyerson, CCing many members of the media, including reporters from the UK Daily Mail, Die Zeit, Wired, Discover, Forbes, and me.

Dear Bernie,

This is an image taken from a typical PET acqu...
Image via Wikipedia

You told me you would string this guy up by the toes the last time Mohda made his stupid statement about simulating the mouse’s brain.

Read the rest at IEEE Spectrum: Cat Fight Brews Over Cat Brain.

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Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei – Professor of Communication at Purdue University – studies the relationship between information technology and social groups. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Structural differentation in social media. He also co-edited Ethical Reasoning in Big Data,Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , all three the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei’s teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

One thought on “IBM Cat Brain Simulation called a hoax

  • December 3, 2009 at 7:28 pm
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    “Two IBM scientists have been pursuing…”

    Markram is with EPFL, not IBM.

    Reply

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