A group of researchers from Indiana University, Harvard Medical School, et. al have completed the first map of the outer layer of the brain. While this is cool research, I think people tend to extrapolate this stuff out too far… more on that later. Here’s a quote I found interesting:
“This is one of the first steps necessary for building large-scale computational models of the human brain to help us understand processes that are difficult to observe, such as disease states and recovery processes to injuries…” [emphasis mine]
As an engineer, I’m more interested in modeling the brain for artifical intelligence reasons (call me narrow and selfish if you want). To be clear, I don’t believe that simply cloning the brain will create a living conciousness… I’m more interested in augmenting our existing reasoning power (controversial, I know).
I tend to question the comments made by one of the researchers (maybe I’m reading too much into it):
“We can measure a significant correlation between brain anatomy and brain dynamics. This means that if we know how the brain is connected we can predict what the brain will do.”
Maybe on some generic scale, but I consider us more than just a biological computer. I’ll lay out why I believe this using inductive logic. First, I believe people are fully responsible for their own actions (using the Bible as my base). To be responsible, a person has to be able to make a choice about what actions they will take (free-will vs determinism). Now, assume we are just a biological computer, with predictable, deterministic actions. If this is true, then our behavior is dictated by our biology and we only appear to have free-will. Without free-will, we are not responsible for our actions. Thus, this can’t be true.
Okay, now some would argue that we are a biological computer but with some non-deterministic properties. If this is the case, we still have no responsibility for our actions because they are simply slaves to these random fluctuations. Thus, I hold firm to my belief that we have a soul that transends the physical.