Imagining the future of technology—Brain Power.

Article: BBC Staff. (2008). “Imagining the future of technology—Brain Power.” BBC News. Visited on 10 September 2008

The article asks the question: Can we ever expect computers to emulate the achievements of human intelligence?

There are two obstacles to overcome in order to achieve this; first, advances in hardware must be made so that computers may be powerful enough to simulate the working of the brain and secondly, we need to be able to program them to do so.

In order to better understand the working of the human brain, scientists around the world have utilized processing power of supercomputers in parallel to developed various computational brain models. Some model capture a high degree of detail, modeling the brain on a neuron by neuron basis while others work on the assumption that interesting phenomena occur at the network level and therefore model large numbers of simpler neurons.

Once validated by observation, the brain model can be used to explore the effects of altered molecular or genetic information. While researchers have a long way to go in understanding the human brain, progress is being made with respect to understanding brain subsystems and distinct functionality such as learning and vision.

Information on the working of the human brain can be applied to developing new computational approaches in robotics and elsewhere. For instance, information on the learning process can be applied to software development in order to give a computer the ability to learn and ultimately predict the needs of its user. Additionally, brain damage and mental illness research will not only aid in the design of successful therapy programs but could also aid in the ‘design of computers and computer software that will be less stupid and more able to cope with component failure’ (pg2)

Note on Interaction/Interface Design:

If we we’re able to design a computer that would be able to predict the needs/ potential errors of its user then the need for the designer to set up scaffolding for the user will be diminished at all levels of the design process.

I also wanted to mention Olga idea of eventually being able to model different personality types and utilize them in user testing. Not only would it avoid interpersonal awkwardness between interviewer and interviewee, it would also present a huge time saving. User interviews could be set to run overnight as a script, results could be available almost immediately.

  1 comment for “Imagining the future of technology—Brain Power.

  1. April 29, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Imagine if could figure out better treatments for autism, for example? We could model years of therapy in just a few hours and see if they work…

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