From now on, our blog will use ‘ENCODE project’ to describe an expensive and utterly worthless government-funded project, such as the 1.2bn Human Brain Project proposed by European union. It is sold as ‘the world’s largest project to unravel the mysteries of the human brain’, but someone in the comment section presented it better.
The project seems more likely to be useful in giving insight into the the brain’s capacity for the arrogant, delusional and megalomaniacal use of someone else’s money without their permission.
It would have to be the EU of course, a fitting symbol of Barroso’s five years as Emperor.
In a sign of return to sanity -
The world’s largest project to unravel the mysteries of the human brain has been thrown into crisis with more than 100 leading researchers threatening to boycott the effort amid accusations of mismanagement and fears that it is doomed to failure.
The European commission launched the 1.2bn (950m) Human Brain Project (HBP) last year with the ambitious goal of turning the latest knowledge in neuroscience into a supercomputer simulation of the human brain. More than 80 European and international research institutions signed up to the 10-year project.
But it proved controversial from the start. Many researchers refused to join on the grounds that it was far too premature to attempt a simulation of the entire human brain in a computer. Now some claim the project is taking the wrong approach, wastes money and risks a backlash against neuroscience if it fails to deliver.
In an open letter to the European commission on Monday, more than 130 leaders of scientific groups around the world, including researchers at Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and UCL, warn they will boycott the project and urge others to join them unless major changes are made to the initiative.
Apparently this hugely expensive project will build a computer program to simulate brain, and has nothing to do with a real brain.
Central to the latest controversy are recent changes made by Henry Markram, head of the Human Brain Project at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne. The changes sidelined cognitive scientists who study high-level brain functions, such as thought and behaviour. Without them, the brain simulation will be built from the bottom up, drawing on more fundamental science, such as studies of individual neurons. The brain, the most complex object known, has some 86bn neurons and 100tn connections.
“The main apparent goal of building the capacity to construct a larger-scale simulation of the human brain is radically premature,” Peter Dayan, director of the computational neuroscience unit at UCL, told the Guardian.
“We are left with a project that can’t but fail from a scientific perspective. It is a waste of money, it will suck out funds from valuable neuroscience research, and would leave the public, who fund this work, justifiably upset,” he said.
Europe’s decision to approve the HBP spurred US scientists to propose a major project of their own. The US Brain Initiative aims to map the activity of the human brain and could win $3bn (1.75bn) in funding over 10 years.
We objected about this wasteful US project earlier and sincerely hope to see it get dumped as well.