Building a Brain

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is backing 2 separate projects that are both aimed at achieving a greater understanding of artificial intelligence.

The first project is led by University of Washington AI researcher Oren Etzioni. The goal is to build an artificial brain that is capable of passing a high school science test, which is no small task. Current AI technology struggles to perform better than a 4-year-old on a standard IQ test. As we’re well aware, the greatest limitation for AI in this space is their reasoning ability. Allen is quoted as saying “nobody really knows what it would take to create something that is self-aware or has a personality. I guess I could imagine a day when perhaps, if we can understand how it works in the human brain, which is unbelievably complicated, it could be possible. But that is a long, long ways away.”

Deconstructing the Brain

The second project, headed by Caltech neuroscientist Christof Koch, approaches the problem through neuroscience. The goal is to understand how the human brain works by deconstructing it. On the basis of this investment, Allen says “I wish I could say our understanding of the brain could inform that, but we’re probably a decade away from that. Our understanding of the brain is so elemental at this point that we don’t know how language works in the brain.”


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