Seattle’s Allen Institute for Brain Science is in on a multimillion-dollar campaign to trace the connections between the neurons in a mouse’s brain and figure out what they do, well enough to create a 3-D wiring diagram.
The five-year project – backed by the federal government’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or IARPA – is aimed at reverse-engineering the way the brain processes information. The project is called Machine Intelligence From Cortical Networks, or MICRONS.
“The reason IARPA is funding this is not merely to get a better understanding of the brain, but to get inspiration from biology to do the next iteration of machine learning,” R. Clay Reid, the Allen Institute’s principal investigator for the project, told GeekWire.
IARPA is the U.S. intelligence community’s equivalent of the Pentagon’s DARPA think tank, and you can assume that the new types of artificial intelligence programs inspired by MICrONS could help give the United States an edge when it comes to analyzing data for national security purposes.
At the same time, neuroscientists will benefit from seeing how neurons work together in unprecedented detail. “It’s absolutely a win-win situation,” Reid said.