Human Brain Project, European ambition contested

Publié le : 9 July 2014

A petition signed by over 260 scientists is calling for the European Commission to “carefully re-examine both the scientific dimension and management” of the Human Brain Project (HBP) – one of the two scientific projects supported by the European Union.

 
The Human Brain Project is being carried out by a consortium of 256 laboratories in 24 countries of the European Union and is estimated to involve one billion Euros over a 10-year period. The aim is to model the human brain in order to increase scientific knowledge. 
 
The petition signatories are warning the Commission of a bad scientific strategy that would lead to“failure” and a “financial blunder”. They are contesting the “reductionist” approach selected, which would not guarantee a better understanding of the human brain. For Nobel Prize Winner, Torsten Wiesel, Director of the HBP’s External Advisory Committee: “From the outset, this project has been devised as a programme of technology, information and communication. It aims to develop super-powerful information technology to simulate various brain functions in the long term. Its other aims are to develop highly specialised robots and computers to mimic brain function”. According to Yves Frégnac (CNRS at Gif-sr-Yvette), “by focussing exclusively on innumerable existing data, HBP is becoming a Big Data technological project and is losing its ambition to increase our knowledge of the brain”.
 
“The human brain appears to have become ‘the Moon of the XXIst century’: its conquest is at the heart of an international race”. In fact, the European Human Brain Project rivals the Brain Initiative launched by President Obama in 2014.

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