The human brain is an enigma. No one knows how it works in its entirety. Sure, scientists have some understanding, but there are still mysteries to discover. While one should never say "never", I am dubious that the brain will ever be fully understood. Still, the possibility of impossibility should never deter the human desire for knowledge. In other words, scientists should forever try to deconstruct and understand the mind, even if it proves to be fruitless.
Ultimately, one of the major motivations of understanding the brain is to recreate and ultimately surpass its power. It has been the dream of many scientists to create artificial intelligence that exceeds a human's. Today, Microsoft announces Project Adam - an attempt at duplicating the power of the human mind with computers. Could the name "Adam" be shedding light on a parallel with the character from the biblical Adam and Eve story?
Microsoft says, "Project Adam is a new deep-learning system modelled after the human brain that has greater image classification accuracy and is 50 times faster than other systems in the industry". The potential of this project is limitless, but there is a creepiness-factor when it comes to modelling technology after something sacred, like the human mind. Regardless of whether you are religious or not, it is a fair question to ask - should man be playing god and attempting to create such a high level of artificial intelligence?
In the above video highlighting the project, Microsoft shows-off some potential usage cases. In one example, a man's smartphone camera scans a doughnut, and it instantly displays nutritional values. This is far more advanced than scanning bar-codes on boxes of food. This is detecting the type of food, its weight and mass.
In another example, a woman has a scary mark on her arm. Of course, a fear is that it could be skin cancer. Rather than worry and pay a fortune to visit a doctor, her smartphone camera can detect if it may be cancerous and can warn her to visit a doctor.
In the short term, this deep-learning technology sounds awesome. Teaching software to do human activities? Amazing. However, in the long term, it is worrying that software and machines could ultimately surpass humans in being human. While a human's education and learning ends when he or she dies, a computer or machine can live forever with maintenance - its learning could last an eternity. Government spying is already an issue. What happens when citizens and the internet are monitored using computers that can think as a human? The human being could find itself obsolete.
Could we end up like Mr. Wordsworth from the classic Twilight Zone "The Obsolete Man"? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.