There are many mapping the individual neurons of the human brain, and there are many creating super realistic models of the human face, however Dr. Mark Sagar is a true innovator because he is integrating every modelling factor into one AI interface.
Working from New Zealand’s, Auckland Bioengineering Institute, Associate Professor Mark Sagar has gone as far as to create a baby artificial intelligent computer model that actually learns, and is rewarded by increases of dopamine in the cortico-basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical loop from which the basal ganglia portion of the loop drives the reward system.
By modelling the various interconnected pathways of the neurological system, as well as the interrelation of the facial muscles, and the input system via the eyes, or camera on a computer, Dr. Sagar has effectively created an entity that responds to stimuli, good or bad, and can actually learn from its behaviour. Something that many labs around the world are probably trying to achieve as well, but has not been completed to the level and sophistication of Dr. Sagar and his team.
Ray Kurzweil talked about the Singularity, the moment in time when AI supersedes human intelligence as a sentient being, when artificial superintelligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization.
At the rate we are going now, this seminal moment will occur at a time earlier than thought, and we will have superintelligent entities who will eventually become sentient beings, they will be self-aware and be able to create their own machines, or modifications to technology already created.
In essence, the biological part of all life will be understood completely, as mapping every part of the human brain, every neuron and electrical impulse, will bring completely new understanding to what it means to be human, or a machine.
The functional abilities and capabilities to this technology are immeasurable, as their introduction will change every facet of the lives of humans, and could even be utilised to create exact copies of ones mind. If we can now backup the data on our computers today, tomorrow we will be backing up our brains. This event, would effectively reverse death, as our biological bodies deteriorate with time, the backups will live on. Going further into the future, your mind could easily by transplanted into a new body and brain, thus making biological death just a mere hiccup.
Transhumanism is already detailing much of this concept, but it will certainly be a prerequisite that humans absorb the machines and vice versa, because without this coupling, only hardship will follow. Especially when the advanced machine looks down at the inferior intellect of the biological, an arms race that could end badly for humans.
Of course, there will be military applications to all of this technology, and unfortunately there lies great danger in the adoption of sentient machines in the future that have the ability to kill. Already we are seeing autonomous drones flying over our heads constructed by the military, but here lies the distinct possibility that the future AI will not see humans as worthy of life. We would not be deemed as useful, we’re dumb compared to them, and naturally the weaker of any species always meets a sticky end, as the Neanderthals once did too.
The work of Dr. Sagar is truly amazing, and it is rare to see such a complete understanding, all in one package, with true integration into creating a new entity. We must also however look at the moral points regarding the future though, for without that element philosophically speaking, humankind could eventually bear the brunt of their own creation.