The Consequences of Fully Understanding the Brain

Warren Robinett

We start with questions:

• How does learning work?

• How does recognition work?

In short, How does the brain work?

We have nothing better than vague, approximate answers to any of these questions at the present time, but we have good reason to believe that they all have detailed, specific, scientific answers, and that we are capable of discovering and understanding them.

We want the questions answered in full detail — at the molecular level, at the protein level, at the cellular level, and at the whole-organism level. A complete answer must necessarily include an understanding of the developmental processes that build the brain and body. A complete answer amounts to a wiring diagram of the brain, with a detailed functional understanding of how the components work at every level, from whole brain down to ion channels in cell walls. These are questions of cognitive science, but to get detailed, satisfying, hard answers, we need the tools of nanotechnology biochemistry and information technology

How important would it be if we did achieve full understanding of the brain? What could we do that we can't do now? How would it make our lives better? Unfortunately, scientific advances don't always improve the quality of life. Nevertheless, let's look at some possibilities opened up by a full understanding of how the brain works.

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