The Human Cognome Project

It is time to launch a Human Cognome Project, comparable to the successful Human Genome Project, to chart the structure and functions of the human mind. No project would be more fundamental to progress throughout science and engineering, or would require a more complete unification of NBIC sciences. Success in the Human Cognome Project would allow human beings to understand themselves far better than before, and therefore would enhance performance in all areas of human life.

While the research would include a complete mapping of the connections in the human brain, it would be far more extensive than neuroscience. The archaeological record indicates that anatomically modern humans existed tens of thousands of years before the earliest examples of art, a fact that suggests that the human mind was not merely the result of brain evolution but also required substantial evolution in culture and personality. Central to the Human Cognome Project would be wholly new kinds of rigorous research on the nature of both culture and personality, in addition to fundamental advances in cognitive science.

The results would revolutionize many fields of human endeavor, including education, mental health, communications, and most of the domains of human activity covered by the social and behavioral sciences. Some participants in the human cognition and communication working group were impressed by the long-term potential for uploading aspects of individual personality to computers and robots, thereby expanding the scope of human experience, action, and longevity. But at the very least, greater understanding of the human mind would allow engineers to design technologies that are well suited to human control and able to accomplish desired goals most effectively and efficiently. Success in the Human Cognome Project would greatly facilitate success in the other four areas identified by this working group.

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