Centre for Research Ethics & Bioethics (CRB)

The Human Brain Project

The Human Brain Project (HBP) is a European Community Flagship Project of Information and Computing Technologies (ICT) within the framework of the Future Emerging Technologies (FET) vision. It is coordinated from École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland.

The project engages over 100 research groups in and outside Europe. It is organized around three complementary research areas:

  • Future Neuroscience
  • Future Medicine and
  • Future Computing

The project will develop six ICT platforms. These are dedicated respectively to Brain Simulation, High Performance Computing, Neuroinformatics, Medical Informatics, Neuromorphic Computing and Neurorobotics.

Aims of the Human Brain Project

Simulating the human brain is a huge computational challenge, and the first goal of HBP is to build an integrated system of the six ICT-based research platforms, providing neuroscientists, medical researchers and technology developers with access to highly innovative tools and services that can radically accelerate the pace of their research. Expected outcomes include simulations of the brain that reveal the chains of events leading from genes to cognition; simulations of diseases and the effects of drugs; early diagnoses and personalised treatments; and a computing paradigm that captures the brain’s cognitive capabilities. Overall, the HBP aims to reach an integrated understanding of the brain.

CRB in the Human Brain Project: Ethics and Society

CRB is part of HBP through professor Kathinka Evers who leads the philosophical research within the HBP. She is director of the Subproject 12, "Ethics & Society", and a member of the HBP's Internal Advisory Board.

Visit the HBP website

Two PhD projects are also part of HBP:

HBP reports

Dudai Y, Evers K, First report on how far brain simulation can explain mechanisms of the mind

Abstract: Simulation is a powerful method in science and engineering. In neuroscience, problem-oriented computer simulations of specific systems and functions of the brain are extensively used to test predictions, validate conclusions and models, and to guide hypothesis-driven experiments and new models at various levels of analysis. Rapid advancements in neuroscience and in computing drawincreasing attention to large-scale brain simulations. Against this background, we raise the question: ‘how far can brain simulation contribute to the explanation the brain and the mind?’ We delineate three types of issues that relate to the potential explanatory power of large-scale brain simulations. We note that, whereas some types of issues are expected to be resolved with the advance of neuroscience and computing technology, others pose more profound and long-lasting conceptual obstacles that should be taken into account in managing the expectations from the approach.

Neuroethics & Philosophy of the Brain

The CRB neuroethics research team is an international, multi-disciplinary group. Our backgrounds allow us to approach these issues from theoretical, philosophical, social, bio-political and clinical perspectives. We collaborate closely with neuroscientists to understand the ethical and philosophical questions that neuroscience brings. In this report, we provide a summary of our research. The report was updated in November 2016.

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Neuroethicxs & philosophy of the brain