AI is only loosely modeled on the brain. So what if you wanted to do it right? You’d need to do what has been impossible until now: map what actually happens in neurons and nerve fibers.
Cox and dozens of other neuroscientists and machine-learning experts joined forces last year for the Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS) initiative: a $100 million effort to reverse-engineer the brain. It will be the neuroscience equivalent of a moonshot, says Jacob Vogelstein, who conceived and launched MICrONS when he was a program officer for the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. intelligence community’s research arm. (He is now at the venture capital firm Camden Partners in Baltimore.) MICrONS researchers are attempting to chart the function and structure of every detail in a small piece of rodent cortex.