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Obama Brain Mapping Project Tests Big Data Limits
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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
8/14/2013 | 2:21:58 PM
re: Obama Brain Mapping Project Tests Big Data Limits
My reading of the headline was this was a project to map Obama's brain. [Insert joke here]
jaysimmons
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jaysimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/10/2013 | 4:56:05 PM
re: Obama Brain Mapping Project Tests Big Data Limits
I agree that when terabytes were mentioned it seemed like a great deal of data, now we have terabytes in regular home computers and even that is not enough for many people. Technology truly is amazing in the amount of progress that can be achieved and the ever expanding limits. With this talk about yottabytes of data being collected, we may find that even these seemingly insurmountable units of data wonG«÷t be enough for a project of this magnitude and importance.

Jay Simmons
Information Week Contributor
DLF38
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DLF38,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/8/2013 | 8:25:10 PM
re: Obama Brain Mapping Project Tests Big Data Limits
While an enhanced budget for brain research can only be beneficial, it is probably important to think hard about goals for success from this funding, and methods for achieving this success. As to goals, we must remember that we are confronting a structure with 100 billion neurons and at least that many glial cells modifying neural functioning, not to mention the emergent features of neural activity that are a function of interactions between these physiological entities. Yottabites may even fall short of describing the exponential magnitudes of potential complexity.

This almost inestimable level of complexity probably means that the initial budget for "mapping the bran" might be best for doing just that -- inventorying and spatially locating the cells in the brain, and laying the ground for recognizing the physical, physiological manifestation of various diseases (Alzheimers; Dementia, Parkinsons etc,) When it comes to understanding brain function or "consciousness,", the full complexity of potential interactivity is in play, and my guess is that even the European (1 Billion Euro) budget for this task is only a starting point.

As regards methods for achieving success, I have heard commentary to the effect that centralizing direction and control of the project within a single committee works contrary to the norms of creative science -- where individual investigators follow personal paths of investigation and discovery. We must be watchful that this somewhat divergent approach to guiding the research efforts does not indeed become a constraint on the very creativity that is needed to ultimately reach the project goals
J. Nicholas Hoover
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J. Nicholas Hoover,
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4/3/2013 | 6:50:00 PM
re: Obama Brain Mapping Project Tests Big Data Limits
While this is the first time that I've heard anyone use the word yottabyte in a real-world context, I do not think by any means that the NIH Director was exaggerating when he used the term, perhaps because I know that there are other projects in the works that will be collecting data at high enough rates that may require yottabyte data stores. For example, those building the Square Kilometer Array, a radio telescope under construction in Australia, have estimated that the telescope could eventually "many petabits" of data per second, exceeding the total current Internet-wide traffic rate by a factor of 100.
John Foley
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John Foley,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/2/2013 | 8:29:23 PM
re: Obama Brain Mapping Project Tests Big Data Limits
The implications for mental health and the potential for new discoveries and, in the case of mental illness, possible cures, makes this an initiative worth pursuing. That said, I find the reference to yottabytes of data fascinating. Does anyone remember Microsoft's 'Scalability Day' in New York City circa 1997? At the time, a terabyte (or trillion bytes) was considered a lot of data. Now, we're talking a trillion times that. Amazing.


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