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