Human Brain Project supercomputer

Bernd MohrBernd Mohr, Juelich Supercomputing Centre (JSC)

When the general public hears about the Human Brain Project (HBP), they immediately think about the possible medical breakthroughs the project will enable, like accelerated development of diagnostic tools and treatments for brain diseases or personalized medicine. This is a natural reaction as the project's prime goal is to produce an integrated, multi-level understanding of brain structure and function.

However, if you look deeper, the HBP plan lists twelve objectives of which, surprisingly six are related to information and communication technology (ICT), including:

  • Develop ICT tools to generate high-fidelity digital reconstructions and simulations of the mouse brain, and ultimately the human brain (“Simulate the Brain”)
  • Develop hardware architectures and software systems for visually interactive, multi-scale supercomputing moving towards the exascale (“Develop Interactive Supercomputing”)
  • Develop and operate six specialized platforms dedicated respectively to neuroinformatics, brain simulation, high performance computing, medical informatics, neuromorphic computing, neurorobotics, and a unified portal providing a single point of access to the platforms (“Develop and Operate six ICT Platforms, Making HBP Tools, Methods and Data Available to the Scientific Community”)
  • Develop ICT tools supporting the re-implementation of bottom-up and top-down models of the brain in neuromorphic computing and neurorobotic systems (“Develop Brain-Inspired Computing and Robotics”)
  • Develop ICT tools to federate and cluster anonymized patient data.(“Map Brain Diseases”)
  • Implement a program of trans-disciplinary education to train young scientists to exploit the convergence between ICT and neuroscience, and to create new capabilities for European academia and industry. (“Education and Knowledge Management”)

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Q&A

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The human brain vs. modern supercomputer? | Yahoo Answers

The human brain is capable of creativity,
while the supercomputer is better and faster at logic.
The human brain is better at conceptualization of complex, meaningful-to-the-real-world ideas,
while the supercomputer is better at solving ultra complex simulations and equations.
The human brain decays, but has advantages due to the organic nature of its construction that allow it to teach itself, while the supercomputer doesn't decay, but cannot rationalize things it has not been taught to by someone with a human brain (yet... one day.... one day...).
That's really it in a nutshell.…

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How long would current supercomputers take to complete the human genome project? | Yahoo Answers


The work is performed by sequencing techniques, and these have become increasingly mechanized and miniaturized. The above article suggests that sequencing someone's DNA can be done in a day.
I am not familiar with these techniques. I suspect, though, that shortcuts are being taken because human DNA has already been sequenced. I would expect sequencing something that's never been sequenced to take longer, but we'd still be talking about "less than a month." (No, I don't remember where I read the "month" figure).

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