The Allen Institute for Brain Science recently announced that Paul Allen has committed an additional three hundred million dollars, bringing his total investment in their brain mapping work to five hundred million dollars:
. . . Allen has charged the Institute with tackling some of the most fundamental and complex questions in brain science today. The answers to these questions are essential for achieving a complete understanding of how the brain works, what goes wrong in brain-related diseases and disorders, and how best to treat them.
This huge outlay only covers the first four years of an ambitious 10-year plan of neuroscience research, allowing for a doubling of the Institute’s staff and launching three new and complementary scientific initiatives addressing critical questions central to understanding how the brain works:
- How does the brain store, encode and process information?
- What are the cellular building blocks that underlie all brain function, and are often targets of disease?
- How do those cells develop, and then create the circuits that drive behavior, thought and brain dysfunction?
While this knowledge will certainly help understanding “brain-related diseases and disorders” it provides for other applications as well, including direct neural interfaces and uploading–two subjects at the core of transhumanist singularity scenarios.
While Mr. Allen is undoubtable rich enough to afford even such a princely sum, one has to wonder if his motives are related more to the latter than the former. After all, what good is being a billionaire if you can’t use it to live forever?