Just as our species could be considered the most violent, since we are capable of serial killings, genocide and other atrocities, we are also the most empathetic species, which would seem to be the other side of the coin.
Intelligent machines that not only think for themselves but also actively learn are the vision of researchers who have been co-ordinating the European Union research project "Brain-i-Nets".
The scientists want to design a new generation of neuro-computers based on the principles of calculation and learning mechanisms found in the brain, and at the same time gain new knowledge about the brain’s learning mechanisms.
Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons. Only recently discovered, these neurons allow us to learn complex social behaviors, some of which formed the foundations of human civilization as we know it.
We all carry in our heads various mental representations of our body—one example is the well-known brain map of our sense of touch, sometimes called a homunculus. New studies show how such mental maps blur with age and readily extend to accommodate bionic limbs.
Today we are readers. Evidence suggests that reading is only about 5000 years old. The brain in its modern form is about 200,000 years old, yet brain imaging shows reading taking place in the same way and in the same place in all brains.