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The Human Brain Project and Recruiting More Cyberwarriors

EU commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes (C) poses between Henry Markram, director of both the Blue Brain and the Human Brain Project at Lausanne Polytechnic Federal School (R) and professor Jari Kinaret head of the condensed matter theory group at Chalmers (R) on January 28, 2013 at the EU Headquarters in Brussels.

One and a third billion dollars to build an artificial brain. The European Commission is doing this to breed new technology and to give computer and other sciences a shove forward. The ten year project should give us a better sense of how the mind works and how to treat brain diseases. And, the world could end up with a powerful way to compute, not digitally, but the way the brain does it. They're called neuro-morphic chips, says University of Tennessee neurobiology professor Robert Williams.

"Conventional microprocessors are based on a clock -- so they have a high gigahertz or megahertz clock rate," says University of Tennessee neurobiology professor Robert Williams, one of the U.S. researchers working on Europe's Human Brain Project.

"Neuro-morphic chips compute more in line with the way a human brain, or neurons compute. One of the key differences -- they can be extremely energy efficient," Williams explains. "The human brain only uses about 75 watts of power, and yet does fabulous computation in parallel, and we don't have anything like that right now."


Uncle Sam is looking for more than a few good people who know something about computer warfare. The Pentagon has revealed plans to increase the staff of its Cyber Command five fold. Harry Raudedge is the Chairman of the Deloitte Center for Cyber Innovation.

 "The Pentagon is stepping up and meeting the challenges of both the government and industry," says Harry Raudedge, the Chairman of the Deloitte Center for Cyber Innovation.

Specifically, the challenges of attacks via computer networks."One of the growing concerns is the potential for cyber terrorism -- shutting down power plants, also we're seeing shutting down financial services that are provided by our banking institutions"

But the idea of 4,000 new internet warriors gives some experts pause. Eric Chapman, deputy director of the Maryland Cybersecurity Center, remembers after the September 11th attacks. The government did a lot of hiring, some of it wasteful.

"As you saw in the last few years, that growth has been cut back," says Chapman. "I just hope the Pentagon is planning to right-size the amount of people and resources that they need."

The new cyber warfare experts will come as the Pentagon prepares to make cuts elsewhere in its budget, including putting off maintenance for ships and aircraft

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio
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