Scientists Develop Most Complex Human-Like Brain Simulation

Scientists at the University of Waterloo in Canada have successfully created the most complex simulation of the human brain ever.

Called the Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network, or Spaun, the software consists of 2.5 million simulated neurons, and can recognize images, numbers and handwriting by simulating various neural activities of the human brain. Unfortunately, it can’t learn anything new, yet (though it can remember).

Despite having a relatively low number of simulated neurons, it’s the most “human-like” brain simulation developed to date. This is because Spaun allows scientists to see the emergence of complex behavior and processes from relatively simple tasks.

Spaun also suffers many of the same limitations humans do, such as remembering long lists of numbers, according to

The simulation is able to “see” using an external “eye” (read: camera), and can respond to images — the aforementioned numbers, letters, etc. — by drawing with a robotic arm.

Updates are already in the works to give Spaun the ability to learn new tasks and even respond to positive or negative stimulus.

But you know, things like this always make me wonder. What is consciousness? At what point will we create brain-like software, switch it on, and be met with an actual, conscious being? What will that be like?

Will we even recognize it as conscious?


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.