Brain simulation and personhood: a concern with the Human Brain Project

Ethics and Information Technology 16 (2):77-89 (2014)
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The Human Brain Project (HBP) is a massive interdisciplinary project involving hundreds of researchers across more than eighty institutions that seeks to leverage cutting edge information and communication technologies to create a multi-level brain simulation platform (BSP). My worry is that some brain models running on the BSP will be persons. If this is right then not only will the in silico experiments the HBP envisions being carried on the BSP be unethical the mere termination of certain brain models running on the BSP will be unethical. To assess the possible personhood of certain brain simulations I consider John Searle’s critique of strong AI. In arguing that Searle’s critique fails I conclude that the HBP must tread carefully and devise strict rules on how research using the BSP ought to proceed.



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