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European Commission reaffirms endorsement of Human Brain Project

On the 24 July 2014 it was reported that the European Commission has responded to criticism from over 700 scientists and students about the validity of the €1.2 billion Human Brain Project (HBP), one of the Horizon 2020 calls and indeed one of the largest EU-funded initiatives.

In its response, the European Commission remains steadfast in its support of HBP and is involved in an ongoing evaluation of the project so as to properly address their concerns. The initial article published in the Guardian newspaper on the 7 July 2014 was potentially damaging as it questioned the value of simulation of the brain. Whilst this was by no means the main focus of the open letter by researchers that led to the article, the news item undoubtedly left the impression that computer models of the body are not worth pursuing.

The continuation of the HBP is of significant interest for health care assuming the development of innovative diagnostic tools may potentially be used in the field of personalised medicine. The HBP will also drive the development of further technologies for supercomputing and for scientific visualization. Models of the brain will develop information technology, allowing us to design computers, robots, sensors and other devices far more powerful, more intelligent and more energy efficient than any we know today.

Obviously the fact that it is a scientific worthy goal to pursue, does not imply that it also should be done at this moment and in this fashion. We expect that the debate will continue and that we and the societies will play our role in that.

The link to the article detailing the European Commissions support of HBP is available here (but you may need a subscription)

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