Human Brain Project


Meet the billion euro projects: Human Brain and Graphene

By  | January 24, 2013, 11:14 PM PST

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Meet the billion euro projects: Human Brain and Graphene

By  | January 24, 2013, 11:14 PM PST

After a two-year, high-profile contest, the European Commission has selected two research proposals to fund: one will model the whole brain using a supercomputer and the other will push graphene into the marketplace.

They’ll receive half a billion euros each. Nature News reports.

Launched in 2009, the Future and Emerging Technologies Flagship competition was a challenge to apply information and communication technologies to social problems.

The Human Brain Project plans to simulate everything known about the human brain — its cells, chemistry, and connectivity — in a supercomputer. The project, led by Henry Markram at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, claims it will aid medical advancement in brain disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

The Graphene project will develop graphene — an ultrathin, flexible form of carbon that can conduct light and electricity — for applications in computing, batteries, and sensors.

“We would start with applications in communication technology, like a fancy radio that operates at frequencies that cannot be used today,” project leader Jari Kinaret at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden told ScienceInsider. Other goals, such as artificial retinas and other bio-implants would be pursued at a later time.

The projects will now enter the ‘ramp-up’ phase, receiving €54 million each for the first 2.5 years. They expect to receive €1 billion over a decade.

This is the biggest funding contest the European Commission has ever hosted. The commission will make a formal announcement in Brussels on Monday.

[Via Nature NewsScienceInsider]

Image: Henry Markram / Human Brain Project

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Sir Tim, world peace -good piece!!

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web, has told The Drum that he hopes a more peaceful society will be the lasting legacy of his invention.

In a wide-ranging interview, the British-born computer scientist opened up about his aspirations for the web and his thoughts on its progress so far ahead of his induction into the UK Digital Hall of Fame at ad:tech in London next week.

Speaking from his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sir Tim said: “Hopefully [the web] will make the human race work more efficiently in many, many ways: we’ve already seen acceleration of commerce, and the acceleration of learning.

“The big question is can we use it to accelerate peace? One of the worrying things when people go online is that they tend to interact with their own kind: race, colour, creed, sexual preference and so on.

“People tend to stick to their own on the web. So the big thing is to get people to connect across cultural borders.

“If you’ve just been in conversation with somebody, or somebody’s parents about some common interest – whether it’s bird watching or global warming – you are less likely to shoot them.”

Sir Tim said the growing availability of mobile phones would help realise this ambition of a more connected world.

“The web going mobile will bring the people using the web from 25% to 80%,” he said.

“I think people in the developing world will start with phones then may want to move to cheap tablet PCs. The price of devices is generally falling.

“It has always been a mantra of mine that when you make a website you should make no assumptions of what sort of devices people will be using.”

You can read the full interview with Sir Tim in the latest edition of The Drum magazine, which is published today.


Spime, mime, and clouds – All you ever needed to know about the Knowledge Revolution

Last week’s Sunday Times article by Rosie Kitchen reviewed Ben Hammersleys “64 things you need to know now for then” and is exactly that.

Ben is the editor-at-large of Wired and the Prime Minister’s Ambassador to Tech City, London’s Internet Quarter. ‘It is a guided tour through latest technology and an examination of how it will change our lives…..what lies ahead is already recognisable but nonetheless remarkable’.

‘New technologies are bringing about fundamental changes in society, they are happening in the manner of all revolutions: very, very gradually and then very suddenly’.

The catalyst for this is the Internet. Not only has it radically changed the way we work, live and love but, Hammersley notes, it has also turned the rules of business on their heads. In this new world David regularly beats Goliath, and because of this, industries have to develop new business models quickly. We are now defined as either technologically literate or illiterate: those who get it and those who do not.

The problem, Hammersley suggests, is that most power holders and decision makers do not.’

“the Internet destroys every business that enters its sights and remakes it in its own image” – –just ask record companies, travel agents and publishers what this feels like. Next in line for an overhaul is Government’

‘Government will have to adapt to a public who are increasingly used to having an opinion and having that opinion taken seriously’ see and The Nelson Touch,,and the impact of the Internet in the ‘Arab Spring’.

‘Government will be forced to start thinking more like a brand, competing for the attention of the public’.


What if everything you purchased was also accompanied by an electronic tag that told you not only its ‘e numbers’ but its origins, about the conditions of its workers, the companies ethical track record and much more? Fair Trade is but an infant compared to this scenario. It is already being used by Amazon with its price comparison app. See the success of Wikipedia – the ultimate example of ‘crowd sourcing’.


ReCaptcha is Googles version of this service, which uses human intelligence to help to digitise old texts.

This technology was used to digitise 20 years of the New York Times in just a couple of months.

3-D printing

This is rapidly approaching and you will be able to order parts for your dishwasher, bike, or a 1920 Bugatti to be produced from a digital source and turned into a real part. Airbus does this for intricate landing gear parts in Filton, UK.

‘Hammersley believes the Internet is essentially untameable. Censorship is not logistically possible; nor is it feasible for governments to read people’s emails, despite headlines to the contrary. The task is too great. Society will have to adapt to the Internet, not the other way around.’

“The ability to be anonymous online is a huge social good, it enables you to ask questions and express opinions that you couldn’t before – and get answers”

This vindicates my strongly held beliefs expressed in previous blogs: that we are in the Knowledge Revolution and the Internet has turned us into a global village. All old preconceptions fall before us ‘only humans’ who have 48,000 years of behavioural conditioning hard wired into our ‘headwear’. Desmond Morris recently commented on the London riots: people who live in villages don’t burn their neighbours’ houses down. So, if you want to know the answer, think village people! A cynic recently reminded me that villagers do, however, burn other villages down. The Internet does not rid us of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse but it does go a long way to stop powerful individuals doing it and landing all of us with the consequences. Watch the news!

“What we will see more of is Internet users deciding for themselves what is and is not appropriate behaviour and doling justice out as they see fit.’ ’twas ever thus!

‘for the record, a meme is a concept that spreads via the Internet : an echo chamber is when something posted online is distorted in the retelling, like Chinese whispers; and a cloud is remote online data storage.

When I read this excellent article I stopped, got the kindle version on line immediately, and couldn’t stop until I had read it – so should you! Then I finished the article……..that’s viral!

Bob, Bill and the global village

In case you missed it:

Evening Standard 27 June 2012.

“We are living in the most interdependent time in history. The evidence is all around us. Wealth and talent now cross borders that are more like nets than walls but so do less positive forces. The financial crisis that started in the United States and swept the globe proved just how deeply our social and economic fates are intertwined – we can’t escape each other any more.
The good news is that we have more power than ever to build a world of shared values and shared opportunities- and nowhere is this clearer than in Africa.” President Bill Clinton (the one that cleared the deficit!)

“Of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world, most are African. The IMF predicts the continent’s economy will expand by more than five percent this year……That’s just the start. Africa is young-half the population is under 16. Within a few years, it will have the worlds youngest, most energetic workforce. And they will be living increasingly in Africa’s great cities. It already has more cities of more than one million than China and India.”
Don’t they know it’s Christmas? Thanks, Sir Bob – it looks like it’s coming!

Relevant, to Village People

Relevant to village people.
The knowledge revolution claims more victims and wins stunning victories by the day.
The 3m plus views of a Scottish school girls meals was seen around the world, in spite of the local councils effort to ban her innocent record of the dinners they served. The dinners have, of course, improved immediately!
The puzzle of the internet causes much disturbance in the ether. All the Internet does is enable human beings, with their hundreds of years of behavioural development, to do what is ‘only human’ but in a greater number, faster than ever before. What they use to do it, twitter, Facebook, google +, etc are merely tools we use……not unlike savannah mans club or zettabyte mans iPad, or the new nexus 7.
But what the Internet cannot do is ignore the basic human rights of individuals laid out, after much thought, in the US constitution, the UN charter of Human Rights, or heaven forbid, the mighty tome of the European version! The Internet is our Internet, and subject to the rule of law, our freedom of speech. So what? The massive power vested in the new hi-tech companies are struggling to balance justification for staggering valuations with these basics. Neither the ‘government’ or ‘corporate’ bodies quite knows how sure they are of their positions. All the while millions of us mere mortals click our way in a microsecond to that which satisfies our needs. See the Wikileaks dilemma and the desire to see and know everything we do on the Internet ‘in our interests’. What is demonstrably true is that when we instinctively feel we cannot TRUST our favourite app we consign it to the ‘old app bin’ How many apps have you got on your kit that you no longer use but hesitate to delete?
On Exmoor there are the remains of once thriving iron ore mines and their villages. Once upon a time the Phoenicians came to the West Country for our ores and minerals. Nowadays we take it for granted that they come from somewhere else. We farm sheep now, but we did export them to Australia and New Zealand and we now get it back frozen in the supermarket. Imagine the locals gossip while this decline went on, when someone suggested taking sheep to the other side of the world! They don’t talk about it here now but they do in the global village. China is spending trillions opening up mineral rich Africa – and not at Exmoor or Australian standards. See
There are more cities of over a million in Africa than in China. There are enormous populations, in India, China, Indonesia and all over the Far East who are grabbing the knowledge revolution with open arms and their mobile devices. Nowadays Exmoor deals direct with the world – unthinkable only a few years ago. The problem is the urban mind set. ‘everyone I talk to says the same’ – yes,in a city but now they have the Internet in common. The extraordinary rise of single issue political sites such as the Pirate Party are shaking the solid beliefs of politicians all around the world. Suddenly it does not matter what the people of Athens, Rome,Moscow, Sydney,or London think – it’s what a large numbers of ‘followers’ think – the global village. But it was ever thus. Jaw, jaw is better than war, war; even if what the latest feed from iPhones in Syria shows us is horrible. But we see it, we feel it, as if it was in our village and the world has had enough. The greater good of the greater, Internet connected world will reach new levels of human achievement – see Aristotle blog previously ! Go well!

Monday Muse

The Jubilee break is over. I am reminded by the scene of 1.5million happy,loyal,faces marching up the Mall of the comment of our Internet politico hero, William Hague, who was heard to mention to the visiting heads of state being entertained by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: ‘Look, 1,000,000 people marching on the Palace – and all with peaceful intent, smiling happy and cheering their ruler”. So, we leave Gloriana to return to shells and bodies in Syria while the world looks on. And, it does look on because of the Internet. How many social networks have that sort of instant ‘hit’ power?
The population of the Internet is now over a third of the planet, and we have only reached the foothills. I was asked by a friend recently; ‘where is all this Facebook, Twitter and email going? He proceeded to add all the usual and ‘only human’ concerns. My reply, in the vein of Savannah Man to Zettabyte Man ( see previous), was to take him back to Dulverton,Exmoor in the 15th century. There was a thriving village culture; families, business, law and order but also ‘only human’ culture. Charlatans were readily identified, gossips ‘ducked’ and all enjoyed the pleasures and discomforts of Shakespearean England! Twitter is no different – you don’t have to follow people you are not interested in, but you can follow the ones you are. You may feel a small fish in a big pond but you are important and have your rights . Martin Ivens (Sunday Times 10/6/12) “Long to reign Over Us :the super-rich” quotes Tyler Cowen on the uber rich : “ Yet we don’t really resent the super-rich because we don’t want to work as hard as them ….Envy is directed at the guy down the hall who has got a bigger raise…it’s directed at the husband of your wife’s sister, because the brand of beer he stocks costs $3 a case more than yours” He goes on to quote Gore Vidal: ‘Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies’. Only Human!
The internet is our internet, our input is our internet.

Facebook and others of that ilk should re think their core values. Truth and integrity are timeless values and you mess with them at your peril. The bungled flotation of Facebook is a lesson as is their attitude to our data -see recent twitter/posts. We the people own the content. We grant you rights to use it when in our
interest. Break the trust and integrity barrier and we will simply withdraw. Googles ‘Do no evil’ is a tough call so, good luck guys! Must hide there’s a drone overhead!
You will wake up one morning and we’ve gone, we vote with our clicks – so don’t be a social nitwit!

The Anglo-sphere (See Dan Hannan review @DanHannanMEP : Winston Churchill: the father of the Anglosphere). “The Anglosphere peoples believed, because their institutions had taught them to believe, that individual liberty, limited government and the rule of law were worth preserving – with force of arms if necessary”

Rule one of the Internet – if you tell lies you will be found out. So to my friend I would say; you have choices; Ignore it and enjoy the peace and beauty of Exmoor ( !), join in and enjoy it – but, above all make sure its true and has integrity or you will be found out. If you care about you or your tribes (companies, groups) identities promote yourself! But don’t bullshit.
“The internet gives politics the opportunity to return to the village hustings” W Hague. Watch the extraordinary progress of the Pirate Party in Germany. We don’t cheer or throw rotten cabbages today; we blog, tweet or email. Following twitter over Levison reached a new height that encapsulates all the above. Who told the truth? Murdoch or Brown? This will run and run,- or run out because the suns come out at last!

Warren Buffet is bucking the trend again by buying up regional Newspapers…does this recognise the very same ‘village gossip’ above?

Its all back to RELEVANT (see Taxi – are you relevant? previous). We must be getting near the ‘silly season’ as Martin Amis talking from the Hay festival was musing on age; when you get to your late fifties the only certain thing is death so you better not waste these years as you may have your youth’ Ah Ha!

Real Radicals, Real Freedom-Aristotle happy day!

The real radicals are those who reject Big State, Big Business, Big Media, Big Globalism, Big Ego…..and most of all, Bigotry. The real radicals are those who embrace the human race: individual creativity, personal liberty, and social responsibility. The real radicals are those who demand accountable leadership from those in power, and expect such powerful people to have a capable grasp of important apolitical disciplines: social anthropology, psychiatry, cognition theory, and neuroscience. The real radicals are those who look forward to a future in which science, intuition and artistic freedom make every form of superstition a thing of the past.

Tim Kevan

Author, Entrepreneur, Barrister, Knowledge Revolution exemplary speaking at the prize-giving speech at Sedbergh School in Cumbria.

“What I’d like to do in this speech is to give a little bit about my own background and then to throw in three keys lessons which I think are all reinforced by the great breadth of education that Sedbergh very clearly continues to give. In doing so I’m consoled by the fact that I have absolutely no recollection of who gave the prize-giving speech when I was at school nor of a single thing that they said. So I don’t know whether those facts left my head immediately after the ceremony or if it took many years of my brain crumbling around me but at least I can comfort myself by the idea that a few years from now this will have been completely wiped from your memories! With all that in mind, I’d like to make three points.

The first point might sound a bit cheesey but it really is a big one and that’s to follow your dreams. Look at what you enjoy, what you’re passionate about and see if you can work in something that encompasses those interests. Now for people who have a fascination with something like medicine or say treating animals, working out what you’d like to do might be quite easy. Which reminds me of a Harry Enfield or Fast Show sketch in which a young boy is seen taking furniture out of a dolls house before looking up at his horrified parents and saying something along the lines of “When I grow up I want to be a bailiff.” But for most of us, I don’t think it’s always so clear cut and it’s then very easy to stray from what really excites you.
For my part I left Sedbergh and then Cambridge and went off to be a London barrister for over ten years. Now don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the job and in particular the freedom of being part of the self-employed Bar. But the more time went on the more I missed the sea and the hills and I found that every time I took a long weekend down near where I was brought up in the West Country, be it surfing or otherwise, I was really wanting to stay there rather than return to the city. The problem is that when you’re in a position like that you can often seem trapped. For me, it was a somewhat gilded cage to be sure, with a great job, a flat in Soho and a second home near the sea but even so I still wanted to be settled permanently by the sea.
Thankfully around that time, two things happened. The first was that I got a book deal to write a novel with Harry Potter’s publisher Bloomsbury. I’d always dreamt of writing a novel but what I really wanted to write was a best-selling John Grisham type thriller. But when I sat down and started to write what instead popped out was neither best-selling nor a thriller but instead a comedy which was ironic given that in the sense of humour stakes I’m definitely well below average and as I’m sure my wife Louise and my friends down the pub would agree, you can sometimes even painfully almost hear the penny dropping as you see how slowly it sometimes takes for me to get a particular joke. Even more strange was that the voice that popped out was that of a young barrister some fifteen or more years younger than me who was not only funny but also naughty to the point of being corrupt (again, complete fiction – honestly!) But I loved writing it and stuck it online as a blog and within two months The Times had offered to take it on as one of their blogs and Bloomsbury had agreed to publish it as a novel.
The other big thing that happened was that I helped set up a business with two friends training lawyers with online seminars or webinars and that seemed to be doing really well right from the off. So with both these things in place I decided to take a break from the Bar which has in fact turned out to be rather longer than originally anticipated. It’s now over four years since I stopped practising and since that time I’ve had the second novel in the series come out and we also sold the webinar business to the multi-national company Thomson Reuters – again, completely out of the blue. But above all it’s meant that I can settle back into a completely country way of life, surfing, walking my dog on the beach, growing vegetables, making elderflower wine and most importantly of all getting married to Louise who’s with me today.
The point of this isn’t an ‘Aren’t I great, isn’t life easy’ smugness personified kind of thing. It definitely isn’t since what I’ve done in giving up the Bar is something which most people might consider to be an act of complete madness or at the very least folly (even taking account of the sale of our business). But it is to say that if you recognise what it is you want to do and point the rudder in that direction, then there’s a lot more chance of that happening than if you stay with the status quo. Life is short and you never know what’s around the corner. So look into your heart and see what it is you really enjoy. If you love the countryside as I do then find something there. If it’s writing then be a writer. And of course if it’s taking belongings from people’s houses then be a bailiff. But whatever it is, keep on searching until you find what makes you happy and then go for it with all your heart. In her wedding speech recently Louise said something about my being very much someone who marches to the beat of his own drum and whilst I admit that I’m probably independent to the point of being eccentric, I’d also take that as one of the greatest compliments you can be given.

This brings me onto my second point which is to encourage you to take risks. You might say this is a little ironic coming from a lawyer, particularly with the forest of health and safety legislation which seems to have grown up in the last few years and all the more so when I once represented a pupil against a school over a rugby accident. But I say it very clearly and without reservation: take more risks. Now, I know that this isn’t something that Sedbergh School actively or recklesslessly (as lawyers might say) encourages you to do but on the other hand what Sedbergh does do is encourage you to take responsibility and instils a real sense of self-belief and independence. Above all, I think this comes from spending time day in day out exposed to the elements be it struggling across Baugh Fell in the freezing cold or playing rugby in the pouring rain. So let me say it again: take risks. Which I guess makes it kind of appropriate that the cufflinks that I’m wearing today have some stone that was brought down from the top of Mount Everest – or just off the very icy top – by a good friend Rob Casserley who’s just recently summited Everest for the eighth time and is someone who’s climbed very closely with Kenton Cool who was this year summiting Everest for the tenth time and in particular taking with him an Olympic gold medal awarded to Old Sedberghian Arthur Wakefield in 1924 for being part of a pioneering Everest expedition. So, find your own personal Everest and don’t forget to take risks. Most of the great inventions or advances in medicine, exploration or even the arts are achieved by taking risk. And don’t fear failure. You’ll always find that there are plenty of people who will advise you not to change and to stick to the safe status quo but they can never speak for your own heart. Remember that people can be threatened by someone who challenges the status quo, who’s perhaps a bit of a free spirit. Because if you move on from what those people themselves are doing to something else they can potentially take that as a criticism of their own lives – even though that’s the last thing you’d want to do. So choose the advice you take with great care indeed and once you’ve decided on doing something then just go for it. Remember, other than perhaps head of history at Sedbergh School, there are very few jobs for life and if you decide to hang around in something that isn’t making you happy then you could well find that things change around you and before you know it you’re left high and dry.

Which brings me onto my final point which is to have faith. I don’t say that in any way wanting to sound preachy although I do agree with the sentiment of Lord Bingham who apparently wrote some poetry along the lines of it being hard to be in such beautiful countryside as around here and say that there’s not a God. I also quite liked the motto of my old college in Cambridge which was ‘ garde ta foy’ which is apparently OldFrench for ‘Keep your faith’ but which can also be mis-translated as ‘Watch your liver’ which, certainly from my own experience of college, was much more appropriate. But my bigger point here is for you to have faith that when you jump off the cliff, having followed your dream and decided to take a risk, the landing will be a soft one. That everything will be okay. Because most of the time it is, and even sometimes when things go wrong, you often look back later on and can see some good things which might have come out of it.
Also, remember that very few things are set in stone and that life can have many different chapters. It’s a cliché, I know, about doors closing and others opening, but I’ve found it to be true and it’s only when you’ve really committed yourself to something and given up other, perhaps safer, things that you really start to see those new opportunities. It’s definitely true in surfing when you only really start understanding how to catch a wave when you’re prepared to drop down its face and have faith that it’ll turn out okay – and hey, even if it doesn’t you just wipe-out, come back up to the surface, turn around and paddle out the back out once more.

So, follow your dreams, take risks and have faith. And above all remember that in a few years you won’t remember a word of what I’ve just said!”

Well said Tim – enjoy the rest of the Jubilee celebrations – God Save the Queen!

For God , Queen, and Country!

Porlock welcomed the Olympic Flame this week, and Vera, in her 100th year, was there, an Olympian.

Today we bury Margaret, another Olympian. Then we will celebrate the Jubilee of the Greatest Living British Olympian, Her Majesty the Queen. Each excelled, the world notices them by their deeds and each of these ladies was, and are, quietly, but powerfully, selfless. They each get ‘First’ for being ‘Last’ – the ultimate accolade. A lifetime of persistence and determination. Nothing glamourous,but, each story is enormously deep and touches the very core of our human psyche, the sort that sends tingles up your spine.

The Olympic Torch procession through the country is just a dress rehearsal for Her Majesty’s Jubilee. It has been a strangely emotional week; a change from the rush and self obsessed life portrayed by the media. It is as if the real story took over from the copywriters and camera lens, it showed us another world.

More people than expected, turned out. Often heard was “it made me quite emotional,I never thought it would be anything like this”.

Someone discussed the Queen’s tireless schedule; ”do you think she ever wakes up and says ‘oh, another hospital, school,……” Absolutely not, her sense of duty is as instinctive as breathing, always with a smile and good humour. Her Majesty meets the Veras and Margarets every day – they look each other in the eye, and they know: they know that which never needs to be spoken. They know the depth of total love for others, the unrelenting desire to help others, to listen, to sympathise, to give us poor ‘only humans’ the priceless gift – ‘someone cares, someone loves me, someone understands me. I am alone no more. I am at peace’.

It is often said of the Queen, by those that have met her, ‘she was so normal’. What a compliment. But what does it take to be normal? Thats the Olympic Gold in all of these ladies. To strive to win, but not for me; for my country, for my family, for my world. Beware, oh, ye doom merchants, for inspired by such as these, we are on our way to new Olympian heights! Perhaps more items of good news from the media might be in order?

There was another moment this week where a softly spoken, thoughtful, Brit got his Gold, from Her daughter: “Arise Sir Jonathan Ive – still British to the Core”. “The honour is incredibly humbling” – Well, thanks Jonathan, for iPods, iPhones, iPads! We always knew they couldn’t do it without an Englishman!

Inspired by such as these we can do anything – thank God for all the Elizabeths, Margarets, Veras and Jonathans, by their example, we can be sure we are living with the great Elizabethans. Last word from Sir Jonathan : ‘All I’ve ever wanted to do is design and make: it’ s what I love doing. Its great if you can find what you love to do. Finding it is one thing but to be able to practice and be preoccupied with that is another’ And so say all of us!

Thank God for them all!!! But don’t show them this because, you know what they would say……