There seems to be a recent resurgence of interest in AI and its grand vision of building an artificial brain. Two articles I came across in the last few days both describe potential ways this might be achieved. How will we build an artificial brain discusses both the knowledge-based software only approach and the whole brain emulation approach and puts a time frame of 50 to 100 years to success. Quest for the connectome in the Guardian concentrates on whole brain emulation and likens the attempt to reverse engineer the brain to great scientific endeavors like the human genome project.
There is no doubt that reverse engineering the brain would be a mammoth task, but it would also have benefits for neuroscience research as well as possibly allowing us to emulate the brain. I will be giving a public lecture on Thursday May 17 titled "Alan Turing and the artificial brain" where I will discuss some of these issues. They are also discussed in the final two chapters of The Universal Machine.