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Downloading the Brain

Friday, May 30, 2014
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Imagine a world where scientists could crack the neural code underlying our visual system, create an algorithm, and transfer it to a mechanical robot enabling it to see. What if they could go further and break the codes dictating how we navigate, recognize objects, even think? As we look toward the future, our panelists speculate on how we might transfer the code of our brain to machines and ask what would it take to build a truly “thinking machine”.

The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


Gary MarcusCognitive Psychologist

Gary Marcus, scientist, bestselling author, and entrepreneur, is Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at NYU and CEO and Co-Founder of the recently-formed Geometric Intelligence, Inc.

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John DonoghueNeuroscientist

Professor John Donoghue was the founding chairman of the Department of Neuroscience at Brown, a position he held for thirteen years. He is currently the director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science, which unites more than one hundred Brown faculty members to support interdisciplinary research on the nervous system.

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Michel M. MaharbizElectrical Engineer, Computer Scientist

Michel Maharbiz is one of the inventors of neural dust, a low-power solution for chronic brain-machine interfaces and untethered neural recording. He also developed the world’s first remotely radio-controlled cyborg insects (beetles).

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Bijan PesaranNeuroscientist

Bijan Pesaran is an associate professor with the Center for Neural Science at New York University. Work in his lab seeks to understand and engineer the brain. He has pioneered the study of how populations of neurons communicate to guide behavior.

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Rafael YusteNeuroscientist

Rafael Yuste is professor of biological sciences and neuroscience at Columbia University. He was born in Madrid, where he obtained his M.D. at the Universidad Autónoma. He performed Ph.D. studies with Larry Katz in Torsten Wiesel’s laboratory at Rockefeller University and was a postdoctoral student of David Tank at Bell Labs.

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