Researchers risk missing a berth in race for bionic brain

Keen for commercial exploitation: Bob Williamson, former secretary for science policy at the Australian Academy of Science.Australia must join the international race to build a bionic brain in order to share the health and economic benefits that will flow from such a prestigious global project.
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However, joining means committing, within the coming year, to the funding of long-term brain research projects, according to the Australian Academy of Science.

Without this, the nation will miss its chance to be at the forefront of work that has the potential to deliver results for some of the most common neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Launched on Tuesday, the Inspiring Smarter Brain Research in Australia report by the academy recommends the federal government take a long-term view and invest $250 million over 10 years to establish a co-ordinated research unit called AusBrain.

Using the skills from researchers across the country, AusBrain would allow collaboration between scientists not used to working together, including neuroscientists, geneticists and computer scientists. At the heart of their work will be the challenge of building a bionic brain.

It is a task that has fuelled the European Union’s decision to allocate more than €1 billion to a human brain project. Last year, the US joined the race when Barack Obama dedicated $US1 billion to a decade-long brain research project. China and Norway also have brain research projects.

”If we’re not there [in] the research, we’re not going to be there in the development and we’re not going to be there in the commercial exploitation,” said Bob Williamson, former secretary for science policy at the Australian Academy of Science.

The academy argues that funding a strategic brain research program would ensure Australia did not end up playing ”catch-up”, as was the case with Australia’s lack of participation in the human genome project.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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