The post-brain-map era
brain illustration

The importance and potential of the human brain certainly isn't lost on world leaders in 2013. Earlier this year the European Union granted 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) over 10 years to the Human Brain Project, which aims to create the first full human brain simulation running on supercomputers, while President Obama similarly announced $100 million in funding for a brain activity map that will chart the complex networks of neurons and neuron clusters in the brain. And while some have criticized these outsize grants as wasteful research spending in a time of austerity, Dr. James Martin believes that the post-brain-map era will be remarkably different than anything human history has ever known.

How? We can't yet fully comprehend just how much of a paradigm-shifter an accurate, functional brain map will be, Martin said, but it will undoubtedly change just about everything. Neurological disease will largely become treatable. Brain implants will be commonplace. Genetic and cognitive enhancements (alongside the huge leaps forward in computing power expected in the coming decades) will lead not only to a whole new market for self-improvement, but to smarter, more efficient humans that in turn will feed greater ideas and innovations back into a positive feedback loop, leading to an avalanche of new technologies and economic opportunities.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated June 20 2013 07:43 AM ET
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