This is an excerpt from an interview in the December 2009 issue of Discover magazine with Henry Markram (Markram is the founder and co-director of the Brain Mind Institute at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne [Switzerland], where for the past 15 years he has been collecting data on the neocortex – the part of the brain that controls thought, speech, and memory.  His goal is to use the data to create a comprehensive simulation of a mammalian brain.  This would allow an incredible opportunity to study the fundamental nature of cognition and mental disorders.):

Question: Some people have said that you are playing God.  Do you ever feel that way?

Markram: As scientists we need to not be afraid of the truth.  We need to understand our brain.  It’s natural that people would think that the brain is sacred, that we shouldn’t tamper with it because it may be where the secrets of the soul are.  But I think, quite honestly, that if the planet understood how the brain functions we would resolve conflicts everywhere.  Because people would understand how trivial and how deterministic and how controlled conflicts and reactions and misunderstandings are.  Where did these behaviors come from?  The answer is understandable and tractable and traceable.  We shouldn’t die for certain things that may well just be because of a chemical firing off in one part of the brain.  I think that understanding the brain is going to be an enormously great awakening.  It could well be a crucial thing for humanity.  I think we’re far from playing God.  God created the whole universe.  We’re just trying to build a little model.