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"What Makes Up My Mind?"

Today, Washington Post carried a wonderful piece on the Decade of the Mind Proposal.  Here are some excerpts:

Earlier this year, Jim Olds gathered a bunch of big thinkers at George Mason University for a two-day conference on the mind. He and his allies want the federal government to invest $4 billion in an initiative that would be called the "Decade of the Mind." This would be a follow-up to a 1990s program called the "Decade of the Brain," which brought increased attention to neuroscience. The new initiative would be an attempt to take science into a realm previously explored only by philosophers, theologians and mountaintop yogis.

"Brain science is an exhaustive collection of facts without a theory," Olds says. "This is for the nation as a whole to invest in one of the fundamental intellectual questions of what it is to be a human being." 

In a letter published a few weeks ago in the journal Science, 10 scientists said that a Decade of the Mind would help us understand mental disorders that affect 50 million Americans and cost more than $400 billion a year. It might also aid in the development of intelligent machines and new computing techniques. A breakthrough in mind research, the scientists wrote, could have "broad and dramatic impacts on the economy, national security, and our social well-being."

Ten years and $4 billion: That's a reasonable cost. The evolution of the human mind is arguably the most important biological event in the history of our planet since the origin of life itself.

We should try to understand how the brain makes the mind. And then we can make up our minds about what to do with ourselves.


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