Randal A. Koene, Ph.D.

2045 Initiative, Science Director
Carboncopies.org, Founder & CEO
NeuraLink Co., Founder & CEO
Neural Engineering Corporation, MA, Founder & CEO
1087 Mission Street,
San Francisco, CA 94103

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)  - Short Bio (HTML) (PDF)  - Personal FAQ (HTML

Please take note: It has come to my attention that someone pretending to be me has used a fake identity on Yahoo to send email that contains links materials spreading falsehoods about MIRI (the Machine Intelligence Research Institute). If you were contacted by email from 'randal_koene@yahoo.com' - or, if you received any email ostensibly from me that just seems totally out of character - please understand that the sender is NOT me. That is NOT one of my email addresses and I DO NOT approve of the content that is being sent through that email address.
Please do let me know if you received potentially fake email pretending to be me, as I would like to collect examples of the emails for possible further action.

Come see me and awesome speakers including Dr. George Church, Dr. Ed Boyden, Dr. Ted Berger, Dr. Marvin Minsky, Dr. Jose Carmena, Dr. David Hanson and many others at the June 15-16 2013 Global Future 2045 Congress in New York City: Towards A New Strategy for Human Evolution

By the way, using the promo-code at my Congress page http://gf2045.com/koene gets you a 20.45% discount on the ticket price!

My abstract:
Whole Brain Emulation: Reverse Engineering A Mind

Dr. Randal A. Koene, Science Director, 2045 Initiative

My talk will take us from start to finish through the process from our current condition to a possible substrate-independent mind achieved by whole brain emulation. I will address the goal, the criteria for success, the scientific and technological challenges and the feasible solutions. This detailed overview will connect with the projects of the other brain-science speakers at the Congress. I will point out opportunities at technological milestones, such as emerge through access to high-resolution large-scale brain data and the development of improved neural interfaces and neuroprostheses.
Being ultimately depends on one's ability to experience and to do so in the manner that is characteristic of one's individual mind. Concrete investigation of the way in which a mind emerges from brain activity has recently become possible, largely due to rapid advances in computational neuroscience and data acquisition, both structurally (the popular field of “connectomics”) and functionally (brain activity mapping). The process of personal experience – like any process – involves some mechanisms operating at a given time under the influence of an environment state, a state that can include sensory input and functional “memory” established as a result of prior conditions. An emulation or prosthesis is then the attempt to replace a system of processing with an equivalent set of mechanisms that carry out the same processing within established success criteria. The engineering approach to understanding a system sufficiently that it can be emulated or replaced by prostheses is known as system identification.
I will describe how system identification may be feasibly carried out for an individual human brain, and how constraints and requirements can be learned through projects with iterative improvements. As Science Director of the 2045 Initiative, I will present a roadmap in the context of an evolutionary strategy that seeks to benefit humanity in the near-term and protect its future.

(My apologies: My _bio_ is fairly up to date, but my publications site and vitae have not been kept properly up to date for quite a while. I will correct this as soon as I have time!)

Competition is an inescapable occurrence in the animate and even in the inanimate universe. To give our minds the flexibility to transfer and to operate in different substrates bestows upon our species the most important competitive advantage. (2009)

I co-founded the non-profit organization Carboncopies.org and head the Rebrain part of the Avatar project. I am also a co-founder of the Neural Engineering Corporation of Massachusetts. Prior to this, I headed the analysis efforts of the ambitious Silicon Valley nanotechnology start-up Halcyon Molecular. Before that, I have been the director of the Department of Neuroengineering at Tecnalia, third largest private research organization in Europe, and was a research Prof. at the Center for Memory and Brain of Boston University. My research objective is whole brain emulation, creating the large-scale high-resolution representations and emulations of activity in neuronal circuitry that are needed in patient-specific neuroprostheses. The Department of Neuroengineering of the Fatronik-Tecnalia Foundation was focused on research in neuro-adaptive control, with robotics applications, and research in neural recording, interfaces and feedback.

At carboncopies (carboncopies.org), we support practical approaches toward what we descriptively term “advanced substrate-independent minds” (ASIM), i.e. transferring mind functions from the biological substrate to another substrate on which those functions can be performed. Carboncopies initially takes a technology agnostic stance. Carboncopies' main tasks are to clarify the fundamentals of ASIM and to maintain roadmapping activities towards the ASIM objective. Carboncopies organizes workshops and conferences where interested parties can exchange ideas, network with others, and keep updated on the latest developments in the field. We also gather up-to-date literature and news relevant to the ASIM community.

My professional background includes computational neuroscience, psychology, information theory, electrical engineering and physics. Presently:

  • I am devoting my efforts to the roadmap and accomplishment of Whole Brain Emulation.
  • I am organizing neural engineering efforts to obtain and replicate function and structure information that resides in the neural substrate for use in neuroprostheses and neural interfaces.
  • The Neural Engineering Corporation and partners are creating a Virtual Brain Laboratory (VBL) based on NETMORPH (netmorph.org), the computational framework for the simulated morphological development of neuronal circuitry. The VBL will give neuroscientists, neuroengineers and clinicians large-scale high-resolution quantitative tools analogous to the computational tools that have become essential in fields such as genomics, chemistry or the aero-space industry.
These efforts bridge scales and will help determine how significant functions are encoded robustly in neural ensembles, and how those functions can nevertheless depend in specific ways on the detailed biophysics of particular component physiology.

On a tangent, but aptly demonstrating a view very close to my own without more self-references, here is a link to the highly insightly film by James Martin that is very well worth watching: The Meaning of the 21st Century


Visit carboncopies.org, posts on randalkoene.wordpress.com, my web site MindUploading.org or watch me present and discuss in the following conference videos:

I have had the opportunity to give several interesting and entertaining interviews recently. Here are a few that stand out in their attention to the topic matter:

Note: The first public conference, Advancing Substrate Independent Minds 2010 (ASIM-2010), of the carboncopies.org organization, was held as a mixed physical and virtual event on August 16-17 as a satellite to the Singularity Summit in San Francisco.

Note about this web site: If there is former content of my web site that you cannot locate or if you experience difficulty accessing linked materials, please send me email. This web site was reconstituted from my previous site on a server that has moved on to a different owner. In particular, some of the media files associated with publications listed on the publications page have not yet been uploaded to this new site.

NETMORPH model of developing 3 layer neuronal network

Realism - I think that it takes a certain deeper insight, a departure from a deep blindness in fact, to realize that there is insufficient rational reason to be beholden to conventional norms of what one should strive for. The status quo is not inherently desirable, just because it is there. The things we are dreaming about are possibilities and options that we can just as well choose to strive for, because they are the sort of things that being in this universe allows. So, I think you need to become a realist and puncture the many layers of obfuscation and imaginary purposes in mainstream society before you can address our topics with clarity. (2010)

Pyramidal cell "grown" with NETMORPH (Koene et al., 2009).

Subpages (1): Bio: Dr. Randal A. Koene
Randal Koene,
Jul 11, 2010, 10:54 PM
Randal Koene,
Mar 23, 2010, 5:07 AM