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Opening Arguments

Welcome, new computer overlords

I guess we all know what happens next:

(CNN) -- There's no escaping the fact that the Human Brain Project, with its billion-dollar plan to recreate the human mind inside a supercomputer, sounds like a science fiction nightmare.

But those involved hope their ambitious goal of simulating the tangle of neurons and synapses that power our thought processes could offer solutions to tackling conditions such as depression, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.

The Human Brain venture is the next step in a long-running program that has already succeeded in using computers to create a virtual replica of part of a rat's neocortex -- a section of the brain believed to control higher functions such as conscious thought, movement and reasoning.

Scientists at its forerunner, the Switzerland-based Blue Brain Project, have been working since 2005 to feed a computer with vast quantities of data and algorithms produced from studying tiny slivers of rodent gray matter.

Quick, go hide John Connor before Skynet becomes fully aware.

Seriosly, though. Most experts who do research into and speculation about "strong AI" think it will be a long time, if ever, before any manmade machine can have the self-awareness needed for real thought. But technological process keeps accelerating more than everybody thinks it will, doesn't it?