FRANKENSTEIN’S CREATURE OR COMMANDER DATA?
this research gave us our modern picture of the nervous system and the brain as made up of separate but intricately interlinked units.
As his work and personal writings show, Ramón y Cajal was a true laboratory scientist whose first priority was the reality of facts established through painstaking effort: He might have been perfectly at home as a tough-minded member of a contemporary research team seeking to understand organic brains or make artificial ones. But de- spite his no-nonsense approach, what he saw in the retina lifted him to another plane and filled him with wonder. As he writes in his autobiography, he was
amazed and confounded by the supreme constructive ingenuity revealed not only in the retina . . . but even in the meanest insect eye.There, in fine, I felt more profoundly than in any other subject of study the shuddering sensation of the unfathomable mystery of life.
Today, a century later, any person who works to artificially match or surpass what humanity is, or merely observes the effort, as I have, can only feel hubris fall away, to be replaced with awe at the complex- ity of what nature has wrought, humility at the difficulty of emulating it, and wonderment that we humans can yet hope to complete this astonishing journey.