How would you like to have the job of reverse engineering the human brain? You'd begin with a combination of computer programming skills using lots of fast processors. Instead of terabytes of memory, you'd be working with petabytes of memory. A petabyte (symbol PB) is one quadrillion (short scale) bytes, or 1 billiard (long scale) bytes, according to Wikipedia's definition of a petabyte.
The field you'd call upon for help most of the time would be biology, in the sense of using computers to analyze biological systems. The goal would be to solve complex relationships inside biology. The result would be to gather into a database library so much information on how neurons process information. Been there? Done that? The next step is to analyze everything to see what you'd use to create smarter artificial intelligence that solves more programs by thinking. Are you interested in brain engineering or computational neuroscience?
Thinking and back-engineering the brain
In fact, thinking is the key word, here. Why you have to go back to biology is because the ultimate source lies in biochemistry. What you're after is the biochemistry of the brain. So you begin to back-engineer the brain. You know the brain is made of neurons, synapses, and dendrites. So you resort to brain scanning. Maybe you use forms of fMRI or PET scans or some advanced branch of these scanning techniques. You've probably heard about reverse-engineering a plane or other flying object, but how would you like to back-engineer the human brain so you could build and operate a computer that thinks like a person, if a computer could be built to think not only smarter, but also compassionate, empathetic, and to solve problems through peace, not war?
The only problem is what if the computer can't love or hate and is so smart that it no longer has any use for humans, not even as pets, but maybe could use your molecules in new ways to replicate itself, a computer millions of times smarter than any person? On the other hand, back-engineering the brain could lead to technical assistance devices that help those with disabilities to walk, talk, write, and function in ways they couldn't without technical assistance.
You look to see what and how individual neurons are performing their computing process. It's as if your brain is a computer in its own sense. This field is called computational neuroscience. You can major in computational neuroscience if you're a student. See, "Computational Neuroscience and Neural Engineering," or "BS in Computational Neuroscience." But you'd also need courses in biochemistry and beyond to understand how the brain thinks.
Thinking is a biochemical process
What do you think each individual neuron is doing in your brain right now? Imagine your brain as a computer doing computing. Maybe you'd start by working in a brain laboratory. See, "Brain Engineering Laboratory - Home " or "MIND BrAIN Lab." If you worked in a brain engineering laboratory, you'd be creating algorithms that work in the same way as circuits work in your brain.
Algorithms are computer programs that use mathematical or computer science step-by-step procedures for calculations. They're used for automated reasoning and data processing, according to Wikipedia. The field of computational neuroscience is still pretty new at this point. What you'd probably be trying to accomplish in the long run might be to find out how human brain circuits work. The application to technology and computers then would be to find out how computer systems visually identify objects in the same way the human brain identifies objects.
You'd be mapping and examining brain circuits and ultimately trying to create a computer or other machine intelligence that works in the same way as human brain circuits work. Perhaps your life's work goal might be to create algorithms for every one of the processes that the human brain circuits does in the same way as a person would accomplish those processes, only a lot faster. You could build a machine, maybe that works just like a human brain. But does or can the machine think just like a human brain? For a lot more information on this topic, check out the excellent book about artificial intelligence, Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era by James Barrat.