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OfflineBrainChemistry
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Computerized brains!
    #9244587 - 11/14/08 04:54 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

Quote:

*  Surgeons have implanted a novel neural prosthesis into a paralyzed patient’s brain. The high-tech device enables the patient to communicate his thoughts to a computer, which translates them into spoken words.
    * Nine people so far have received brain-implanted prostheses. In the past, patients have used these devices to spell words on a computer, pilot a wheelchair or flex a mechanical hand.
    * One day implants may enable paralyzed people to move robotic arms or even bypass damaged parts of the nervous system to reanimate unresponsive limbs. In the meantime, the quest to develop implanted neural prostheses is revealing details of how the brain orchestrates movement.

Eight years ago, when Erik Ramsey was 16, a car accident triggered a brain stem stroke that left him paralyzed. Though fully conscious, Ramsey was completely paralyzed, essentially “locked in,” unable to move or talk. He could communicate only by moving his eyes up or down, thereby answering questions with a yes or a no.

Ramsey’s doctors recommended sending him to a nursing facility. Instead his parents brought him home. In 2004 they met neurologist Philip R. Kennedy, chief scientist at Neural Signals in Duluth, Ga. He offered Ramsey the chance to take part in an unusual experiment. Surgeons would implant a high-tech device called a neural prosthesis into Ramsey’s brain, enabling him to communicate his thoughts to a computer that would translate them into spoken words.

Today Ramsey sports a small metal electrode in his brain. Its thin wires penetrate a fraction of an inch into his motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls movement, including the motion of his vocal muscles. When Ramsey thinks of saying a sound, the implant captures the electrical firing of nearby neurons and transmits their impulses to a computer, which decodes them and produces the sounds. So far Ramsey can only say a few simple vowels, but Kennedy believes that he will recover his full range of speech by 2010.

Ramsey’s neural prosthesis ranks among the most sophisticated implanted devices that translate thoughts into actions. Such systems listen to the brain’s instructions for movement—even when actual movement is no longer possible—and decode the signals for use in operating a computer or moving a robot. The technology needed for such implants, including powerful microprocessors, improved filters and longer-lasting batteries, has advanced rapidly in the past few years. Funding for such projects has also grown. The U.S. Department of Defense, for example, sponsors research in prosthetics for wounded war veterans.

Only nine people, Ramsey included, have received brain-implanted prostheses. In the past, patients have used them to spell words on a computer, pilot a wheelchair or flex a mechanical hand. Monkeys have employed them to perform more complex tasks such as maneuvering mechanical arms to grab food or controlling a walking robot on a treadmill [see “Chips in Your Head,” by Frank W. Ohl and Henning Scheich; Scientific American Mind, April/May 2007]. Other experimental brain-computer interfaces read the brain’s output noninvasively, through electrodes attached to the human scalp [see “Thinking Out Loud,” by Nicola Neumann and Niels Birbaumer; Scientific American Mind, December 2004].

The technology promises to give thousands of victims of stroke, spinal cord injury and paralyzing illnesses the ability to, say, talk with a friend, flip through television channels or transport themselves by driving their own wheelchair. One day implants may enable paralyzed people to move robotic arms or even bypass damaged parts of the nervous system to reanimate unresponsive limbs. In the meantime, the quest to develop implanted neural prostheses is bringing with it revelations about how the brain manages motion and how it can remodel itself so that only a few neurons are needed to direct action through an implant.




We've always known our thoughts are simply electrical impulses in the brain.

So how long do you think it will be until someones entire personality can be copied over into a computer? And what will that mean for the human race?


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OfflineUbi
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Re: Computerized brains! [Re: BrainChemistry]
    #9244682 - 11/14/08 05:15 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)



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InvisibledeCypher
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Re: Computerized brains! [Re: BrainChemistry]
    #9244806 - 11/14/08 05:38 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

Quote:

BrainChemistry said: And what will that mean for the human race?




We will create either our own Heaven or our own Hell.


--------------------
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.


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OfflineBrainChemistry
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Re: Computerized brains! [Re: Ubi]
    #9244851 - 11/14/08 05:47 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

Quote:

Ubi said:
http://frombob.to/you/aconvers.html




Haha yeah I was totally thinking of this when I read this article.

The possibility of the human race becoming immortal through the use of computers is a pretty crazy one. Its basically like living in the matrix for eternity...only you're free to live in whatever type of world you want to.

Reading stuff like this makes me think it is actually possible, and even adds some validity to the whole conversation with Bob story. Although any good sci-fi writer should be able to pull ideas out of the realm of science and put them into theoretical action. Maybe i'll surf through that again and post what bob said.


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Invisibledeimya
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Re: Computerized brains! [Re: BrainChemistry]
    #9244868 - 11/14/08 05:50 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

For our personality to shine through just as strong one would need to provide just as intricate and complex a simulated world. Thoughts are not simple states of impulses in the brain, they are the whole dynamics involving the sensory, the body and the expression of the thought, and so is consciousness, and so is life. The brain is necessary, but is not sufficient. I read something very interesting recently, here the relevant bit

Quote:

Philosophers like to say that for all we know we could be a brain in a vat. But If you actually try to fill out the details of that thought experiment, it starts to seem much harder to make good sense of it. For example, very few of us would be inclined to think that a couple of cells in a petri dish were conscious. So how many more cells would we need to pile up before we began to think it became conscious? There is not any obvious way we can say where we would have to stop. It seems we would really need to try the experiment. But then who knows? It may be that we would have to build up to such a complex brain in a vat that what we ended up building is a brain and a virtual environment to house the brain. So maybe what this would teach us is that to make a mind you need to make a world. There would be consciousness in a world in a vat! Now, let's ask: where does the brain's body stop and the rest of the world begin?The critical point is there's no way to draw this line a priori.

Evan Thompson and Diego Cosmelli have written a paper on this. They point out how much structure would need to go into the vat. The brain requires metabolism, it requires nourishment, and it requires the elimination of waste products. So if you actually try to fill in what the vat would look like, what you are actually describing is, in effect, a kind of body. But we already knew that a living brain and body can be conscious!




The (very long) rest can be found there http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/noe08/noe08_index.html


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OfflineBrainChemistry
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Re: Computerized brains! [Re: deimya]
    #9244888 - 11/14/08 05:54 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

Quote:

For our personality to shine through just as strong one would need to provide just as intricate and complex a simulated world.




Exactly. All response in our brains come from electrical impulses that are sent from our sensory organs to our brain. So theoretically, if those sensory inputs are simulated accurately, your brain would have no way of telling the difference between what is real and what is simulated.


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InvisibledeCypher
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Re: Computerized brains! [Re: BrainChemistry]
    #9244915 - 11/14/08 05:59 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

Dreams themselves prove that simulation doesn't have to be that complex if our own brains can model a perfectly acceptable version of reality.

Who's to say that we're not just simulcra in the simulation right now?


--------------------
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.


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OfflineBrainChemistry
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Re: Computerized brains! [Re: BrainChemistry]
    #9244936 - 11/14/08 06:02 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

Ok, heres some Bob for ya

Quote:

B: Just what are you, anyway? Are you just a body full of squishy stuff, or are you much more than that?

You are the sum of all your experiences. You are something that goes beyond the physical world.

There is something contained within that body of yours that is much larger and much more complex than any physical thing. That something is You.

In the physical world, You cannot exist without a container. At the moment, that container is your body. But other kinds of containers can be used. That Ship is such a container, and it is a much better one. It was designed and built for the express purpose of making all of the things that I have described to you possible.

We know how to remove You from that old container and put You into another. This is a very physical process, and it necessitates the complete destruction of the old container. This is why that Doorway is one-way only.

So when you come to my world, you are merely exchanging one container for another.

This is how we have left the physical world. We have left, but that Ship remains behind. It is our connection with the physical world.

That is why we cannot say for sure just how long we will live. If that Ship is somehow destroyed, we will cease to exist. But as I said before, we are reasonably sure that we will be around for many trillions of years. That Ship is very well defended, and very well concealed.

So this is what we do. We explore the Galaxy, looking for new life-bearing planets. When we find one, we explore it with remote probes. And when a probe reports the development of a life-form that appears to be on the verge of developing intelligence, we drive over and take up residence on the outskirts of the planetary system, to wait for the big event. And we design Contact Protocols, and implement them, so that we can introduce ourselves without destroying what we’re interested in most, which is You. All of you.



D: That Ship is a living thing? And you, and everybody else there, exist only in its mind?



B: It is definitely a living thing! But to say that we exist in its mind would not be accurate. It does not have a "mind" of its own. There are some aspects of the Ship that are similar to the "hive minds" that social insects rely on, but this is only relevant to the more mundane activities of the physical Ship, like maintenance. Most of the thinking that goes on happens inside the minds of the people who live here, and that has everything to do with freedom and individuality, and nothing to do with "hive mentality." The Ship exists to serve us, and not the other way around. The primary purpose of the Ship is to be the container within which we can live our lives the way we see fit. In fact, many people tend to forget that the Ship even exists after they’ve been here long enough.

Think about it this way: You are what your brain does. That’s what your brain does, it makes You happen. The same thing is true for me. My brain simply isn’t the squishy thing that it once was; it is now a different kind of brain, but doing the same thing, which is me. And that brain is a physical thing, inside a physical Ship, in the physical world. But what happens inside that brain is no longer constrained by the physical world the way it was before. I can experience, and be, anything!



D: Bob, the top of my head just blew completely off! You live in Cyberspace!



B: My goodness, I was beginning to wonder if you’d ever get here. I’ve been dropping hints right and left.

Inside that Ship, beneath the thick layer of ice and dust, is a structural layer composed of a composite material as hard as diamond and much stronger than steel. And below that, many kilometers in, it is hollow. Nothing but vacuum.

But if you look carefully, you will see that there is a thin layer of another material lining that immense hollow cavity. It is pure, crystalline, computational matter.

A tiny piece of this stuff, small enough to fit inside a thimble, is more powerful than all of the computers on your planet put together. And we have cubic kilometers of it.

Within this vast matrix, we model all of the physical systems that our residents require, including the neural networks of their minds. This is where we create Reality.

This was the great achievement of those first intelligent beings, the Founders. They discovered Cyberspace, and then they discovered how to move there, permanently!

D: This is too much, Bob! Are you saying that you have enough computational power to model entire physical universes, including the people who live there? In real time? This is ludicrous!



B: No, I did not say that. But we can model enough. Enough so that no one here can tell the difference.

I'm sure you have seen movies that depict realistic-looking dinosaurs, created using computer-animation techniques. Did the special effects wizards model those dinosaurs completely? Did they model the workings of the kidneys, the liver, the brain? Did they model every cellular process? Of course not. They only modeled what they had to, to achieve the desired result.

This is exactly what we do. We only model the things that we need to model, and forget about the rest.

In your world, when a tree falls, it makes a sound even if no one is there to hear it. But in my world, if a tree falls and no one is there to hear it, it doesn't make a sound. In fact, the tree isn't even there until someone walks through the forest. And then the forest realizes that the tree should have already fallen, and then it realizes the fallen tree.

We have discovered that it is possible to arrange things so that the amount of effort needed to make our surroundings real is less than the amount of effort needed to make our minds real. And here, the amount of energy and space needed to make our minds real is less than would be required in the physical world. This is why it is possible for us to have trillions of minds, and all of the worlds those minds experience, inside a Ship no bigger than a small planet.

And no, we do not do it "in real time". Although our stream of time is connected with yours, it is very much separate. Time here does not necessarily flow at the same rate as in your world, or even at a constant relative rate. In fact, it can flow at different rates for different people; I can slow down my own time, or speed it up, or even stop it if I wish. But when two or more people share the same reality, their time flows are synchronized, by necessity. And if someone needs to interact with the physical world, they can synchronize their time flow with the "real time" of the outside world.






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Offlinesupra
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Registered: 10/26/03
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Re: Computerized brains! [Re: BrainChemistry]
    #9245319 - 11/14/08 07:23 PM (12 years, 3 months ago)

We discussed this issue back whenever i took AI at my university.  One thing i always wondered about was whether or not we would be able to keep learning after copying ourselves over.  Our brains are most similar to a neural network, where the connections change based off of what the true answer was, and what the network came up with.  It resets connections between nodes to reorder them so it will get closer to the right answer.  But with humans and things like philosophy, where there is no right answer, what would there be for the neural network to compare its answer to to get its calculated errors and fix the connections between nodes?  So if we were to 'copy' our brains over to a neural network, would it be like we were frozen with our current knowledge and though process?

peace


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