Re-Evolving Mind, Hans Moravec, December 2000 Computers have permeated everyday life and are worming their way into our gadgets, dwellings, clothes, even bodies. But if pervasive computing soon automates most of our informational needs, it will leave untouched a vaster number of essential physical tasks. Construction, protection, repair, cleaning, transport and so forth will remain in human hands. Robot inventors in home, university and industrial laboratories have tinkered with the problem for most of the century. The first electronic computers in the 1950s did the work of thousands of clerks. But things are changing. The short answer is that, after decades at about one MIPS (million instructions (or calculations) per second), computer power available to research robots shot through 10, 100 and now 1,000 MIPS starting about 1990 (Figure 1). It was a common opinion in the AI labs that, with the right program, readily available computers could encompass any human skill. It's easy to explain the discrepancy in hindsight.
Spaun, the most realistic artificial human brain yet A group of neuroscientists and software engineers at the University of Waterloo in Canada are claiming to have built the world’s most complex, large-scale model simulation of the human brain. The simulated brain, which runs on a supercomputer, has a digital eye which it uses for visual input, a robotic arm that it uses to draw its responses — and it can pass the basic elements of an IQ test. The brain, called Spaun (Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network), consists of 2.5 million simulated neurons, allowing it to perform eight different tasks. These tasks range from copy drawing to counting, to question answering and fluid reasoning. Now, the nitty-gritty details. Spaun’s brain consists of 2.5 million neurons that are broken down into a bunch of simulated cranial subsystems, including the prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia, and thalamus, which are wired together with simulated neurons that very accurately mimic the wiring of a real human brain.
brain trouble By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 8, 2012 UK researchers report the discovery of a neural mechanism that protects individuals from stress and trauma turning into post-traumatic stress disorder. Investigators from the University of Exeter Medical School began with the knowledge of the brain’s “plasticity,” its unique capability to adapt to changing environments. The receptors (called protease-activated receptor 1 or PAR1) act in the same way as a command center, telling neurons whether they should stop or accelerate their activity. Normally, PAR1s tell amygdala neurons to remain active and produce vivid emotions. This adaptation helps us to keep our fear under control, and not to develop exaggerated responses to mild or irrelevant fear triggers. In the study, researchers used a mouse model in which the PAR1 receptors were genetically de-activated. The study has been published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
Goertzel Contra Dvorsky on Mind Uploading Futurist pundit George Dvorsky recently posted an article on io9, labeled as “DEBUNKERY” and aimed at the topic of mind uploading. According to the good Mr. Dvorsky, “You’ll Probably Never Upload Your Mind into a Computer.” He briefly lists eight reasons why, in his view, mind uploading will likely never happen. UPDATE - here is a video interview on this subject: Note that he’s not merely arguing that mind uploading may come too late for you and me to take advantage of it – he’s arguing that it probably will never happen at all! The topic of Dvorsky’s skeptical screed is dear to my heart and mind. Every one of Dvorsky's objections has been aired many times before – which is fine, as his post is a journalistic article, not an original scientific or philosophic work, so it doesn’t necessarily have to break new ground. In this article I will briefly run through Dvorsky’s eight objections, and give my own, in some cases idiosyncratic, take on each of them. But, whatever…. So what? True enough.
Ambitious Billion Euro Human Brain Project Kicks Off in Switzerland Ambitious Billion-Euro Human Brain Project Kicks Off in Switzerland It’s mind-blowing how little we know about the human brain. The old saw is that if our brain were simple enough to understand, we wouldn’t be smart enough to understand it. But that's really just a cute way of saying that research on the brain is limited by the same complexity and centrality that make the organ so interesting to us. As computers have grown increasingly powerful and genetics more sophisticated, they have opened up new avenues for exploring how the brain’s 85 billion interconnected neurons work. It will be no small task. Co-headed by neuroscientist Henry Markram, a South African native who also leads the Blue Brain Project, and Karlheinz Meier, a physicist with expertise in computer modeling, the 10-year project is mainly European but has recruited some specialized teams from Israel, China, Canada and the United States. The project's modeling ambitions have stirred some controversy, David Kleinfeld, a U.C.
assemble a brain It is a puzzlement: How do you assemble and wire an information processing device as complex as the mammalian brain? There are roughly 86 billion neurons in a human brain, forming about a quadrillion synapses. A rat’s brain is just one thousandth that size, but still pretty complex, with 56 million neurons and 500 billion synapses. How does the brain know to put a nest basket cell here, a small basket cell over there, a large basket cell in the middle, a Martinotti cell on the left and a bi-tufted cell on the right, all wired up to pyramidal cells? There has to be a plan, doesn’t there? As it turns out, that may be almost exactly what the brain does. The Blue Brain group (motto: “Reconstructing the brain piece by piece and building a virtual brain on a supercomputer”) at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) has built a computer model of a 298-cell slice of rat cerebral cortex. It’s a case of, “Ready. Images: EPFL / Blue Brain Project
How Self-Replicating Spacecraft Could Take Over the Galaxy I'm going to re-post here a previous comment I made on this subject, because I think it's worth repeating. Any alien civilization that is sufficiently developed enough to span the cosmos, will be so far advanced from us, that we would not be able to even comprehend their technology and in turn they probably wouldn't even recognise us as a sentient intelligent species. I've always found the "Well if there are aliens why haven't they said hello?" argument to be far too arrogant. There are islands all over the oceans of our world that are nothing more than rocks sticking out of the water with bacteria on them. That's us, the barren rock. The alien probes have probably been through out solar system many times (we'd never know) looked at our skyscrapers, cities and agriculture.
Quest to Model the Human Brain Nets a Billion Euros Quest to Model the Human Brain Nets a Billion Euros Is a billion euros enough to understand the human brain? The Human Brain Project thinks it’s a good start, and evidently the European Commission agrees. On January 28, the Human Brain Project was one of two projects to be awarded a billion in backing from the European Commission's Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Initiative. Henry Markram, the project’s founder and co-director, hopes that over the next decade the project's consortium of 80+ institutions will use up to an annual $100 million in funding to build a complete digital model of the human brain. The better we know the brain, the better we can diagnose and treat neurological disease, and maybe—in the greatest feat of natural reverse engineering to date—the better we can build computers and software as flexible, powerful, and efficient as the brain itself. The model is still being refined using new data, and researchers run it every two weeks. But what about AI?