Amy Novotney: The brain is more complex than corporate team-building exercises suggest, but the myth is unlikely to die anytime soon
Mlik Sahib's insight:
"What research has yet to refute is the fact that the brain is remarkably malleable, even into late adulthood. It has an amazing ability to reorganize itself by forming new connections between brain cells, allowing us to continually learn new things and modify our behavior. Let's not underestimate our potential by allowing a simplistic myth to obscure the complexity of how our brains really work."
Speaker: Professor Timothy Ingold, Chair of Social Anthropology and departmental founder, University of Aberdeen. This paper begins with a dispute between my...
Mlik Sahib's insight:
"Speaker: Professor Timothy Ingold, Chair of Social Anthropology and departmental founder, University of Aberdeen.
This paper begins with a dispute between myself and anthropologist Robert Paine about Saami reindeer herding. Do reindeer transact with humans, as humans are alleged to do with one another? Or is a transactional approach no more appropriate for humans than it is for reindeer? Just at the point when transactionalism was on the wane in anthropology, it was on the rise in psychology and the study of animal behaviour. Studies of non-human primates, in particular, likened them to Machiavellian strategists. Picking up on this idea, philosophers Michel Serres and Bruno Latour have argued that human relations are stabilised, by comparison with the animals', through the enrolment of ever more 'non-humans'. By 'non-humans', however, they mean material-semiotic mediators rather than Machiavellian transactors. In the latter capacity, as smart performers, non-humans are supposed to interact only with other individuals of their species, not with humans. The idea that social relations should be confined to intraspecific relations, however, is shown to be a reflex of the assumption that humans are fundamentally different, in their mode of being, from all other living kinds. Rejecting this assumption, I argue for an anthropology beyond the human that would turn its back both on the species concept and on the project of ethnography, and join with non-humans understood neither as material mediators nor as smart performers, but as sentient beings engaged in the tasks of carrying on their own lives."
Ray Kurzweil confidently states that artificial intelligence will, in the not distant future, "master human intelligence." He cites the "exponential power of growth in technology" that will enable both a minute, detailed understanding of the human brain, and the capacity for building a machine that can at least simulate original thought. The "frontier" such a machine must cross is emotional intelligence-"being funny, expressing loving sentiment" And when this occurs, says Kurzweil, it's not entirely clear that the entity will have achieved consciousness, since we have no "consciousness detector" to determine if it is capable of subjective experiences.
Acknowledging that his position will prove unpopular, David Gelernter launches his attack: "We won't even be able to build super"intelligent zombies unless we approach the problem right." This means admitting that a continuum of cognitive styles exists among humans. As for building a conscious machine, he sees no possibility of one emerging from even the most sophisticated software. "Consciousness means the presence of mental states strictly private with no visible functions or consequences. A conscious entity can call on a thought or memory merely to feel happy, be inspired, soothed, feel anger" Software programs, by definition, can be separated out, peeled away and run in a logically identical way on any computing platform. How could such a program spontaneously give rise to "a new node of consciousness?"
Kurzweil concedes the difficulty of defining consciousness, but does not want to wish away the concept, since it serves as the basis for our moral and ethical systems. He maintains his argument that reverse engineering of the human brain will enable machines that can act with a level of complexity, from which somehow consciousness will emerge.
Gelernter replies that believing this "seems a completely arbitrary claim. Anything might be true, but I don't see what makes the claim plausible." Ultimately, he says, Kurzweil must explain objectively and scientifically what consciousness is -- "how it's created and got there." Kurzweil stakes his claim on our future capacity to model digitally the actions of billions of neurons and neurotransmitters, which in humans somehow give rise to consciousness. Gelernter believes such a machine might simulate mental states, but not actually pass muster as a conscious entity. Ultimately, he questions the desirability of building such computers: "We might reach the state some day when we prefer the company of a robot from Walmart to our next"door neighbor or roommates."
Dans un brevet déposé aux États-Unis, Motorola Mobility décrit un tatouage électronique qui, une fois appliqué sur le cou, ferait office de microphone connecté par une liaison sans fil à un terminal mobile....
Le transhumanisme est une vision ambitieuse du futur de l'être humain. Vivre 1000 ans, ça vous plairait ? Petit tour d'horizon des penseurs transhumanistes.
Mlik Sahib's insight:
il y a selon Ray Kurzweil une accelération exponentielle de l’évolution technologique. D’ici 2045, « le rythme du changement sera tellement rapide que nous ne seront plus capable de le suivre, à moins que nous améliorons notre propre intelligence en fusionnant avec les machines intelligentes que nous créeons ».
CLONAGE - Il a la barbe bien fournie, l'air débonnaire et le sourire franc. En apparence, George Church n'a donc rien du savant fou.
Mlik Sahib's insight:
"Les jours des médicaments classiques pourraient être comptés. De fait, c'est déjà un miracle qu'ils fonctionnent. Ils se répartissent dans tout le corps et réagissent avec d'autres molécules. Maintenant, on est capable de programmer des cellules. Donc je pense que la prochaine grande étape, ce sont les thérapies cellulaires. Si vous êtes capable d'intervenir sur les génomes et les cellules, votre capacité d'amélioration est colossale. Prenez le virus du sida par exemple."
Church ne pourrait pas mieux dire. Deux jours avant l'interview, le 16 janvier, un chercheur australien a annoncé avoir modifié une protéine du VIH, ayant ainsi empêché le virus de se répliquer en laboratoire. Pas encore un vaccin donc, mais bien une nouvelle piste à explorer dans le sillage des possibilités ouvertes par la biologie synthétique.
Améliorer notre espérance de vie, nous rendre résistants à différentes bactéries et autres virus, Church estime qu'il est possible et même souhaitable dans certains cas, d'intervenir directement sur notre ADN pour nous permettre une vie meilleure. L'homme se dit extrêmement attentif aux débats bioéthiques, affirme qu'il faut être prudent et à la question "croyez-vous en Dieu", Church répond qu'il croit au pouvoir bienfaiteur de la science. "Je suis en admiration," dit-il, "en admiration devant la nature."
"Optogenetics provides revolutionary new tools to guide further understanding of the brain in health and disease. Optogenetics allows genetically defined populations of neurons in the intact brain to be turned on or off with light, offering not only the ability to elucidate the characteristics of normal and abnormal brain function but also new approaches to the treatment of brain disorders. The potential impact of optogenetics on understanding the brain is immense.
This new research technique earned Gero Miesenböck (Oxford) and five other international pioneers the prestigious Brain Prize 2013, endowed by the Grete Lundbeck Foundation. Professor Miesenböck will give the keynote lecture.
'Optogenetics: controlling the brain with light ' is a one-day symposium which will bring together leading scientists who will describe the latest developments and applications of optogenetic approaches in neuroscience."
Using brain recordings and a computer model, an interdisciplinary team confounds the conventional wisdom about how the brain sorts out relevant versus irrelevant sensory inputs in making choices.
Mlik Sahib's insight:
While eating lunch you notice an insect buzzing around your plate. Its color and its motion both could influence how you respond.
If the insect is yellow and black, you might decide it's a bee and move away; but if it is the motion of the bee you find annoying, you might simply shoo the insect away. You perceive both the color and the motion of the bee, and decide based on the circumstances. Our brains make such contextual decisions in an instant; the mystery is how.
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