According to physicist, Roger Penrose, What’s in our head is orders of magnitude more complex than anything one sees in the Universe: "If you look at the entire physical cosmos," says Penrose, "our brains are a tiny, tiny part of it. But they're the most perfectly organized part. Compared to the complexity of a brain, a galaxy is just an inert lump."
Each cubic millimeter of tissue in the neocortex, reports Michael Chorost in World Wide Mind, contains between 860 million and 1.3 billion synapses. Estimates of the total number of synapses in the neocortex range from 164 trillion to 200 trillion. The total number of synapses in the brain as a whole is much higher than that. The neocorex has the same number of neurons as a galaxy has stars: 100 billion. "All stars can do is pull on each other with gravity," writes Chorost, and, if they are very close, exchange heat."
One researcher estimates that with current technology it would take 10,000 automated microscopes thirty years to map the connections between every neuron in a human brain, and 100 million terabytes of disk space to store the data.
Galaxies are ancient, but self-aware, language-using, tool-making brains are very new in the evolutionary timeline, some 200,000-years old. Most of the neurons in the neocortex have between 1,000 and 10,000 synaptic connections with other neurons. Elsewhere in the brain, in the cerebellum, one type of neuron has 150,000 to 200,000 synaptic connections with other neurons. Even the lowest of these numbers seems hard to believe. One tiny neuron can connect to 200,000 neurons.
"The universe could so easily have remained lifeless and simple -just physics and chemistry, just the scattered dust of the cosmic explosion that gave birth to time and space," says Richard Dawkins, the famed Oxford evolutionary biologist reflecting on the sheer wonder of the emergence of life on Earth and the evolutionary process in his classic The Ancestor's Tale.
"The fact that it did not -the fact that life evolved out of literally nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved literally out of nothing -is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice. And even that is not the end of the matter. Not only did evolution happen: it eventually led to beings capable of comprehending the process by which they comprehend it."
Physicists led by ion-trapper Christopher Monroe at the JQI have proposed a modular quantum computer architecture that promises scalability to much larger numbers of qubits. The components of this architecture have individually been tested and are available, making it a promising approach. In the paper, the authors present expected performance and scaling calculations, demonstrating that their architecture is not only viable, but in some ways, preferable when compared to related schemes.
As a primary task, it should not be difficult to promote the thesis that in principle, to understand how and why consciousness emerged and has its particular characteristics entails understanding the evolution of a hierarchy of systems-constructs. Why? If not irrefutable, it is at least commonly
Science World Report An End in Sight in the Long Search for Gravity Waves Science World Report They are a prediction of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity but for years physicists argued about their theoretical existence.
Robohub Engineers build brain-controlled music player Robohub Now it is thanks to Kenneth Camilleri and his team of researchers from the Department of Systems and Control Engineering and the Centre for Biomedical Cybernetics at the University of...
Empirical research that works to map those characteristics requisite for the identification of conscious awareness are proving increasingly insufficient, particularly as neuroscientists further refine functionalist models of cognition. To say that an agent "appears" to have awareness or intelligence is inadequate. Rather, what is required is the discovery and understanding of those processes in the brain that are responsible for capacities such as sentience, empathy and emotion. Subsequently, the shift to a neurobiological basis for identifying subjective agency will have implications for those hoping to develop self-aware artificial intelligence and brain emulations. The Turing Test alone cannot identify machine consciousness; instead, computer scientists will need to work off the functionalist model and be mindful of those processes that produce awareness. Because the potential to do harm is significant, an effective and accountable machine ethics needs to be considered. Ultimately, it is our responsibility to develop a rigorous understanding of consciousness so that we may identify and work with it once it emerges.
Technology has become perhaps the greatest agent of change in the modern world. While never without risk, positive technological breakthroughs promise innovative solutions to the most pressing global challenges of our time, from resource scarcity to global environmental change. However, a lack of appropriate investment, outdated regulatory frameworks and gaps in public understanding prevent many…
Robohub From disembodied bytes to robots that think and act like humans Robohub The groundwork for robots with real-time reactivity to their surroundings was originally laid in the field of cybernetics, centered on the analysis of feedback loops in...
Neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University have all but confirmed the latest evolution in the hard-charging, heady field of cybernetics: Monkeys can control machines with their brains.