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Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:50 PM

Virtual Brain in ten years

This link discusses research on developing computers that are like human brains. Most argue they will have computerized human brains in 10 years and that every neuron in your body is the equivalent of a labtop computer. They suggest you could scan your brain into a computer so when you died a virtual copy of your brain would exist sort of like the Cylons in Battlestar Gallactica.

My questions is doesn't this raise a lot of moral issues? Would the virtual brain have a soul? Would it have rights? I guess at first they wouldn't be smarter than humans, they'd just be like humans because the computerization of a human brain involves scanning information from a human brain down to the molecular level into the computer and then the computer just mimics the brain so it would be very human-like but not superior. Of course, I'm sure they would start thinking of ways to make it superior and then the singularity would occur. Could robot brains be enslaved? Should they? Seems like a dark road to me.

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply Virtual Brain in ten years (Original post)
preventivePhD Nov 2012 OP
Hayabusa Nov 2012 #1
longship Nov 2012 #2
hunter Nov 2012 #14
Kennah Nov 2012 #3
FiveGoodMen Nov 2012 #4
LongTomH Nov 2012 #5
preventivePhD Nov 2012 #12
bananas Nov 2012 #16
preventivePhD Dec 2012 #17
Warpy Nov 2012 #6
preventivePhD Nov 2012 #11
Warpy Nov 2012 #13
Jim__ Nov 2012 #7
preventivePhD Nov 2012 #10
Jim__ Dec 2012 #20
preventivePhD Dec 2012 #22
AlecBGreen Dec 2012 #21
phantom power Nov 2012 #8
Kablooie Nov 2012 #9
hunter Nov 2012 #15
Marrah_G Dec 2012 #18
sakabatou Dec 2012 #19
qazplm Dec 2012 #23

Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:58 PM

1. Excellent!

When can I upload my consciousness into it?

EDIT: In all seriousness, this is pretty exciting news and I can't wait to see the day when it happens. That said, I'm not interested in seeing all of the ethical and legal ramifications of it.

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Response to Hayabusa (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:24 PM

2. "When can I upload my consciousness into it?"

Two problems.

1. Interfacing with the brain may be an unsolvable problem. The complexity of the neural connections in the brain will not likely be solved before computer tech -- i.e., Moore's law -- eclipses the number of neurons in the brain on a desktop.

2. After uploading your brain to a computer, you will still be you.

Sorry. But frankly, this sounds about like Ray Kurzweil, who I think watched the movie, The Matrix too many times. He's a dreamer, and may help advance things, but it all comes down to the fact that the human brain is not a computer the same way that a computer is. The analogy is monumentally imperfect.

Too bad for us Matrix fans. But, that was only a movie. Poor Ray hasn't figured it out yet. Alas, some good will still come of it.

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Response to Hayabusa (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 08:35 PM

14. Here's a free ebook to download...

I thought it was an interesting exploration of what it might be like to have one's consciousness "uploaded" into a computer.

The story is set in Vancouver, 2036.

San Francisco was struck by an earthquake and a company called Self, which is somehow related to Microsoft, set up an AI system to replace the city, with a virtual environment called Frisco.

The story follows several people, both in Vancouver as well as in Frisco.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everyone_in_Silico


http://nomediakings.org/writing/free_ebook_released.html

http://www.feedbooks.com/book/670/everyone-in-silico

Personally I'm not that interested. When I'm gone someone else gets my share of earth, air and water of this garden planet. That's the way life works.

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Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:27 PM

3. If it's a legitimate virtual brain, then the body will have a way of shutting it down. n/t

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Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:30 PM

4. It wouldn't have a soul

I don't; you don't; it wouldn't.

It wouldn't have rights. It should, but look at how we treat other humans and tell me that we'd be good to a "machine".

It also wouldn't be you. If you really could load your consciousness into a computer, there'd be a computer that thought it was you.

And then, there'd still be you. Until you die. Then there would just be a computer that thought it was you.

Of course, others might benefit from your wisdom as dispensed by the computer that thought it was you. So it might have real benefits.

Very interesting things could come of this but for us humans this is not the road to immortality.

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Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:48 PM

5. I have some problems with the idea of 'uploading' my 'consciousness' into a computer.....

Start with Douglas Hofstadter's deconstruction of the Star Trek Transporter: His analysis of the transporter is, that it essentially destroys the person who steps into one end and builds a duplicate at the other end. That person thinks he is the original, he has all the original's memories.

But, to carry the thought experiment a step further: Imagine a transporter that doesn't destroy the original; but still transmits the information to build a duplicate. Now you have two people, each of whom believes he is the original.

Hofstadter's premise is that, in the first example, the person being 'transported' dies. Assume you're the person in the transporter beam: the lights go out, your experience ends. Another person starts living who thinks he's you; but, that's literally cold comfort, since you, the experienced you, no longer exists.

I used this analogy to argue against the idea of uploading at a function for the Foresight Institute, which was originally formed for discussion Eric Drexler's ideas on nanotechnology. I argued with a group of 'singulatarians' who very much into the idea. I used Hofstadter's analogy of the transporter to explain that, as far as I can see: If I upload my memories into a computer, that just creates a virtual model of me. If the process destroys the original, then the lights go out for me, fade to black, I'm dead. If the process doesn't destroy the original, then the original 'me' is still 'me,' no matter what the 'other guy' thinks.

To quote Robert A. Heinlein: "I know who I am; but, who are all you zombies?"

As for the idea of a singularity, count me among the skeptics. There are a number of other people skeptical of the idea, including my favorite science fiction writer: Kim Stanley Robinson. In an interview with Wired magazine, Robinson took on the idea of the singularity, among other possibilities for the future:

Robinson: I think it’s a misunderstanding of the brain and of computers, in effect. We are underestimating how complex the brain is and how little we understand it, and we’re overestimating how much computers might have a will or intention. I think the intention will always stay with us, and the machines will be search engines and adding machines — enormously powerful and fast binary, digital things — but they’re not going to do the singularity as I understand it, this notion that machines will take off on their own and leave us behind.

I think it’s some of this what I call MIT-style public relations “futurology,” which is just lame science fiction, where people are asserting that it’s really going to come true. And as a science fiction writer, I find that a little bit offensive, because nobody knows what’s really going to come true, and people who declare it is are instantly putting themselves in the fraud category. They’re claiming more than they can.

Now, to come back to the singularity, I think what’s useful in it is the idea of it as a metaphor; it’s a science fiction metaphor, and even if it will never come true in a literal sense, it might be a good way of talking about the way things feel already. So that I’ve been saying, “Yeah, the singularity, if it ever is going to happen, it actually happened back in 2008, with the financial crash.” Because what happened there, nobody quite understands, and it was a really super-complex system that involves computers, algorithms, laws, habits and traditions, and all of them combined on a global financial system that no one person understood or controlled. So that’s almost like the singularity. Our financial system has actually blown up in our face, and none of us understand it, and yet it does control the world.

If you read much Kim Stanley Robinson, you'll soon see that social justice, as well as ecological themes are major themes in his work. This continues in his latest work 2312, set in a future where human beings are spread across the solar system. The economic system for the autonomous space colonies is called The Mondragon Accord:

Wired: You call this system “the Mondragon Accord.” Is that based on something real?

Robinson: Yes, in the Basque part of Spain there’s a town called Mondragon that runs as a system of nested co-ops — including the bank, which is simply a credit union owned by everybody. So it’s a town of only 50 to 100,000 and they’re all Basques — more or less — and they don’t intend to leave the city, so there are reasons why capitalist economists want to say that it can’t possibly work for all the rest of us, but I’m not so sure. And what I wanted to do is scale it up, and show a Mondragon-style system working amongst all the space colonies in one giant collective of cooperatives.

Read the rest of the interview here: http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/06/geeks-guide-kim-stanley-robinson/all/

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Response to LongTomH (Reply #5)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 05:16 PM

12. This idea is fully explored in James Patrick's Kelly's "Think Like A Dinosaur" short story

A link to kelly . Your correct the article states that your mind is cloned. It's not you.

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Response to preventivePhD (Reply #12)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 09:34 AM

16. "Think Like A Dinosaur" was made into a really good Outer Limits episode

It repeats on tv every now and then,
you can watch it free online at http://www.hulu.com/watch/69830
or http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x97lcp_outer-limits-think-like-a-dinosaur_shortfilms

I haven't read the story, so I don't know how they compare.

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Response to bananas (Reply #16)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 05:10 AM

17. story outline

Guy's job is to send people to other planets through device invented by Dinosaurs who left Earth in spaceships millions of years ago. An accident occurs and a girl is sent to the other side but another copy if left behind. The Dinosaur says that leaves the equation unbalanced and girl that of course he falls in love with must be killed or the Universe will fall apart.

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Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:49 PM

6. Real AI isn't even on the distant horizon

What they expect to have is something that mimics one small part of the brain or the brain of a simple organism.

Mimicry of an actual human biologic brain would take Deep Thought or something of similar size and complexity.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #6)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 05:09 PM

11. they're computer are already 10,000 times more powerful than Deep Thought

... The project uses IBM Gene computer that are capable of performing a quadrillion floating point calculations per second. Far more powerful, than deep thought and these projects are using more than one computer. Blue Brain uses 4 & the other projects use more.

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Response to preventivePhD (Reply #11)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 07:10 PM

13. Douglas Adams reference

Swoosh!

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Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 04:53 AM

7. Would this virtual brain be conscious?

My guess is, "No."

The article states:

A single neuron has the processing power of an average labtop computer. A neuron responds to input through a multitude of channels including biological, chemical and electrical stimuli. Neuronal responses are very computer-like in that neurons respond by varying the strength and quality of biological, chemical and electrical outputs that adjusts according to historical data. Neurons are superior to ordinary computers in that they can communicate, reprogram and cooperate with other neurons in ways that are far more complex than existing ways that computers can interact.


And, from the labtop computer link:

Today, simulating a single neuron requires the full power of a laptop computer. But the brain has billions of neurons and simulating all them simultaneously is a huge challenge. To get round this problem, the project will develop novel techniques of multi-level simulation in which only groups of neurons that are highly active are simulated in detail. But even in this way, simulating the complete human brain will require a computer a thousand times more powerful than the most powerful machine available today. ...


The project sounds like it will attempt to simulate the connectivity of the brain. My guess is that connectivity is a part of consciousness; but not the whole of it.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #7)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 05:06 PM

10. There simulating everything down to the molecular level

... if they miss consciousness then it must be atomic or subatomic which doesn't seem likely as one atom is supposed to be just like another.

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Response to preventivePhD (Reply #10)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 08:12 AM

20. I don't see where they claim to be simulating everything.

For instance, the synchronized firing of neurons that are not directly connected via a neural net appears to be controlled via brainwaves. I didn't see anywhere they claimed to be attempting to simulate that.

Based on the article, they seem to be interested in intelligence and disease, for instance, the effects of pharmaceuticals. An extremely impressive undertaking; but not one that appears to be concerned with consciousness; and not one that will necessarily generate consciousness.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #20)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 10:56 AM

22. The leader of the project repeatedly has claimed consciousness will be achieved

In the movie and elsewhere for the past 10 years, the project leader has repeatedly stated consciousness will be achieved and that it will do everything a real brain does (e.g., learning languages). Since they are simulating everything down to the molecular level that of course involves the firing of neurons. In fact, that's how they test the model. They test whether these models accurately replicate cell growth, and firings they see in real brains.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #7)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 05:32 PM

21. can you imagine the power requirements!?

a billion neurons, each requiring a laptop to simulate? LOTS of juice needed! Just imagine, our little ol' brains chug along with no more power than a few meals a day

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Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 11:46 AM

8. does your brain have a soul?

are you conscious?
should your brain be enslaved?

People make these questions out to be far harder than they really are, mostly because they make the mistake of thinking that meat brains are any different than brains that we might someday construct.

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Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 12:01 PM

9. Partly explored in Neuromancer, written in 1983.

The Dixie Flatline is a digital copy of the mind of a famous, dead hacker.
He advises Case, the protagonist, in hacking an artificial intelligence system.

In the story Dixie knows he's a digital copy of his living memory and they discuss whether he is alive or not but ultimately decide that he is not.

He requests that Case destroy all copies of his memory after the mission is accomplished.


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Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 09:12 PM

15. If we've got "souls" then so do dogs. Probably trees and cows and fish too.

I go about my business as if everything has got a soul because I like to believe I've got one. But in my deep, depressed cynical heart, I don't think humans are all that interesting. Otherwise the space aliens would have revealed themselves to us and said "hello." Instead they are disgusted by us. I'm sure many alien grad students and associate professors are here on earth in disguise, studying truly interesting life forms like beetles and ants, but they avoid us filthy tiny-souled humans as best they can.

My personal belief in souls does make eating complicated. I ate a bit of cow today, but it was a happy California cow, a cow that got some time in the field enjoying sunshine and eating real grass before it got sent off to the feedlot to be stuffed with GMO corn and turned into beef sausage.

Thank you, cow.

I ate a bit of Thanksgiving turkey too, but I don't think my sister-in-law paid much attention to where it came from. It might have been some horrible factory farm, but I didn't ask. Even so, thank you Thanksgiving turkey.

If I can attribute some kind of soul to most everything I eat, then attributing a soul to some very complicated bit of software isn't a big stretch.

Sure, I'll talk to you, even if you only exist within a big computer.



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Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Mon Dec 17, 2012, 09:53 AM

18. When I read the title my first thought was...

Oh great.......Cylons.......here we go again!

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Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Tue Dec 18, 2012, 03:44 AM

19. If I had a "virtual brain"

I'd want something akin to Ghost in the Shell.

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Response to preventivePhD (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 12:57 PM

23. i think the only path for you to remain you and live longer than normal

is:

a. find replacements (biological, technological, or both) for the brain support systems...aka your body...that can last longer than 60-120 years. Theoretically, all you need is your brain and stuff to get oxygen to your brain.

b. augment your brain (again either biologically, technologically, or both) such that it retains "you" without concerns for things like memory loss, Alzheimer's, placques, or other issues that might cause even a brain in a robot body to die (and thus "you" to die).

I do not think a or b are impossible, in fact, they are inevitable, but the question is are we talking something people alive today can get or something that's 500, 1000, or longer years away?

At the end of the day though, assuming we aren't destroyed by comets, global warming, alien invasion, zombie apocalypse, or sparkly vampies, I do believe there will be humans alive one day who live 500-1000 years or more, primarily because their bodies are replaced by better stuff, and their brains augmented to withstand the ravages of time.

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