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Mr. McD Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 04:07 PM
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It's Alive (ish)
For years, scientists have learned about brain development by watching the firing patterns of lab-raised brain cells. Until recently, though, the brains-in-a-dish couldn't receive information. Unlike actual gray matter, they could only send signals.

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology figured they could learn more from neuron clumps that acted more like real brains, so they've developed "neurally controlled animats" -- a few thousand rat neurons grown atop a grid of electrodes and connected to a robot body or computer-simulated virtual environment.,71457-0....
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Xipe Totec Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 04:09 PM
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1. Thus the cylons were born
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 04:35 PM
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2. skynet's humble beginnings....
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elehhhhna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 04:43 PM
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3. This explains GW's "earpiece" thingie.
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Dead_Parrot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 09:16 PM
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5. lol... nt
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YankeyMCC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-03-06 08:05 PM
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4. Now here's an ethical question to discuss it seems to me
And if consciousness is a function of complexity, what would happen if a whole bunch of dish-brains were hooked together? Right now, Potter said, the biggest obstacle to trying is the $60,000 price tag of each "rig."

"That's the present limit," he said. "If we had a rich patron, I would love to get more rigs to do some 'social networks' experiments."

Whoa! Unless this is all just BS this is pretty exciting but I must admit in a slightly scary way. These guys should continue to press on but to me this is an issue - creating conciousness - that begs discussion and forethought much more than the circle jerk of discussion about stem cell research.

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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Aug-04-06 04:26 AM
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6. This will stay "scientific" until someone uses human neurons ...
... then it gets scary ...

From the original article ...

> Researchers have found that lab-grown neuron cultures tend to fire in
> bizarrely synchronized, dishwide waves, eerily echoing the neural
> patterns seen during Alzheimer's disease.
> "It's possible that this is a state of arrested development," Potter
> said, "or that the networks are asleep because they're missing the
> parts (humans) use to wake up. It's (also) possible that the networks
> are in some sort of epileptic state."

When does a rat become a rat?

I know it's irrational, I know it's emotional, I know it's illogical
but I find the above statement the stuff of nightmares ... awareness
without the ability to communicate, to inform the observer ... the
ability to receive and partially process stimuli yet have no control
over the occurence or nature of those stimuli ...

> The repeated firing may have wiped the animats' memories, Potter
> said. His group has since learned to reduce the bursts with electric
> stimuli, which acts as a massage to ease the dish-brain's stress.


Even acknowledging the "mechanistic" view of the brain (simply as a
processor of inputs to generate outputs), the parallels between the
above and human mental illness/incapacity are uncomfortable.
(Not to mention the various cases of consciousness under anaesthesia.)

> ... Potter admits the clumps have a certain amount of awareness.

Worrying ... not out of a "Frankenstein" fear (no-one is creating life,
'just' experimenting upon it) but out of a concern about inhumane
actions (even for the sake of a 'good' cause).
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