Google’s chief engineer: People will soon upload their entire brains to computers

Google’s chief engineer: People will soon upload their entire brains to computers

 Published time: June 20, 2013 16:02

Ray Kurzweil (AFP Photo / Gabriel Bouys)
Ray Kurzweil (AFP Photo / Gabriel Bouys)    

There are around 377 million results on Google.com for the query “Can I live forever?” Ask that question to company’s top engineer, though, and you’re likely to hear an answer that’s much more concise.

  Simply put, Google’s Ray Kurzweil says immortality is only a few  years away. Digital immortality, at least.

minduploading

  Kurzweil, 64, was only brought on to Google late last year, but  that hasn’t stopped him from making headlines already. During a  conference in New York City last week, the company’s director of  engineering said that the growth of biotechnology is so quickly  paced that that he predicts our lives will be drastically  different in just a few decades.

  According to Kurzweil, humans will soon be able to upload their  entire brains onto computers. After then, other advancements  won’t be too far behind.

brain control

The life expectancy was 20, 1,000 years ago,” Kurzweil  said over the weekend at the Global Future 2045 World Congress in  New York City, CNBC’s Cadie Thompson reported. “We doubled it  in 200 years. This will go into high gear within 10 and 20 years  from now, probably less than 15, we will be reaching that tipping  point where we add more time than has gone by because of  scientific progress.”

Somewhere between 10 and 20 years, there is going to be  tremendous transformation of health and medicine,” he said.

  In his 2005 book “The Singularity Is Near,” Kurzweil predicted  that ongoing achievements in biotechnology would mean that by the  middle of the century, “humans will develop the means to  instantly create new portions of ourselves, either biological or  nonbiologicial,” so that people can have “a biological  body at one time and not at another, then have it again, then  change it.” He also said there will soon be   “software-based humans” who will “live out on the Web,  projecting bodies whenever they need or want them, including  holographically projected bodies, foglet-projected bodies and  physical bodies comprising nanobot swarms.”

  Those nanobot swarms might still be a bit away, but given the  vast capabilities already achieved since the publication of his  book, Kurzweil said in New York last week that more and more of  the human body will soon be synced up to computers, both for  backing up our thoughts and to help stay in good health.

  “There’s already fantastic therapies to overcome heart  disease, cancer and every other neurological disease based on  this idea of reprogramming the software,” Kurzweil at the  conference. “These are all examples of treating biology as  software. …These technologies will be a 1,000 times more  powerful than they were a decade ago. …These will be 1,000  times more powerful by the end of the decade. And a million times  more powerful in 20 years.”

  In “The Singularity Is Near,” Kurzweil acknowledged that Moore’s  Law of Computer suggests that the power of computer doubles, on  average, every two years. At that rate, he wrote, “We’re going  to become increasingly non-biological to the point where the  non-biological part dominates and the biological part is not  important anymore.”

  “Based on conservative estimates of the amount of computation  you need to functionally simulate a human brain, we’ll be able to  expand the scope of our intelligence a billion-fold,” The  Daily Mail quoted Kurzweil.

  Kurzweil joined Google in December 2012 and is a 1999 winner of  the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. In the 1970s,  Kurzweil was responsible for creating the first commercial  text-to-speech synthesizer.

Original:  http://rt.com/usa/google-kurzweil-singularity-brain-011/

Wireless optogenetic control of the brain

Wireless optogenetic control of the brain

brain neurons

Optogenetics, a recently developed technique that uses light to map and control brain activity, requires the genetic modification of an animal’s brain cells and the insertion of optical fibers and electrical wire into its brain. The bulky wires and fibers emerge from the skull, hampering the animal’s movement and making it difficult to perform certain experiments that could lead to breakthroughs for Parkinson’s disease, addiction, depression, and spinal cord injuries.

But now, a new ultrathin, flexible device laden with light-emitting diodes and sensors, both the size of individual brain cells, promises to make optogenetics completely wireless. The 20-micrometer-thick device can be safely injected deep into the brain and controlled and powered using radio-frequency signals. Its developers say the technology could also be used in other parts of the body, with broad implications for medical diagnosis and therapy.

In optogenetics, scientists genetically modify neurons to make them sensitive to particular wavelengths of light. Shining light on the altered neurons turns them on or off, allowing scientists to control specific brain circuits and change animal behavior.

Science – Injectable, Cellular-Scale Optoelectronics with Applications for Wireless Optogenetics

brain-mind

The implant is a stack of four different optoelectronics devices that the researchers create separately on flexible polymer substrates and then glue on top of one another. The topmost layer is a platinum microelectrode for stimulating and recording from neurons. Below that is a silicon photodetector, followed by a group of four microscale LEDs that are each just 50 by 50 micrometers. Last comes a platinum-based temperature sensor. The filament carrying the stack is glued onto a microneedle with a silk-based glue that dissolves once the device has been injected into the targeted spot, allowing the researchers to retract the microneedle.

The technique for making the membranous devices is not new. Developed a few years ago in Rogers’s lab, it involves growing stacks of thin semiconductor films, peeling them off one at a time with a rubber stamp, and transferring them to plastic substrates.

Scientists could use the multifunctional system to stimulate and sense the brain in a variety of ways, Bruchas explains. The microelectrode can measure the electrical signals produced by neurons, and it can also be used to stimulate them. The photodiodes ensure that the LEDs are working, but they can also be used to detect light signals generated by neurons that have been genetically modified to make certain fluorescent proteins.

brain control

The micro-LEDs, which have dimensions comparable to individual neurons, could trigger individual neurons, unlike the fiber-optic implants typically used in optogenetics, which are four times as wide. The researchers could also combine different-colored LEDs on the same device and use them to simultaneously control neurons that have been engineered to react to different colors. Such multiplexing would allow neuroscientists to analyze brain circuits more precisely, Bruchas says. Finally, the temperature sensor monitors the heat generated by the LEDs to prevent the tissue from overheating.

When the researchers placed the device—which connects to an RF power module mounted on the animal’s head—inside the brains of living mice, it caused no inflammation or infection. To test the system’s ability to alter animal behavior, the researchers embedded it near a particular group of neurons that they had genetically altered to release dopamine when cued with light. The neurochemical dopamine is involved in the body’s “rewards” system, such as with food or sex, and it plays a part in several addictive drugs.

ABSTRACT – Successful integration of advanced semiconductor devices with biological systems will accelerate basic scientific discoveries and their translation into clinical technologies. In neuroscience generally, and in optogenetics in particular, the ability to insert light sources, detectors, sensors, and other components into precise locations of the deep brain yields versatile and important capabilities. Here, we introduce an injectable class of cellular-scale optoelectronics that offers such features, with examples of unmatched operational modes in optogenetics, including completely wireless and programmed complex behavioral control over freely moving animals. The ability of these ultrathin, mechanically compliant, biocompatible devices to afford minimally invasive operation in the soft tissues of the mammalian brain foreshadow applications in other organ systems, with potential for broad utility in biomedical science and engineering.

Moore: http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/devices/injectable-optoelectronics-for-brain-control/

Creating a computer with a human brain?

Are we on the brink of creating a computer with a human brain?

By Michael Hanlon

Brain
 
Professor Markram claims he plans to build an electronic human brain ‘within the next ten years’

There are only a handful of scientific revolutions that would really change the world. An immortality pill would be one. A time machine would be another.

Faster-than-light travel, allowing the stars to be explored in a human lifetime, would be on the shortlist, too.

To my mind, however, the creation of an artificial mind would probably trump all of these – a development that would throw up an array of bewildering and complex moral and philosophical quandaries. Amazingly, it might also be within reach.

For while time machines, eternal life potions and Star Trek-style warp drives are as far away as ever, a team of scientists in Switzerland is claiming that a fully-functioning replica of a human brain could be built by 2020.

This isn’t just pie-in-the-sky. The Blue Brain project, led by computer genius Henry Markram – who is also the director of the Centre for Neuroscience & Technology and the Brain Mind Institute – has for the past five years been engineering the mammalian brain, the most complex object known in the Universe, using some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

And last month, Professor Markram claimed, at a conference in Oxford, that he plans to build an electronic human brain ‘within ten years’.

If he is right, nothing will be the same again. But can such an extraordinary claim be credible? When we think of artificial minds, we inevitably think of the sort of machines that have starred in dozens of sci-fi movies.

Indeed, most scientists – and science fiction writers – have tended to concentrate on the nuts and bolts of robotics: how you make artificial muscles; how you make a machine see and hear; how you give it realistic skin and enough tendons and ligaments underneath that skin to allow it to smile convincingly.

But what tends to be glossed over is by far the most complex problem of all: how you make a machine think.

This problem is one of the central questions of modern philosophy and goes to the very heart of what we know, or rather do not know, about the human mind.

Most of us imagine that the brain is rather like a computer. And in many ways, it is. It processes data and can store quite prodigious amounts of information.

‘They are copying a brain without understanding it’

But in other ways, a brain is quite unlike a computer. For while our computers are brilliant at calculating the weather forecast and modelling the effects of nuclear explosions – tasks most often assigned to the most powerful machines – they still cannot ‘think’.

We cannot be sure this is the case. But no one thinks that the laptop on your desk or even the powerful mainframes used by the Met Office can, in any meaningful sense, have a mind.

So what is it, in that three pounds of grey jelly, that gives rise to the feeling of conscious self-awareness, the thoughts and emotions, the agonies and ecstasies that comprise being a human being?

This is a question that has troubled scientists and philosophers for centuries. The traditional answer was to assume that some sort of ‘soul’ pervades the brain, a mysterious ‘ghost in the machine’ which gives rise to the feeling of self and consciousness.

If this is the case, then computers, being machines not flesh and blood, will never think. We will never be able to build a robot that will feel pain or get angry, and the Blue Brain project will fail.

But very few scientists still subscribe to this traditional ‘dualist’ view – ‘dualist’ because it assumes ‘mind’ and ‘matter’ are two separate things.

Instead, most neuroscientists believe that our feelings of self-awareness, pain, love and so on are simply the result of the countless billions of electrical and chemical impulses that flit between its equally countless billions of neurons.

So if you build something that works exactly like a brain, consciousness, at least in theory, will follow.

In fact, several teams are working to prove this is the case by attempting to build an electronic brain. They are not attempting to build flesh and blood brains like modern-day Dr Frankensteins.

They are using powerful mainframe computers to ‘model’ a brain. But, they say, the result will be just the same.

Two years ago, a team at IBM’s Almaden research lab at Nevada University used a BlueGene/L Supercomputer to model half a mouse brain.

Half a mouse brain consists of about eight million neurons, each of which can form around 8,000 links with neighbouring cells.

Creating a virtual version of this pushes a computer to the limit, even machines which, like the BlueGene, can perform 20trillion calculations a second.

The ‘mouse’ simulation was run for about ten seconds at a speed a tenth as fast as an actual rodent brain operates. Nevertheless, the scientists said they detected tell-tale patterns believed to correspond with the ‘thoughts’ seen by scanners in real-life mouse brains.

It is just possible a fleeting, mousey, ‘consciousness’ emerged in the mind of this machine. But building a thinking, remembering human mind is more difficult. Many neuroscientists claim the human brain is too complicated to copy.

‘Turning it off might be seen as murder’

Markram’s team is undaunted. They are using one of the most powerful computers in the world to replicate the actions of the 100billion neurons in the human brain. It is this approach – essentially copying how a brain works without necessarily understanding all of its actions – that will lead to success, the team hopes. And if so, what then?

Well, a mind, however fleeting and however shorn of the inevitable complexities and nuances that come from being embedded in a body, is still a mind, a ‘person’. We would effectively have created a ‘brain in a vat’. Conscious, aware, capable of feeling, pain, desire. And probably terrified.

And if it were modelled on a human brain, we would then have real ethical dilemmas. If our ‘brain’ – effectively just a piece of extremely impressive computer software – could be said to know it exists, then do we assign it rights?

Would turning it off constitute murder? Would performing experiments upon it constitute torture?

And there are other questions, too, questions at the centre of the nurture versus nature debate. Would this human mind, for example, automatically feel guilt or would it need to be ‘taught’ a sense of morality first? And how would it respond to religion? Indeed, are these questions that a human mind asks of its own accord, or must it be taught to ask them first?

Thankfully, we are probably a long way from having to confront these issues. It is important to stress that not one scientist has provided anything like a convincing explanation for how the brain works, let alone shown for sure that it would be possible to replicate this in a machine.

Not one computer or robot has come near passing the famous ‘Turing Test’, devised by the brilliant Cambridge scientist Alan Turing in 1950, to prove whether a machine could think.

It is a simple test in which someone is asked to communicate, using a screen and keyboard, with a computer trying to mimic a human, and another, real human. If the judge cannot tell the machine from the other person, the computer has ‘passed’ the test. So far, every computer we have built has failed.

Yet, if the Blue Brain project succeeds, in a few decades – perhaps sooner – we will be looking at the creation of a new intelligent lifeform on Earth. And the ethical dilemmas we face when it comes to experimenting on animals in the name of science will pale into insignificance when faced with the potential torments of our new machine mind.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1205677/Are-brink-creating-human-brain.html#ixzz29l69zP3l

Transhumanism Will Merge Man With Machine

Neo-Humanity: Transhumanism Will Merge Man With Machine

August 10, 2012

Neo-Humanity: Transhumanism Will Merge Man With Machine

Susanne Posel, Contributor

Science and religion meet at the intersection of a $55 million grant gifted to UC Riverside in Pennsylvania by the John Templeton Foundation for further research into an afterlife and immortality.

John Martin Fischer, philosophy professor from UC Riverside, will host conferences and oversee post-doctoral students running a website that centers around immortality; along with international consensus where psychologists and neuroscientists from across the globe will convene.

The globalist Elite are obsessed with the merging man and machine, transhumanism and immortality. Basing advancements on scientific research, the 2045 Program will create “a new vision of human development that meets global challenges humanity faces today, realization of the possibility of a radical extension of human life by means of cybernetic technology, as well as the formation of a new culture associated with these technologies.”

 

Headed by Dimitry Itskov, the Avatar Project, an off-shoot of 2045, will house human brains in disembodied vehicles. They will initially be transplanted into robots, then humans by 2045 with the advancement of reverse-engineering; an effective “downloading” of human consciousness onto a computer chip.

DARPA is extremely interested in Avatar for the allocation of bi-pedal robots and essential super-soldiers and have devoted $7 million of its $2.8 billion 2012 budget to developing “interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier’s surrogate.”

These human-controlled robots will be strong enough to “clear a room” and “facilitate sentry control and combat causality recovery.” Yet these “terminators” would easily be the most effective weapon against civil unrest or radical revolutionaries that did not subscribe to the globalist agenda.

 

The globalists at the 2045 Program assert that humanity “is in need of a new evolutionary strategy” consisting of a balance between the complexity of technological advances and the acceleration of informational processes to expand the “limited, primitive human” into a “highly self-organized” and technologically “higher intelligence”.

Technology can organize society and integrate unification of a super collective consciousness – a superbeing.

By doing away with individuality, the conclusion is the elimination of:

  • Lack of consumer provisions
  • Aging, illness and death
  • Crime and conflicts
  • Natural disasters and catastrophes

Superpeople are the epitome of communitarianism and collectivism as the new globalist vision of society marches toward immortal superpeople.

Because communitarianism is the ideology of the importance of community over the individual, the creation of a communalist society is the emphatic over-reaching value that if it does not provide for the whole, it is not worth pursuit.

The concept of the neo-human and neo-humanity is the replacement for a post-industrial capitalist and consumer-based society where a new form of civilization will emerge.

At the Global Future 2045 International Conference in 2013, scientists from all corners of the globe along with experts in nanotechnology, biotechnology, transbiology and other sciences will suggest a collaborative evolution of humanity into an transcendent era where the UN’s agenda of population transformation will be implemented.

A new model for society that adheres to the globalist ideologies of merging controllable humans with machines to facilitate a new race of human being that is led by artificial intelligence plunged into the global AI computer system and functions simply to be an autonomous workforce for the global Elite.

The goal of transhumanism is to replace all existing laws with the purpose of destroying the essence of humanity for the sake of control. Hybrid humans with robotic implants are expected to be released into the general public by 2014.

Humanity+, “an international nonprofit membership organization which advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities”.

In their Transhumanist Declaration they advocate old and new ideals of globalist transhumanism by promoting:

  • Using technology to “broaden human potential” by overcoming aging and “cognitive shortcomings”
  • Provide forums where globalist scientist and researchers can “deliberate how [to enhance humanity through science] to expedite beneficial applications”
  • Facilitate “social order, improve human foresight and wisdom” through genetic enhancement
  • Influence policymakers to include the transhumanist “responsible and moral vision”

The Transhumanist Agenda uses eugenics, reproductive controls, sterilization campaigns, genetic engineering, RFID chips and rewiring of the brain through pharmaceuticals to achieve their goals. Their quest for immortality with the merging of human and machine is just one part in their convoluted scheme to retain their global dominance over our society.

For now, the general public is guinea pigs to be used to prefect their experiments so that by 2050, they will have full implemented their control grid and there will be no one to dissent.

 

IBM get close to mimicking a human brain !

Man vs. machine

 Computerchip from IBM get close to mimicking a human brain

By Jordan Robertson Friday, August 19, 2011



 
 

 Computers, like humans, can learn. But when Google tries to fill in your search box based only on a few keystrokes, or your iPhone predicts words as you type a text message, it’s only a narrow mimicry of what the human brain is capable of.The challenge in training a machine to behave like a human brain is technological and physiological, testing the limits of computer and neuroscience. But IBM researchers say they’ve made a key step toward combining the two worlds.

 

The company announced it has built two prototype chips that it says process data more like how humans digest information than the chips that now power PCs and supercomputers.The chips represent a milestone in a six-year project that has involved 100 researchers and $41 million in funding from the government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. IBM has also committed an undisclosed amount of money.

The prototypes offer further evidence of the growing importance of “parallel processing,” or computers doing multiple tasks simultaneously. That is important for rendering graphics and crunching large amounts of data.

The uses of the IBM chips so far are prosaic, such as steering a simulated car through a maze, or playing Pong. It may be a decade or longer before the chips make their way out of the lab and into actual products.

 

But what’s important is not what the chips are doing, but how they’re doing it, said Giulio Tononi, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who worked with IBM on the project.The chips’ ability to adapt to types of information that they weren’t specifically programmed to expect is a key feature.

“There’s a lot of work to do still, but the most important thing is usually the first step,” Tononi said in an interview. “And this is not one step; it’s a few steps.”

Technologists have long imagined computers that learn like humans. Your iPhone or Google’s servers can be programmed to predict certain behavior based on past events. But the techniques being explored by IBM and other companies and university research labs around “cognitive computing” could lead to chips that are better able to adapt to unexpected information.

IBM’s interest in the chips lies in their ability to potentially help process real-world signals, such as temperature or sound or motion, and make sense of them for computers.

 

IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., is a leader in a movement to link physical infrastructure, such as power plants or traffic lights, and information technology, such as servers and software that help regulate their functions. Such projects can be made more efficient with tools to monitor the myriad analog signals present in those environments.Dharmendra Modha, project leader for IBM Research, said the new chips have parts that behave like digital “neurons” and “synapses” that make them different from other chips. Each “core,” or processing engine, has computing, communication and memory functions.

“You have to throw out virtually everything we know about how these chips are designed,” he said. “The key, key, key difference really is the memory and the processor are very closely brought together. There’s a massive, massive amount of parallelism.”

The project is part of the same research that led to IBM’s announcement in 2009 that it had simulated a cat’s cerebral cortex, the thinking part of the brain, using a massive supercomputer. Using progressively bigger supercomputers, IBM previously had simulated 40 percent of a mouse’s brain in 2006, a rat’s full brain in 2007, and 1 percent of a human’s cerebral cortex in 2009.

A computer with the power of a human brain is not yet near. But Modha said the latest development is an important step.

“It really changes the perspective from ‘What if?’ to ‘What now?’” Modha said. “Today we proved it was possible. There have been many skeptics, and there will be more, but this completes in a certain sense our first round of innovation.”

– Associated Press

Scientists to build ‘human brain’: Supercomputer will simulate the entire mind and will help fight against brain diseases

mind control

Scientists to build ‘human brain’: Supercomputer will simulate the entire mind and will help fight against brain diseases

  • The ‘brain’ will take 12 years to build
  • It will feature thousands of three-dimensional images built around a semi-circular ‘cockpit’

PUBLISHED: 18:27 GMT, 15 April 2012 | UPDATED: 19:14 GMT, 15 April 2012 

The human brain’s power could rival any machine. And now scientists are trying to build one using the world’s most powerful computer.

It is intended to combine all the information so far uncovered about its mysterious workings – and replicate them on a screen, right down to the level of individual cells and molecules.

If it works it could be revolutionary for understanding devastating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and even shedding light into how we think, and make decisions.

 
Ambitious: Scientists are hoping to build a computer that will simulate the entire human brain
 
Ambitious: Scientists are hoping to build a computer that will simulate the entire human brain

Leading the project is Professor Henry Markram based in Switzerland, who will be working with scientists from across Europe including the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute at Cambridge.

They hope to complete it within 12 years. He said: ‘The complexity of the brain, with its billions of interconnected neurons, makes it hard for neuroscientists to truly understand how it works.

‘Simulating it will make it much easier – allowing them to manipulate and measure any aspect of the brain.’

Housed at a facility in Dusseldorf in Germany, the ‘brain’ will feature thousands of three-dimensional images built around a semi-circular ‘cockpit’ so scientists can virtually ‘fly’ around different areas and watch how they communicate with each other.

It aims to integrate all the neuroscience research being carried out all over the world – an estimated 60,000 scientific papers every year – into one platform.

The project has received some funding from the EU and has been shortlisted for a 1 billion euro (£825million) EU grant which will be decided next month.

When complete it could be used to test new drugs, which could dramatically shorten the time required for licencing them than human trials, and pave the way for more intelligent robots and computers. 

There are inevitably concerns about the consequences of this ‘manipulation’ and creating computers which can think for themselves. In Germany the media have dubbed the researchers ‘Team Frankenstein’.

 
The various areas of the human brain
Graphic: Corbis

But Prof Markram said: ‘This will, when successful, help two billion people annually who suffer from some type of brain impairment.

‘This is one of the three grand challenges for humanity. We need to understand earth, space and the brain. We need to understand what makes us human.’

Over the past 15 years his team have painstakingly studied and managed to produce a computer simulation of a cortical column – one of the small building blocks of a mammal’s brain.

They have also simulated part of a rat’s brain using a computer. But the human brain is a totally different proposition.

High energy consumption: The computer will require the output of a nuclear power station
 
High energy consumption: The computer will require the output of a nuclear power station like Sellafield, pictured here

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2130124/Scientists-build-human-brain-Supercomputer-simulate-mind-exactly-help-fight-brain-diseases.html#ixzz1yiRQqhoy

Mind-boggling! Science creates computer that can decode your thoughts and put them into words

Mind-boggling! Science creates computer that can decode your thoughts and put them into words

  • Technology could offer lifeline for stroke victims and people hit by degenerative diseases
  • In the study, a computer analyzed brain activity and reproduced words that people were hearing 

By Tamara Cohen
05:49 GMT, 1 February 2012

It sounds like the stuff of science fiction dreams – or nightmares.

Scientists believe they have found a way to read our minds, using a computer program that can decode brain activity in our brains and put it into words.

They say it could offer a lifeline to those whose speech has been affected by stroke or degenerative disease, but many will be concerned about the implications of a technique that can eavesdrop on thoughts and reproduce them.

Scroll down for video

 

Scientific breakthrough: An X-ray CT scan of the head of one of the volunteers, showing electrodes distributed over the brain's temporal lobe, where sounds are processed

Scientific breakthrough: An X-ray CT scan of the head of one of the volunteers, showing electrodes distributed over the brain’s temporal lobe, where sounds are processed

 
 
 
 

Weird science: Scientists believe the technique, shown here, could also be used to read and report what they were thinking of saying next

Weird science: Scientists believe the technique, shown here, could also be used to read and report what they were thinking of saying next

Neuroscientists at the University of California Berkeley put electrodes inside the skulls of brain surgery patients to monitor information from their temporal lobe, which is involved in the processing of speech and images.

As the patient listened to someone speaking, a computer program analysed how the brain processed and reproduced the words they had heard.

 

 

The scientists believe the technique could also be used to read and report what they were thinking of saying next.

In the journal PLoS Biology, they write that it takes attempts at mind reading to ‘a whole new level’.

 

Brain workings: Researchers tested 15 people who were already undergoing brain surgery to treat epilepsy or brain tumours

Brain workings: Researchers tested 15 people who were already undergoing brain surgery to treat epilepsy or brain tumours

 

Words with scientists: The top graphic shows a spectrogram of six isolated words (deep, jazz, cause) and pseudo-words (fook, ors, nim). At bottom, the speech segments how the words were reconstructed based on findings from the electrodes

Words with scientists: The top graphic shows a spectrogram of six isolated words (deep, jazz, cause) and pseudo-words (fook, ors, nim). At bottom, the speech segments how the words were reconstructed based on findings from the electrodes

Robert Knight, professor of psychology and neuroscience, added: ‘This is huge for patients who have damage to their speech mechanisms because of a stroke or Lou Gehrig’s [motor neurone] disease and can’t speak.

‘If you could eventually reconstruct imagined conversations from brain activity, thousands could benefit.’

 

The researchers tested 15 people who were already undergoing brain surgery to treat epilepsy or brain tumours.

They agreed to have up to 256 electrodes put on to the brain surface, as they listened to men and women saying individual words including nouns, verbs and names.

 
1
2
 

Testing: As a subject listened to someone speaking, a computer program analysed how the brain processed and reproduced the words they had heard

Breakthrough: The ability to scan the brain and read thoughts could offer a lifeline to those whose speech has been affected by a stroke or degenerative disease

Breakthrough: The ability to scan the brain and read thoughts could offer a lifeline to those whose speech has been affected by a stroke or degenerative disease

A computer programme analysed the activity from the electrodes, and reproduced the word they had heard or something very similar to it at the first attempt.

 
 

Co-author Brian Pasley said there is already mounting evidence that ‘perception and imagery may be pretty similar in the brain’.

Therefore with more work, brain recordings could allow scientists to ‘synthesise the actual sound a person is thinking, or just write out the words with a type of interface device.’

Their study also shows in sharp relief how the auditory system breaks down sound into its individual frequencies – a range of around 1 to 8,000 Hertz for human speech.

Pasley told ABC News: ‘This study mainly focused on lower-level acoustic characteristics of speech. But I think there’s a lot more happening in these brain areas than acoustic analysis’.

He added: ‘We sort of take it for granted, the ability to understand speech. But your brain is doing amazing computations to accomplish this feat.’

 
 

Analyzing words: This graphic breaks down the three ways the brain hears spoken words and processes sounds

Analyzing words: This graphic breaks down the three ways the brain hears spoken words and processes sounds

This information does not change inside the brain but can be accurately mapped and the original sound decoded by a computer. British expert Professor Jan Schnupp, from Oxford University who was not involved in the study said it was ‘quite remarkable’.

‘Neuroscientists have of course long believed that the brain essentially works by translating aspects of the external world, such as spoken words, into patterns of electrical activity’, he said.

‘But proving that this is true by showing that it is possible to translate these activity patterns back into the original sound (or at least a fair approximation of it) is nevertheless a great step forward, and it paves the way to rapid progress toward biomedical applications.’

He played down fears it could lead to range of ‘mind reading’ devices as the technique can only, at the moment, be done on patients willing to have surgery.

Non-invasive brain scans are not powerful enough to read this level of information so it will remain limited to ‘small numbers of willing patients’.

He added: ‘Perhaps luckily for all those of us who value the privacy of their own thoughts, we can rest assured that our skulls will remain an impenetrable barrier for any would-be technological mind hacker for any foreseeable future.’

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2094671/Mind-boggling-Science-creates-decode-thoughts-words.html#ixzz1wjAdr1ov

2050 – and immortality is within our grasp

2050 – and immortality is within our grasp

 

 David Smith, technology correspondent

Britain’s leading thinker on the future offers an extraordinary vision of life in the next 45 years

Cross section of the human brain

Supercomputers could render the wetware of the human brain redundant. Photograph: Gregor Schuster/Getty Images

Aeroplanes will be too afraid to crash, yoghurts will wish you good morning before being eaten and human consciousness will be stored on supercomputers, promising immortality for all – though it will help to be rich.

These fantastic claims are not made by a science fiction writer or a crystal ball-gazing lunatic. They are the deadly earnest predictions of Ian Pearson, head of the futurology unit at BT.

‘If you draw the timelines, realistically by 2050 we would expect to be able to download your mind into a machine, so when you die it’s not a major career problem,’ Pearson told The Observer. ‘If you’re rich enough then by 2050 it’s feasible. If you’re poor you’ll probably have to wait until 2075 or 2080 when it’s routine. We are very serious about it. That’s how fast this technology is moving: 45 years is a hell of a long time in IT.’

Pearson, 44, has formed his mind-boggling vision of the future after graduating in applied mathematics and theoretical physics, spending four years working in missile design and the past 20 years working in optical networks, broadband network evolution and cybernetics in BT’s laboratories. He admits his prophecies are both ‘very exciting’ and ‘very scary’.

He believes that today’s youngsters may never have to die, and points to the rapid advances in computing power demonstrated last week, when Sony released the first details of its PlayStation 3. It is 35 times more powerful than previous games consoles. ‘The new PlayStation is 1 per cent as powerful as a human brain,’ he said. ‘It is into supercomputer status compared to 10 years ago. PlayStation 5 will probably be as powerful as the human brain.’

The world’s fastest computer, IBM’s BlueGene, can perform 70.72 trillion calculations per second (teraflops) and is accelerating all the time. But anyone who believes in the uniqueness of consciousness or the soul will find Pearson’s next suggestion hard to swallow. ‘We’re already looking at how you might structure a computer that could possibly become conscious. There are quite a lot of us now who believe it’s entirely feasible.

‘We don’t know how to do it yet but we’ve begun looking in the same directions, for example at the techniques we think that consciousness is based on: information comes in from the outside world but also from other parts of your brain and each part processes it on an internal sensing basis. Consciousness is just another sense, effectively, and that’s what we’re trying to design in a computer. Not everyone agrees, but it’s my conclusion that it is possible to make a conscious computer with superhuman levels of intelligence before 2020.’

He continued: ‘It would definitely have emotions – that’s one of the primary reasons for doing it. If I’m on an aeroplane I want the computer to be more terrified of crashing than I am so it does everything to stay in the air until it’s supposed to be on the ground.

‘You can also start automating an awful lots of jobs. Instead of phoning up a call centre and getting a machine that says, “Type 1 for this and 2 for that and 3 for the other,” if you had machine personalities you could have any number of call staff, so you can be dealt with without ever waiting in a queue at a call centre again.’

Pearson, from Whitehaven in Cumbria, collaborates on technology with some developers and keeps a watching brief on advances around the world. He concedes the need to debate the implications of progress. ‘You need a completely global debate. Whether we should be building machines as smart as people is a really big one. Whether we should be allowed to modify bacteria to assemble electronic circuitry and make themselves smart is already being researched.

‘We can already use DNA, for example, to make electronic circuits so it’s possible to think of a smart yoghurt some time after 2020 or 2025, where the yoghurt has got a whole stack of electronics in every single bacterium. You could have a conversation with your strawberry yogurt before you eat it.’

In the shorter term, Pearson identifies the next phase of progress as ‘ambient intelligence’: chips with everything. He explained: ‘For example, if you have a pollen count sensor in your car you take some antihistamine before you get out. Chips will come small enough that you can start impregnating them into the skin. We’re talking about video tattoos as very, very thin sheets of polymer that you just literally stick on to the skin and they stay there for several days. You could even build in cellphones and connect it to the network, use it as a video phone and download videos or receive emails.’

Philips, the electronics giant, is developing the world’s first rollable display which is just a millimetre thick and has a 12.5cm screen which can be wrapped around the arm. It expects to start production within two years.

The next age, he predicts, will be that of ‘simplicity’ in around 2013-2015. ‘This is where the IT has actually become mature enough that people will be able to drive it without having to go on a training course.

‘Forget this notion that you have to have one single chip in the computer which does everything. Why not just get a stack of little self-organising chips in a box and they’ll hook up and do it themselves. It won’t be able to get any viruses because most of the operating system will be stored in hardware which the hackers can’t write to. If your machine starts going wrong, you just push a button and it’s reset to the factory setting.’

Pearson’s third age is ‘virtual worlds’ in around 2020. ‘We will spend a lot of time in virtual space, using high quality, 3D, immersive, computer generated environments to socialise and do business in. When technology gives you a life-size 3D image and the links to your nervous system allow you to shake hands, it’s like being in the other person’s office. It’s impossible to believe that won’t be the normal way of communicating.

“Humanity is about going beyond biological limitations”

Image: Drawing of The Vitruvian Man

Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of The Vitruvian man.

NEW YORK Dreams of immortality inspired the fantastical tales of Greek historian Herodotus and Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon’s legendary search for the fountain of youth. Nowadays, visionaries push for the technologies to transplant human brains into new bodies and download human consciousness into hologram-like avatars.

The latest science and schemes for achieving long life and the “singularity” moment of smarter-than-human intelligence came together at the Singularity Summit held here October 15-16. Some researchers explored cutting-edge, serious work about regenerating human body parts and defining the boundaries of consciousness in brain studies. Other speakers pushed visions of extending human existence in “Avatar”- style bodies — one initiative previously backed by action film star Steven Seagal — with fuzzier ideas about how to create such a world.

Above all, the summit buzzed with optimism about technology’s ability to reshape the world to exceed humanity’s wildest dreams, as well as a desire to share that vision with everyone. True believers were even offered the chance to apply for a credit card that transfers purchase rewards to the Singularity Institute.

“Humanity is about going beyond biological limitations,” said Ray Kurzweil, the inventor and futurist whose vision drives the Singularity Institute.

Rebuilding a healthy body The most immediate advances related to living longer and better may come from regenerative medicine. Pioneering physicians have already regrown the tips of people’s fingers and replaced cancer-ridden parts of human bodies with healthy new cells.

“What we’re talking about here is not necessarily increasing the quantity of life but the quality of life,” said Stephen Badylak, deputy director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

Success so far has come from using a special connective tissue — called the extracellular matrix (ECM) — to act as a biological scaffold for healthy cells to build upon. Badylak showed a video where his team of surgeons stripped out the cancerous lining of a patient’s esophagus like pulling out a sock, and relined the esophagus with an ECM taken from pigs. The patient remains cancer-free several years after the experimental trial.

The connective tissue of other animals doesn’t provoke a negative response in human bodies, because it lacks the foreign animal cells that would typically provoke the immune system to attack. It has served the same role as a biological foundation for so long that it represents a “medical device that’s gone through hundreds of millions of years of R&D,” Badylak said.

If work goes well, Badylak envisions someday treating stroke patients by regenerating pieces of the functioning human brain.

Live long and prosper The work of such researchers could do more than just keep humans happy and healthy. By tackling end-of-life chronic diseases such as cancer, medical advances could nearly double human life expectancy beyond almost 80 years in the U.S. to 150 years, said Sonia Arrison, a futurist at the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco, Calif.

Long-lived humans could lead to problems such as anger over a “longevity gap” between haves and have-nots and perhaps add to stress on food, water and energy sources. But Arrison took a more positive view of how “health begets wealth” in a talk based on her new book, “100 Plus” (Basic Books, 2011).

Having healthier people around for longer means that they can remain productive far later in life, Arrison pointed out. Many past innovators accomplished some of their greatest or most creative work relatively late in life — Leonardo da Vinci began painting the Mona Lisa at 51, and Benjamin Franklin conducted his kite experiment at 46.

“Innovation is a late-peak field,” Arrison told the audience gathered at the Singularity Summit.

Even religion might find a renewed role in a world where death increasingly looks far off, Arrison said. Religion remains as popular as ever despite a doubling of human life expectancy up until now, and so Arrison suggested that religions focused on providing purpose or guidance in life could do well. But religions focused on the afterlife may want to rethink their strategy.

Making ‘Avatar’ real (or not) The boldest scheme for immortality came from media mogul Dmitry Itskov, who introduced his “Project Immortality 2045: Russian Experience.” He claimed support from the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Education and Science, as well as actor Seagal, to create a research center capable of giving humans life-extending bodies.

Itskov’s wildly ambitious plans include creating a humanoid avatar body within five to seven years, transplanting a human brain into a new “body B” in 10 to 15 years, digitally uploading a human brain’s consciousness in 20 to 25 years, and moving human consciousness to hologram-like bodies in 30 to 35 years.

That vision may have exceeded even the optimism of many Singularity Summit attendees, given the apparent restlessness of the crowd during Itskov’s presentation. But it did little to dampen the conference’s overall sense that humanity has a positive future within its collective grasp — even if some people still need to be convinced.

“We are storming the fricking barricades of death, both physically and intellectually, so we have to make it sexy,” said Jason Silva, a filmmaker and founding producer/host for Current TV.

By Jeremy Hsu

    10/17/2011 7:39:40 PM ET2011-10-17T23:39:40

You can follow InnovationNewsDaily Senior Writer Jeremy Hsu on Twitter @ScienceHsu. Follow InnovationNewsDaily on Twitter @News_Innovation, or on Facebook.

Scientists Warn of Ethical Battle Concerning Military Mind Control

Scientists Warn of Ethical Battle Concerning Military Mind Control

Advances in neuroscience are closer than ever to becoming a reality, but scientists are warning the military – along with their peers – that with great power comes great responsibility!

March 20, 2012

A future of brain-controlled tanks, automated attack drones and mind-reading interrogation techniques may arrive sooner than later, but advances in neuroscience that will usher in a new era of combat come with tough ethical implications for both the military and scientists responsible for the technology, according to one of the country’s leading bioethicists.

“Everybody agrees that conflict will be changed as new technologies are coming on,” says Jonathan Moreno, author ofMind Wars: Brain Science and the Military in the 21st Century. “But nobody knows where that technology is going.”

[See pictures of Navy SEALs]

Moreno warns in an essay published in the science journal PLoS Biology Tuesday that the military’s interest in neuroscience advancements “generates a tension in its relationship with science.”

“The goals of national security and the goals of science may conflict. The latter employs rigorous standards of validation in the expansion of knowledge, while the former depends on the most promising deployable solutions for the defense of the nation,” he writes.

Much of neuroscience focuses on returning function to people with traumatic brain injuries, he says. Just as Albert Einstein didn’t know his special theory of relativity could one day be used to create a nuclear weapon, neuroscience researchintended to heal could soon be used to harm.

“Neuroscientists may not consider how their work contributes to warfare,” he adds.

Moreno says there is a fine line between using neuroscience devices to allow an injured person to regain baseline functions and enhancing someone’s body to perform better than their natural body ever could.

“Where one draws that line is not obvious, and how one decides to cross that line is not easy. People will say ‘Why would we want to deny warfighters these advantages?'” he says.

[Mind Control, Biometrics Could Change the World]

Moreno isn’t the only one thinking about this. The Brookings Institution’s Peter Singer writes in his book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, that “‘the Pentagon’s real-world record with things like the aboveground testing of atomic bombs, Agent Orange, and Gulf War syndrome certainly doesn’t inspire the greatest confidence among the first generation of soldiers involved [in brain enhancementresearch.]”

The military, scientists and ethicists are increasingly wondering how neuroscience technology changes the battlefield. The staggering possibilities are further along than many think. There is already development on automated drones that are programmed to make their own decisions about who to kill within the rules of war. Other ideas that are closer-than-you-think to becoming a military reality: Tanks controlled from half a world away, memory erasures that could prevent PTSD, and “brain fingerprinting” that could be used to extract secrets from enemies.Moreno foretold some of these developments when he first published Mind Wars in 2006, but not without trepidation.

“I was afraid I’d be dismissed as a paranoid schizophrenic when I first published the book,” he says. But then a funny thing happened—the Department of Defense and other military groups began holding panels on neurotechnology to determine how and when it should be used. I was surprised how quickly the policy questions moved forward. Questions like: ‘Can we use autonomous attack drones?’ ‘Must there be a human being in the vehicle?’ ‘How much of a payload can it have?’. There are real questions coming up in the international legal community.”

All of those questions will have to be answered sooner than later, Moreno says, along with a host of others. Should soldiers have the right to refuse “experimental” brain implants? Will the military want to use some of this technology before science deems it safe?

“There’s a tremendous tension about this,” he says. “There’s a great feeling of responsibility that we push this stuff out so we’re ahead of our adversaries.”

The program is to model machine intelligence on human intelligence by
understanding how our brains work:
Then allow machines to be fully autonomous and enable them to follow their
programming, already machines built from these methods are capable of learning
Why would we want a stupid human factored in to being a pilot? An electrical circuit is
thousands of times faster than protein synapses, why have a worm when you can have an
eagle? Of course we are capable of ‘tele-war’ by connecting nervous systems to devices
tele-tanks are also a possibility.
In the next decade, the program’s timetable is to have functioning real-
life terminators:
Here are other citations you may find interesting:
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computational models to decode
and reconstruct people’s dynamic visual experiences:
http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822%2811%2900937-7
Data mining opens the door to predictive neuroscience:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-04/epfd-dmo041112.php
New drone has no pilot anywhere, so who’s accountable:
http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/26/business/la-fi-auto-drone-20120126/2
Artificial synapses could lead to advanced computer memory and machines that
The problem is all of this is old news, the military-industrial complex is 5-10 years
ahead of the public. If I were to say that DARPA is currently working on
smart-dust nanotechnology and is even capable of adding, editing, and
deleting memory in humans would you believe me? Doesn’t matter, time will prove it.

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