Transhumanism.

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by Jaster Mereel, Apr 25, 2006.

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  1. Jaster Mereel Hostis Humani Generis Registered Senior Member

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    Read the rest of the thread. It'll be a lot easier for me to answer that question if you ask me to explain a specific point I, or someone else, made earlier.
     
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  3. Chiraque The Bob Registered Senior Member

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    I kind of skipped through the thread, so maybe I missed something, but what do you think of the possibility of gradually replacing the human brain with a mechanical one? Or of implanting mechanical devices into the brain that allow it to think faster, perform complex calculations, be perpetually connected to some kind of huge net?
     
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  5. Jaster Mereel Hostis Humani Generis Registered Senior Member

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    This has been gone over ad nauseum in this thread, but since you asked the question in a polite way I'll answer it instead of getting annoyed.

    There is a problem with the premise that you are accepting when you ask me these questions, and that is that you assume these things to be possible. The truth is, very little is known of the exact processes of the brain, and so to assume that you can enhance and/or alter those processes through mechanical means is quite naive.
     
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  7. RHaden Registered Senior Member

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    What do you think some of the engineering problems are for brain implants and brain-machine interfaces?
     
  8. Jaster Mereel Hostis Humani Generis Registered Senior Member

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    Well, the body is likely to reject the implant and attack it for one thing. It's not really interfacing machines with the brain that I have a problem with. I know that you can do that, because it's been done before. Researchers have placed chips in themselves so that they can control machinery with muscle contraction. What I don't think is possible is enhancement of mental abilities, simply because we don't know exactly how thinking works. Yes, we know that electrical signals in the brain correspond to mental processes, but do we know how information is carried in those signals? No. That's the problem I see.
     
  9. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

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    It's not necessary to know everything about how something works in order to improve it or modify it in some way. If that were true, we'd still be in caves.
     
  10. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

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    When a company like Nvidia wants to understand how ATI's newest graphics card works, there is a process by which this is done. They literally use instruments to intercept the signals passing through the circuit and analyze them to find out their architecture and design.

    Now scientists hope that by circulating nanoparticles or some simple kind of nano-machine in the brain, they can learn in a lot more detail how the brain works, by intercepting the signals from neuron to neuron and applying mathematics to them. Kind of a similar idea. That would truly be revolutionary, seeing what the brain does and how it works in real time. I don't see any reason why it won't ever be done. Reverse engineering the brain.
     
  11. Zephyr Humans are ONE Registered Senior Member

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    The difference is that the brain wasn't designed by another human engineer in the first place (AFAIK). Have scientists ever managed to analyse a self-trained neural network and deduce an algorithm from that?

    Then there's the extent to which each brain is unique. There may be a common genetic design, but everybody goes through different 'programming' (i.e. experiences). So analysing Hawking's brain might not tell you much about Dawkins' brain, for example.
     
  12. RHaden Registered Senior Member

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    With the implants that have been done, how much has rejection been a problem?

    I agree with you that an enhancement of the natural abilities of the brain is farther away. What I do see are implants being used for memory and/or calculation purposes. Basically the implant would be a "slave computer" connected by a direct neural link.
     
  13. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

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    Parts of the brain. Mainly those in dealing with sensory processing. I think some of the parts of the auditory circuits have been successfully simulated, among other regions. It's only a matter of time until all of the regions of the brain are simulated on computers.
     
  14. eburacum45 Valued Senior Member

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    Good point.
    Each person's brain might be so idiosyncratic that deciphering the data it contains would need to be done on an individual basis, and could take a lifetime in each case.

    One way to get round that might be to start interfacing with the brain at a young age; as the neurons develop, they would learn the program of the interface rather than the other way round. In this way each person's internal programming would become compatible with the interface to a certain extent; possibly to a considerable extent.

    Problems with this idea include;
    the fact that few people would be happy to allow their very young children to be hooked up to neural interfacing equipment;
    and the fact that this programming could tend to reduce the very idiosyncracies of the human mental landscape that makes us all so interesting.

    But I bet that if it is possible, someone, somewhere will do it eventually.
     
  15. eburacum45 Valued Senior Member

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    One area where direct neural interfacing is quite likely to become commonplace is in the area of disability therapy and prosthetic control. Technology which would not be acceptable when used by able-bodied people could be invaluable to the differently abled.
    see
    http://www.cs.brown.edu/~black/Projects/CRCNS/
    Once neural interfacing with prosthetics and speech synthesisers is commonplace amongst the disabled community, then neural interfacing may become more widely accepted by other users as well.
     
  16. KitNyx Registered Senior Member

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    Another concern with interfacing a computer in a newborn is the ethical question of control. For instance, what happens if you have this fabulous chip in your mind that lets you access information off the Interlink whenever you want, but government feels it is in the best interest of the people to insure no one drives over 80 kph by nestling a small program that gives the host tiny electrical shocks whenever they do? Notice, the shocks would not even have to be noticible, just enough to "train" the host over time. The example I give is kind of silly, but silly enough to have a mothers group in support of it...they could even give it a positive name like subliminal training. The big problem is what is next? Perhaps, whenever you think negatively about the president of the US? *Zzzzzttt!, Ouch....*

    - KitNyx
     
  17. KitNyx Registered Senior Member

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    Funny thing is, I actually support this type of interface...still working on how to keep good intending persons from creating a bad presidence...

    - KitNyx
     
  18. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

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    Firstly, while this will appear "Necromancy" from bringing up an old thread, the actual post here isn't related to previous posts in the thread, it's actually related to a concept/discussion that Captain Kremmen has kicked out (possibly without knowing the depths of what he's started here) but none the less the discussion should have some discussion.

    There is more than one way to "Skin a Cyborg" (That actually means putting a skin on, not taking it off) and Transhumanism to my knowledge is not one fixated directive but an attempt to get many different professionals, with many different professions attempting to head towards a similar goal.

    The reason for narrowing the goal, is due to the notion that if we all go about doing our own thing, there is potentials for what is called a "Duplication of Effort". This is where independent people or bodies, do the similar if not the same type of thing without having connection with one another. This means that resources are split between both operations to achieve practically the same thing.

    This is one of the main concerns in technology and the main reason why vast consortium's (Industry Standard Organisation) are made between manufacturers that attempt to follow an Industry Standard. This means rather than having multiple research groups doing the same thing independently, organising information between each allows each body to either concentrate on sub components of an overall research with more detail or to do a completely different research that would have otherwise had to wait to be done.

    Now saying this doesn't define that Science as a whole doesn't have this standardising body, as technically it does. (There are Science Research Council's that deal with attempting to get everyone in alignment with longer-term goals and also attempts to pool the funding and then organise how it's divided out, so just remember that if you are a scientist that's purposely dragging their heels in regards to getting results up until the research funding dries out, as that money could well have been spent on other research projects.)

    The problem of course is that while there are many organisations that are a party to such councils, there are a lot of independent companies and clandestine government operations that are not apart of such organisations scopes. This means money can be misspent on doing things that are technically already done (and likely already reported to the council as being done)

    In essence if everything was streamlined, then the future that people depict is a goal that is not just achievable but closer to being achieved.

    So this brings me to the point of Kremmen's post:

    I would be pessimistic about the length of longevity that can be offered through Gene Therapy, this doesn't mean that I would suggest it's a waste of time or effort and the likes of Aubrey de Grey are following the wrong path. I would merely suggest that depending on the longevity that you are looking to accomplish would define the direction you attempt to take.

    I mean it's very much like picking the right tool for the right job, if you want to add a couple of decades to your life and increase your overall health, then to me Gene therapy is one way to go. If however you are interested in extending your "life" indefinitely and have ulterior goals, then this is where Post-human becomes machine.

    Ulterior goals for me ("me" being egocentric) is actually trying to help everyone else (Pancentric). It can be stated that I don't know as much as I would like to know and I'm not trained in the things that I believe would aid. In essence this are statements of my limitations, limitations we all have and even with Gene therapy we'd still likely have.

    So for me to overcome these limitations the only possible direction I can see is via a slow but definite migration from Man thru (through) Cyborg to Machine. Obviously such a goal has many potential problems for the machine stage to deal with, like for instance being emulated with the absence of an environment or people around you, since technically they wouldn't exist in the machine to begin with either.

    Ideally the later stage would be this:
    Exist as an entity which the embodiment of is completely artificial in construct, with the capacity to interact with the world in which the embodiment exists through the usage of Robotic Avatars (Biological's can technically be used, however this generates an Ethical and Moral problem as questions like "What is an individual?" or "Who are 'we'?" might get raised.)

    While it would be nice to take a body out for a spin once in a while if in a machine state, I think I would probably suggest a more subtle approach, requiring volunteer surrogates that would maintain their independence but I would become like a Mnemonic interactive very similar to a Cyberpunk plot line that W. Gibson or B. Sterling might well have envisioned, where constructs of deceased hackers continue to attempt to aid others with the knowledge of their exploits.

    (There is then the potential for various groups attempting to speed up their eventual goals by supporting individual's through this manner, imagine you no longer have to be a mathematic's wizard to move in that direction for a scholarship, instead you just have to be apart of a particular group, organisation or directive and receive the support in the form of Mnemonic advancement and Artificial Intelligence pairing, so the sums aren't done necessarily by you but the systems that encompass you.)

    You might point out, "well that's great, but how's that pancentric?", well if Robotic avatar's are used it's possible to operate them on jobs that humans wouldn't be able to do because of hostile environments. It might be somewhere like the depths of a volcano or ocean, a nuclear site or a completely different planet with no atmosphere.

    People can control drones right now (as proven by deep sea surveying submarines or military drones for surveillance) however because the interface isn't directly integrated into our nerve systems, their is potentially time delays and the potential for being cumbersome in how it's controlled.

    Cybernetics is looking at the integration with nerves, but again the limitations are down to the inability to adapt to new interfaces. (In fact there is a suggested problem with over re-adapting to deal with given scenarios like playing different games with different button combinations, where it can produce a similar condition to Post Traumatic Stress from the body trying to re-adapt too much.)

    Being "served" on a machine would allow complete integration at the base level with various technologies, adaption would be something that could be "Learnt" over time while a machine and wouldn't suffer the conditions a biological would suffer from (Especially if there is a team on hand to correct any issues)
     
  19. Stoniphi obscurely fossiliferous Valued Senior Member

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    The "brain gate" recently hit 1000 days of residence in the first human recipient. (Sciam Mind, last issue) The paralyzed woman who has it can move a cursor around on the screen, click and drag etc with only mental effort. This has proved the viability of the technology and demonstrated that a person can live with it in their skull.

    The next gate will have 100 some odd contact points, is scheduled to get implanted in the near future.
     
  20. VoidSet Registered Senior Member

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    If you replaced every one of your 100 billion neurons with a new one, one at a time, would "you" still exist? If the big crunch theory is correct, the universe couldve already played itself out the way it has in ours until it crunches in and big bangs again an infinite number of times. Does this mean everytime you die you wait to be awoken when the universe crunches and begins again?

    We don't have a clue what consciousness really is, let alone the causal ontology of it. Therefore, most questions regarding transhumanism we simply dont have the tools to answer.

    Personally I think our scientists are capable of creating a life sustaining system for humans which is much better than the haphazard mess that biochemically evolved in the plains of Africa. The next step after stem cells and tissue engineering is to make something better designed than the human body itself, and definitely I can see it happening in the 22nd century, which, with current efforts many of us will be here to see.

    And yes eventually we will be traveling across universes and then making our own universes, and yes eventually the fear that this entails worshiping the devil from some bronze age myth will exist no longer. We still have no idea what is possible in what passes for eternity, and what kind of consciousness exists beyond humans'.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2011
  21. sniffy Banned Banned

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    Well some of us 'we' do know what is possible. I mean just imagine....

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  22. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

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    I just want a better body. I mean, I can't run 20 miles per hour, zoom vision, automatically turn on adrenaline overclocking, snap out a kick in under a quarter of a second...

    And can I have an instant orgasm button too? I get bored. I think if I could have about 50 orgasms twice daily I might not need antidepressants anymore. Maybe hooked to something like a garage-door opener, so my spouse could borrow it for amusement...

    "Hi hon, how was your da....hey what are you doing with the remOAHAHAAHAHAGAHA!"
    (the last said while collapsing on the floor in a twitching heap)
    ....mmm....Good times.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011
  23. VoidSet Registered Senior Member

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    Personally I think our scientists are capable of creating a life sustaining system for humans which is much better than the haphazard mess that biochemically evolved in the plains of Africa. The next step after stem cells and tissue engineering is to make something better designed than the human body itself, and definitely I can see it happening in the 22nd century, which, with current anti aging efforts many of us will be here to see. We could select for more abilities physically and intellectually (this one would be harder, but still possible perhaps) than what our hominid ancestors gave us.
     
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