Imagine A New Improved Technologically Enhanced Cognitive Capability
Driverless cars need not be any smarter than a standard lab rat.
Harvard Professor, "We are Building Artificial Brains and Uploading Minds to Cloud right now" source: Artificial Intelligence A.I.
"Published on Apr 14, 2017
David Cox, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Computer Science at Harvard, explains how his lab is working with others to reverse engineer how brains learn, starting with rats. The fast-advancing fields of neuroscience and computer science are on a collision course. By shedding light on what our machine learning algorithms are currently missing, this work promises to improve the capabilities of robots – with implications for jobs, laws and ethics."
A Vision of A Future Vision Reveals Remote Controllable & Easily Programable Robotic Brains
These are just the early days of developing the technology and science to be able to train human minds more effectively.
Will one day implanted silicon chips manipulate the pleasure centers of the brain in service of governmental and systematic authority?
Technology sold to enhance intellectual capacity might end up restricting it.
Neural and electronic networked connections to all the information in the world is meaningless when one does not know how to actually think. The so-called smart phone has already generated seemingly mindless, socially butterflied, zombie brains; imagine what the future may hold in store for our descendants!
A Neo-Gilgamesh Geas: A Mythic & Fantastic Quest For Immortality
SCIENTIFIC FACT OR FANTASY?
"While many tech moguls dream of changing the way we live with new smart devices or social media apps, one Russian internet millionaire is trying to change nothing less than our destiny, by making it possible to upload a human brain to a computer, reports Tristan Quinn."
"Within the next 30 years," promises Dmitry Itskov, "I am going to make sure that we can all live forever."
It sounds preposterous, but there is no doubting the seriousness of this softly spoken 35-year-old, who says he left the business world to devote himself to something more useful to humanity. "I'm 100% confident it will happen. Otherwise I wouldn't have started it," he says."
"The theoretical possibility Randal refers to is rooted in questions about how our brains work that neuroscience has yet to answer. Our brains are made up of about 86 billion neurons, connected cells that send information to each other by firing electrical charges that propagate through this organ in our skulls like waves.
But exactly how the brain generates our mind is a mystery like no other in science, according to the neurobiologist Prof Rafael Yuste of Columbia University. "The challenge is precisely how to go from a physical substrate of cells that are connected inside this organ, to our mental world, our thoughts, our memories, our feelings," he says."
"To try to unlock its workings, many neuroscientists approach the brain as if it were a computer. In this analogy the brain turns inputs, sensory data, into outputs, our behaviour, through computations. This is where the theoretical argument for mind uploading starts. If this process could be mapped, the brain could perhaps be copied in a computer, along with the individual mind it gives rise to.
That's the view of Dr Ken Hayworth, a neuroscientist who maps slivers of mouse brain at the Janelia Research Campus in Virginia by day, and by night grapples with the problem of how to upload his mind. Ken believes mapping the connectome - the complex connections of all the neurons in a brain - holds the key, because he believes it encodes all the information that makes us who we are, though this is not proven. "In the same sense that my computer is really just the ones and zeros on my hard drive, and I don't care what happens as long as those ones and zeros make it to the next computer it should be the same thing with me," he says, "I don't care if my connectome is implemented in this physical body or a computer simulation controlling a robotic body."
"Within 15 years Yuste hopes to map - and interpret - the activity of all the neurons in a mouse cortex. But the ultimate aim is to read the activity of the human brain.
"If the brain were a digital computer, if you wanted to upload the mind you need to be able to decipher it or download it first. So I think the Brain Initiative is a step that is necessary for this uploading to happen."
But Itskov is far from home and dry. At Duke University, one leading neuroscientist argues that the brain's dynamic complexity - from which the human condition emerges - cannot be replicated. "You cannot code intuition; you cannot code aesthetic beauty; you cannot code love or hate," says Dr Miguel Nicolelis, who is developing a mind-controlled exoskeleton aimed at helping the paralysed walk. "There is no way you will ever see a human brain reduced to a digital medium. It's simply impossible to reduce that complexity to the kind of algorithmic process that you will have to have to do that." "
"Elon Musk launches Neuralink, a venture to merge the human brain with AI: Rockets, cars, and now brain chips"
"SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is backing a brain-computer interface venture called Neuralink, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company, which is still in the earliest stages of existence and has no public presence whatsoever, is centered on creating devices that can be implanted in the human brain, with the eventual purpose of helping human beings merge with software and keep pace with advancements in artificial intelligence. These enhancements could improve memory or allow for more direct interfacing with computing devices."
"Startup from CEO of Tesla and SpaceX aims to implant tiny electrodes in human brains"
"These types of brain-computer interfaces exist today only in science fiction. In the medical realm, electrode arrays and other implants have been used to help ameliorate the effects of Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and other neurodegenerative diseases. However, very few people on the planet have complex implants placed inside their skulls, while the number of patients with very basic stimulating devices number only in the tens of thousands. This is partly because it is incredibly dangerous and invasive to operate on the human brain, and only those who have exhausted every other medical option choose to undergo such surgery as a last resort.
This has not stopped a surge in Silicon Valley interest from tech industry futurists who are interested in accelerating the advancement of these types of far-off ideas. Kernel, a startup created by Braintree co-founder Bryan Johnson, is also trying to enhance human cognition. With more than $100 million of Johnson’s own money — the entrepreneur sold Braintree to PayPal for around $800 million in 2013 — Kernel and its growing team of neuroscientists and software engineers are working toward reversing the effects of neurodegenerative diseases and, eventually, making our brains faster and smarter and more wired."
National Security, The Direct Neural Interface & DARPA
Direct Neural Interface & DARPA - Dr Justin Sanchez source: Thinking Digital
"Towards a High-Resolution, Implantable Neural Interface"
"Neural Engineering System Design program sets out to expand neurotechnology capabilities and provide a foundation for future treatments of sensory deficits"
"DARPA has awarded contracts to five research organizations and one company that will support the Neural Engineering System Design (NESD) program: Brown University; Columbia University; Fondation Voir et Entendre (The Seeing and Hearing Foundation); John B. Pierce Laboratory; Paradromics, Inc.; and the University of California, Berkeley. These organizations have formed teams to develop the fundamental research and component technologies required to pursue the NESD vision of a high-resolution neural interface and integrate them to create and demonstrate working systems able to support potential future therapies for sensory restoration. Four of the teams will focus on vision and two will focus on aspects of hearing and speech.
DARPA announced NESD in January 2016 with the goal of developing an implantable system able to provide precision communication between the brain and the digital world. Such an interface would convert the electrochemical signaling used by neurons in the brain into the ones and zeros that constitute the language of information technology, and do so at far greater scale than is currently possible. The work has the potential to significantly advance scientists' understanding of the neural underpinnings of vision, hearing, and speech and could eventually lead to new treatments for people living with sensory deficits.
“The NESD program looks ahead to a future in which advanced neural devices offer improved fidelity, resolution, and precision sensory interface for therapeutic applications,” said Phillip Alvelda, the founding NESD Program Manager. “By increasing the capacity of advanced neural interfaces to engage more than one million neurons in parallel, NESD aims to enable rich two-way communication with the brain at a scale that will help deepen our understanding of that organ’s underlying biology, complexity, and function.”
Although the goal of communicating with one million neurons sounds lofty, Alvelda noted, “A million neurons represents a miniscule percentage of the 86 billion neurons in the human brain. Its deeper complexities are going to remain a mystery for some time to come. But if we’re successful in delivering rich sensory signals directly to the brain, NESD will lay a broad foundation for new neurological therapies.”
The program’s first year will focus on making fundamental breakthroughs in hardware, software, and neuroscience, and testing those advances in animals and cultured cells. Phase II of the program calls for ongoing basic studies, along with progress in miniaturization and integration, with attention to possible pathways to regulatory approval for human safety testing of newly developed devices. As part of that effort, researchers will cooperate with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin exploration of issues such as long-term safety, privacy, information security, compatibility with other devices, and the numerous other aspects regulators consider as they evaluate potential applications of new technologies.
The NESD call for proposals laid out a series of specific technical goals, including development of an implantable package that accounts for power, communications, and biocompatibility concerns. Part of the fundamental research challenge will be developing a deep understanding of how the brain processes hearing, speech, and vision simultaneously with individual neuron-level precision and at a scale sufficient to represent detailed imagery and sound. The selected teams will apply insights into those biological processes to the development of strategies for interpreting neuronal activity quickly and with minimal power and computational resources.
“Significant technical challenges lie ahead, but the teams we assembled have formulated feasible plans to deliver coordinated breakthroughs across a range of disciplines and integrate those efforts into end-to-end systems,” Alvelda said.
Among the many disciplines represented in the teams are neuroscience, low-power electronics, photonics, medical device packaging and manufacturing, systems engineering, mathematics, computer science, and wireless communications. In addition to overcoming engineering-oriented hardware, biocompatibility, and communication challenges, the teams must also develop advanced mathematical and neuro-computation techniques to decode and encode neural data and compress those troves of information so they are tractable within the available bandwidth and power constraints."
"DARPA structured the NESD program to facilitate commercial transition of successful technologies. Key to ensuring a smooth path to practical applications, teams will have access to design assistance, rapid prototyping, and fabrication services provided by industry partners whose participation as facilitators was organized by DARPA and who will operate as sub-contractors to the teams.
“DARPA has been a pioneer in brain-machine interface technology since the 1970s, but we began investing heavily in the early 2000s when the confluence of improved sensing and information technology opened the door to new capabilities,” said Justin Sanchez, Director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office. “Since then, DARPA has invested hundreds of millions of dollars transitioning ‘neuroscience’ into ‘neurotechnology’ with a series of cumulatively more advanced research programs that expand the frontiers of what is possible in this enormously difficult domain. We’ve laid the groundwork for a future in which advanced brain interface technologies will transform how people live and work, and the Agency will continue to operate at the forward edge of this space to understand how national security might be affected as new players and even more powerful technologies emerge.”
DARPA is committed to exploring the ethical, legal, and societal implications of potential, future human applications of NESD technologies. Toward that end, the Agency has ongoing engagement with several experts in biomedical ethics to ensure that NESD and related neurotechnology efforts maximize societal value and minimize potential risks. DARPA also encourages publication of NESD fundamental research results to help inform broader conversations about technology and society."
Google goes DARPA
"Regina Dugan loves to tell the story of how she got her current job. It was a little over two years ago, and Dugan, a mechanical engineer by training and an expert in counterterrorism, was finishing a three-year stint as director of DARPA, the Defense Department’s prodigious technology research organization that gave birth to things like the global positioning system, the stealth fighter, and the Internet. During her tenure, she sharpened its focus in areas like cybersecurity and new forms of manufacturing and on delivering tangible results. “DARPA is a place of doing,” she told Congress in 2011. It’s an attitude that earned her praise among the tech elite—including veteran venture capitalist John Doerr, who sums her up in four words: “She’s an impressive leader.”
Among Dugan’s many fans was Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman, who suggested she go on a two-day visit of the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif. The idea was to see if there might be a fit between Dugan and some project or other at the sprawling search and advertising giant. After making the rounds of various groups, Dugan sat down with Dennis Woodside, then the CEO of Google’s Motorola unit, who was charged with turning around a brand that was once synonymous with cellphone innovation but that had lost its way in the smartphone era. Woodside said that with a renewed focus on innovation, Motorola could leapfrog rivals like Apple and Samsung. His plan was to hire a mobile-industry veteran to lead an advanced-technology group that could deliver the inventions that would restore Motorola’s status as a pioneer.
What, he wondered, did Dugan—whose job had been to nurture DARPA’s decades-long streak of breakthroughs—think? “It’s a great strategy for not losing and a lousy strategy for winning,” she answered. A week later the Motorola innovation gig was hers."
"Today Dugan is leading a cadre of big-idea special forces—called Advanced Technology and Projects group, or ATAP for short—on an even grander mission for parent Google, where the unit is slated to remain after the sale of Motorola to Lenovo is completed later this year. (Woodside left the company to become chief operating officer of Dropbox.) The challenge? Bringing to fruition a slew of next-generation mobile wonders—not in a generation’s time, mind you, but in a handful of years instead. And though the group is still in its early days, it appears on track to deliver some jaw-dropping technological leaps that would help cement the 51-year-old Dugan’s cachet in Silicon Valley and beyond."
Google's Claims & A Grounded NASA Budget
"Invent is what Larry Page’s hero, Nikola Tesla, did. It is what Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin did in 1997, when they concocted a way to make “all the world’s information available” on the Internet. And it is what Sergey Brin wanted to do when he left to oversee Google X. While Larry Page got bogged down in bureaucracy (as Google CEO starting in 2011), Brin, in the words of one of Google’s first employees, who did not wish to be identified, was “out there inventing the future.” The employee went on to list Google X’s many accomplishments under Brin: a self-driving car; Google Glass; a contact lens that measures the glucose levels of tears; an entity called Calico, led by Arthur Levinson, with a mission of extending life.
The truth is that Larry Page suffered from Sergey Brin envy.
Most C.E.O.s who step down are pushed out, and then they prattle about wanting to spend more time with their families. Larry Page, by contrast, really does want to spend more time with Sergey Brin inventing the future."
"They (Google) have about $70-80 billion in cash and liquidity. Google has a research budget of over $10 billion a year."
"DARPA’s budget is and has been about $3 billion to $3.5 billion per year. NASA has a budget of $15-20 billion per year but 80-90% of it is spent on facilities on the ground and administration and mostly not for new ground breaking projects. Especially over the last thirty years the $300 billion of the space station and space shuttle are discounted as mostly not enabling the next transformational thing."
The Military Is Altering the Limits of Human Performance
"Imagine a group of volunteers, their chests rigged with biophysical sensors, preparing for a mission in a military office building outfitted with cameras and microphones to capture everything they do. “We want to set up a living laboratory where we can actually pervasively sense people, continuously, for a long period of time. The goal is to do our best to quantify the person, the environment, and how the person is behaving in the environment,” Justin Brooks, a scientist at the Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, told me last year.
ARL was launching the Human Variability Project, essentially a military version of the reality-TV show Big Brother without the drama. The Project seeks to turn a wide variety of human biophysical signals into machine-readable data by outfitting humans and their environment with interactive sensors.
The Army is not alone. The Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and their special operations forces are also funding research to collect biophysical data from soldiers, sailors, Marines, and pilots. The goal is to improve troops’ performance by understanding what’s happening inside their bodies, down to how their experiences affect them on a genetic level. It’s not exactly genetically engineering soldiers into superhero Captain Americas; the U.S. military insists they have no intention of using biometric data science for anything like the genetic engineering of superior traits. But it’s close. The military is after the next best thing."