Friday, 18 September 2015

Brain uploading

* This blog is becoming more and more close to a scientific and future technology blog. Is fine, maybe tomorrow i will write a short story to balance it a bit.
Today subject will be brain uploading. Whole brain emulation (WBE) or mind uploading (sometimes called "mind copying" or "mind transfer") is the hypothetical process of copying mental content (including long-term memory and "self") from a particular brain substrate and copying it to a computational device, such as a digital, analog, quantum-based or software-based artificial neural network. The computational device could then run a simulation model of the brain information processing, such that it responds in essentially the same way as the original brain (i.e., indistinguishable from the brain for all relevant purposes) and experiences having a conscious mind.
Mind uploading may potentially be accomplished by either of two methods: Copy-and-Transfer or Gradual Replacement of neurons. In the case of the former method, mind uploading would be achieved by scanning and mapping the salient features of a biological brain, and then by copying, transferring, and storing that information state into a computer system or another computational device. The simulated mind could be within a virtual reality or simulated world, supported by an anatomic 3D body simulation model. Alternatively, the simulated mind could reside in a computer that's inside (or connected to) a humanoid robot or a biological body. How science fiction is this. But, if you really want to know let's talk about this in sequential steps. First we gonna need a data capture device. We are almost there. Lat me to tell you another story.
Everything felt possible at Transhuman Visions 2014, a conference in February billed as a forum for visionaries to "describe our fast-approaching, brilliant, and bizarre future." Inside an old waterfront military depot in San Francisco's Fort Mason Center, young entrepreneurs hawked experimental smart drugs and coffee made with a special kind of butter they said provided cognitive enhancements. None of this seemed particularly ambitious, however, compared with the claim soon to follow. In the back of the audience, carefully reviewing his notes, sat Randal Koene, a bespectacled neuroscientist wearing black cargo pants, a black T-shirt showing a brain on a laptop screen, and a pair of black, shiny boots. Koene had come to explain to the assembled crowd how to live forever. ''As a species, we really only inhabit a small sliver of time and space,''Koene said when he took the stage. ''We want a species that can be effective and influential and creative in a much larger sphere.'' Koene's solution was straightforward: He planned to upload his brain to a computer. By mapping the brain, reducing its activity to computations, and reproducing those computations in code, Koene argued, humans could live indefinitely, emulated by silicon. "When I say emulation, you should think of it, for example, in the same sense as emulating a Macintosh on a PC," he said. "It's kind of like platform-independent code."  The audience sat silent, possibly awed, possibly confused, as Koene led them through a complex tour of recent advances in neuroscience supplemented with charts and graphs. Koene has always had a complicated relationship with transhumanists, who likewise believe in elevating humanity to another plane. A Dutch-born neuroscientist and neuro-engineer, he has spent decades collecting the credentials necessary to bring his fringe ideas in line with mainstream science. Now, that science is coming to him. Researchers around the globe have made deciphering the brain a central objective. In 2013, both the U.S. and the EU announced initiatives that promise to accelerate brain science in much the same way that the Human Genome Project advanced genomics. The minutiae may have been lost on the crowd, but as Koene departed the stage, the significance of what they just witnessed was not: The knowledge necessary to achieve what Koene calls "substrate independent minds" seems tantalizingly within reach. The concept of brain emulation has a long, colorful history in science fiction, but it’s also deeply rooted in computer science. An entire subfield known as neural networking is based on the physical architecture and biological rules that underpin neuroscience. Roughly 85 billion individual neurons make up the human brain, each one connected to as many as 10,000 others via branches called axons and dendrites. Every time a neuron fires, an electrochemical signal jumps from the axon of one neuron to the dendrite of another, across a synapse between them. It’s the sum of those signals that encode information and enable the brain to process input, form associations, and execute commands. Many neuroscientists believe the essence of who we are—our memories, emotions, personalities, predilections, even our consciousness—lies in those patterns. The next problem to solve is that, even if we get the best data capture devices, another difficulty arises. Processing. We got not enough computer power and storage space. Some estimate our brain capacity at 2.5 petabytes (1 petabyte - 1000 terrabytes). Some said is less, some are thinking at much bigger numbers, but the fact is that we do not know for sure. When someone had just witnessed his job at its best. “This is what I do,” he says. “You have got tons of labs and researchers who are motivated by their own personal interests.” The trick, he says, is to identify the goals that could benefit brain uploading and try to push them forward—whether the researchers have asked for the help or not. Certainly, it seems, many scientists have proven willing to consult and even collaborate with Koene. That was clear last spring, when scientists from institutions as varied as MIT, Harvard University, Duke University, and the University of Southern California descended on New York City’s Lincoln Center to speak at a two-day congress that Koene organized with the Russian mogul Itskov. Called Global Future 2045, the conference’s objective was to explore the requirements and implications of transferring minds into virtual bodies by the year 2045. We are searching for immortality through technology. But is this the real answer? Is this the way? How do we know? This are some of the questions we need to answer.

** I tried to do the entire 8 hours - 8 modules Japanese course in one of my days off. Was a succes and a failure in the same time. I could do only 3 modules of approx. one hour each with 15-20 minutes break before i reach my limit. What i learn. First, it is still easy for me to learn, but eventually my focus will disappear and i will reach a limit (how can i push this limit further will be one of my next tasks). Second, lately i am easily distracted, maybe is time to reassess my yoga and meditation techniques (in other words start to do them again as i was a bit lazy and i didn't do them too much in the last months). Third, i observed that i was slacking in almost every area of my life in the last months, so in a way it was like a wake-up signal, and that is good. I was feeling like i am not at my peak, so it is the time to go back there, where everything is sunny and bright (easy to say it, but hard to achieve as it is raining a lot lately. But can't rain all the time, right Brandon?)

*** Next subject will be very interesting too, as i will take a look at human senses enhancements. But  we will talk about this in a future post. That's all for today. See you.

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