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Notes on the Acceleration: Brain Prosthetics and Enhancements - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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January 8th, 2010


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02:52 pm - Notes on the Acceleration: Brain Prosthetics and Enhancements
For the past several years, I've been following the work of Ted Berger and his project to create an artificial hippocampus. Since my last post in 2007, they've begun actual test with positive results, it's early stages, but progress is clearly occurring, and they talking about human trials in 5 years. This is the sort of tech that I dream about and that will change humanity. It's a very small step from an artificial hippocampus and either directly downloading memories into the human brain or creating an artificial hippocampus that works better than a biological one. It's also a big first step in being able to replace more of the human brain with electronics, which is a fairly obvious path to uploading human consciousness. We live in an amazing era, and in another decade it's going to be far more amazing.
Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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From:aekiy
Date:January 8th, 2010 11:28 pm (UTC)
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I am pleased that we're making real progress in neural prosthetics. We're clearly able to substitute some brain functions with enough study. The main thing, I think, will be long-term effect studies and learning what things can go wrong with the equipment over time.

Downloading external memories into an augmented brain will probably be a much trickier process. We'd have to establish methods for encoding memories onto a portable device or a network that can be accessed by others, and the decoding those memories to be compatible with a new brain or with the same brain after it's been altered in some fashion (i.e., for cases of amnesia related to physical trauma to the brain or simple aging). It will be difficult to develop standards for that sort of thing. Do you create an encoding standard for memory extraction and transfer, or do you attempt to simply capture raw signals and transmit them to a new brain and rely on its capacity to adapt? Both methods would have their difficulties, to be sure.

Still, I would love to have a cyberbrain some day, with the ability to record and transfer memories externally, contact friends through encrypted electronic telepathy, and access networks of data and media without relying on external devices. (It would be great for looking up references with which one is unfamiliar while listening to someone else speak or reading complicated material.)
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From:heron61
Date:January 9th, 2010 01:02 am (UTC)
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Downloading external memories into an augmented brain will probably be a much trickier process. We'd have to establish methods for encoding memories onto a portable device or a network that can be accessed by others, and the decoding those memories to be compatible with a new brain or with the same brain after it's been altered in some fashion (i.e., for cases of amnesia related to physical trauma to the brain or simple aging).

I'm not certain that this will be true once we have a working artificial hippocampus. Since that's the part of the brain that encodes memories, I'd think that all of those issues would already have been solved in the process of creating it. Of course, that's also why I don't expect a working version in less than 15 or so years, but would love to be proven wrong.
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From:aekiy
Date:January 9th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
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Well, there's still a lot we don't understand about how memory is stored and retrieved. We can replace a faulty hippocampus, or a section thereof, with a device that mimics its signals, but actually learning to filter neural impulses to meaningful memory data, encode and decode it, and process that data into a completely different brain is tricky, not just for the bits we don't understand about memory but for the fact that different brains develop differently. Thus far we've relied largely on the brain adapting to the technology we create, but I don't think that will be enough to actually transfer memory. It's hard to say, though, since the central nervous system often acts in unexpected ways.

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