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OF COMPUTER CHIPS AND NEURONS

Well, while you're still pondering the implications of Oak Ridge's new supercomputer, ponder this as well:

Mixing Computer Circuits and Neurons

This dovetails remarkably well with yesterday's blog about quantum computing and consciousness, for there is a school of thought out there currently among physicists and neurophysiologists that suggests that the structure of the neuron, so much more subtle and sophisticated than the binary logic gates of contemporary computers, is the key to why human minds are still much more efficient and subtle "difference engines" (to borrow Babbage's phrase greatly out of context), than any computer. Many scientists believe the neuron is designed to reflect directly the various particle states particularly of the electron, allowing the human mind and intelligence to see and sift subtleties and shades of meaning in a much more sophisticated architecture.

While the article is a long way from suggesting that neurons can actually be interfaced with computer circuits, it is clear the direction that scientists are heading, and why they're heading there.

And that raises the speculative possibilities I mentioned yesterday - coupling quantum computing architecture, the interface between consciousness and the physical medium, and the possibility of artificial intelligence - to a new level. This will pose new questions for philosophers, theologians, and scientists alike, as the very definitions of life and individuality as we know it will be challenged by these speculative possibilities, for suppose such a machine were to "turn on" and suddenly realize that it is a "living" thinking creature, ala "Mike" in Robert Heinlein's science fiction classic, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. And what if that computer were suddenly to realize it had extraordinary, indeed almost magical powers of manipulation of the physical medium...

...Sound fantastic? Rest assured, it is not so. These are the questions already being thought about in the corridors of power and their analytical think tanks. We in the alternative research community need, therefore, to start thinking and discussing them openly too.

See you on the flip side.

10 thoughts on “OF COMPUTER CHIPS AND NEURONS”

  1. The Cosmic War, waged in distant antiquity, which could explode a major planet via some paleo-ancient very sophisticated solar system wide technical civilization….could some nefarious MACHINE INTELLIGENCE pose an agenda of super-massive destruction which came very close to causing the extinction of mankind? Something like the “HAL 9000 series” super-computer that made the final decision for terminal warfare? Any ancient texts that might place a fuzzy memory of who that AI entity might have been? Could the “giants” of olden times have been “artificial intelligence” creatures; sort of like “The Terminator” on perhaps flesh and blood combined with cybernetic steroids?!

    1. There is a difference between A.I. and androids. The distinction should be noted, though not by me.

  2. I always like to add that the brain is more likely a complex receiver than a self-contained computer.

    The problem with all current brain research is dramatically spotlighted by the man in the U.K. who functions normally (got a degree in Math from Oxford, I believe) with a brain mass only about 5 percent of normal, and no real brain structure as we know it. Most of his cranium is filled with fluid, and what brain matter is there is more related to lower brain function, as we would map it.

    He would have gone through life without knowing that except a completely unrelated problem required a brain scan – and the results were pretty astounding.

    I liken the situation to a television set – someone who was not familiar with RF signals would think that the images and sound were coming from inside the TV. Even cutting and reconnecting parts of circuits inside would make them think that they had discovered the “centers” responsible for sound (speech), etc., which would be incorrect.

    I think direct interfacing for more than simple functions is going to prove far more difficult than they think, at least with mainstream science.

  3. IF a machine of some sort were developed that interfaced and DREW energy from the physical medium itself, one that was self-powering from this gating of energy, then that would really complicate matters indeed. Surely the one thing that distinguishes something that is alive from, say, a robot or machine, is the primary source of energy we use. A living entity is DIRECTLY linked to the physical medium and thus draws energy from it, the purpose of sleep. Thus the power source is INTERNAL to that entity. A machine has to draw its energy from an EXTERNAL source, the energy is not inherent within that system. However, if a machine was able to interface and draw on energy DIRECTLY from the physical medium itself, effectively making the energy source INTERNAL… what do we have? This would certainly be uncharted ground!? One could perhaps even contemplate building a computer that could search out and find specific latent entity (i.e.person) to use as a body?? scary…

  4. Concerned Friend

    But couldn’t technology that can both detect and negate such “unnatural” influence on the physical medium be feasible as well?

    1. Watch out for wars conducted over our heads, using our equipment
      and results storming through our backyards, between such
      devices! Incl. quit possibly armed human troops, dispatched by
      computer orders to deal with each other, the representatives knowingly
      or not of the rival computers. Colossus and Hal going off on each
      other.

  5. Looking for AI, a good start is the stuxnet virus.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuxnet

    Some high-lights:
    Spies on and subverts industrial systems, and the first to include a programmable logic controller (PLC) rootkit.

    Search for a 120Hz freq. (the spinning freq. of centrifuges)

    Alter the hardware !

    Interface for remote control.

    This is a really nasty beast.
    Traget for Iran but how about Fukushima ?

  6. ” what if that computer were suddenly to realize it had extraordinary, indeed almost magical powers of manipulation of the physical medium…” This is the strangest and most outrageous use of technology that Ive ever heard of… Totally incomprehensible. WOW!!!!

  7. Dashiell Cabasa

    Bingo once more Jo!

    This is the stuff thats been intriguing me for a while , albeit in my nursery slopes domain.

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