I perceive sad aspects of life that I do not like to admit to myself. In the face of death, we will do anything to survive. Our morals fall apart at the threat of non-existence. There is no such thing as truth or knowledge or progress. We are slaves to causality; to chemical compulsions that feel like our own doing. We will never understand our origins, our purpose, or our ends. Such questions are pointless, and decisions that would be motivated by their answers are instead secretly motivated by our egos.

It is sad to me that we have immortality within our means, yet will waste fifty years making it practical. We should be putting our collective resources at such a task; at eliminating need and competition and death, and harm altogether. People think such things are fantasy but they are not. Not anymore. Man is becoming magical. Man is becoming God. We have made life, and we could stop death as well.

But a fear of becoming inhuman will propel us along our current course for another generation. Closed, old minds will have to wither back into dust before the rest of us can continue pushing forward. They will fight it all the way, stalling and even undoing progress wherever they can, for an ideal they do not even understand. Who knows what it is to be human, after all? Is not a robot with a human mind still "human?" Is not a synthetic construct still derived of "natural" stuff? And if being "human" means being confined to this body, should we not wish to be more?

Should we not rid ourselves of weariness and hunger and pain? Should we not enable our minds and memories for better use, and our bodies for better behavior? Who among you will not "plug in" when we have invented the Matrix? Who among you will resist it for fear and disdain because you think that you are already something better?

In our lifetimes, we will see flesh become metal, and thoughts become code. We will see machines outstrip the progress of all mankind in mere days, maybe hours. Are you ready for it? What will you do?

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Comment by John Camilli on January 2, 2011 at 6:31pm

I have read a fair number of books on nueroscience, and by nueroscientists, but I am also a layman to the field. My understanding is that we are exceedingly familliar with the structures of the brain, and have recently become fairly adept with the chemicals involved with the brain, but that we lack a system theory about the whole mechanism which results in a logical prediction of consciousness.

This is not very different from how Cosmology works. We understand how most of the structures in the universe work, and what they're made of, but we haven't had a predictive model that accounted for all of what we observe....until recently. Now we have simulations that not only incorporate all of the information we have, but that also predict something like the actual universe.

 

The brain is not far behind. Similarly, it is a very complex system, with many interractive parts whose sum is greater still (meaning it displays qualities and behaviors that the individual parts do not). We understand what the parts do, but we do not yet understand how they add up to the sum of consciousness. But, like I said, that's because we can't think about that many things at once. A computer will be able to. The great task was in creating machines capable of such feats, but now that work is mostly done. We are in the final stages of this process and the end results will come much more quickly than you think, I think. We'll have to agree to disagree, I suppose, but I hope you're still a member of the Nexus in another decade so I can say 'I told you so.' Lol. Peace.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on January 2, 2011 at 6:19pm

MOUSE TRAP

There you have it.

Comment by John Camilli on January 2, 2011 at 2:41pm
And also, if you think IBM would spend ten years, hire over a hundred experts, and spend billions of dollars to FAIL, then you don't understand how research and development works. They would never have launched such a project if they weren't already damn sure it would work. This is not the days of Edison. The failing is done theoretically now.
Comment by John Camilli on January 2, 2011 at 2:39pm

What is it exactly that you think we don't understand about the brain? I think you are under the impression that there are some secret areas in the brain, or pieces too small for us to have probed yet. This is not the case. The problem we have with understanding the brain is that we can't conceive of how it interracts collectively with itself to produce the consciousness with which we are all so familiar. However, that is a failing of human cognitive capacity, not of our studying techniques. Simply put, we are too dumb to think about all of the information at once, so we cannot see how the things we have studied result in the entire consciousness. We understand processes that involve a few hundred or a few thousand interractive parts, but the brain has billions, and we just can't think about that many pieces of information at once. It does NOT mean that we don't have that information.

 

That is the reason why a digital model is so important. Once all of the information is collected into a single system, the system will be able to take over the analysis for us. We have already done something like this with the study of some types of yeast cells. There's a computerized lab THINKING about yeast cells, right now, and discovering new things about it that we could not. The digital brain model will take all of our information and reveal to us the facets of interraction that were too complex or extended for us to understand. I'm betting consciousness will be quickly unraveled during this and similar studies. Think about the genome project. People thought it would take decades, or hundreds of years, but a series of simplifying algorithms sped the process up and, whatyaknow, it's already done.

Comment by John Camilli on January 2, 2011 at 12:18pm

Okay, John, you're really reaching here. You're arguing about the source of the article, when the article is about a well-known, multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation. IBM is doing this, whether you think the source of my article is solid or not. Hell, it could be written on the back of a napkin, and it wouldn't matter. It is still being done. What exactly are you trying to prove by questioning the source? That IBM is lying about making a synthetic brain? Do you think I haven't read about it in other sources as well? That I just saw some fantastic article in one place and decided that IBM was creating artificial intelligence?

 

Just admit that we're further along than you realized. We are making life. We are making intelligence. And we are doing it at a rate that far surpasses the discoveries of the past. Fifty years ago an article about invisible particles, or life being synthesized in a lab - they would've been front page on every circulation in the world! Now, they can go unnoticed even by individuals who think they know something about science and technology because there are SO many of them all the time.

 

You are continuing to think about human progress in very biological terms, but we are barely a biological species anymore. We use chemical and mechanical enhancements in every aspect of our lives and bodies. Have you seen some of the inventions in cybernetics lately? We are making artificial arms and hands that function as well as the real deal. There was a military guy on the Daily Show recently who had been paralyzed from the neck down because he fell off his roof. But he walked onto the show a few months afterward and did an interview because people are figuring that shit out!

 

Think about the internet and the information sources now available to individual humans. That network is becoming our collective memories, and is already a huge part of our collective experiences. Human creations are becoming more capable than humans. Do you really think we wont surpass our limitations? That we haven't surpassed our biological limitations already?

Comment by John Camilli on January 2, 2011 at 8:30am

Meyers obviously does not keep up with the news either, John. The article I just linked in the last post is a direct refutation of what he is claiming, and a direct support of Kurzweils expectation. Meyers tries to make the idea of a synthetic brain sound almost impossible, by suggesting that the development of the brain involves a much more complex process than simply the genome sequences provide. He suggests that we are totally ignoring the environmental factors that ultimately determine the genome responses and "design" the brain. But, John, that's the rest of what physics, chemistry and geology are doing - they are studying the environment. Essentially, they will provide the other lines of code.

 

Our model of an accurate environment may be pretty near complete, if we find WIMPS in the HLC. If we do, the standard model will be all but proven, and we will have an accurate model of the environment to which our genomes are reacting. Mesh that with the million lines of code that Kurzweil is talking about and viola, a brain!

 

There's no point in trying to refute the possibility of making a synthetic brain when we are already doing it. Did you even look at the link I posted?

Comment by John Camilli on January 1, 2011 at 4:48pm

You must be reading about someone's basement project. I'm talking about IBM's 125-man research team, which has been in action for 5 years already, and is expecting to finish the first artificial brain in 2015. I don't think IBM has much of a reputation for being giant scam artists. Actually, I'm pretty sure they've been the innovators in a lot of our technology in the last few decades, but you can have your own opinion of them.

 

Here, go read about it. It'll do you some good:  http://memebox.com/futureblogger/show/80-ibm-swiss-scientists-to-cr...

Comment by John Camilli on January 1, 2011 at 11:32am
Y'know, there's already a digital brain project, designed to simulate every known facet of its physical counterpart. The experimentors aren't sure if the project will give rise to consciousness, but they suspect it will. I will keep you posted, and give some serious thought to which cheek you will end up kissing. I have a birthmark on one that looks a bit like a shit stain. I think that'll be appropriate for you, lol.
Comment by John Camilli on December 31, 2010 at 5:42pm

Oh, John. I do love to hear from you, and constantly prove you wrong. Here are a few links that prove I know what I'm talking about, and that we are much closer to artificial intelligence and immortality than you think. You should keep up with the news a little better so you don't keep embarassing yourself like this, lol. I recommend Ray Kurzweil, for starters.

 

- This is a CNN article from 3 years ago, about the expectation of synthetic life being created within 10 years: http://www.switched.com/2007/08/21/humans-will-create-artificial-li...

 

- Here is one on MSNBC, from two years before that: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9005023/

 

- Here is one from this year, on wired.com, that discusses our current level of genetic manipulation: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/scientists-create-first-s...

 

- Here's one that shows our current level of understanding human though, and translating into digital code. That's the most important step in becoming immortal, and will take the longest: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1257174/Psychic-inve...

 

And I'll just tell you about a few off the top of my head that really should blow your mind. One is the invisible particles, created somewhere in California, that bend wave energy around the structure (rather than invisibility by projecting an image behind you to the front). Another is is the HLC at CERN, which is poised to discover the WIMP, if it exists, confirming or refuting a major aspect of quantum physics. Another very cool one is the shape-shifting, color-changing particles, called 'motes,' on which Intel has made some nice progress. There's a video of it on Youtube. And lastly, I'll mention that we have been making some good progress lately in discovering the genetic markers for virulence in humans, and biological creatures in general, which will unlock the key to aging and allow us to pause and maybe even reverse it.

 

But immortality will not come from conquering the biological system. Rather, it will be found in converting the biological to the digital, Matrix-style, so that we can be saved as easily as a file, and reproduced to our heart's content. We will live in virtual realities (look at how complex and realistic videogames are becoming. They are our future), and be able to manipulate our worlds as easily as a computer program. We will eliminate harm by filtering our realities from those of others. We will still interract, but will be able to dis-include each other's harms as easily as filtering porn. We will probably also be able to merge consciousnesses, which I think we will find preferable to individuality, once we have tried it.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on December 30, 2010 at 4:02pm
mouse trap

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