It’s a small world after all . . .
No hand would intervene; no barrier would deflect this bullet from its chosen path. Nanobots wait within him, ready to gather up the Gunter files, and the nanos are faster than any bullet. All that he knows, remembers, longs for, every fear, the sum of Gunter Holden will fly into the nano Gunter folders, and the folders will fly to the shores of Bali Hai. This happens like the whisper of a baby’s breath, a bird’s sigh . . .”
I have, however, read Susan Schneider’s “The Philosophy of ‘Her’,” a post on The Stone blog at the New York Times looking into the possibility, in the pretty near future, of avoiding death by having your brain scanned and uploaded to a computer. Presumably you’d want to Dropbox your brain file (yes, you’ll need to buy more storage) to avoid death by hard-drive crash. But with suitable backups, you, or an electronic version of you, could go on living forever, or at least for a very, very long time, “untethered,” as Ms. Schneider puts it, “from a body that’s inevitably going to die.”
This idea isn’t the loopy brainchild of sci-fi hacks. Researchers at Oxford University have been on the path to human digitization for a while now, and way back in 2008 the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford released a 130-page technical report entitled Whole Brain Emulation: A Roadmap. Of the dozen or so benefits of whole-brain emulation listed by the authors, Andrew Sandberg and Nick Bostrom, one stands out:
If emulation of particular brains is possible and affordable, and if concerns about individual identity can be met, such emulation would enable back‐up copies and “digital immortality.”
. . . Scanning brains, the authors write, “may represent a radical new form of human enhancement.” . . .
But what about you? Does the prospect of uploading your own brain allay your fear of abruptly disappearing from the universe? Is it the next best thing to finding the fountain of youth? Ms. Schneider, a philosophy professor at the University of Connecticut, counsels caution. First, she writes, we might find our identity warped in disturbing ways if we pour our brains into massive digital files. . . .”
Link to article on BIG THINK : http://bigthink.com/praxis/dont-want-to-die-just-upload-your-brain
Mother Hub-board has a new Baby!
From TEDxAuckland 2013
From Science Daily:
Jan. 9, 2013 — The world is getting a long-awaited first glimpse at a new humanoid robot in action mimicking the expressions of a one-year-old child. The robot will be used in studies on sensory-motor and social development – how babies “learn” to control their bodies and to interact with other people.
Diego-san’s hardware was developed by leading robot manufacturers: the head by Hanson Robotics, and the body by Japan’s Kokoro Co. The project is led by University of California, San Diego full research scientist Javier Movellan. Movellan directs the Institute for Neural Computation’s Machine Perception Laboratory, based in the UCSD division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). The Diego-san project is also a joint collaboration with the Early Play and Development Laboratory of professor Dan Messinger at the University of Miami, and with professor Emo Todorov’s Movement Control Laboratory at the University of Washington. Movellan and his colleagues are developing the software that allows Diego-san to learn to control his body and to learn to interact with people. “We’ve made good progress developing new algorithms for motor control, and they have been presented at robotics conferences, but generally on the motor-control side, we really appreciate the difficulties faced by the human brain when controlling the human body,” said Movellan, reporting even more progress on the social-interaction side. “We developed machine-learning methods to analyze face-to-face interaction between mothers and infants, to extract the underlying social controller used by infants, and to port it to Diego-san. We then analyzed the resulting interaction between Diego-san and adults.” Full details and results of that research are being submitted for publication in a top scientific journal. “This robotic baby boy was built with funding from the National Science Foundation and serves cognitive A.I. and human-robot interaction research,” wrote Hanson. “With high definition cameras in the eyes, Diego San sees people, gestures, expressions, and uses A.I. modeled on human babies, to learn from people, the way that a baby hypothetically would. The facial expressions are important to establish a relationship, and communicate intuitively to people.”
Link to entire article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130109185652.htm
By Katy Waldman
Posted in Slate Monday, July 9, 2012, at 5:08 PM ET
Technophile shut-ins, rejoice. The era of shimmery, for-your-eyes-only virtual girlfriends has arrived, says this video, uploaded to You Tube by user Alsionesvx. The film showcases an augmented reality system that allows users to project the pixilated Japanese pop star Hatsune Miku into their day-to-day lives. Using video goggles and an Xtion Pro motion sensor, Alsionesvx can take Hatsune, a wide-eyed, pigtail-wearing wraith who, significantly, has no mouth (and somewhat less significantly, has no nose), to the park. It’s sort of romantic. Then he, um, plunks her in his kitchen and paws at her tie: less romantic.
The worst part, though, is when the filmmaker demonstrates Hatsune’s ability to respond to touch. Almost two minutes into the video, we’re treated to the sight of a man’s disembodied arm patting the aqua-haired apparition on the head. She closes her eyes and raises her palms in what’s supposed to be either pleasure or a cute “I surrender” gesture. But then the guy lifts his hand and whales on her. She cringes, covers her face, knits her eyebrows together in distress. The screen fades to black. Gee whiz, computers can do amazing things these days!
Putting aside the video’s oblivious reenactment of domestic violence (a topic for another post), it’s worth noting that the phenomenon of virtual lady-friends is gathering steam in Japan and Korea. To some, few things may seem as sad-sack as opting for a computerized SO. One XX Factor colleague describes it as “social surrender,” technology telegraphing failure in the real world dating scene. And that could be why digital companions like Hatsune—silent, passive creatures that follow you around and make timid fluttery signs when you beat them—play on fantasies of absolute power and control. What else do they have to offer? Not conversation, and not social capital, real or imagined: After all, they’re only visible to the person with the goggles. You can’t feel them, though they respond to your touch. And if there’s a kind of titillation in walking down the street beside a beautiful woman that no one else knows is there, surely it has as much to do with the thrill of possession as it does with pure delight at her presence.
Anyway, I wonder whether a simple semantic adjustment would help dispel the ickiness of this trend. Instead of calling Hatsune Miku an augmented reality “girlfriend,” let’s call her what she is: a toy. Men who download or buy her or whatever are not participating in relationships, which involve two people, but playing with toys, like Legos or Barbies. You can pummel a teddy bear, if you wish; you cannot bop a woman on the head. Unfortunately, I suspect it’s the consumer’s inability to distinguish between love and ownership that makes Hatsune and her ilk so popular.
From: Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence
June 26, 2012
“Mind uploading” is an informal term that refers to transferring the mental contents from a human brain into a different substrate, such as a digital, analog, or quantum computer. It’s also known as “whole brain emulation” and “substrate-independent minds.
Serious mind uploading researchers have emerged recently, taking this seemingly science-fictional notion seriously and pursuing it via experimental and theoretical research programs, Goertzel and Ilke’ note.
For example, Neuroscientist Randal A. Koene (a contributor of two papers to this volume) has formed a nonprofit organization called Carbon Copies (carboncopies.org) to promote mind uploading research.
At the request of KurzweilAI, the publishers have kindly made both the Introduction and the first paper by Koene, Fundamentals Of Whole Brain Emulation: State, Transition And Update Representations, open access, available in full text on the International Journal of Machine Consciousness website.
Editor Ben Goertzel has also gathered links to informal, “preprint” versions of the papers in this Special Issue, hosted on the paper authors’ websites. These preprint versions are not guaranteed to be identical to the final published versions, but the content should be essentially the same, he advises.
“. . . He never loved me. Why was I so sure he did—convinced that he did? After all, I didn’t go back to Seattle because I . . . I remember, now, that day on the island when I was eight. I went too far out in the surf. A wave caught me, and as I struggled, I screamed “Dad!” I could see him, and I waved my arms. He stood watching, his cigar frozen in his mouth. I couldn’t make out his expression, only that he didn’t move. I called again, “Help Dad please . . . pleeeese!” I went under. There was a school of fish below me as the water pulled me deeper. My lungs began to give way. The urge to take a breath and fill my lungs with water was winning, and just as I wondered if those fish would be the ones to eat me, a hand grabbed my arm, and I was pulled up.
Dad carried me back to shore, and, as I lay limp in his arms, I could feel his heart pounding, and I heard him crying. His voice trembled, “Oh Gunter, my little boy. Oh please God—oh I’m so sorry, oh Gunter!” I didn’t let him know I heard him cry. I closed my eyes until he placed me on the sand, and, as I coughed up the seawater, I was happy because I knew he loved me then, the only time he ever said it. The island was why I waited on the Venice Beach and still loved him.”
By Clay Dillow Posted 03.02.2012 at 11:22 am
“. . . At the recent Global Future 2045 International Congress held in Moscow, 31-year-old media mogul Dmitry Itskov told attendees how he plans to create exactly that kind of immortality, first by creating a robot controlled by the human brain, then by actually transplanting a human brain into a humanoid robot, and then by replacing the surgical transplant with a method for simply uploading a person’s consciousness into a surrogate ‘bot. He thinks he can get beyond the first phase–to transplanting a working brain into a robot–in just ten years, putting him on course to achieve his ultimate goal–human consciousness completely disembodied and placed within a holographic host–within 30 years time. . . “
Excerpt pg. 30
GUNTER HOLDEN DOC. 151 Purpose: Recreational/social—re: childhood fear (save)
What did you most fear before your bio death—your wife’s betrayal perhaps? But what did you fear as a child—you know—the fear that seemed to spring from your DNA— the legacy of some ancestor who survived because he feared something and he left the fear imprinted as surely as the shape of your ears or fingers…
…A roller coaster terrified me once. We were in Oslo and my father left me with the tutor—a young man whose name I’ve forgotten. I was restless—almost thirteen, but thought myself a man and because of his youth, I balked at his authority—so we compromised…So—the roller coaster, yes . . . that was the adventure—the “ThunderCoaster” they call it. I wonder if it is still there…
…Our seats were second in the line of cars, behind an old man and his grandson—a boy of ten with white-blond hair and a cowlick that bounced. There was this loud clicking sound as the bars were put in place, and then . . . a sudden jerk. As the string of cars began to climb, I was pressed against the back of my seat—the angle was close—I thought it was, to ninety degrees—straight up. As we climbed up . . . it was into the grey clouds and I kept hearing the click-click-click . . . then—an incredible jerk. We seemed to be in free fall and I panicked and screamed. I saw nothing but the dark as we descended and it felt as if nothing was beneath us. Then we landed for a mere second before swerving into another impossible trajectory into the clouds. All that was visible for me was the blonde cowlick as we began each plunge. It was bouncing and waving as if to say goodbye—it’s finished—you’re finished.
The clicks were dreadful—each torturous one taking me closer to the top where I would plunge again and again and no one was there to catch me—ridiculous as it was—that’s what was in my mind. When it finished, I saw the tutor looking concerned. Later I saw tears streaked and dried on my face—but that was the least of it—I had wet my pants, and a trail of drops led back to the gate and I’m sure to that second seat. Oh no, he was very tactful, most likely because of his job…
A virtual ride on a roller coaster
VEI Excerpt p.206
“… I wear a mask and snorkel but I don’t need them. As Stephanie said—it’s a trick. I would like to self-delete, but I’m afraid. You have to really want to—that instinct to exist must disappear completely before you can. Even Karen and Jacob used the Dreams.
A turtle emerges from the waving underwater grass and behind him rising swiftly, I see dancers. Golden lovers spin towards me—their act of phantom procreation is entertainment for a ghost. Seahorses mate and stay together. Every day they dance. The father keeps eggs safe within his pouch and when they’re ready—mature enough to strike out on their own, he lets them go—tiny creatures that float head up to join the cruel ocean world—perhaps to be snapped up by a predator, or to dance and spin together with their lover.
Does it bother you, Miranda—not being real?
In this case “real” means to be born and then to make your way—to fight in order to continue existing, and to procreate.
No, Gunter, it does not bother me because I see no advantage in being “real.”
“. . . In Zendegi, Egan describes the early development stage of very advanced mind uploading technologies which, of course, at the beginning do not work well enough for practical use. . .
. . . Science fiction writers and futurists have been criticized for making very wrong predictions. When we were kids, our generation “knew” that in 2011 we would have flying cars and holidays on Mars. Looking back, it is easy to see why this future did not happen. But I have a magic device in my pocket which can hold thousands of books which I can read where and when I want. With the same device I can talk to most people on the planet, take pictures and upload them to social networks, send email, surf the web, see where I am on a map, stream video, play games, post to Twitter and edit my blogs. We are in the future! . . .
. . . Greg Egan is one of my favorite science fiction writers. In some novels like Diaspora, Schild’s Ladder and Incandescence he explores the very far future, and in others he stays closer to the present. At times, Egan also makes some very optimistic predictions. For example in Permutation City, he places the first successful tests of mind uploading in 2026, which seems quite over-optimist from here. . .
. . . Much of Zendegi takes place in Iran (see Egan’s notes on his trip to Iran when he was writing the novel). . .
. . . Zendegi has financial problems and is losing market share to its competitors. . .
. . . Caplan is an extropian entrepreneur, a mind uploading enthusiast and a transhumanist cliché. When he first meets Nasim in 2010, he introduces himself as “My IQ is one hundred and sixty. I’m in perfect physical and mental health. And I can pay you half a million dollars right now”, quite in line with Egan’s unforgiving opinion of transhumanists. . .
. . . The uploading technology used, more appropriately called “sideloading”, consists of tweaking and fine-tuning a generic mindware “me-program” obtained by the Human Connectome Project, with long and involved training sessions, until it behaves like a specific person. . .
. . .the tragic end is already expected by the reader and does not come as a surprise. Egan knows that the development of disruptive technologies is never easy, never linear, and always troubled. I think uploading technology will be developed eventually, perhaps in the second half of this century, but I am afraid Greg is right, and in the early development stages there will be unexpected problems and major setbacks, there will be unhappiness, and there will be tragedies. . . “
Excerpt p. 87–Babylon Dreams (VEI)
From: VEI Memory Library Selection “Oliver Jackson’s Wedding Night”
“…Karina is still here—happily married at the moment to Sergei, a former dancer who toured with the Bolshoi Ballet—someone thirty years younger in the bio world—he transitioned when a private plane went down over the Atlantic—you may have read about it. She manifests as her eighteen-year old self and they often entertain friends and occasionally at selected events with ballet performances—she gained the skills in the blink of an eye he spent a lifetime acquiring. Sergei doesn’t seem to mind though—a real love-match. I wonder how long it will last…”
From: National Science Foundation
December 8, 2011
Vision Scientists Demonstrate Innovative Learning Method
New research suggests it may be possible to learn high-performance tasks with little or no conscious effort
“… New research published today in the journal Science suggests it may be possible to use brain technology to learn to play a piano, reduce mental stress or hit a curve ball with little or no conscious effort. It’s the kind of thing seen in Hollywood’s “Matrix” franchise…
…Neuroscientists have found that pictures gradually build up inside a person’s brain, appearing first as lines, edges, shapes, colors and motion in early visual areas. The brain then fills in greater detail to make a red ball appear as a red ball, for example…
Boston University post-doctoral fellow Kazuhisa Shibata designed and implemented a method using decoded fMRI neurofeedback to induce a particular activation pattern in targeted early visual areas that corresponded to a pattern evoked by a specific visual feature in a brain region of interest. The researchers then tested whether repetitions of the activation pattern caused visual performance improvement on that visual feature.
The result, say researchers, is a novel learning approach sufficient to cause long-lasting improvement in tasks that require visual performance.
What’s more, the approached worked even when test subjects were not aware of what they were learning…”