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A Mind Made From Memristors

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the fully-functional dept.

Robotics 320

Csiko writes "Researchers at Boston University's department of cognitive and neural systems are working on an artificial brain implemented with memristors. 'A memristor is a two-terminal device whose resistance changes depending on the amount, direction, and duration of voltage that's applied to it. But here's the really interesting thing about a memristor: Whatever its past state, or resistance, it freezes that state until another voltage is applied to change it. Maintaining that state requires no power.' Also theoretically described, solid state versions of memristors have not been implemented until recently. Now researchers in Boston claim that memristors are the new key technology to implement highly integrated, powerful artificial brains on cheap and widely available hardware within five years."

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Quick question (2)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436094)

How do you read that state back without applying any voltage to it?

I look at the wikipedia page and its all greek to me.

Re:Quick question (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34436158)

The state is read by applying voltage to it, this voltage is less than the threshold required to change the state.

Re:Quick question (2)

thegreatbob (693104) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436164)

Presumably with alternating current.

Re:Quick question (1, Insightful)

fava (513118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436210)

You can read it by applying AC to it, the state changes cancel each other out.

Re:Quick question (1)

PremiumCarrion (861236) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436978)

Reading the wiki page I surmise it as this, apply a low voltage to read the state.

Apply high voltage to set the state, the current you pass while setting it determines which state it stays in.

The beginning of the end. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34436098)

The robot army that destroys humanity will run on these.

Artificial Brains? (1)

TelavianX (1888030) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436116)

I have heard that artifical brains were around the corner for years. What about neural networks they were supposed to create human like brains.

Re:Artificial Brains? (4, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436262)

This opens up a whole huge assload of debate again.

Let us assume they map out the brain, create an FPGA of memristor devices like this that can mimic the brain's exact structure.

First round it doesn't work.

Because robots can't have a soul. You need a spirit to have that kind of consciousness. You'll hear this argument immediately; I'm not going to argue directly against the spirituality thing, but the question to me is more complex than that, of course. Still, that'll be the first argument.

Then someone will make it work.

Now the interesting shit happens.

A lot of people have told me they're never going to die because, by the time they're old, technology will exist to copy their minds into machines. Think about that. Immortality through perpetuated consciousness.

Stop for a moment.

Realize you are alive, aware, and conscious.

Now, why do you experience consciousness?

You want to say, well, all that "soul" bullshit is weird and freaky. Scientifically unsound. I experience consciousness due to a series of electrochemical reactions in my brain. End of story.

Now suppose I move your brain's data into another organic brain, electronic brain, or anything else of the source. Would you continue to "live"? Would YOU continue to live?

To make the point more clear, what if I made an identical copy and booted both at the same time. Do you suddenly develop a psychic link with your other self, experiencing both existences at once, living in two different places? ... ridiculous.

So you're bound to your brain. You cannot live forever unless your particular, specific, physical brain stays in tact. If I copy your brain to another cloned brain, yank yours out, and replace it with the clone, everyone else will interact with you as if you were you, no difference; but YOU would vanish into the blackness, you'd stop living, you'd die.

Why are you conscious?

Hmm that would be convenient for suicide cases. So much easier. Copy my brain into a biological clone brain, swap, and destroy mine. I get to die and nobody else has to worry about it because I don't die. The ultimate escape: you make your life someone else's problem!

Re:Artificial Brains? (5, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436338)

Well, the whole problem with the destruction of the original could probably be solved by slowly replacing the original organic brain with the electronic one. Instead of copying everything at once and then deleting the original you basically "graft" the electronic brain onto the original (obviously it would be a lot trickier than that in practice but so would "just copying" it be) and slowly let the electronic hardware do more and more while the organic does less. Eventually you'll have an all electronic brain.

Re:Artificial Brains? (4, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436414)

Yes, and this would work why? (in practice, would it?) My point is we don't understand consciousness (and have no way to verify things like this actually work) and that the question is very complex. Even if you don't accept the concept of a "soul," you have a very difficult problem in front of you. If you DO accept the concept of a "soul," you have something confusing and complex in front of you.

Re:Artificial Brains? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34436598)

Well, I don't know why works. "Why" is a question above my pay grade. But your body is already doing it when it replaces dead cells with newly created cells.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

Anastomosis (1102421) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437194)

Except brain cells aren't replaced.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

guybrush3pwood (1579937) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436792)

The question is simple... it's reaching the answer that's complex, isn't it?

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436836)

Ah'm a white boy who can't dance.

Damn.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436834)

My best guess (as someone who believes in a 'soul', but also realizes this can lead to some potentially absurd conclusions) is that for each small electric replacement, your consciousness will proportionally fade away. At bit like when you're half asleep say if half your brain was replaced.

I tend to think particles in the brain are mapped to an immaterial 'location' of the immaterial soul for want of a better analogy.

Re:Artificial Brains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34437260)

You mean you think our brain matter is a shadow copy?

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437314)

There is a concept called the Silver Cord. It's basically a metaphysical link between your physical body and the astral plane. Some call the astral plane a singularity of consciousness, God, and/or the spirit world. In short, your "spirit" doesn't live in your brain. Rather, your brain is controlled from the astral plane via the Silver Cord. In short, we are all puppet masters.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

bratloaf (1287954) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436406)

I wish I had mod points. You make some good points, and ones I have made myself in these sorts of philosophical arguments before. However, this is just a thought experiment. What if, when the copied brain is "lit up" it DOES have YOUR consciousness? What if you just "forked" yourself? It really IS you, but a 100% point-in-time clone... Makes for an interesting thought... You ARE you, but so is it. When you die, do YOU still die? YES, because you are the original. Perhaps, if you die as part of the copying process, you can be said to live on. But is it you?

What if you "stop" your brain, by putting it in some sort of halt state. Say, a deep coma. Then copy it. Do you "wake up" on the other side? If not, WHY NOT?

These are all interesting thought experiments. At any rate, this story ends with the usual "extraordinary new technology ready... in 5 years" as usual, so don't bet on any brain cloning in the next 50.

Re:Artificial Brains? (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436486)

Now suppose I move your brain's data into another organic brain, electronic brain, or anything else of the source. Would you continue to "live"? Would YOU continue to live?

I don't want to foster a false dichotomy but it seems to me that there IS something of a binary choice here. Either there is some undefinable quality we can call a "soul", or what you think of as "life" or "consciousness" is an illusion. The data of whatever was just going through your head is still there to some degree, so you perceive your continued existence, but life is actually only a series of moments and one only has to do with the other because they're somehow connected, not because there's something special about being alive.
If there is a soul and you "die" tomorrow then destruction of the flesh is not the ending of your life. But if there is not a soul and you "die" tomorrow you won't care. And if there is not a soul and you copy yourself to a mechanical brain, then you're both "alive" in that you are both functioning. You're both "you", and yet, neither of you is really you. Change your memories and you're someone else.
Or in other words, when we actually have the technology to mimic the behavior of the human brain, then we may actually be able to answer fundamental questions about the "soul" that cannot be answered today.
Personally I don't see any need for a soul to explain the behavior of a human; it's the same physical processes at work all the way down through bacteria and vira. But we could argue about that all day and achieve nothing but a big fat waste of time, both user and CPU.

Re:Artificial Brains? (2)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436590)

So you're bound to your brain. You cannot live forever unless your particular, specific, physical brain stays in tact. If I copy your brain to another cloned brain, yank yours out, and replace it with the clone, everyone else will interact with you as if you were you, no difference; but YOU would vanish into the blackness, you'd stop living, you'd die.

First of all, I'm not convinced I want to live forever. Immortality sounds cool... But I suspect it would get dull after a while.

Second, I suspect that your little conundrum here could be solved by a slow migration to the clone/artificial/constructed brain. Rather than yanking it out suddenly you just replace bit by bit. You'd remain conscious the entire time. You'd never "die".

But...

A large part of the whole afterlife/immortality/soul debate essentially revolves around fear. Folks are terrified by the idea that they're going to cease to exist. That they'll never be able to kiss their wife again, or have a banana split, or enjoy a walk on the beach, or whatever. Folks don't want it to end.

I'm thinking that even if your organic brain did genuinely die in the process, and you did genuinely lose consciousness and die in the process, this kind of assisted immortality would still be immensely popular. Sure, one of you would die... But then there'd be another you, a replacement you. Complete with all your memories, hopes, dreams, fears, whatever. And that second you would get to keep kissing wives and eating banana splits and walking on beaches. So there would be less fear about things ending.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436778)

First of all, I'm not convinced I want to live forever. Immortality sounds cool... But I suspect it would get dull after a while.

Eventually the world overpopulates.

People you care about die, or you have no friends FOREVER.

THINGS you care about die. Imagine living in a warrior society like recent (pre-WW2) Japan, where everyone around you is preoccupied with personal philosophy, the nature of beauty, honor, the like. Now think about all the bullshit you complain about in modern society, and think about Japan now with its culture influence from America and how Tokyo looks (giant screen TVs on buildings, lights everywhere, it's a pure commercial machine). Think about all the bullshit on CNN and CBS and Fox... that's all over in Japan now too, their society has devolved into that.

You'll see the world falling apart, worse than it is now. You'll have no friends, or you'll watch them all die.

No, immortality sucks.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436964)

The grass is always greener on the other side. I'm sure there was plenty of bullshit to go around in Japan before we got there.

Re:Artificial Brains? (2, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437354)

They always say our forefathers would vomit up a lung if they saw what we did to their country. Times were better back then, even with the government handing bibles out in schools and children getting their asses beat by teachers.

Japan had a much different society and instead of naturally degrading they've seen our 20th century garbage FORCED on them. It'd be like if we found something identical to post-revolution America and forced modern american democracy on it, with the sleezy politicians and disney megacorporations. 1804 would be the year of the frontier, 1805 the year of everyone wanting to die to avert this horrible future.

Japan's bullshit largely revolved around the Shogun effectively owning the people in their domain as property. The Meiji restoration eliminated that, dropped in other political issues; however the culture was always the same.

Look at America and you'll see a culture of people scraping by to survive; they may be rich, but they're always caught up in making more money, getting laid, watching TV, buying shiny things. Japanese culture always had a deep-seated focus on personal philosophy: even under oppression and famine, even facing certain death, people wanted to maintain their honor. A Japanese murder conflict would inflict an immensely painful fatal wound on himself at his execution, and then be beheaded; an American murder convict will escape at first chance, and of course we've argued hanging and electrocution are "Cruel" for child rapist-murderers and instead inject them with an unbelievable amount of ANESTHETICS so they die feeling GOOOOOOOD.

Americans are shocked by the idea of seppuku: it seems barbaric to us. But think about it for a minute. They expected someone who committed treason or murder or any given capital crime to not just be executed, but to inflict a painful and fatal wound on themselves. If they didn't, they'd behead them anyway--quick, relatively painless, less fear involved (self-inflicted wounds are scary as HELL; you can dissociate yourself a lot more from your impending execution). They still executed them, but they'd consider the social debt paid and honor restored after seppuku. This was important.

Imagine living through that. You get to see the social change where everyone stops meditating and thinking about life and honor and what it means to be a warrior and the nature of beauty... and instead starts screaming and clapping at anything shiny, buying their food from vending machines (fast food!), and dressing in unbelievably gaudy crap.

How do you think that'd feel?

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437108)

Personally: I'd be ok with it.

Even with all the bad things in the world, even without anybody else to share it with, I'd be ok continuing on forever.

in all reality, there'd be no way for you to remember EVERYTHING. you'd likely have to run on a cycle of 150 years of memory (tops!) while forgetting older things as the neurons that were retaining them begin to die but the information they contain is not moved to another area.
this would present an interesting opportunity, you don't HAVE to remember things, just leave them out of your thought for long enough and BAM! they're gone.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437164)

So there would be less fear about things ending.

Which leads me to think that our natural lives will take on entirely new meanings. The fear is what makes things like kissing your wife precious. I'm not sure so many things would continue to be precious in the absence of fear. How would that affect culture? If there was no clock to race, what then becomes the point in doing, well, anything at all?

I guess the fears of a machine dominated world might not be entirely accurate. It's not that we build machines that become sentient... it's that we become the machines.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436610)

Well, the first problem that I have with this, is I have no proof that anyone else has a soul. This occurs even before I ask myself exactly *what* the definition of soul is, so I can determine whether I, myself, have one.

So you are asking me to believe a lot of vaguely defined things that it's my first approximation choice to disbelieve in. And they're vaguely defined, so I can neither verify nor refute them.

As a result, my only remaining choice is to consider it a silly argument. f you'd like to try again with more carefully defined terms, then I might well be able to consider it seriously. (This doesn't mean I'll agree with you. I don't think I will. But as stated I can't even be sure of that.)

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

Tynin (634655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436612)

I recall reading a short story about a man who had his brain removed, and a computerized copy of his brain implanted so he could climb down into a hole and dismantle a nuclear weapon that didn't work as expected. For the life of me I cannot remember who wrote it or what is was called. bluefoxlucid post goes over a lot of what the short story was about, and I'd highly recommend it.... if I could only recall what it was named.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437138)

if only you had a properly working artificial brain that could be hexdump | grep [that thing I was looking for] 'd eh? :P

Re:Artificial Brains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34437356)

It's called "Where Am I?" by Daniel Dennett.

Re:Artificial Brains? (4, Insightful)

2names (531755) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436710)

This is my great-great-great-grandfather's axe. It has had the head replaced twice and the handle replaced three times.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437240)

I liked what you did there.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

RonTheHurler (933160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437360)

This is my great-great-great-grandfather's axe. It has had the head replaced twice and the handle replaced three times.

"But they occupy the same space."
      -- Steven Wright.

Re:Artificial Brains? (2, Interesting)

FeepingCreature (1132265) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436720)

Now suppose I move your brain's data into another organic brain, electronic brain, or anything else of the source. Would you continue to "live"? Would YOU continue to live?

Yes, and yes.

To make the point more clear, what if I made an identical copy and booted both at the same time. Do you suddenly develop a psychic link with your other self, experiencing both existences at once, living in two different places? ... ridiculous.

If you absolutely cannot dispense with the existence of a soul, just pretend it "finishes" up my life, then circles back around and lives the life of my copy. Since all informational attributes of the human mind can be biologically explained, this time-travelling "soul" does not violate causality (because it carries no information).

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436828)

The major question here is that now that you've dispensed with the existence of a "soul," you're left with the part where you copied your mind to "continue living" and yet all logic says that your personal experience with consciousness ends (you die) and there is another life form that now believes it is you (due to memories and the like).

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436740)

  No secret sauce here. You're dancing around an argument, but let me try to add some clarity:

  If a machine (of any construction, even bio-ware) was grafted into your existing brain, as to replace/extend it's normal functions, you may or may not notice at all. Nobody really "feels" when a specific set of cells in their brain is different, as they "feel" a cold/hot spot on their hand. It's much more about the perceived functionality. A headache or an itch is as more perception than a true "pain spot" or "itchy spot". Brain surgery requires only local anesthetic.

  If we continue adding externally-created parts to your body, be it an arm or leg, a lung or a kidney, or a frontal lobe to your brain - if the body can accept the donation without too much trouble, the functionality should not be affected. This is the only criteria for the replacement part: It has to function identically as it's target. But for brain wiring, it's millions of times customized from the point of it's first growth. Reverse-engineering this wiring seems daunting. But perhaps "you" don't notice if the changes are small enough.

  So we replace sections of our brain one step at a time; small portions, throughout time. The first recipients get better hearing, motor control, or other medically-driven needs. Then we hopefully add larger portions in bulk. Once we start replacing the emotional centers, memory centers, or other portions, you may start to no longer "be you" as you don't remember your childhood, or your demeanor is dramatically changed from before, but the frame and power sources are indeed still your biology. Personality adjustments by order.

I imagine any replacements of brain portions will involve a period of "adoption" where the new section needs to be immersed in the dispersed, repetitive memory wiring that gets done throughout REM sleep. Of course, by this point we should be able to induce it, hopefully speeding up the process. This would be the holographic-style process of "maintaining you" while slowly replacing all the hardware.

The elusive sense of "I" that seems to arise from the brain as a whole would have a central locus and that may need to be replaced in very small chunks, or possibly not at all - depending on how universal that wiring is across all our brains and how the replacement adapts after injection.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

MikeDaSpike (1196169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436748)

Then someone else figures how to do a quantic entaglement of a pair of brain/brain brain/device. That would be the shit.
Instant access to all information
You could see/feel/taste/smell/dream anything else, independently of it being male/female/squirrel/cow/eagle/whale.
You could be someone else entirely different, remotely controlled by your own brain as if it was you

Me personally, I want to feel how a woman feels when she moans that much. Yeah, the killer app is fucking roleplay porn.

Re:Artificial Brains? (0)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436852)

Women pass out from porn and strong emotion. They moan so much because the part of their brain that handles physical pleasure is being overloaded.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437208)

I'll admit to being with you on that one. I'd sign up for that!

Re:Artificial Brains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34436818)

Valid points but you have to realize that you are not the same you when you started to write that post and when you were done with it.
Just as you are a different you when you consider yourself at different times you are also different you if you consider yourself copied to another location.
The difference might not be large, after you you and the chip will have a lot of experience in common just like the past you and the now you have a lot of experience in common.
Under these circumstances copying yourself does not really solve anything, both copies have the same value and have an equal right to live, regardless of which one you kill it is still murder.
This method can not be used to give you eternal life, it can not be used to teleport you, but it can be used to create an individual that is very much like you or even completely new individuals.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436904)

> Because robots can't have a soul. You need a spirit to have that kind of consciousness.
Sorry, but that is an invalid conclusion based on incorrect assumptions.

Not to sound like a dick, but your understanding of consciousness is woefully incomplete / archaic. There are 7 layers of conciousness: Mineral, Plants, Animal occupy the bottom 3, with humans occupying the interesting position in the middle. (There seems little point to disucss the upper 3 when you are still struggling to understand the bottom 3.)

True Artificial Intelligence will eventually be created with bio-computing -- when computure are made from existing organic matter. In the mean-time the joke called Artificial Ignorance is nothing close to intelligent -- it doesn't create new information or make new choices from existing information.

> Immortality through perpetuated consciousness.
Consciousness is _already_ immortal, since it exists outside the physical space-time reality. The AI and atheists guys are clueless are about the difference between brain and mind. An crude *analogy* is that the brain is the hardware, the mind is the software.

> I experience consciousness due to a series of electrochemical reactions in my brain. End of story.
LOL. uhm, no. Go study people who have been _dead_ for 30 mins to over an hour. There was NO EEG waveform.
http://www.neurotransmitter.net/braindeath.html [neurotransmitter.net]
http://www.skeptiko.com/eeg-expert-on-near-death-experience/ [skeptiko.com]

Your physical body is ONLY a container for your consciousness.

If you want to _begin_ to understand how consciousness works, study OBEs and Lucid Dreaming. Specifically Robert Monroe's pioneering work.

> Do you suddenly develop a psychic link with your other self, experiencing both existences at once, living in two different places? ... ridiculous.
It is only ridiculous to you, because again, you are viewing and interpretting how "you think" consciousness works through the narrow filter of the human (physical) kind only, not through the soul or spirit level. At the highest level, we are all connected, there is only One. At the bottom level where we are all seperate, it is hard to imagine how one could even conceive of this connection.
http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html [ted.com]

> Why are you conscious?
Actually, this is the first truely thought-provoking question you've mentioned.

That is almost as "difficult" as asking "Why does the Universe even exist at all?" It only "appears" difficult when one has a limited perspective.

The short answer is "Because God wanted to explore & experience itself." Now that begs the questions "Who/What" is God ? To which Buddha answered this question:

"What could you know about God? What do you know about yourself? Do you know anything about yourself? No? So how could you know anything about God? Leave God aside, for the time being, and find out who you are."

--
Inner Space, not Outer Space is the FINAL frontier.

Re:Artificial Brains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34437004)

OBEs are cool but they are totally explained, it is caused by your visual system being turn on without any reference of were you are in the scene. i use to think like you until a series of MK-801 trips made me realize that all those dream and hallucinations were just that : dreams and hallucinations. We are not all connected we just appears to be and we cannot know about using higher plan of consciousness.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437338)

> OBE's ... it is caused by your visual system being turn on without any reference of were you are in the scene

Even when the [physical] body is in pitch black ?

Re:Artificial Brains? (2)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437002)

I don't see why you act as if everything is so mutually exclusive.

If I have a "Soul" - it can easily be tied to how my brain functions, as my brain is obviously the central point where all my consciousness is based. If you copy my brain, you've copied my soul.

If you cloned a billion of me, perfect exact replicas of me, what would really make them any less human? What would mean they aren't life? Doesn't all life have souls?

So - with that in mind, no, when you copy me, I don't get a psychic link, but its still ME in that other body, its still MY soul, its just not the one inside this body. Much like how I copy a CD, they're both mine, sure one is the original but they are still one in the same.

So yes - much like a photograph won't live forever, you can it in, copy it, now it does live forever.

Would I want to be immortal in that case? Sure why not. Each soul will have its own death, but a copy of that soul will remain forever. It's the blessing of living forever minus the curse of actually living forever.

When you stop thinking about everything as a unique item that is unduplicatable - which cloning and bionics seems to push more towards every day, that doesn't mean you have to disconnect spirituality from it.

I mean, look at it this way. If you woke up one day and you were in a bed beside what appeared to an exact replica of you, and you were told that you were a clone copy, would you automatically write yourself off as having no soul (if you believed in that)? Because thats likely what the experience would feel like for the clone. (This is assuming memories transfer over and you're built to that age and stuff like that, lets not get into the super technical details)

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

happyg (981453) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437020)

From what I understand, neurons die and are replaced all the time. I think they last longer than most cells, but at least some of them do die and are replaced. I could be wrong about this as I haven't studied it, but lets assume it's true.

If this is true, then your brain is slowly being replaced. The "you" that you are now isn't the exact same "you" as was you N years ago.

What if you use technology to slowly replace dying brain cells with new "immortal" brain cells? There is no "copy" - there is always only one of "you" - but eventually your consciousness will be immortalized.

By making this a gradual thing rather than an instant thing does that make it any more appealing? In the end, you end up in the same place (original brain gone, electronic brain working) but there's a single stream of consciousness from A to B rather than potentially having two copies of you where one of them dies. From what I understand, this happens as time goes on anyway so would "you" notice a difference?

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437024)

Ah, indeed you've hit the primary interesting concept in artificial intelligence, that is, what actually are we as intelligent humans?

Most people do assume a "soul" and I think its complete poppycock.

But, if there is no soul, then you're absolutely right. We can copy the brain, but its a copy; it would be no different than if we were to make a biological clone.

HOWEVER. What if instead of making a copy of your data to an artificial brain, what if we just replace, say, a single part of your brain with a perfect cybernetic replacement? Say, replace your amygdala, or your thalamus, only. Just that one part. Could we engineer something that takes in the biological inputs that the human amygdala does, and then gives the exact same outputs that an amygdala does?

That doesn't seem inconceivable to me. So, that makes you a cyborg, with a mostly human brain, and one robotic part.

So, then we replace another part. And another part. And anther part. And after awhile, piece by piece, you are made robotic completely.

So, which single piece do you stop being yourself, and you're making a "copy" to the machine brain? I don't think thats the case. So yes, while we CAN make copies, I think that transference is ALSO possible!!

Crazy stuff to think about, for sure. Shows just how little we know. Some people are so arrogant, and have no idea.

Re:Artificial Brains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34437136)

Just because you can't imagine it working doesn't mean it doesn't.

Let's take your example of making an identical copy of my brain (in flesh or electronics), and booted both at the same time. Of course I'd have no "psychic link", but each copy would indeed feel as though they're the one that "survived". Both having the same memory up to the point where they were copied. Then if you asked each individually, they'd claim to not notice any interruption. This is what you'd expect if the brain were just a machine, and I see no reason why it would prevent consciousness.

Think of it this way. You have memories of just a few minutes ago, right? But those memories are somehow distinct from your perceptions *right now*, yes? I'd argue that you are *only* conscious in the present, and the illusion of a stream of consciousness is because you possess memories. And memories can be duplicated and modified. There's no need for a soul, or for anything - material or immaterial - to constantly persist for you to still be you.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437174)

The reason why robots truly won't have human consciousness is that they lack the collective unconscious, which has been building up hundreds of thousands of years. It's not only about memory but how we perceive the reality once illusions of the human reality have been shattered.

The robots will be able to analyze the human input data and make an analysis, but ultimately the robots will have their own version of the collective unconscious and form their own gene patterns and lore.

Take for instance the concepts of realization and liberation. To what will the robot liberate themselves to? Will the concepts of death and birth play any role? Robots will never be human even though they will be able to make a complete simulation. Robots but will be something else once the technology allows to.

Once we master the control of the synapses we can create new realities and have borderless connections between individuals. Ultimately that's only another simulation (like the internet is now), but it will guide us towards sharing a single consciousness, multitude of sensations at the same exact moment.

In a way that's the level where the robotic minds are in the beginning, and by which we can expand our consciousness in new ways and to new platforms, feel new sensations and our way in the universe, expand in forms that are way beyond the restrictions set by the human body.

Re:Artificial Brains? (5, Insightful)

KnownIssues (1612961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437216)

When you go to sleep (or are knocked out, or drugged, or in a coma, etc) your consciousness ends. When you wake up, your consciousness resumes. You do not freak out about that. You remember your consciousness from before, that it was in the body from before. We believe we have a soul that is immutable from our consciousness because we have had no other experience and cannot comprehend what it would be like.

Look at the experiments that have "reprogrammed" people to believe they like something they didn't before by creating memories of experiences where they liked it. They cannot remember not liking it.Or schizophrenics or people with split/multiple personalities. Our brains are not the infallable machine devices that we like to think they are; they are squishy, malleable things. Consciousness is not a black and white state; it only appears to be because that is the typical way of experiencing our mind.

What makes us conscious? The belief that we're conscious. If you cloned your mind and put it in another body you would have two minds that both believed they were you. But why should we have trouble with that? We don't believe twins are one person. Their actions distinguish them. The two entities that shared one mind at one time would diverge and quickly become two distinguishable entities.

Re:Artificial Brains? (4, Funny)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437258)

If I copy your brain to another cloned brain, yank yours out, and replace it with the clone, everyone else will interact with you as if you were you, no difference; but YOU would vanish into the blackness, you'd stop living, you'd die.

Which is the exact reason I'd never take a ride on a Star Trek teleporter. I don't want to die and leave my entire physical, mental, and emotional estate to my identical twin who hasn't been born yet.

Re:Artificial Brains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34437286)

When this happens it will be hilarious watching all the people like you (philosphers) try to figure this out while I just say "who cares, we outnumber you thanks to leaving the transporter on overnight, what're you going to do about it?"

Re:Artificial Brains? (4, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437316)

Amnesia and Alzheimer's is enough proof we don't have souls, no doubt what we call "consciousness" is really just a network of developed cells and memories that are attached to it. After all no one claims to be able to remember what it was like as an embryo, also when one is under amnesia. One's "soul" doesn't float away. The concept of "soul" is just our irrational psychic defense against the fact we all die someday. That so many peoples and cultures have come up with an afterlife speaks volumes that it is just a reaction against our powerlessness to heal and fix ourselves because of the expense, energy, intelligence and tools to do so.

We experience the self as a unified thing but it isn't. This is proven by people who've had brain damage in accidents and strokes where their "self" functions but they lose specific functions and aspects of 'who they are'.

You can find out more by reading the following book by a Neurologist.

This is Damasio's refutation of the Cartesian idea of the human mind as separate from bodily processes draws on neurochemistry to support his claim that emotions play a central role in human decision making.

http://www.amazon.com/Descartes-Error-Emotion-Reason-Human/dp/014303622X/ [amazon.com]

Also related clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYmi0DLzBdQ [youtube.com]

Re:Artificial Brains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34437346)

Here is the problem with teleportation.

Lay it on me, you say.

Assuming a device could be invented, which would identify the quantum state of matter of an individual in one location and transmit that pattern to a distant location for reassembly. You would not have actually transported the individual, you would have destroyed him in one location and recreated him in another.

How about that, is your answer.

Personally, I would never use a transporter because the original me would have to be disintegrated in order to create a new me.

You might ask: Would the new you be in any way an improvement on the old you?

No, he would be exactly the same

That is a problem, you conclude.

(shamelessly taken from The Big Bang Theory)

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437362)

Now suppose I move your brain's data into another organic brain, electronic brain, or anything else of the source. Would you continue to "live"? Would YOU continue to live?

This is a non-existent (i.e. ill-posed) question, because you haven't defined life and, more importantly, you haven't defined individuality. There exist many philosophies/schools of thought where the whole idea of existence is rejected, let alone perpetuity of an individual. In fact, most systems of belief/philosophies would say that "you" are just as different from a perfect copy of yourself as you're different from yourself a day, second, or nanosecond ago.

Re:Artificial Brains? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436634)

Well, this one is supposed to be available within 5 years, so that means we have a decent chance of getting it by 2030.

Sounds like another pipe dream (3, Insightful)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436132)

This is nothing like the cognitive human brain. This is only a variable memory device.

Re:Sounds like another pipe dream (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436206)

This is nothing like the cognitive human brain. This is only a variable memory device.

Variable memory, eh? Perhaps we can use it to replace politicians.

Re:Sounds like another pipe dream (2)

Eudial (590661) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436432)

Worth a try. At least it couldn't get any worse.

Re:Sounds like another pipe dream (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436478)

Worth a try. At least it couldn't get any worse.

Flipping a coin to decide issues would be about as useful and is much cheaper...

Re:Sounds like another pipe dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34437292)

Re:Sounds like another pipe dream (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437298)

A d20 would be even better.

Re:Sounds like another pipe dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34436698)

This is nothing like the cognitive human brain. This is only a variable memory device.

Not quite... memristors can simulate neural synapses and very simple memristor circuits have simulated simple organisms.

http://machineslikeus.com/news/synaptic-behaviour-captured-new-memristor-circuit-design [machineslikeus.com]
http://www.memristor.org/artificial-intelligence/124/slime-mold-periodic-timing-with-memristor-modeling [memristor.org]

disclaimer: I am an EE, this is not really my area, but I have a reasonable understanding...

Re:Sounds like another pipe dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34436814)

What do you think a brain is?

-intone

Re:Sounds like another pipe dream (2)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437046)

What is a man?
A miserable little pile of secrets! But enough of this, have at you!

Re:Sounds like another pipe dream (1)

Jazz-Masta (240659) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437120)

This is nothing like the cognitive human brain. This is only a variable memory device.

My hope is that these artificial brains come with an easy way to back up their memory. Since no one does computer backups, I can imagine it would be the same with their brains...

I can imagine it now...in 2025...

Kid: What's wrong with dad?
Mom: He crashed last night.
Kid: Did you do a full restore?
Mom: Yes, but we haven't done a backup since 2012. So he thinks he's 25, doesn't remember you, and he keeps talking about President Palin.

Maybe they can implant one in Sarah Palin? (2, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436136)

Now that's 'Change We Can Believe In!'

Re:Maybe they can implant one in Sarah Palin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34436442)

Sarah Palin has a brain? That's news to me!

Re:Maybe they can implant one in Sarah Palin? (1)

Metrathon (311607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436508)

There was no mention of a brain already in place.

Re:Maybe they can implant one in Sarah Palin? (4, Funny)

rts008 (812749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436838)

Hell, you don't even need to go that high tech.
Replacing her brain with a Roomba would likely triple her IQ.

First ten posts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34436174)

they all sucked.

just sayin'

Robot maids, cooks, and robots who repair robots (2)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436196)

I'm going to be the laziest bastard alive

Well maybe I'm already lazy (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436224)

Well, I might already be that, but someday this could make my transformation complete.

Re:Well maybe I'm already lazy (1)

Shark (78448) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436896)

As a robot designed to post on slashdot, my owner probably disagrees. True laziness is when you have robots do your thinking for you.

Hmmm 5 years they say? (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436218)

Ever notice that anytime some cool sounding new development is announced the people behind it say 'we see this having applications in/within/in about five years?

Call me when you actually have something to show us.

Re:Hmmm 5 years they say? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436320)

Ever notice that anytime an interesting piece of science or technology is talked about, someone complains about how people say "we see this having applications in about five years", even when it's not really relevant?

Re:Hmmm 5 years they say? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436446)

It's perfectly relevant to point out that more times than not they are just pulling that number out of their ass but of course you're free to disagree.

Re:Hmmm 5 years they say? (1)

retech (1228598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436526)

It's so that you forget about it and they're never called out on failing if they do.

Re:Hmmm 5 years they say? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436608)

Ever notice that every time someone complains that people complain about how people say "we see this having applications in about five years", people are making exactly the same complaint five years later?

Finally! We'll be able to make (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436236)

Cybernetic Lifeform Node!

Neuromorphic CPUs (4, Informative)

Kensai7 (1005287) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436238)

Even if the rest of the things explained in the article happen many years away, the last couple of paragraphs explain the trend:

Neuromorphic chips won't just power niche AI applications. The architectural lessons we learn here will revolutionize all future CPUs. The fact is, conventional computers will just not get significantly more powerful unless they move to a more parallel and locality-driven architecture. While neuromorphic chips will first supplement today's CPUs, soon their sheer power will overwhelm that of today's computer architectures.

The semiconductor industry's relentless push to focus on smaller and smaller transistors will soon mean transistors have higher failure rates. This year, the state of the art is 22-nanometer feature sizes. By 2018, that number will have shrunk to 12 nm, at which point atomic processes will interfere with transistor function; in other words, they will become increasingly unreliable. Companies like Intel, Hynix, and of course HP are putting a lot of resources into finding ways to rely on these unreliable future devices. Neuromorphic computation will allow that to happen on both memristors and transistors.

It won't be long until all multicore chips integrate a dense, low-power memory with their CMOS cores. It's just common sense.

Our prediction? Neuromorphic chips will eventually come in as many flavors as there are brain designs in nature: fruit fly, earthworm, rat, and human. All our chips will have brains.

Hopefully, this is the solution to 2018's problem of reaching atomic levels of miniaturization. We have a breaktrought to continue with Moore's law beyond current technology.

Re:Neuromorphic CPUs (2, Insightful)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436450)

I think Moore's law is becoming increasingly pointless to most of the world. It talks about speed, yet at this point few manufacturers are trying to win speed competitions. It's all about form factor and efficiency. To use a car analogy, the past number of years were the horsepower wars of the late 60s & early 70s. Now we have seen a switch to fuel (energy) economy as the main driver of development.

That being said, I think it's cool this is a possible future - it's not that be need more power, we need a different way of doing the job.

Re:Neuromorphic CPUs (1)

Kensai7 (1005287) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436592)

I think Moore's law is becoming increasingly pointless...It talks about speed...

Actually I think it talks about transistor density, not CPU frequency (speed). And transistor density keeps going up, year after year. In 2007 we had the CPU that beat Kasparov in 1997 and weighted 1.5 tons. This info is in the article, btw.

Re:Neuromorphic CPUs (3, Informative)

limaxray (1292094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436934)

Actually, it talks about transistor density per unit cost - as long as manufacturing continues to improve and drive down costs, Moore's law will continue beyond the physical limitations of transistor density (stuff will continue to get cheaper even if it doesn't get 'faster').

I don't understand why most people focus on the maximizing transistor density part when 99% of applications call for minimizing cost.

Re:Neuromorphic CPUs (2)

CarAnalogy (1191053) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436770)

While processing speeds are certainly linked to Moore's law, it is really only about the bi-yearly doubling of the transistor count while keeping prices roughly the same. Increasing the amount of cores and adding more on-die memory are easy ways to keep Moore's law going.

...well, easier than decreasing the half-pitch below 12nm.

By the way, Moore's law applies to memory density and CCD properties as well, neither of which appear to be close to their limits.

Re:Neuromorphic CPUs (3, Informative)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437332)

I think Moore's law is becoming increasingly pointless to most of the world. It talks about speed

It doesn't actually talk about speed at all; it talks about the cost of manufacturing chips of 2^n density where n increments every 18-24 months cost remains constant. It is, in fact, exactly what you go on to say is relevant despite the fact that what you're describing IS Moore's Law exactly.

Re:Neuromorphic CPUs (1)

Khenke (710763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436822)

By 2018, that number will have shrunk to 12 nm, at which point atomic processes will interfere with transistor function; in other words, they will become increasingly unreliable.

Then Intel, Toshiba and Samsung must be doing something very stupid. "they hope to reduce lithography technology from the 20 nanometer size used today to something below 10nm." from http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/10/10/30/1925204/Intel-Toshiba-Samsung-To-Form-Chip-Alliance?from=rss [slashdot.org]

Open the pod bay doors, HAL. (1)

guzzirider (551141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436428)

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
HAL only had JK Flip Flops ....

Time Scale's Off (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436554)

...to implement highly integrated, powerful artificial brains on cheap and widely available hardware within five years.

*snicker* Is it April 1st already Soulskill?

Don't get me wrong, this is cool research, but cheap, available, artificial brains in five years? In 2015? Color me skeptical. I say give it 25 at least.

Destination Void (2)

retech (1228598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436556)

Pity Frank Herbert isn't still around to see the fruits of his imagination!

Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34436564)

We already know how to make highly integrated powerful brains. It's called sex. Oh wait, this is Slashdot...

Rise of the machines... (1)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436614)

FTFA...

By the middle of next year, our researchers will be working with thousands of candidate animats at once, all with slight variations in their brain architectures. Playing intelligent designers, we'll cull the best ones from the bunch and keep tweaking them until they unquestionably master tasks like the water maze and other, progressively harder experiments. We'll watch each of these simulated animats interacting with its environment and evolving like a natural organism. We expect to eventually find the "cocktail" of brain areas and connections that achieves autonomous intelligent behavior. We will then incorporate those elements into a memristor-based neural-processing chip. Once that chip is manufactured, we will build it into robotic platforms that venture into the real world.

Then, once they become self-aware, we can turn Arnold Schwarzenegger loose on them.

Allegiance to the Artificial Brain (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436766)

There is no reason to suppose that people would not ally themselves with an artificial brain. People have already aligned themselves with Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Adolf Hitler, and Josef Stalin--allegiances with undisputedly bad people who ultimately served them very poorly. There is every reason to expect that people will form an allegiance to an artificial brain if that artificial brain causes those people to receive adequate food, shelter, and medical care.

That will be seriously weird. I can envision elections to appoint protectors of the artificial brain. If the military gets what it wants from the artificial brain, it will protect the artificial brain (and let the wars begin). The Artificial Brain will be able to forge shifting alliances with human groups that ensure its continued existence in power.

Imagine multiple corporations amassing ever more power as a consequence of direction by a superior artificial brain. That power is political power and it translates to control over people.

I WANT ASIMOV'S THREE RULES!!!!! This is scary!

I dont think this is ever possible (1)

ProfessorKaos64 (1772382) | more than 3 years ago | (#34436922)

Consider this. You may make fun of this for its matrix reference but hear me out. Because an artificual brain is built on rules, on parameters, it will never* function like our brain does. Even without a social upbringing we would learn creatively by our 5 senses. Because these senses are biologically innate from day 1, you can't duplicate that sensory perception and its synapses that feed the brain. Sure, we could tell it input X,Y,Z, and allow it to "learn" based on parameters, but its still a system built on walls, rules, and contained input, despite any creative output. Also take into part the concept of instincts, souls, and the fact no two brains are a like. Trying to sum up all the creativeness of every single brain on the planet is nigh impossible. Do I doubt we will be able to simulate some functions of a brain? No, but I doubt it will ever reach the biological power of the cognitive human brain. No matter what you "teach" it, it is still a processor, with parameters.

Never mind AI (3, Insightful)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437036)

Couldn't this be used to make cheaper solid-state storage?

Another step to cyberbrains? (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437066)

So is this a step in the direction for cyberbrains or maybe internal memory storage devices for implanting in humans ?

Nice, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34437102)

...will it run BSD?

Why do we think we are so much smarter (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437150)

Why do we think we are so much smarter than those scientists on Caprica. They were much further advanced than us. Shouldn't we be learning from their mistakes instead of trying to recreate them?

Memristors availably (1)

carstene (267166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34437352)

When I can buy one at mouser/digikey then maybe I'd believe you can build something neat with them in 5 years.

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