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Europe's Got Talent For Geeks

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the best-in-show dept.

EU 97

fiannaFailMan writes "Teams of scientists from across the continent are vying for a funding bonanza that could see two of them receive up to $1.33 billion over 10 years to keep Europe at the cutting edge of technology. The contest began with 26 proposals that were whittled down to six last year. Just four have made it to the final round. They include a plan to develop digital guardian angels that would keep people safe from harm; a massive data-crunching machine to simulate social, economic and technological change on our planet; an effort to craft the most accurate computer model of the human brain to date; and a team working to find better ways to produce and employ graphene — an ultra-thin material that could revolutionize manufacturing of everything from airplanes to computer chips."

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At least one has merit... (1, Troll)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42614651)

The Graphene one. The others are just the usual BS from people clueless about how computers work and what they can and cannot do. Oh, and of course researchers that will sell their soul and integrity for just a bit of grant money.

Re:At least one has merit... (5, Insightful)

pep939 (1957678) | about 2 years ago | (#42614697)

I disagree. The human brain model is a realistic and useful project. In fact, modelisation has always been a very active field in computer science.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614943)

I think it's like a series of tubes

Re:At least one has merit... (2)

backwardMechanic (959818) | about 2 years ago | (#42614959)

It's an interesting idea, but suggests a far greater understanding of how the brain works than we actually have. How can you abstract the important parts, when we have no idea what they are? We're still trying to figure out the many, highly complex biochemical pathways. Maybe that explain why, even though the project employs a full-time science writer, it never seems to publish very much?

Re:At least one has merit... (5, Insightful)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 2 years ago | (#42615013)

How can you abstract the important parts, when we have no idea what they are?

There are several levels of abstraction that one can pursue when modeling things. We already know a lot about things in all of these levels, only not in a fully comprehensive way. Modeling and simulation is an excellent way to give insights about the gaps in the knowledge and to direct further research.

We're still trying to figure out the many, highly complex biochemical pathways.

And each of the 250+ neurotransmitters has different physic-chemical dynamics. Does that mean we need to know everything before we make an overall functional model? Definitely no.

Do I have to take into consideration every car in existence to make a model of congestion on roads? No. Now bring me my spherical cow please.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#42616869)

So you're saying "We know what happens to data that enters this part of the brain, but we don't know how it works. We'll just make something up that provides the same results"?

Then you're not really modeling or truly even simulating the human brain.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 2 years ago | (#42617661)

So you're saying "We know what happens to data that enters this part of the brain, but we don't know how it works. We'll just make something up that provides the same results"?

No, I would not say in such a mocking tone what is basically the scientific method: to formulate a hypothesis and to test it against the data.

Then you're not really modeling or truly even simulating the human brain.

Oh really? Then perhaps you should enlighten us with your definition of modeling. While you're at it, keep in mind the same definition must apply to all sciences. For instance the Standard Model... nah, those physicists are not really modeling... what about all that dark matter???

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

ModelX (182441) | about 2 years ago | (#42619463)

There are several levels of abstraction that one can pursue when modeling things. We already know a lot about things in all of these levels, only not in a fully comprehensive way. Modeling and simulation is an excellent way to give insights about the gaps in the knowledge and to direct further research.

And each of the 250+ neurotransmitters has different physic-chemical dynamics. Does that mean we need to know everything before we make an overall functional model? Definitely no.

Do I have to take into consideration every car in existence to make a model of congestion on roads? No. Now bring me my spherical cow please.

If anything recent neuroscience research has shown us how little we know about how the brain works. Even for the parts whose function we do know we don't know the actual principles of operation. This is not even close to comprehensive understanding. Basically we know the functionality of the first few layers of neurons closest to receptors then we think we know bits about the next few layers but we know we don't know how the whole learning, adaptation and top-down processes work, and then the further up you go the less we know.

So while in principle I do agree that quantitative modeling going hand in hand with neuroscience research is the way to go pretending to know we can build a somewhat functioning model of the whole brain is a bit of a joke. It's OK as a far fetched goal but we should really go step by step by understanding how parts work.

Re:At least one has merit... (4, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 years ago | (#42615123)

Yeah and we will surely get there if we never try.

"No need to do these weather simulations and prediction, we are often wrong anyway."

Better give up anything we can't do atm. Tell that to your children.

"No use for you to study math, you suck at it and there's so many others who are better than you. Why are you even trying?"

WTF is wrong with people?

It''s a good way to end all progress though.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

backwardMechanic (959818) | about 2 years ago | (#42615251)

I never intended to say we shouldn't try. What I meant to say is the approach of "let's simulate a whole brain" is a bit of a party trick and not a whole lot of use. I simply don't believe that making huge simulations with a very big computer is the answer. Simulating bits of brain is interesting. The true art in simulating - well, anything - is in the abstraction. Climate modelling is pretty cool, and often wrong. That doesn't mean it is of no use - the 'wrong' results are often as interesting as the right ones. I just have the feeling that the BB project is the equivalent of trying to model the dynamics of every raindrop, and hoping to show global warming. It's the wrong approach to a good question.

Re:At least one has merit... (-1, Flamebait)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#42615725)

Yeah and we will surely get there if we never try.

God, I *hate* it when people use that line of thinking as a justification for stupid fucking ideas. You can apply that thoughtless "We'll never know if we don't try!" mentality to almost anything, no matter how brain-dead stupid.

You: "I want to build a urine-powered spacecraft out of parrot feathers and fly it to Mars!"
Me: "That's fucking stupid on so many levels. No way should we fund that."
You: "We'll never know for sure if we don't try!"

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42616061)

That's not even remotely comparable.

In the case of the brain simulation, we are already pretty sure that it should be doable in principle, although it might not be doable in practice, and we definitely don't know enough about it. So if we try, we will learn a lot, even if we never arrive at the goal.

With the urine-powered parrot feather spacecraft we already know pretty well that it almost certainly isn't doable even in principle, and that we will likely learn absolutely nothing when trying.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#42616899)

We understand weather enough to simulate it.

We understand math enough to properly teach it and implement it.

We don't understand how the human brain works enough to simulate it.

Science is based on guesses supported by facts: we don't just 'make shit up'. Tell your children.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

jelle (14827) | about 2 years ago | (#42617117)

"We understand weather enough to simulate it."
"We don't understand how the human brain works enough to simulate it."

Simulations allow numerical verification of models & theories.
Simulations are part of the scientific process to 'understand' things better.

A lot of that weather knowledge came from trying to simulate it and seeing where it was wrong and where it was right.

It most definitely was not a situation where the weather scientists said, 'hey now that we know the weather, let's put it in a computer simulation' and then good weather forecasts magically came out of the machine. The process is highly iterative. 'measure real world -> maybe it works like this -> simulate model -> nope or yup, repeat'.

And actually, afaics, state of the art weather simulation has gotten so far that it seems mostly a sparse data problem these days, but that doesn't mean we should stop trying to improve the simulation algorithms and focus solely on increasing the data volume and accuracy. For one, we may not be using the data we have completely correct yet.

Similarly, we'll learn more about how brains work the more we try to mimic it in simulations.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 2 years ago | (#42615927)

We seem to be quite far [wikipedia.org] already, having simulated the smallest functional unit of the rat neocortex years ago. The rest seems to be just a matter of scaling up (with all the problems that usually come from that, and probably more).

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42617359)

We seem to be quite far [wikipedia.org] already, having simulated the smallest functional unit of the rat neocortex years ago. The rest seems to be just a matter of scaling up (with all the problems that usually come from that, and probably more).

You mistake the results of this project for a success. It is not. It is a simulation of a model that does actually not deliver anything comparable to a working rat brain. Some abstract numbers are similar though if you look purely at the rat brain hardware and ignore everything on its software side. When you compare this to computers, simulating a PC compatible hardware is relatively simple. Put in usual software as well, and it becomes quite impossibly complex.

As to scaling up, this is at the very least quadratic in complexity even if only the (by itself quite useless) biological hardware is simulated. Scaling up to a full rat brain may already be quite impossible. And would still be useless as you do not get a rat-brain, but something akin to a dead rat with electrically reanimated brain cells, but nothing else in there.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42618915)

And would still be useless as you do not get a rat-brain, but something akin to a dead rat with electrically reanimated brain cells, but nothing else in there

Good ol' dualism. Citation needed?

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 2 years ago | (#42624967)

Some abstract numbers are similar though if you look purely at the rat brain hardware and ignore everything on its software side.

How exactly do you look at brain hardware and ignore software? My understanding was that, when it comes to wetware, the two are so hopelessly intertwined that talking of one without the other makes no sense. Am I wrong in that assumption? How?

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42625381)

On the basic level you are overlooking that your statement only holds for wetware that is alive. Dead wetware does not containe the critical software anymore. These researchers are basically simulating dead wetware and then put in some preconception on what it would look like alive. That way they are putting in > 90% of what is critical not by simulation, but by assumption.

What they simulate is the interaction of some molecules in specific configuration. The configuration is put in from the outside as assumption. Yet the minutiae detail and the dynamic state that results from it are supposedly the software. They cannot simulate that, far too complex. You do not only need to simulate each molecule, you need to simulate precise location in 3D, precise folding state, precise electrical charge, precise temperature, all sorts of kinetic effects, all fluids, etc. There is also indication that a lot of quantum effects are going on in synapses, adding several more orders of magnitude in complexity. Cannot be simulated at this time, far too complex. If you put that together with the impeding end of Moore's law, you see the problem. Simulating the global weather down do a cubic-meter detail level is simple in comparison (far easier chemical composition, only little chemical effects, other effects not present or a lot simples), yet that is very far out of reach and the sensors needed to get a starting state cannot be placed in practice.

My statement is just that the published numbers suggest a level of accuracy that is not there by several orders of magnitude. And if it were there, which is at least a theoretical possibility, the starting conditions are impossible to set as they cannot be measured from life tissue with anything like the precision required. The interesting thing to me is whether we will be able to create life artificially. If that happens, then one barrier to AI has fallen. So far, it has been predicted often, sometimes even falsely claimed, but never happened. So far, life cannot be created, only things that are alive can split.

Also note that if AI comes in this way (simulating the brain), it may have all the drawbacks of human intelligence, like needing motivation, being moody, being lazy, etc. and hence be pretty worthless. It may also not surpass human intelligence in any meaningful way.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42617279)

Just my point. And this has been the state of affairs for quite a while. This project to "model" something without actually having a theoretical model that is detaled enough is a pure waste of grant money and researcher talent.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614977)

I disagree. The human brain model is a realistic and useful project. In fact, modelisation has always been a very active field in computer science.

There are already competing efforts to model the human brain, why should this group in particular get the funding?

Re:At least one has merit... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42615255)

There are already competing efforts to model the human brain, why should this group in particular get the funding?

Once upon I time I was part of a group that tried to get EU funding for a project.
One of the reasons we didn't get it was that we were too pessimistic when mentioning other fields that would benefit from our research.

The research grants are not only there to benefit one specific research field. Projects like the LHC arguably made larger leaps in data management than it did in particle physics. That research will be beneficial for everyone with similar problems.

It doesn't answer your question but nothing will answer your question unless you specifically mention one group that you think should have the funding instead. Then we can discuss which project will benefit society the most.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42615155)

I disagree. The human brain model is a realistic and useful project. In fact, modelisation has always been a very active field in computer science.

Are they gong to call it Skynet?

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#42615681)

Anyone who thinks you can model a complex biological brain on a binary computer is just demonstrating how ignorant they are. You're not just talking a difference of degree there, but a fundamental difference of KIND.

Re:At least one has merit... (4, Interesting)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 2 years ago | (#42615889)

Just like you can't simulate weather in a computer because it contains no water?

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#42616571)

Just like you can't simulate weather in a computer because it contains no water?

A curious example, considering we haven't yet actually simulated a weather pattern with any degree of accuracy whatsoever. Sure, we've got models, but those models work with a resolution of a few dozen square kilometers, which has about as much connection to how weather actually works as a clay-ball model does to the shape of an atom. To actually simulate weather, you'd have to have a resolution down to individual atoms. The only way to accurately simulate weather is, indeed, either to have a "computer" that contains water and air, or one several dozen orders of magnitude (at least, probably more) more powerful than we currently have.

Computers do not tend to handle enormously complex non-linear problems very well.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42618955)

To actually simulate weather, you'd have to have a resolution down to individual atoms.

That'd be the equivalent of actually executing weather. To simulate it, you don't need a 1:1 resolution. A flight simulator doesn't take into account the air flow in the nostrils of the co-pilot. On an individual atom-level, that does contribute to how the plane moves.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

jelle (14827) | about 2 years ago | (#42617015)

As soon as you truly fully simulate a human brain, wouldn't it be murder to turn the machine off?

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42617393)

No. You cannot even begin to simulate anything that makes the brain alive. Let them succeed in simulating a life biological cell without using any abstractions first. Woops, that is impossible! And in the abstractions lies the problem: If you just put in the "being alive" from outside or as a stipulation, you do not simulate the thing itself, but the outside-view (interface behavior) reflecting your own misconceptions of what it should be.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

jelle (14827) | about 2 years ago | (#42657749)

What you're saying is that it's impossible to truly fully simulate a human brain, based on the observation that fully simulating a biological cell hasn't been done yet.

But If they could make progress and do that, they could be simulating a brain that is a live. Then how would they be certain that that hasn't happened yet and it wasn't alive?

And beyond that, how would they actually be certain that an incomplete simulation of a human brain is not alive? What if it's equivalent to a brain of a cat?

At what time does it become ethically wrong to terminate the simulation?

Not knowing that it's not alive doesn't mean that you're not killing it if you do something that would kill it if it were...

Shooting the box with schroedinger's cat might kill the cat, if it (still) were alive, so perhaps you should refrain from that.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

tenco (773732) | about 2 years ago | (#42620695)

Doesn't need to be a computer simulation. There already has been some research on how to model neurons in silicon. Just google it.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614761)

And with all the software-based ones, not one is anything like "To make it easier to write general software on massively parallel machines".

Re:At least one has merit... (4, Insightful)

LourensV (856614) | about 2 years ago | (#42614921)

The Graphene one. The others are just the usual BS from people clueless about how computers work and what they can and cannot do.

Spoken like a true programmer or sysadmin with no knowledge of statistics, modelling, machine learning or data analysis. I know, because I was one (and I still write code and maintain servers). But I've also moved into the above fields, and it's a completely different world. The discrete math and logic you use in programming are completely useless here, and the things you can do and the hurdles you come across are very different from the ones you see in programming. Of course, you still have to implement your models and analyses, and you get all the usual issues there (plus things like numerical instability), but even if the software is running fine you'll have things like parameter identifiability, difficulties in comparing models, lack of data in the places where you need it, conceptual problems with the models that can only be solved by making them more complex, which leads to lack of data problems and the need for massive amounts of compute power, and so on. These are the things they will be trying to tackle, and they have nothing to do with the limitations of Turing-style computers.

I do remain sceptical about having a chat with a Turing-level AI any time soon, but data analysis, modelling and inference methods are getting better and better (see Google Search, Watson) and I don't think that continued research into these things is a waste of money. Neither do Google, Facebook, Microsoft, the US government, and the EU apparently.

Finally, here's another EU project [futurict.eu] in this direction that is both scary and interesting.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

firecode (119868) | about 2 years ago | (#42616579)

Yes, machine learning, data analysis, probabilistic processing and (causal) learning from data is where the future is. The basic programming and binary logic is still important but not be able to create real AI-like solutions. Still, the capabilities of hardware are very important too, as serious number crunching requires lots of processing power (unlike "normal" programs): distributed monte carlo sampling from complex probability models using 1024 threads and CPU-cores + TBs of memory is easily required to handle more complex models. Binary logic works somehow as a crude approximation in high dimensional spaces where most of the data is near edges (hypercube with side length 1 has volume V=1^D = 1, but if you take just 5% away from each edge, the center (values between 0 and 1) has only volume V = 1 - 0.9^D which is close to zero in high dimensional spaces. Bayesian inference is required to properly handle uncertainly better once the dimensionality of the problem is properly reduced using "boolean"-like methods etc.

But basic MCMC and bayesian inference starts to be somewhat outdated afaik and there are smarter methods. Smart mathematical (semiprobabilistic) algorithms and scientific computing rule the future of computing.

Re:At least one has merit... (2, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42617633)

Spoken as somebody that has fully absorbed the propaganda of the Bayesian community. Statistical modeling cannot ever model complex things. It is really good at simple ones, but what does that get you? Not intelligence. Intelligence is not dealing with a lot of facts and finding simple things about them. Intelligence is dealing with a relatively small number of facts and having insights about them, i.e. things that extend the previous model you had on a fundamental level.

I am never ceased to be amazed how many people mistake mechanical data-mining for intelligence. My own explanation for that is that real intelligence is not that common in humans either.

Re:At least one has merit... (2)

LourensV (856614) | about 2 years ago | (#42618347)

Well, that depends on your definition of complex I guess. I'm currently attempting to model the distribution of plants in space and time. That includes processes like dispersal, local colonisation and extinction, plant physiology, human influence, and species interactions. I haven't got all of them in yet, but to my eyes it's not simple.

I'm not interested in creating any kind of intelligence, I just want to know which model describes my data best, how good it is, why it is better than other models, what that says about reality, and how I can improve it further. That'll require some intelligence, which will come from me and my colleagues. And yes, I'm using Bayesian inference (MCMC model fitting using Gibbs sampling) to get there, because it's a good tool for the job.

Does that mean that my model is going to be any good at describing reality? No idea. That depends on how much data I can obtain to put in it, how accurately and comprehensively the processes involved are modelled, and to what extent the process I'm modelling is inherently random and unpredictable. So we'll see how it goes. However, giving up because "Statistical modeling cannot ever model complex things" strikes me as simplistic and defeatist.

Honestly, looking at your posts in this thread, I get the feeling that I'm seeing a case of Clarke's First Law here. But maybe that's just me.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42623865)

Maybe I should have said "structurally simple". It can still have a lot of parameters and interactions, but they are each relatively "flat", i.e. you do not need a long chain of reasoning-steps to find them and in particular, you can find each relatively independent from the others. Most work goes into finding the parameters. There can still be a lot of these aspects, but they do not build on each other. Think maybe of a massively branching Markov model (which is then not a Markov model anymore), or of a mathematical proof for what I mean by complex. The structure of a mathematical proof is not accessible to statistics, also because there is just one of it for each concrete problem and the existing ones have zero predictive value for others as there are no "similar" starting conditions. (Leaving aside trivial proofs of course.) It is one of the better benchmarks for AI though.

For your application, Bayesian inference is certainly a good approach and I never meant to imply it was unusable as a tool. It is just that part of the Bayesian community seems to sell it as next thing in AI, which it definitely is not.

What I do not get, however, is all the Ad Hominem. It feels like I am taking away people's dreams, when I am merely pointing out that the state-of-the-art does not support the predictions being made. This is after all not a religious thing, but about facts.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42617591)

The Graphene one. The others are just the usual BS from people clueless about how computers work and what they can and cannot do.

Spoken like a true programmer or sysadmin with no knowledge of statistics, modelling, machine learning or data analysis.

Actually I am have a PhD in CS and I am still active in research (although not as much as I used to be). I am pretty sure I know what I am talking about though, and I have seen how this money-wasting machine that is EU research grant distribution works. I also have ties to the academic AI community, and there is nothing, nothing at all that suggests we could get anything resembling actual intelligence anytime soon, or ever, that is. No, at this time we do not even know whether it is fundamentally doable.

Watson is nice, but it is not intelligent and it is not a step on the way there. When IBM presents Watson to expert audiences, it represents it as a really far advanced expert system, but never as "intelligent". I had a chance recently to see that. For the incompetent masses (and politicians, etc.), that presentation is done a bit different. I should also point out that "inference methods" are not a path to AI. They are getting really good at finding relevant things in large masses of data, but they cannot make sense of anything (as intelligence would). They can just organize what is already there a bit better. Like a library that can find what you want really fast. Note that I am not talking about what they could theoretically do, automated deduction is about the only halfway credible model for implementing actual intelligence. But when used to create anything "new", aka. "insights", it fails extremely early because of exponential complexity and that is not anything that can be worked around in this approach.

For real intelligence, that library would need to be able to expand itself and see everything in it in relation to the real world. Again, that is not to happen anytime soon, and perhaps not ever.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

LourensV (856614) | about 2 years ago | (#42618101)

For sure there's a lot of money going around at the European level, and a lot of it is not spent on research but on all sorts of processes around it. Quite a bit is probably wasted, other things are just a consequence of trying to organise anything at that large a scale. Anyway, I just wanted to note that I agree with you on the probability of a true artificial intelligence being created any time soon, but I don't think that any of these projects require one or propose to create one, so your argument is beside the point. The things they do propose do seem to my only somewhat informed eyes to be within the realm of the possible given the current state of the art, and worth a try.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

hexagonc (1986422) | about 2 years ago | (#42618833)

I don't know where your skepticism is coming from but it looks to me like you're moving the goal posts. Every time a computer surpasses a feat that was formerly only thought to be possible with human intelligence, people move the goal posts and say that it wasn't intelligence after all. First it was chess, then Jeopardy. Now it seems to be physical problem solving involved with locomotion and vision. Self-driving cars and robots like big dog [youtube.com] will take us far in that direction. If your definition of intelligence includes problem solving then you have to acknowledge that Watson has "real intelligence" on at least some level. It is certainly information processing that captures the subtle characteristics of language and does it well enough to beat the best humans on earth. The fact that you are impressed by automated deduction but not Watson is especially puzzling since the inferences (not deductions, since the problems faced by Watson are probabilistic in nature) are far closer in nature to the inferences humans have to make than theorem provers. Computer systems with a library of knowledge that can be expanded already exists. If they need to know something about the real world than you're talking about having the right sensors and actuators. Insight, which is a characteristic of intelligence you seem to hold high, is just a type of information processing carried out by the brain and the core problem can't be exponentially difficult or else it couldn't be done by the brain, which has finite computational resources and knowledge.

Human intelligence evolved from lower animal intelligence and much of animal intelligence is understood. Are you saying that non-human animals aren't intelligent? I'm not saying that it is easy to create the type of intelligence you seem to be looking for but if it is an extension of animal intelligence then there is nothing I see to suggest it is impossible to duplicate in a computer.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42625249)

I am _not_ skeptic. I am merely commenting on the state-of-the art. At this time we do not have any tool or any theoretical insight that has a realistic likelihood of resulting in AI. That is not to say that somebody has the right idea tomorrow and thing change. I am also not saying I believe AI is impossible, I am saying that at this time it is impossible to say either way.

One fundamental problem with your statement is that you assume a physicalist world. Yet whether physicalism or dualism is right is also completely open. Sure, if you assume physicalism is right, then your argumentation is sound. But that assumption is invalid as there is no solid proof either way. The mind-body problem is unsolved at this time. Sure, if we could simulate human intelligence by strong AI, then that would be a good argument for physicalism, but we cannot and do not know whether we will eventually be able to. The temptation for a circular argument here is strong in many people though. I suspect it is some kind of terror-management strategy.

There is also pretty strong indication that human intelligence (if fully developed) is actually not just a souped-up variant of "animal intelligence". Much in "animal intelligence" can be simulated. There are quite a few human beings that routinely do not really arise above animal behavior, but most can if the need arises. And the difference is a fundamental one.

Also note that I am not making this any kind of religious debate, dualism is not a religious idea, same as physicalism is not.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630719)

Yet whether physicalism or dualism is right is also completely open.

This is about SCIENCE research and you are talking about philosophers sitting in their armchairs and telling us what's possible and what isn't. Given philosophy's track record of making such predictions I'm going go with science any day.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42633285)

As SCIENCE has completely failed to deliver on these questions, Philosophy is all we have. If you think SCIENCE actually has answers here, then you should urgently read up on its current state or talk to a real scientist.

You also seem to have no clue about Philosophy, as making predictions is not part of what it does.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42633711)

As SCIENCE has completely failed to deliver on these questions, Philosophy is all we have. If you think SCIENCE actually has answers here, then you should urgently read up on its current state or talk to a real scientist.

Neuroscience is slowly figuring out how the mind works. Lots of work remains to be done for sure, but at least the results we get from neuroscience tells how it actually works as opposed to philosophy, which just tells us how some philosophers think it should work. Btw, I work on neuroscience projects and I talk to scientists in this field every day, but thank you for your suggestion anyway.

You also seem to have no clue about Philosophy, as making predictions is not part of what it does.

When you are saying that physicalism or dualism or any of the other -isms are correct, are you not trying to make predictions of how the world works? As you said if dualism is true then certain things will not be possible that would have been possible if physicalism were true.

Re:At least one has merit... (2)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 years ago | (#42615113)

Tss

What you mean is "what I could or ever could imagine them to do."

I'm sure if asked someone could had said something like "A computer can just crunch numbers, it will never be able to play chess" to.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42616387)

Probably he would also have wondered for what you'd need a full-fledged computer in a photo camera.

Re:At least one has merit... (0)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42617703)

Tss

What you mean is "what I could or ever could imagine them to do."

I'm sure if asked someone could had said something like "A computer can just crunch numbers, it will never be able to play chess" to.

Why do people always assume they understand the limitations of somebody else? My imagination is irrelevant here (and yes, I can very well imagine intelligent machines). What I am talking about (and I am a scientist in the CS area) is that the facts do not support the creation of AI anytime soon and do not predict it for the future. I am not saying it is impossible, I am saying the question is completely open.

I have observed the results from the relevant research communities for quite a while, read the research papers, have talked to people in AI research and that is what comes out: Not even a basic model how intelligence could work is known today besides automated reasoning and that one is unusable because it does not scale to anything meaningful because of fundamental exponential complexity that cannot be bypassed. In addition, it has fundamental limitations that the intelligence of smart human beings is not subject to.

Re:At least one has merit... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42630749)

Brain simulation is about neuroscience, not about CS. And even if you have knowledge of CS (which is questionable) it is evident from your posts here that you have zero knowledge of neuroscience.

yeah right (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614679)

please, all of the best scientists and engineers from here are still heading to north america. want to know why? its not because life is better over there, or the culture is better, or theres more vacation days.

its the prejudice and racial discrimination. european countries, while appearing to act all modern and chic, are still too steeped in their centuries-old hatred of one-another (especially former powers acting like they still have power) and indoctrinated biases. if you are from eastern europe you are still treated like shit (especially from hungary, and the hungarians are a delightful, highly intelligent nation, political situation nonwithstanding). if you want to immigrate to europe, like i have, learning the language is a must (in my case, german) or else, because of some superiority complex by the host nation, you will be constantly shitted on no matter how good your skill is. its no wonder im considering moving back to canada, where i can actually be judged on my talent.

america has its own problems, but at the bare minimum people are more or less judged on what they can do/what they can bring to the table. its why you STILL have the best sports leagues, best research programs, best schools, best websites (all the websites that matter are american built), best technology, best software and ultimately the best ideas. european nations working together on something technology related? please.

Re:yeah right (1)

ravenlord_hun (2715033) | about 2 years ago | (#42614719)

A minor nitpick. It's very flattering to read all that praise about us, but we hungarians are easily one of the most pessimistic people you can meet in Europe, so I'd question the delightful part. I mean, we rank near the bottom charts of every poll regarding happiness [caboodle.hu] and were #1 leader in suicides world-wide for a while (now we are #5 or something). Just saying. ;)

Re:yeah right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614739)

Sadly, this is very true. I came to France from Pakistan and the institutionally embedded racism I've experienced here is, quite frankly, frightening. I know for a fact I have been denied opportunities due to the fact that I am not french and have a "tan". It's grotesque. I have been considering a move to North America as my english is good enough and I hear from friends and family there that I will have a much easier time getting ahead than in the older western world. Too bad, really as European women are quite slutty and they love getting sexed by someone "exotic". :-)

Re:yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614771)

Cool story, bro'!

Re:yeah right (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#42614751)

its the prejudice and racial discrimination. european countries, while appearing to act all modern and chic, are still too steeped in their centuries-old hatred of one-another (especially former powers acting like they still have power) and indoctrinated biases. if you are from eastern europe you are still treated like shit

Really? I work in a university research lab in the UK. The people I work with regularly (in no particular order) include, English, Scottish, Romanian, Russian, Indian, Iranian, Chinese, French, American, Canadian, Lithuania and Germany. I might have missed some out there, as there are some people who have never mentioned where they're from in my presence. There aren't any Hungarians on that list, but given that no nationality is represented by more than 3 people it's not because of discrimination, it's simply that there aren't enough people for every nationality to be represented.

Re:yeah right (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614809)

Your pathetically anecdotal "rebuttal" is a perfect example of how deeply ingrained racism in Europe has become. You make up every slimy excuse in the book even resorting to blatant logical fallacy to avoid the truth staring you right in the face. You are racist pigs and like all pigs, you are only getting fatter before the slaughter. Europe's future is brown and browner. You pink-faced melanin deprived sub-human freaks of nature are not long upon this land. Hitler had the wehrmacht pointed in the wrong direction.

Re:yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42615045)

i'm sure you are a very happy person /sarcasm

Re:yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42620269)

What are you doing out of the cotton field, nig nog

Re:yeah right (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614817)

In my experience, once you discover, that no matter where you go, roughly 90% of the people are complete and utter idiots, you're forgetting all the racial or nationalistic stereotypes you were brought up with.

At least in my case, misanthropy cured nationalism.

Re:yeah right (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42615025)

This. Do people really think bigotry, racism and nationalism doesnt exist outside Europe and the UK? Try to apply for a lowly programming job in Bangalore or Beijing if you're pink-skinned. Don't forget all the eurohaters in the US, who think all of Europe is starving on the streets/rioting like the media image of Greece and Spain right now.

Re:yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614877)

when people complain about Europe, they usually don't include UK in it :)

Re:yeah right (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614887)

I am speaking from an American born Chinese working in London, and while I can't speak about other European nations, the UK is pretty good with diversity. I have not experienced any overt discrimination, and it's comparable to the environment for when I worked in the US.

Like most countries, cities are better with diversity than rural areas. In fact, one third of Londoners were born outside of Britain, and the last census indicated that white Brits are a minority in London, (this excludes British people of different ethnicities as well as white people from other countries).

Re:yeah right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614919)

Yep, I see this was rated -1: Lies as it should have been. As an American of Chinese descent also having experienced a taste of European "hospitality", allow me to say that either you are full of complete shite or you are very very new to Europe. I pity you either way. America for the win on this one.

Help, I'm trapped in an American born Chinese! (3, Funny)

Xenna (37238) | about 2 years ago | (#42615359)

"I am speaking from an American born Chinese working in London"

Let me guess, you're a tapeworm? A brain parasite? A cybernetic implant?

Re: Help, I'm trapped in an American born Chinese! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42615673)

He might be standing on one

Re:yeah right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614765)

thanks so much for saying. europe is a race hell-hole. i moved here from california in the united states thinking it would be a positive aspect. wow was i wrong about this place. a chinese is a shit here. i hate these fucking redneck european dogs. they think me less because i don't have a pink face. i smarter than 10 of them but they not let me do what i can do. it is a joke here. europe go to hell and take nazi with you all. ver soon i will moving back to california. so much better. a billion dollars what a joke. european cant science out of a bag. billion dollars. ha ha

Re:yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614793)

Maybe it's because you can't write a coherent sentence.

Re:yeah right (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614789)

Are you serious? You think you can go work in America and be treated right if you don't speak English, but only Spanish? Immigrants need to learn the language wherever they go, but if you don't want to do that, the place to go is Europe, not America. Not by a long shot. Europe is way more of a cultural melting pot than the US. You have to become an American to stay in the US. In Europe you can be whoever. That's the main reason I came back to Europe after living in the US for a while.

"european nations working together on something technology related? please."

You obviously never heard of the fucking LARGE HADRON COLLIDER then.

Re:yeah right (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614837)

You think you can go work in America and be treated right if you don't speak English, but only Spanish?

In a word, yes. In three words, yes you can.

"european nations working together on something technology related? please."

You obviously never heard of the fucking LARGE HADRON COLLIDER then.

You mean that thing built with the cooperation of 10,000 scientists from over 1 hundred countries? The fact that it sits on European soil is incidental because there were a lot of people that poured their labor into it that were not Europeans. Racist jingoistic fucktard.

Re:yeah right (4, Informative)

radio4fan (304271) | about 2 years ago | (#42614935)

You mean that thing built with the cooperation of 10,000 scientists from over 1 hundred countries? The fact that it sits on European soil is incidental because there were a lot of people that poured their labor into it that were not Europeans.

The fact that it sits on European soil is no doubt due to the fact that CERN is almost completely funded by European nations [wikipedia.org] . Incontrovertibly, this is a case of European nations working together on something technology related.

Another example off the top of my head is the European Space Agency. Obviously not a patch on NASA, but still an example of European cooperation on technology.

Racist jingoistic fucktard

I think I see where this is coming from [wikipedia.org] .

Re:yeah right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614967)

Oh, look, another pathetic pink-face to slap down with facts. Let's see...

The fact that it sits on European soil is no doubt due to the fact that CERN is almost completely funded by European nations.

Yeah, throw enough of the money you stole from Africa and Asia at a project and I'm sure eventually (10 years) it will get built. Thanks for pointing out how worthless you fucks really are. You have money but you have no genius, no brilliance, no inspiration. That came from the, oh, that's right, the GP pointed it out so I'll quote

the cooperation of 10,000 scientists from over 1 hundred countries

. Yeah, enjoy throwing your blood money around while the real work rests on the backs of the peoples you stole it from.

Talk about projection. Choke on your own tiny little dick, whiteboy.

Re:yeah right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42620361)

As opposed to building it in Africa where parts would have been stolen overnight by niggers to score more coke?

Haha, give me some examples of groundbreaking African 'science projects'. No, fucking your sisters does not count as 'AIDS research'.

Re:yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42615049)

just ignore that idiot. instead of wasting your time, go the the small flag in the right lower corner and click it.

Re:yeah right (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | about 2 years ago | (#42615319)

Oh, you have to learn the local language??? the horror.

cry baby, don't post as AC if you want someone to take that shit seriously.

Racists... (4, Informative)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 2 years ago | (#42615553)

please, all of the best scientists and engineers from here are still heading to north america. want to know why? its not because life is better over there, or the culture is better, or theres more vacation days.

its the prejudice and racial discrimination. european countries, while appearing to act all modern and chic, are still too steeped in their centuries-old hatred of one-another (especially former powers acting like they still have power) and indoctrinated biases. if you are from eastern europe you are still treated like shit (especially from hungary, and the hungarians are a delightful, highly intelligent nation, political situation nonwithstanding). if you want to immigrate to europe, like i have, learning the language is a must (in my case, german) or else, because of some superiority complex by the host nation, you will be constantly shitted on no matter how good your skill is. its no wonder im considering moving back to canada, where i can actually be judged on my talent.

america has its own problems, but at the bare minimum people are more or less judged on what they can do/what they can bring to the table. its why you STILL have the best sports leagues, best research programs, best schools, best websites (all the websites that matter are american built), best technology, best software and ultimately the best ideas. european nations working together on something technology related? please.

I'm a European. I just looked out the window and, WOW!!!! this place is just cawling with racists, the disgusting critters are all over the place, climbing the walls, on the rooves of houses and they are falling out of the trees. I never noticed that before!?! Somebody should really be doing something about this... like spraying pesticides or something. Mind you they'd have to be careful not to spray the column of scientists, engineers, students, athletes and web-devlopers running for the airport waving greencards and yelling USA! USA! Mr Coward, thank you! Reading your post has been a real eye-opener.... now where did I put my passport? Do you think they'll give me a green card? I'm not a web-developer but I know a whole bunch of stone-age languages like C and C++.

Simulacron-3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614705)

a massive data-crunching machine to simulate social, economic and technological change on our planet

Which will then be called Simulacron-3?

Woot! Science Fiction here we come! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614709)

Let's go with the first 3, they sound awesome. Graphene? Bah! Everyone's working on graphene. By 2023 I want a working simulation of the human brain damn it! The first program it runs should of course be "Hello Dave"

Re:Woot! Science Fiction here we come! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614933)

The simulated brain will use the planet simulation machine in order to figure out how to best enslave mankind. It probably will make use of the digital guardian angles which, on command of the simulated brain, then guard the humans into slavery.

Well, at least that would make a nice SF plot ...

Big Brother (3, Insightful)

NettiWelho (1147351) | about 2 years ago | (#42614797)

They include a plan to develop digital guardian angels that would keep people safe from harm

So in other words... Track everyone everywhere at any given time and keep informed on what they and the ones around them are up to? Given the track record of past human governments implementations of similar projects and more specifically what they do with the information I'd rather opt out of this one, even if it meant that, you know, I was responsible for me staying out of harms way.

Re:Big Brother (1)

PartyBoy!911 (611650) | about 2 years ago | (#42614819)

But you have to respect the way they market it. It's not big brother but angels watching you!
Sort of the "Ministry of Love" (Torture and Interrogation) and the "Ministry of Truth" (Propaganda) in 1984.

Maybe all the psycho stalkers en pedofiles out there should also rebrand themself as guardian angels.

Re:Big Brother (2)

PartyBoy!911 (611650) | about 2 years ago | (#42614851)

His team's Guardian Angels project aims to develop wearable, self-powered gadgets than can warn their users of danger, encourage them to exercise, and collect environmental and health information that could be of use to doctors.

After actually reading the article, it's not Big Brother I fear the most.........
Clippy is far, far worse and should be treated as the plague

Re:Big Brother (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42617723)

Well spotted. "Keeping people from harm" cannot actually be implemented, but a surveillance state is possible.

Wow I guess Americans really do hate Europeans (3, Insightful)

bazmail (764941) | about 2 years ago | (#42614815)

The anti-European sentiment expressed by americans here is really sickening. Why is it every time there is a story about something positive in Europe, americans innate sense of cultural inferiority comes to the fore expressed as hate.

This scientist X-Factor style competition sure beats the hell out of Honey Booboo. So good luck with that you yanks.

Re:Wow I guess Americans really do hate Europeans (4, Insightful)

NettiWelho (1147351) | about 2 years ago | (#42614829)

The anti-European sentiment expressed by americans here is really sickening. Why is it every time there is a story about something positive in Europe, americans innate sense of cultural inferiority comes to the fore expressed as hate.

Well, the good thing is they seem to be the minority since they have to post as ACs or see their karma points turned into vapor.

Re:Wow I guess Americans really do hate Europeans (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42614863)

You were saying, you Euro-trash piece of dog shit?

Re:Wow I guess Americans really do hate Europeans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42615349)

Pretty sure there's a large overlap with these trolls and the ones who blow every thread about American politics to 600+ posts with pro-European superiority posts.

Re:Wow I guess Americans really do hate Europeans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42615401)

Nerds just like to be snarky and cynical. I don't think it has anything to do with Europe (just look at any post about the US). Don't take it personally.

Re:Wow I guess Americans really do hate Europeans (1)

drankr (2796221) | about 2 years ago | (#42615517)

They don't hate us. They love us. We just don't love them back so they get frustrated. That's all. Back to the matter at hand - building a brane, you say... I think I might try that myself.

Re:Wow I guess Americans really do hate Europeans (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#42615789)

This scientist X-Factor style competition sure beats the hell out of Honey Booboo. So good luck with that you yanks.

it helps to stand above the fray when trying to make such a point, not wade right into it, thus opening yourself up to charges of hypocrisy

i'm american, and i'm rather envious of europeans with this story

and i really don't know how you can tell a bunch of anonymous cowards are really americans

so i think you have a bit of the psychological projection about you, friend

Re:Wow I guess Americans really do hate Europeans (2)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about 2 years ago | (#42615875)

Our ancestors risked everything to escape from that shithole, and our collective wisdom protects us from its nefarious influences. Emigrant Martians feel the same way, as you can see by their determined efforts to sabotage travel to that hellish planet.

Re:Wow I guess Americans really do hate Europeans (2)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42617749)

Our ancestors risked everything to escape from that shithole, and our collective wisdom protects us from its nefarious influences. Emigrant Martians feel the same way, as you can see by their determined efforts to sabotage travel to that hellish planet.

If I look at the US and Europe today, it seems to me that Europe is doing a lot better than the US. That would suggest the problem actually left with the people going to the US.

What goes around, comes around. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#42616225)

The anti-European sentiment expressed by americans here is really sickening.

When you take your fellow Europeans to task for doing the same thing in reverse, get back to me.

Until then, you're just howling because now it's *your* turn in the barrel and you somehow think that's unfair.

Re:What goes around, comes around. (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42617777)

Well, I am European and I have some anti-European sentiments as well, so you are entirely right. Europeans should be taken to task for being anti-European!

Or not. From an European perspective, it is easy being anti-US, the differences are just that striking obvious. I mean, the US has not even solved basic problems, like sound infrastructure, health-care, education, food-safety, etc. Still, Europe is in decline, maybe it will eventually catch up with the US on that path, but that would take quire a while.

Re:What goes around, comes around. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#42619455)

Is such utter cluelessness, ignorance, idiocy, etc... natural talent or did you take a degree somewhere?

Re:What goes around, comes around. (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42623889)

Ah, going Ad Hominem. Thanks, that confirms I must be right.

As to the facts, I advise a long, cold, hard look at them. Patriotism can make you really, really blind.

Re:What goes around, comes around. (1)

tsotha (720379) | about 2 years ago | (#42645479)

From an European perspective, it is easy being anti-US, the differences are just that striking obvious. I mean, the US has not even solved basic problems, like sound infrastructure, health-care, education, food-safety, etc.

It's amusing how anti-European sentiment from Americans (capitalized, by the way) is "really sickening", but anti-American sentiment on your part seems perfectly logical. I guess when you're from the place that gave birth to communism and fascism, which have together killed hundreds of millions, a little doublethink doesn't ruffle the old mental feathers. Yeah, it's our cultural inferiority that prevents us from birthing those kinds of soul-crushing, murderous ideologies, but hopefully someday we'll be as advanced as you. Then we too can embrace nihilistic hedonism, stop making babies, and remove ourselves and our superior culture from the planet.

The Scene (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42617301)

When I think of a geek "Europe's got talent" contest, the best thing that comes to mind is TELEVISED DEMO SCENE PARTY. W00T!

-B

Re:The Scene (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42623051)

Actually, about twenty years ago, there used to be a weekly tv show Micro Kid’s on a french national channel (FR3) on which they used to broadcast a demo.
I remember that they almost all were Amiga demos, so the host explicitely asked once for people to send something else.
They got an Atari one, broadcasted it, but it wasn’t that good regarding the high standards of the Amiga ones, so the host said they won’t ask for non-Amiga ones again.
Good times!

What's the money for? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#42618719)

Glancing through the projects, I just don't see what they're going to sink that money into. Three of them are relatively ambitious data collecting and model building for society, the human brain, and particular human bodies. One is just a modest bit of materials science (graphene development). And the remaining two are just a bit of systems development (a electronic system for holistic monitoring of the human body and creating robotic "companions").

If I took that original amount of funds, divided it by ten, and then distributed it among all six of the projects, that seems an appropriate level of funding. These projects seem at most something that could be worked on effective with a small team and millions to a few tens of millions of euros, not many hundreds of millions of euros. I just don't see sufficient additional gain from the greater expenditure to justify it.

The science side seems remarkably unambitious given the funds being put into use.
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