Saturday, October 28, 2017

Merging our Brains with Circuitry

Cover painting in oil by James Gurney
 for Forever Man by Gordon Dickson, 1986
The new iPhoneX has some powerful capacities for machine learning that they're calling a 'neural engine.'

As artificial intelligence becomes more and more part of the workings of our portable devices, app designers will be able to harness the phone's potential for face, speech, and object recognition, plus designers will be able to use the phone's tools to create all sorts of augmented realities.

With hints of what may lie farther down the road, technologists are getting closer to developing a more nuanced brain-machine-interface, which is both fascinating and scary in its implications.

The Wired article linked above describes the potential of the interface as being "a gateway to a new symbiosis between humans and objects." People could not only incorporate devices into their bodies to enhance their own thought processes, but also add on biological appendages, like extra eyes, fingers, limbs, or a tail. Then you would need some sort of digital interface for the necessary motor and sensory support.

It's fascinating and creepy stuff to read, which makes me appreciate even more the un-enhanced human 'software' and 'hardware' we were endowed with. As someone said in the article, "The hand is the mouthpiece of the mind."

I expect that a counter trend of digital refuseniks will continue to emerge, and we'll see an "Agency Movement" of people consciously choosing to be the agent of their own existence, opting for practical intelligence over the allure of the digitally enhanced life.
Articles in Wired
The Forever Man Summary: 'When Raoul Penard's starship returns to Earth--two hundred years after it disappeared--with his mind and soul somehow merged into the circuitry of the ship, scientists try to recreate the phenomenon using pilot Jim Wander and his ship, "AndFriend"'


Glenn Tait said...

As you said this is scary and even more so the implications of where it could lead. If one had a implant that enabled them to control various functions and tasks what if someone found a way to control the controllers? Digital manipulation or even slavery doesn't seem out of the question. Count me in with the refuseniks, preferring my unenhanced self. Truly we are "fearfully and wonderfully made".

David King said...

Diehard refusenik here, already, I don't own a smartphone now.

jytte said...

I am like David. I don't want to live in the Brave New World. :o)

Updated said...

Replace our brains with thought automated systems to ensure we think the right thoughts at the right time, no more guess work! We'll be bobbleheads! Where do we sign up?-- Said no one ever.

Dean Johnson said...

Here are some parts of the Wired article I liked the direction of: "(Certain researchers)believe that the stuff the brain makes us do is really all the brain is for. Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert once famously summarized this view: “We have a brain for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to produce adaptable and complex movements. There is no other reason to have a brain...Movement is the only way you have of affecting the world around you.”

"One of CTRL-Labs’ science advisors is John Krakauer, a professor of neurology, neuroscience, and physical medicine and rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who heads the Brain, Learning, Animation, and Movement Lab there. Krakauer told me that he’s now working with other teams at Johns Hopkins to use the CTRL-Labs system as a training ground for people using prosthetics to replace lost limbs, specifically by creating a virtual hand that patients can master before they undergo a hand transplant from a donor. “I am very interested in using this device to help people have richer moving experiences when they can no longer themselves play sports or go for walks,” Krakauer says."

[my thoughts] Perhaps this arm band interface CTRL-Labs (pronounced,"control labs") is developing could shed some light on the issue of why some keyed-instrument users are prone to repetitive stress injuries, and others seem to just perform the 'same' task effortlessly with power and speed with no problem at all.

jeckert55 said...

Here's the best plain-English read I've come across about the future of AI: -- If you all have the time

I'm researching what AI means for artists and designers, and I'm hoping to consolidate these findings into a HS/college art text.

In other news, they've figured out how to take "screenshots" from subjects' dreams, which will become higher-res with time.

James Gurney said...

Jeckert, thanks for that link. I look forward to reading it and I hope you'll share your consolidated findings with us.

jeckert55 said...

Thanks, I look forward to sharing next year!