The singularity refers to the future point when the human and the machine will merge––when the personal and technological distinction breaks down entirely. It sounds dystopian and far off. But, two experts in the tech field warn that the singularity, as we’ve come to imagine it, is right upon us. Writing for The Conversation, John Kendall Hawkins and Sandy Boucher comment, To understand why this isn’t the stuff of fairy tales, we need only look as far as recent developments in brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). BCIs are a natural beginning to the singularity in the eyes of many futurists, because they meld mind and machine in a way no other technology so far can. Elon Musk’s company Neuralink is seeking permission from the US Food Read More ›
Perhaps you’ve heard of the “mind-body problem,” but what about the relationship between the mind and the brain? Is the mind just an illusion produced by the brain or is it something totally separate? Robert Marks talks with neurologist Andrew Knox on these topics and more in this week’s Mind Matters podcast episode. Additional Resources
The Human Brain Project from 2013 sounded like science fiction in an EU setting: We will build a brain in a decade: “And, if we do succeed, we will send, in ten years, a hologram to talk to you.” Well, we all got one thing right. It was fiction. Filmmaker Noah Hutton, a sympathetic observer, chronicled the decline, producing a documentary, In Silico, that focuses on booster Henry Markram who, according to his TED talk bio from 2009, was “director of Blue Brain, a supercomputing project that can model components of the mammalian brain to precise cellular detail — and simulate their activity in 3D. Soon he’ll simulate a whole rat brain in real time.” When the project started to Read More ›
Here are some reasons why they aren’t really the same: 1. Is the human brain unique in some way? Yes, but not so much in its structure as in the things we do with it. For example, the human, mouse, and fly brains all use the same basic mechanisms, which is a bit of a puzzle, considering the different things we do with our brains. The human brain is bigger than most. But then lemurs performed as well as chimps on the primate cognitive test battery (a primate intelligence test) and lemurs only have brains that are 1/200th the size of chimps’ brains. So, what we humans are doing differently from lemurs and chimps doesn’t depend wholly on brain size Read More ›
Mental activity always has meaning—every thought is about something. Computation, by contrast, always lacks meaning in itself. A word processing program doesn’t care about the opinion that you’re expressing when you use it. In fact, what makes computation so useful is that it doesn’t have its own meaning. Because the mind always has meaning and computation never does, the mind is the opposite of computation.
A science historian offers a look at some of the difficulties we face in understanding the brain
March 4, 2020
In a forthcoming book, science historian Matthew Cobb suggests that we may need to be content with different explanations for different brain parts. And that the image of the brain as a computer is definitely on the way out.