Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Taghuman brain

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We Are Now Informed: Consciousness Does Not Really Exist

Rubbish. Giving up consciousness as an illusion would be like turning off the master switch. What would the ensuing darkness and powerlessness tell us?
What you think is enabling you to listen with any attention to neuroscientists (your dog, coffee cup, and your toothpaste are not listening to neuroscientists) is something — some of them tell us — we should give up as an illusion. Read More ›
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Human brain model for education in laboratory.

Intelligence: A Thousand Brains — or a Thousand Theories?

What does the iconic mammalian neocortex do that equivalent systems in birds and octopuses can’t do? That’s not clear

Jeff Hawkins, inventor of PalmPilot (a smartphone predecessor) and co-founder of Numenta (2005), does not lack confidence. After an interview with him in connection with his new book, A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence (Basic Books 2021), Will Douglas Heaven tells us at MIT Review, “Neuroscientist and tech entrepreneur Jeff Hawkins claims he’s figured out how intelligence works—and he wants every AI lab in the world to know about it”: He’s not the first Silicon Valley entrepreneur to think he has all the answers—and not everyone is likely to agree with his conclusions. But his ideas could shake up AI. Will Douglas Heaven, ““We’ll never have true AI without first understanding the brain”” at MIT Technology Review (March…

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3d rendered medically accurate illustration of the human brain and a tumor

Another New Communications Network Discovered in the Human Brain

Our brains are smarter than we thought

We keep discovering new things about the brain: Neuronal oscillations are an essential part of the functioning of the human brain. They regulate the communication between neural networks and the processing of information carried out by the brain by pacing neuronal groups and synchronising brain regions. High-frequency oscillations with frequencies over 100 Hertz are known to indicate the activity of small neuronal populations. However, up to now, they have been considered to be exclusively a local phenomenon. The findings of the European research project demonstrate that also high-frequency oscillations over 100 Hertz synchronize across several brain regions. This important finding reveals that strictly-timed communication between brain regions can be achieved by high-frequency oscillations. University of Helsinki, “A new means of…

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ai, analysis, artificial intelligence, automation, big data, brain, business, cg, cloud computing, communication, computer graphics, concept, creative, cyber, deep learning, digital transformation

Why did the Human Brain Project Crash and Burn?

To simulate the human brain on a computer was a top flight EU project a decade ago. Today, a filmmaker explores the rubble dreams leave behind

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…

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Man in gray long sleeve shirt sitting on brown wooden chair

Neuroscientist: Your Brain Isn’t for Thinking, Just Surviving

Lisa Feldman Barrett hopes that her materialist perspective will help us deal with our current anxieties

Last Sunday, we featured the views of philosopher Samir Chopra, who argues that anxiety, while distressing, is a normal outcome of our human ability to see the past and the future as well as the present. A pig gets anxious when he sees that his trough is empty. But he cannot, by nature, know that he is destined for the menu at a local fast food place, let alone that all his kin have gone that way. Knowing the past and sensing the future opens up both great powers and vast avenues of anxiety for a human mind. But, in an op-ed in the New York Times, psychologist and neuroscientist Lisa Feldman Barrett (pictured), the author of Seven and a…

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The universe inside us, the profile of a young woman and space, the effect of double exposure. scientific concept. The brain and creativity. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

Study: The Human Brain and the Universe Are Remarkably Similar

It looks as though the universe is not random but rather patterned in the way it unfolds

Recently, Franco Vazza, an astrophysicist at the University of Bologna and Alberto Felleti, a neurosurgeon at the University of Verona, decided to compare the network of human brain cells and the network of galaxies in our universe. Even though the universe is 27 orders of magnitude bigger than a singe human brain, remarkable similarities emerged: The human brain functions thanks to its wide neuronal network that is deemed to contain approximately 69 billion neurons. On the other hand, the observable universe is composed of a cosmic web of at least 100 billion galaxies. Within both systems, only 30% of their masses are composed of galaxies and neurons. Within both systems, galaxies and neurons arrange themselves in long filaments or nodes…

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Male Corpus Callosum Brain Anatomy - blue concept

How Can People Lead Normal Lives Without a Connected Brain?

Roughly 25% of people who lack the brain’s transfer station between the hemispheres live normal lives

Roughly one in 4,000 people lacks a corpus callosum, the structure of neural fibers that transfers information between the brain’s two hemispheres. Surprisingly, the 25% who have nothing but cerebrospinal fluid do not show signs of abnormality. About half have some brain-related problems and the remaining 25% have serious problems. Researchers wanted to know, how does anyone manage to live normally without a corpus callosum to connect the two hemispheres of the brain? It turns out that the human brain goes into high gear, organizing a fix: In a study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, neuroscientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) discovered that when the neuronal fibres that act as a bridge between the hemispheres are missing, the…

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Brain doodle illustration with textures

Your Mind vs. Your Brain: Ten Things To Know

Although we are only beginning to understand the workings of the brain, it clearly isn't the same thing as the mind

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…

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Closeup of housefly

Human, Mouse, and Fly Brains All Use the Same Basic Mechanisms

The study of brains in recent decades has yielded a very different picture from the patterns we might have expected

With differing outcomes, of course: A new study led by researchers from King’s College London has shown that humans, mice and flies share the same fundamental genetic mechanisms that regulate the formation and function of brain areas involved in attention and movement control. News Centre, “Humans and flies employ very similar mechanisms for brain development and function” at King’s College London (August 3, 2020) We might have expected a gradual increase in size and complexity, corresponding with ability, leading up to the human brain. But we have learned from recent research that lemurs, with brains 1/200 the size of chimps’, pass same IQ test (the Primate Cognition Test Battery). Human intellectual abilities are orders of magnitude greater than that of…

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close-up view of robot playing chess, selective focus

Bingecast: Robert J. Marks on the Limitations of Artificial Intelligence

Robert J. Marks talks with Larry L. Linenschmidt of the Hill Country Institute about nature and limitations of artificial intelligence from a computer science perspective including the misattribution of creativity and understanding to computers. Other Larry L. Linenschmidt podcasts from the Hill Country Institute are available at HillCountryInstitute.org. We appreciate the permission of the Hill Country Institute to rebroadcast this…

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walnut split on a white background

My Right Hemisphere Is An Atheist! No, Wait …

In reality, split-brain surgery does not split consciousness in any meaningful sense

The atheist neuroscientist who has made bizarre claims about the outcomes of split brain surgery appears not to know much about neurosurgery.

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The concept of rational and irrational thinking of two people. Heads of two people with colourful shapes of abstract brain for concept of idea and teamwork. Two people with different thinking.

We Will Never “Solve” the Brain

A science historian offers a look at some of the difficulties we face in understanding the brain

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.

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An AI Flash From the Past

Artificial intelligence has been in the news for a long time. Robert J. Marks airs one of his older interviews with Jim French on KIRO Radio to show the similarity to today’s reporting on artificial intelligence. Mind Matters News appreciates the permission of Jim French and KIRO Radio in Seattle to rebroadcast this interview. Show Notes 01:08 | Do computers…

Photo by Daniil Kuželev

Researchers: Our Conscious Visual Perception Lies Outside Our Visual Cortex

They concluded that the end step of perceiving where objects are occurs in the frontal lobes, a finding they describe as “radical”

A major consequence of the advance of modern neuroscience is that we now “know” so much less than we used to. But what we do know points us in promising research directions.

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Gee-Whiz Tech and AI Reality – Part I

Robert J. Marks talks with Larry L. Linenschmidt of the Hill Country Institute about the nature and limitations of artificial intelligence from a computer science perspective. This is Part 1 of 2 parts. Other Larry L. Linenschmidt podcasts from the Hill Country Institute are available at HillCountryInstitute.org. We appreciate the permission of the Hill Country Institute to rebroadcast this podcast…

Doctor using finger to hold a brain model with both hands in concept of taking care the brain

Why the Brain Is Not at All like a Computer

Seeing the brain as a computer is an easy misconception rather than an informative image, says neuroscientist Yuri Danilov

As soon as you assume that each neuron is a microprocessor, says Danilov, you assume that there is a programmer. There is no programmer in the brain; there are no algorithms in the brain. However, it is "extremely painful" for many people to let go of the idea.

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How the Injured Brain Heals Itself: Our Amazing Neuroplasticity

Jonathan Sackier is a pioneer in non-invasive techniques for speeding the healing of traumatic brain injuries

People who have come back from catastrophic injuries like Bill Zoller's intrigue neuroscientists because they offer a glimpse into the neuroplasticity that enables the brain to restore lost functions, which we can learn to augment.

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Human head in silhouette apparently on fire

The Human Brain: Even Basic Facts Are Hotly Contested

Keep that in mind when AI boosters claim that their product will function like a human brain

When we read that “Scientists Are Closer to Making Artificial Brains That Operate Like Ours Do”, we might ask: If career researchers dispute the question of how the brain works at basic levels, how can non-experts be so sure they have replicated it?

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3D render of a technology background with code over male head

The Brain Exceeds the Most Powerful Computers in Efficiency

Human thinking takes vastly less computational effort to arrive at the same conclusions.
All of the tasks that AI accomplishes require a certain amount of memory, computational power, and time. We have a good enough understanding of the human brain to measure the same quantities used for the same tasks. Thus, we can measure the difference between what minds and machines require to solve the same problem. Read More ›
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Brains are not billions of little computers

Despite the hype. Also, life forms are not machines and neurons are not neural networks
Life forms exist in a dance with their environment (homeostasis) that requires constant adjustment, an adjustment generated by the inner drive to continue in existence. How does the drive come to be there? The analogy between life forms and machines like computers is not particularly convincing, on close examination. Read More ›