News

The Search for Secrets of the Human Brain

Posted by Peter Rudin on 8. November 2019 in News No Comments

Large-scale national research projects hope to reveal how the brain learns, how it controls behavior and how it goes wrong.

Along with the goal of describing in detail just how the brain works at various levels, from the cellular to the behavioral, the hope is that these projects will lead to new ways to treat brain diseases and mental-health conditions, as well as advance artificial-intelligence (AI) technologies.

Investors are providing the projects with billions of dollars in new funding, creating career opportunities for not only neuroscientists but also physicists, mathematicians, chemists, materials scientists and medical specialists.

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Brain Scientists compete to understand Consciousness

Posted by Peter Rudin on 25. October 2019 in News No Comments

Brain scientists can watch neurons fire and communicate. They can map how brain regions light up during sensation, decision-making, and speech. What they can’t explain is how all this activity gives rise to consciousness.

The Templeton World Charity Foundation hopes to narrow the debate with experiments that directly pit theories of consciousness against each other.

The first two contenders are the global workspace theory (GWT), championed by Stanislas Dehaene and the integrated information theory (IIT), proposed by Giulio Tononi.

To test the schemes, six labs will run experiments with a total of more than 500 participants.

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Inventing a Quantum Internet

Posted by Peter Rudin on 11. October 2019 in News No Comments

Fifty years after the current internet was born, the physicist and computer scientist Stephanie Wehner is planning and designing the next internet — a quantum one.

Wehner is the coordinator of the Quantum Internet Alliance, a European Union initiative to build a network for transmitting quantum information throughout the continent.

“Using such a network, we gain information about creativity and social sciences. If you look at the classical internet, people thought we would use it to send around some files. That’s great. But people have gotten more creative”, Wehner says.

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The Potential of Brain-Computer Interfaces

Posted by Peter Rudin on 27. September 2019 in News No Comments

Neural interfaces, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) and other devices that blur the lines between mind and machine have extraordinary potential.

A new Royal Society report is for the first time systematically exploring whether it is “right” or not to use neural interfaces – machines implanted in or worn over the body to pick up or stimulate nervous activity in the brain or other parts of the nervous system.

The dangers of commercializing this field are obvious, not only in the area of leveraging BCIs to read others’ thoughts even when the subject is not willing, but if Big Tech companies manage to obtain monopolistic access to human thoughts and ideas.

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Can AI Systems Understand Human Values?

Posted by Peter Rudin on 13. September 2019 in News No Comments

Machine learning (ML) algorithms can already recognize patterns far better than the humans they’re working for. This allows them to generate predictions and make decisions in a variety of high-stakes situations. However, for ML systems to truly be successful, they need to understand human values.

Researchers still need to answer empirical questions related to things like how values evolve and change over time. And once all the empirical questions are answered, researchers need to contend with the philosophical questions that don’t have an objective answer, like how those values should be interpreted and how they should guide an AGI’s decision-making.

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How Governments can halt the rise of unfriendly Super-AI

Posted by Peter Rudin on 30. August 2019 in News No Comments

A super-AI raises two fundamental challenges for its inventors, as philosopher Nick Bostrom and others have pointed out. One is a control problem, which is how to make sure the super-AI has the same objectives as humanity.

The second is a political problem, which is how to ensure that the benefits of a super-intelligence do not go only to a small elite, causing massive social and wealth inequalities.

In theory, a single country or region (such as the EU) could carry the costs and effort involved in tackling the problems and ethics of super-AI. But all countries would benefit, and super-AI would become a public good rather than an unstoppable private monopoly.

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Saving humanities from the STEM promised Land?

Posted by Peter Rudin on 16. August 2019 in News No Comments

Education and labor policy makers, tech-believers and business followers should realize that for a graduate ‘entering the job market’ is not about one’s first job. On the contrary, it is preparing to manage a very extensive career, holding several occupations and even different professions (with diverse contract typologies and affiliations) throughout one’s life.

In the face of the STEMs, we see how history, philosophy, literature, languages and art in any shape or form, are much more than mere diplomas to be accumulated to get a job. They are knowledge to be gathered forever for one’s personal life as well. Education is knowledge accrued and of tremendous relevance in the construct of one’s personality.

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Facebook’s Brain-Machine Interface

Posted by Peter Rudin on 9. August 2019 in News No Comments

Somewhat unceremoniously, Facebook recently provided an update on its brain-computer interface project. In a paper published in the journal Nature Communications, a team of researchers described a prototypical system capable of reading and decoding study subjects’ brain activity while they speak.

A set of machine learning algorithms equipped with phonological speech models learned to decode specific speech sounds from the data and to distinguish between questions and responses.

High-resolution brain-machine interfaces, or BCI for short, are predictably complicated — they must be able to read neural activity to pick out which groups of neurons are performing which tasks.

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Has Humanity reached ‘Peak Intelligence’?

Posted by Peter Rudin on 26. July 2019 in News No Comments

Since the intelligence test was invented more than 100 years ago, our IQ scores have been steadily increasing. Even the average person today would have been considered a genius compared to someone born in 1919 – a phenomenon known as the Flynn effect.

The most recent evidence suggests that this trend may now be slowing. It may even be reversing, meaning that we have already passed the summit of human intellectual potential.

Looking to the future, the “reverse Flynn effect” and the potential drop in IQs should certainly cause us to take stock of the ways we are using our brains. Maybe our educational concepts must be modified.

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Could empathic AI be the next stage in human evolution?

Posted by Peter Rudin on 12. July 2019 in News No Comments

Designing human-centric AI interactions, optimized to develop trusted relationships between AI and humans, presents the largest opportunity for human and societal advancement in the modern era.

The potential for human-centered AI design is to augment human empathy, improving the 95% of all decisions that are made subconsciously.

If we are to effectively partner with technology to enhance ourselves – rationally and emotionally – we must design interactions that promote and develop trust between AI and people.

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