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Artificial brains?

  1. Aug 21, 2007 #1
    Can single neurons be replaced by artificial ones, perhaps nano-bots of some kind? Or could a cluster of neurons be replaced by an artificial cluster, or perhaps hooked up to a computer which replicates their function? Is this technology possible? If so, could we ever reach a point where the entire human brain is replaced by an artificial one or somehow gradually "uploaded" into a computer? Or is that just science fiction?
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2007
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  3. Aug 21, 2007 #2

    Pythagorean

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    I'm curious about this myself. My initial reaction is that there would be some problems. Firstly, I've heard that bio-photonics plays a roll in cell communication, including neurons... and that it's something that we don't understand that well yet.

    I'd also assume that any neuron we can make with current technology would be a lot bigger than nature's neurons.
     
  4. Aug 21, 2007 #3

    chroot

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    We do not currently understand neurons well enough to know if we could ever duplicate them with man-made technology.

    - Warren
     
  5. Aug 21, 2007 #4
    Yes but could future technology do it?
     
  6. Aug 21, 2007 #5

    chroot

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    How can we possibly know?

    I believe it's inevitable than mankind will eventually have technology advanced enough to compete with what nature has devised, but that's just a blind belief.

    - Warren
     
  7. Aug 21, 2007 #6
    I've never heard of bio-photonics. The wikipedia doesn't have much:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biophotonics

    I don't see an obvious relationship between photons and neuronal communication, not even in the case of vision. What have you read?
     
  8. Aug 22, 2007 #7
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2007
  9. Aug 24, 2007 #8

    Pythagorean

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    It was Initially hearsay from my girlfriend, who is a cell bio major. I don't think it's anything they studied, more likely something the teacher brought up as teacher's often do to alert students of recently found research that hasn't made it to textbooks. It's likely to be conjecture... in fact looking up these resources, I'm a bit discouraged about the whole idea.

    This is a good overview that also seems a bit crackpottish:
    http://www.bicomresonance.com/bioresonance.html


    from: http://www.biophotonicsresearchinstitute.com/

    International group in Germany, definitions:
    http://www.biophotonik-international.de/biophotons.htm

    and from this abstract:
    http://eproceedings.worldscinet.com/9789812705181/9789812705181_0016.html

     
  10. Aug 24, 2007 #9
    Although not directly artificial brainery, I am maintaining a page on neurotech over at my website. Also, I've made a post to Slashdot re: neurotechnology that you may find interesting.

    And, since we have for decades been using abstract neural models for our ANNs, we could easily hack up some "neural circuitry" with our electronics, however the interface between these artificial neurons and our (wetware) neurons would be difficult-- lots of stuff would need to be changed so that it works with the traditional chemical neurotransmitter flows etc.

    Try the collection of comp sci bibliographies and PubMed Central to search for medical papers re: synaptic signaling, neurotransmitter flows, etc.

    - Bryan
     
  11. Aug 24, 2007 #10

    Q_Goest

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    Generally, the paradigm in science today is that in principal, replacing neurons with any computational bit of hardware will maintain conscious experience, though it doesn’t say that it is necessarily possible to create the actual hardware. We presently take it for granted that such hardware can be created.

    Chalmers has a very famous thought experiment that discusses replacing neurons with silicone chips. The experiment is based on a concept called “functionalism” which basically states:
    Ref: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/functionalism/

    Here, “mental state” is refering to the physical configuration of matter (ie: neurons, molecules, etc…), signals and just the general configuration of the brain, and is generally understood to mean how that physical configuration changes over time.

    Chalmers talks about removing a single neuron from a brain and replacing it with a chip. From there, the thought experiment would have you remove each and every neuron, one at a time, and imagine how that person’s conscious awareness might change.

    Ref: Chalmers, “Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia”
    http://consc.net/papers/qualia.html
    Chalmers argument*, and the conclusion based on functionalism, is that there will be no change in any conscious experience had by Robot. In fact, this is the standard paradigm cognitive science works to today – though I’m not a backer of this concept. I believe the concept of functionalism is flawed, in which case, the answer to the question of can a neuron be replaced with a chip is only “no” for any neuron that maintains conscious experience, and you can’t upload a person into a computer. The argument against functionalism is rather lengthy though, so I won’t go further into detail.

    *Note: I realize the section quoted from Chalmers sounds as if he believes there will be a loss of conscious experience, but that is not the conclusion he argues for.
     
  12. Aug 24, 2007 #11

    Pythagorean

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    One difficulty I've always had with modeling anything perfectly is round-off error. To a certain point, you can eliminate round off error with more sophisticated technology, but when it comes to a number that has infinite decimal places, I don't see any way to represent it without rounding.

    I believe this is how chaos theory was ignited by Lorenz.
     
  13. Aug 24, 2007 #12

    Pythagorean

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  14. Aug 24, 2007 #13
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