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Medical Artificial Prosthetic/Bionic Brains

  1. Nov 5, 2006 #1
    "Artificial" Prosthetic/Bionic Brains

    As technology advances; artificial organs (such as the artificial heart), prosthetic limbs (such as the prosthetic leg), ect. will soon equal and even surpass our organic limbs. Every organ, tissue, limb, ect. will be mastered by engineers and reproduced as mechanical parts......but what about the brain?

    The brain is physical and that means our minds are as well. Will technology ever be sufficient enough to create advanced prosthetic "artificial" brains? These "artificial" brains will obviously be designed to do far more advanced functions than our normal human brains can do such as seeing in infrared, seeing 10 dimensions, calculating huge quantities of numbers, storing information probably 100 times the capacity of our own brain, ect.

    The only problem is transferring your mind to this new brain. We may be able to transfer memory, feelings, ect. but what about conscious self-awareness? Will it ever be possible to transfer our consciousness into a superior mechanical brain? If this can be achieved I'm sure the transition from the organic brain to the superior mechanical brain can be achieved. But the brain is the most complex organ and will probably be the last organ we will master. While we may be able to create advanced prosthetics of all the other organs and parts this century, it may take a couple centuries for the brain.

    What do you think? Do you think an artificial prosthetic brain (with far superior capabilities) will be possible in the future? If so, will we ever have the technology to transfer feelings, emotions, memories, and even consciousness to these new brains? Are there any fields currently dealing with the creation of advanced bionic brains similar to other prosthetic parts (that could, say, assist in memory)? I think so far neuroscientists have created hardware brains that have artificial neurons on a parallel platform that can do some deductive reasoning. The artificial hippocampus (which has already been achieved) is a good start.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 12, 2006 #2
    i dont think that we'll be able to create a brain that can see in 10 dimensions. The field that you're asking about is neural engineering. There are some grad and undergrad programs for that popping up at major universities such as Case Western, University of Southern California, and a bunch of other schools like MIT etc etc......
    i don't know how people would feel about a completely prosthetic brain. sounds more like robotics to me. I think the inventor Ray Kurzweil wrote a book about his predictions for the future regarding this. I don't give futurists too much credibility because the future hasn't happened yet, but you might enjoy reading his books.
  4. Nov 15, 2006 #3
    Admittedly, I don't think I like this line of thought... Not so much as a moral question but as a weird question of self and identity. I like neither the thought of my head on a bionic body nor of a bionic brain in my body. There seems to be some sacredness there that gets violated.

    I think of Robert White's monkey-head transplant operation.

    Now one can argue perhaps that in the case of a severe trauma injury, such things might save human "life" and "quality of life." There must be unexplainable trouble adapting to one's image of self with limb-loss, perhaps even never completely surmountable (I wouldn't know). An artifical limb, one argues, might increase quality of life and sufficiency... but does the limb-loss feeling ever really go away? With whole head/brain transplantation... I would think that that would be exponentially higher, and to such an extreme that I think there would be insanity.

    Now with an artificial brain in a body, maybe insanity isn't an issue. But then would that brain have a "self"... and could our society accept lots of human body-shells walking about without self-indentities? yeah -- you [Silverbackman] talk about that a bit... and I think that's the main key. But could we even get to that question without the horror of the above paragraph?
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2006
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