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Can I learn by downloading?

  1. Jul 15, 2003 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    I have long wondered if we will ever be able to learn by downloading information directly to the brain. Imagine if I could hook up and learn at 10 GHz! Assuming the technology will exist to link directly to the brain at any level desired, are we capable of learning like this?


    Edit: I bet it would be a heck of a rush! The drug of the third millennium?
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2003
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  3. Jul 15, 2003 #2
    Maybe it would be comparable to the "rush" Dave got when he entered the star gate on 2001 A Space Odyssey?

    Then again maybe our brains aren't designed that way, not without short-circuiting? And how would our memories get asimilated? Is there more to the memory than just assimilating information? And how would it take into account the "whole experience?"

    Yet I suppose there are already plenty of "brainwashing" techniques available, that operate merely by the power of suggestion.
     
  4. Jul 15, 2003 #3

    megashawn

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    Well, its hard to say. It also depends on a interface that most people will agree with.

    I was watching the discovery channel, a particular part about being able to predict at childhood if a person would grow up to be violent.

    They said that if they could predict it, to a pretty good degree, then they could perhaps implant chips in certain areas of the brain.

    I don't know much about how the brain works, namely, memory storage and access.

    I actually think "uhm" should be defined as "now searching, please wait"

    Anyhow, if there was a way to integrated chips that would give us direct access and control to specific content, then it seems like you could have memory packs.

    Then, if you chose to start a new job or pick up a new hobbie, you simply get a memory pack for that particular skill. I wonder though, how much instinctive knowledge can be transfered.

    For instance, I ride dirt bikes as a hobbie. Been doing it for most my life. You'd be hard pressed to get on a bike and ride for a short time and be able to keep up with me, assuming no expieriance.

    I wonder, if a chip would provide the "live and learn" aspects of a trait.

    I imagine if companys are working on software/hardware to allow mind control of a common pc, then being able to add info digitally to the brain may be possible.

    I'm not sure if it would be a quick process, but seems, atleast at first it would be a rather time consuming ordeal.

    edit, just noticed Iachuss sneake one in before me.

    I think perhaps he is wondering if you couldn't transfer the contents of oh, say, the bible, in a complete form to a part of your brain through the use of computer technologies.

    Not so much snagging memorys from the person. Would be kinda like "Strange Days", pretty cool movie.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2003
  5. Jul 15, 2003 #4
    And yet each one of us responds to each experience differently, based upon previous experiences that are built up. How would you this take that into account (its interpretation) without setting up conflicting memory patterns? Or, just to keep from "whitewashing" one's memory altogether?
     
  6. Jul 15, 2003 #5

    megashawn

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    That is basically what I meant by questioning if tranfering the "live and learn" knowledge one gains would be possible.

    Like I was saying about riding motorcycles, I can do hill climbs like an exact science. Trying to tell you how to do it is damn near impossible. I can show you, you can try it. You try it, you'll fail at times, and succeed. From each failure and success, you gain a new piece of knowledge.

    Pretty much any hobbie or trade is like this. There are certain things you can't be taught, you just got to do it for yourself.

    While I think it would be possible to give a person access to information, like in a book, I don't think transfering actuall expieriance is possible, but maybe???
     
  7. Jul 15, 2003 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    If we can duplicate the process by which we learn, and bypass the limited auditory, visual, tactile, taste, and aromatic input, why not simply imprint the memories as if they were your own?

    The ultimate in flash memory! New from the mind of Gates.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2003
  8. Jul 15, 2003 #7

    megashawn

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    Like Iacchus said, what if we were to do such a process and it wipe out personal memorys to make room for the information. I mean, does anyone have any idea what or how we store memorys? Surely there has to be a limit to how much knowledge your brain can hold.

    I'd think a more temporary solution is needed. Something so that if its plugged in, you know it, but if it isn't you don't.

    I don't know seems rather complicated, the digger we deep.

    Need someone with some extensive brain knowledge to help with this.
     
  9. Jul 15, 2003 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    Upload, append, download. I do it all day.

    Perhaps we could even genetically engineer the programming port. I vote for USB.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2003
  10. Jul 15, 2003 #9
    Wouldn't it be great. Just think of all the time we would save from having to read all those dull text books and technical papers.
    If we did do it as a direct dump as if it was our own memory or learning wouldn't that be like a schitzoidal or psychotic experience.
    We'd still have to tsake time to assimilate it and learn to know what we know unles that was part of the package with all the right tags indexed into the information. Sigh me up. This will be the only way I'll ever get caught up with all the reading that I want to do.
     
  11. Jul 17, 2003 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    I was hoping to create some controversy over the ethics and risks to personal freedom, and to individuality that such technology could present; as well as to address the questions of consciousness and learning. The question of how we learn is one that I have always found most interesting. What creates that sudden cascade process of synthesis that enables insight or understanding? I really don’t mean to assert that we can tap this system. I was hoping provoke some thought as to whether or not we ever could. But I did mean also to address the deeper questions of significance.

    Perhaps I have an unreasonable bias towards the significance of this possibility, however with the advances made in genetics, taken in conjunction with the electronics/information revolution and nano-technology, not to mention the many other spin-offs from quantum mechanics, it seems that the very state of being human is about to fundamentally change. I realize that the technical questions are foreboding, but given a century or two, which many of us may be alive for by the way, one can imagine that almost anything is possible.

    Given this, what are the implications for humanity? Where should we draw the line? Should we allow Bill Gate's 2nd generation clone to program our minds? I think that this kind of technology may be upon us relatively quickly. Brain to machine interfaces are already working. We are reading the mind more readily and we can induce sensory input and even thoughts with EM fields. Memory tapping [in principle] could be just a few clicks away. Do scientists have the moral responsibility to set limits to such technology?

    A surprising number of people expect us to become like the Borg. Have we nothing so say about the moral and philosophical implications of this? Do we just assimilate? I'm not paranoid. I'm just wondering?
     
  12. Jul 19, 2003 #11

    hypnagogue

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    Of course we can download information directly into the brain... I mean, they did it in the Matrix. :wink:
    At first glance there doesn't seem to be a reason why we wouldn't be able to. If we assume that brain functioning is only dependent on the flow of electrons in the neural networks of our brains, then in theory we could implant electronic devices that code the algorithms necessary to do a certain task, or have a certain memory etc., and have the devices interface with the existing organic network. (The logical extension of this, by the way, is mapping out the entire brain and all its algorithms and simply replacing the organic substrate with a duplicate electronic substrate. Of course, then there are issues of neural plasticity/adaptability/learning, which would involve encoding genetic information that governs how neurons change, grow, and interconnect/deconnect over time as well. This has been the topic of some interesting science fiction; see "Closer," a short story by Greg Egan.)
    The true picture is probably not this simple, though. While all our brains possess the same overarching structures (such as visual cortext, motor cortex, language center, etc.), on the level of individual neurons we probably encode information quite differently. So while we might want to, say, create a vocabulary chip and implant it in our language center, we would probably have to customize the chip to each individual person. To do this we would have to crack that person's 'neural code' (how their brain encodes information on the level of neurons), which (as you could imagine) would be no small order; with current (and forseeable) technology and understanding it's a hopelessly intractable problem. And even this is an oversimplification; it's not enough to understand how a person's language center works in and of itself, because you also have to figure out how it interfaces with the temporal lobe (sounds associated with words), occipital lobe (pictures associated with words), hippocampus (memories associated with words)... etc etc etc. Basically you would have to figure out how a particular person's brain works in total before you could really do something effectively and seemlessly like this. Science is making great strides in figuring out the brain but the discipline is really still in its infancy if you ask me.
    There have been successful implants developed already, but these only function on the level of gross input (eg to assist in the channeling of information to the vision or hearing centers). Getting the information into the brain isn't that complicated, but manipulating the information once it gets there is a whole other story.
    As for the philosophical implications... I don't see anything wrong with brain modulation in theory, but in practice it's probably a can of worms best left untouched, at least until our basic societal attitude gets a radical makeover. It won't be long before they start putting chips in milk cartons and tracking your every purchase... picture a gigantic database owned by a faceless entity containing the smallest minutia of your life, down to what kind of potato chips you like. That alone is scary enough... who knows what kind of things they could do once they can crack open your skull.
     
  13. Jul 20, 2003 #12
    I need this drug badly!

    I have often wished that I could press a book to my forehead and, voila: instant assimilation. Likewise "mind melds" ...if I could screen out that which I don't want to know.

    Only the Universe -- if It were conscious -- could understand and make use of ALL THE INFORMATION that has/does/will exist.

    ...either the Universe, or the less likely (IMO) candidate for such a feat: "God". But we can aspire.
     
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