Human immortality could be possible by 2045, say Russian scientists

by Lauren O’Neil from cbc.ca

If Dmitry Itskov’s 2045 initiative plays out as planned, humans will have the option of living forever with the help of machines in only 33 years.

It may sound ridiculous, but the 31-year-old Russian mogul is dead serious about neuroscience, android robotics, and cybernetic immortality.

He has already pulled together a team of leading Russian scientists intent on creating fully functional holographic human avatars that house artificial brains which contain a person’s complete consciousness – in other words, a humanoid robot.

Together, they’ve laid out an ambitious course of action that would see the team transplant a human brain into an artificial body (or ‘avatar’) in as little as seven years time.

Now, Itskov is asking the world’s richest people for help in financing the project.

In exchange, he’s offered to coordinate their own personal immortality projects for free.

“I urge you to take note of the vital importance of funding scientific development in the field of cybernetic immortality and the artificial body,” he writes in an open letter to members of the Forbes World’s Billionaires List.

“Such research has the potential to free you, as well as the majority of all people on our planet, from disease, old age and even death.”

Itskov goes on to offer skeptics a meeting with “a team of the world’s leading scientists working in this field ” to prove the viability of the concept of cybernetic immortality.

And while many are skeptical that such a plan could ever come to fruition, Popular
Science Magazine points that phase one — creating a robot controlled by a human brain — is already well within reach.

“DARPA is already working on it via a program called “Avatar” (which, incidentally, is also the name of Itskov’s project) through which the Pentagon hopes to create a brain-machine interface that will allow soldiers to control bipedal human surrogate machines remotely with their minds,” writes PopSci’s Clay Dillow.

“And of course there are all the ongoing medical prosthesis projects that have shown that the human nervous system can interface with prosthetic enhancements, manipulating them via thought. Itskov draws a clear arc from what we have now to the consciousness-containing holograms that he envisions. All we have to do is attack the technological obstacles in between, one at a time, until we get there.”

Discovery’s Alyssa Danigelis takes an opposing stance to the very idea.

“There’s a world of difference between pursuing a brain-controlled exoskeleton to help paraplegics regain control and wanting to essentially upload a human brain into an artificial body,” she writes.

“I read a sci-fi novel involving disembodied live brains once. It didn’t turn out well”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE

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Well… this guy is awesome

Jason Silva. Futurist… and self proclaimed Ecstatic Truth Lover and Techno Optimist.

More at http://vimeo.com/jasonsilva


Twins conjoined at the Thalamus may hear eachother’s thoughts?

These twins are from Vancouver and are conjoined at the head. A super rare case. The Thalamus is a sort of relay station that has to do with sensory input and it’s believed the twins may hear eachothers thoughts and see from eachother’s eyes.

Read more here at wikipedia. And this article from the Daily Mail.


Scientists Reconstruct Brains’ Visions Into Digital Video In Historic Experiment

UC Berkeley scientists have developed a system to capture visual activity in human brains and reconstruct it as digital video clips. Eventually, this process will allow you to record and reconstruct your own dreams on a computer screen.

I just can’t believe this is happening for real, but according to Professor Jack Gallant—UC Berkeley neuroscientist and coauthor of the research published today in the journal Current Biology—”this is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery. We are opening a window into the movies in our minds.”

Indeed, it’s mindblowing. I’m simultaneously excited and terrified. This is how it works:
They used three different subjects for the experiments—incidentally, they were part of the research team because it requires being inside a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging system for hours at a time. The subjects were exposed to two different groups of Hollywood movie trailers as the fMRI system recorded the brain’s blood flow through their brains’ visual cortex.

The readings were fed into a computer program in which they were divided into three-dimensional pixels units called voxels (volumetric pixels). This process effectively decodes the brain signals generated by moving pictures, connecting the shape and motion information from the movies to specific brain actions. As the sessions progressed, the computer learned more and more about how the visual activity presented on the screen corresponded to the brain activity.

An 18-million-second picture palette

After recording this information, another group of clips was used to reconstruct the videos shown to the subjects. The computer analyzed 18 million seconds of random YouTube video, building a database of potential brain activity for each clip. From all these videos, the software picked the one hundred clips that caused a brain activity more similar to the ones the subject watched, combining them into one final movie. Although the resulting fukn is low resolution and blurry, it clearly matched the actual clips watched by the subjects.

Think about those 18 million seconds of random videos as a painter’s color palette. A painter sees a red rose in real life and tries to reproduce the color using the different kinds of reds available in his palette, combining them to match what he’s seeing. The software is the painter and the 18 million seconds of random video is its color palette. It analyzes how the brain reacts to certain stimuli, compares it to the brain reactions to the 18-million-second palette, and picks what more closely matches those brain reactions. Then it combines the clips into a new one that matches what the subject was seeing. Notice that the 18 million seconds of motion video are not what the subject is seeing. They are random bits used just to compose the brain image.

Given a big enough database of video material and enough computing power, the system would be able to match any images in your brain.

In this other video you can see how this process worked in the three experimental targets. On the top left square you can see the movie the subjects were watching while they were in the fMRI machine. Right below you can see the movie “extracted” from their brain activity. It shows that this technique gives consistent results independent of what’s being watched—or who’s watching. The three lines of clips next to the left column show the random movies that the computer program used to reconstruct the visual information.

Right now, the resulting quality is not good, but the potential is enormous. Lead research author—and one of the lab test bunnies—Shinji Nishimoto thinks this is the first step to tap directly into what our brain sees and imagines:

Our natural visual experience is like watching a movie. In order for this technology to have wide applicability, we must understand how the brain processes these dynamic visual experiences.

The brain recorders of the future

Imagine that. Capturing your visual memories, your dreams, the wild ramblings of your imagination into a video that you and others can watch with your own eyes.

This is the first time in history that we have been able to decode brain activity and reconstruct motion pictures in a computer screen. The path that this research opens boggles the mind. It reminds me of Brainstorm, the cult movie in which a group of scientists lead by Christopher Walken develops a machine capable of recording the five senses of a human being and then play them back into the brain itself.

This new development brings us closer to that goal which, I have no doubt, will happen at one point. Given the exponential increase in computing power and our understanding of human biology, I think this will arrive sooner than most mortals expect. Perhaps one day you would be able to go to sleep with a flexible band around your skull labeled Sony Dreamcam, wirelessly connected to your iPad 7.

Original article from gizmodo can be found here.

UC Berkeley article


Fred Alan Wolf: The Dreaming Universe (excerpt)

Physicist Fred Wolf speculates on the nature of human consciousness, its relationship to the brain and to the world of dreaming. In this highly entertaining program, he presents evidence suggesting that the world of dreams is ontologically real, discussing the “dreamtime” of the Australian aborigines, evidence for dream telepathy and the different levels of lucid dreaming.

Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D., received the American Book Award in science for Taking the Quantum Leap. He is also author of The Eagle’s Quest, The Dreaming Universe and The Spiritual Universe.

NOTE: This is an excerpt from the two-part, 60-minute DVD.
http://www.thinkingallowed.com/2fwolf.html


New IBM computer chip attempts to mimic the human brain

DARPA, the US military’s research branch is putting money into a new chip that will attempt to mimic the human brain. “Making computers behave like humans has taken another step forward.”

From cnn.com:

IBM on Thursday announced it has created a chip designed to imitate the human brain’s ability to understand its surroundings, act on things that happen around it and make sense of complex data.

Instead of requiring the type of programming that computers have needed for the past half-century, the experimental chip will let a new generation of computers, called “cognitive computers,” learn through their experiences and form their own theories about what those experiences mean.

The chips revealed Thursday are a step in a project called SyNAPSE (Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics). The two chip prototypes are a step toward letting computers “reason” instead of reacting solely based on data that has been pre-programmed, IBM says.

“Imagine traffic lights that can integrate sights, sounds and smells and flag unsafe intersections before disaster happens,” said Dharmendra Modha, the project leader for IBM Research. “Or imagine cognitive co-processors that turn servers, laptops, tablets and phones into machines that can interact better with their environments.”

The chips’ processing power is not unlike that of IBM’s Watson supercomputer that beat two human champions on “Jeopardy!” this year.

Other scenarios the researchers envision: A computing system that could monitor the world’s water supply — measuring things like temperature, pressure, wave height and acoustics — then give a warning when it thinks a tsunami is likely.

Or imagine a sensor that a grocery store owner could use to read sights, smells and temperatures and give an alert that produce may have gone bad.

“The computers we have today are more like calculators,” Modha told tech blog VentureBeat. “We want to make something like the brain. It is a sharp departure from the past.”
One of the prototype cores contains what amounts to 262,144 programmable synapses, and the other contains 65,536 learning synapses.

Using the chips, IBM researchers have built a “brain wall” at a San Jose, California, lab. The long-term goal? A one-square-centimeter chip with the equivalent of 1 million neurons and 10 billion synapses.
Modha and other researchers say that using current programming techniques, any computer that approached what they’re trying with the SyNAPSE project would have to be larger and would suck up more energy.
For the next phase of SyNAPSE, IBM has assembled teams from Columbia University, Cornell University, the University of California, Merced and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Phase 2 of the project has been rewarded $21 million in funding from DARPA, the U.S. military’s research branch.


Krishnamurti: Life Story

One guy I would die to have a conversation with…

“This hour long documentary explores the early beginnings of Krishnamurti as a child. From his early discovery by C.W. Leadbeater through adulthood every detail is covered peppered with interviews of friends, followers and family.”