Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Blue Brain blues

brainBlue Brain, eh? Isn't that a condition where the sufferer begins to think an arousing thought, but then stops short and cannot follow through?

But I suspect that it's just a case of premature gesticulation among ethicists when they begin arguing over a planned "uploading" of all the brain's electrical patterns.

My dad's a shrink, but I'm not crazy enough to pretend I know all there is about the brain (hell, I don't even know much about my own). However, isn't there something more that we're not getting? Leave no molecule behind, get all the 1's and 0's ticking away correctly, and I'm still not convinced you have the equivalent of human consciousness.

As I discussed here, life is analog, not digital. I'm not so certain science has the vaguest idea how to re-create "nurture" -- the way synapses are created and killed in response to experience or can improvise to fit specific situations; nor even the "nature" part of the equation -- genetic predispositions toward specific thought processes.

Beyond the idea of neural networks, how much is really known about why and how the brain recognizes and reacts to patterns, not to mention how to re-create that digitally?

Nahh, I think there's still a long road ahead before our "consciousness" is truly understood. Just in case, though, maybe I should create another Gmail account to hold my brain digits. Perhaps after I'm gone, some basic brain functions can be stored on my computer -- like catching up on e-mail or blogging.

Those who are getting themselves all hot and aroused by Blue Brain might be a bit premature. But, you know, "it happens to everyone."


Anonymous said...

Watch the Star Trek episode "Spock's Brain". It's a hoot.

Mr. Smith

Howard Lovy said...

You know, Mr. Smith. I had actually thought of referring to that episode (I believe it is widely considered the worst "Star Trek" episode ever), but Blue Brain is really more sophisticated. In "Spock's Brain," they just removed all that gunk from his head, placed it in some kind of bubble and attached a bunch of wires to it -- much more low-tech than digitizing the whole thing. They may as well have been using "stone knives and bear skins."

Anonymous said...

I've seen stories like this from time to time that talk about neural networks. I have a feeling that uploading the contents of a human brain would cause the first known case of computer suicide.

And you are correct, worst ep ever. I think that when Spock "downloaded" his mind into McCoy at the end of Wrath of Khan, he was getting back at him for some rewiring mistakes.

Mr. Smith