Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

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Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Qaanol » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:22 am UTC

According to this article, the human brain will be reverse engineered in 20 years.

Spoiler:
Reverse-Engineering of Human Brain Likely by 2030, Expert Predicts
By Priya Ganapati August 16, 2010 | 2:47 pm | Categories: R&D and Inventions

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Reverse-engineering the human brain so we can simulate it using computers may be just two decades away, says Ray Kurzweil, artificial intelligence expert and author of the best-selling book The Singularity is Near.

It would be the first step toward creating machines that are more powerful than the human brain. These supercomputers could be networked into a cloud computing architecture to amplify their processing capabilities. Meanwhile, algorithms that power them could get more intelligent. Together these could create the ultimate machine that can help us handle the challenges of the future, says Kurzweil.

This point where machines surpass human intelligence has been called the “singularity.” It’s a term that Kurzweil helped popularize through his book.

“The singular criticism of the singularity is that brain is too complicated, too magical and there’s something about its properties we can’t emulate,” Kurzweil told attendees at the Singularity Summit over the weekend. “But the exponential growth in technology is being applied to reverse-engineer the brain, arguably the most important project in history.”

For nearly a decade, neuroscientists, computer engineers and psychologists have been working to simulate the human brain so they can ultimately create a computing architecture based on how the mind works.

Reverse-engineering some aspects of hearing and speech has helped stimulate the development of artificial hearing and speech recognition, says Kurzweil. Being able to do that for the human brain could change our world significantly, he says.

The key to reverse-engineering the human brain lies in decoding and simulating the cerebral cortex — the seat of cognition. The human cortex has about 22 billion neurons and 220 trillion synapses.

A supercomputer capable of running a software simulation of the human brain doesn’t exist yet. Researchers would require a machine with a computational capacity of at least 36.8 petaflops and a memory capacity of 3.2 petabytes — a scale that supercomputer technology isn’t expected to hit for at least three years, according to IBM researcher Dharmendra Modha. Modha leads the cognitive computing project at IBM’s Almaden Research Center.

By next year, IBM’s ‘Sequoia’ supercomputer should be able to offer 20 petaflops per second peak performance, and an even more powerful machine will be likely in two to three years.

“Reverse-engineering the brain is being pursued in different ways,” says Kurzweil. “The objective is not necessarily to build a grand simulation — the real objective is to understand the principle of operation of the brain.”

Reverse engineering the human brain is within reach, agrees Terry Sejnowski, head of the computational neurobiology lab at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Sejnowski says he agrees with Kurzweil’s assessment that about a million lines of code may be enough to simulate the human brain.

Here’s how that math works, Kurzweil explains: The design of the brain is in the genome. The human genome has three billion base pairs or six billion bits, which is about 800 million bytes before compression, he says. Eliminating redundancies and applying loss-less compression, that information can be compressed into about 50 million bytes, according to Kurzweil.

About half of that is the brain, which comes down to 25 million bytes, or a million lines of code.

But even a perfect simulation of the human brain or cortex won’t do anything unless it is infused with knowledge and trained, says Kurzweil.

“Our work on the brain and understanding the mind is at the cutting edge of the singularity,” he says.

But we all know a technology that is ‘20 years away’ will be 20 years away indefinitely. The human brain will never be reverse engineered. You heard it here first.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Kayangelus » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:26 am UTC

Why would we want to reverse engineer the brain? Is it impossible to create the same level of computational power, with the same hardware, unless we emulate the brain? Or are we simply after artificial intelligence?

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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Marbas » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:49 am UTC

You see that name there, Kurzweil? That means this article's probably wrong.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:55 am UTC

Kayangelus wrote:Why would we want to reverse engineer the brain?


Off the top of my head:
- To cure neurological disorders
- To create a human-like AI
- To see if it's possible
- Because it's interesting
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Hawknc » Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:02 am UTC

And of course, the single greatest motivator for human innovation since humans discovered that round things go down hills really well: because we can.

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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Zamfir » Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:50 am UTC

But we can't, and the only people who say we can anytime soon are people who talk at Singularity Summits and write books called The Singularity is Near. The other guy in the article knows remarkably exact that we need 38.6 petasomethings to simulate the brain, which just happens to be the performance his current research is trying to reach.

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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Kyrn » Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:57 am UTC

Of course, along with that comes the eternal question: what measure is a human life?

Personally, I suspect our brains (or at least, the portion related to sapience/sentience) works using quantum mechanics though.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:14 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:But we can't, and the only people who say we can anytime soon are people who talk at Singularity Summits and write books called The Singularity is Near. The other guy in the article knows remarkably exact that we need 38.6 petasomethings to simulate the brain, which just happens to be the performance his current research is trying to reach.


Correction: we can't at the moment. I think we will be able to eventually. Even without doing anything particularly clever, you could brute force it by simulating every single proton, neutron and electron in the brain and pressing "play" (we may one day have computers capable of running that in real time). I think most scientists with aspirations to simulating a brain real-time will be simulating it at a neuron and synapse level.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Kyrn » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:26 am UTC

SlyReaper wrote:Correction: we can't at the moment. I think we will be able to eventually. Even without doing anything particularly clever, you could brute force it by simulating every single proton, neutron and electron in the brain and pressing "play" (we may one day have computers capable of running that in real time). I think most scientists with aspirations to simulating a brain real-time will be simulating it at a neuron and synapse level.


And to do that, we need to first figure out how to simulate quantum mechanics, which invariably pre-requires the understanding of quantum mechanics...
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:30 am UTC

Kyrn wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:Correction: we can't at the moment. I think we will be able to eventually. Even without doing anything particularly clever, you could brute force it by simulating every single proton, neutron and electron in the brain and pressing "play" (we may one day have computers capable of running that in real time). I think most scientists with aspirations to simulating a brain real-time will be simulating it at a neuron and synapse level.


And to do that, we need to first figure out how to build a quantum computer.


No, you could do that on a regular computer that is sufficiently powerful. You might not be able to accurately simulate quantum-level effects, but you could model it fairly closely.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Kyrn » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:38 am UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
Kyrn wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:Correction: we can't at the moment. I think we will be able to eventually. Even without doing anything particularly clever, you could brute force it by simulating every single proton, neutron and electron in the brain and pressing "play" (we may one day have computers capable of running that in real time). I think most scientists with aspirations to simulating a brain real-time will be simulating it at a neuron and synapse level.


And to do that, we need to first figure out how to build a quantum computer.


No, you could do that on a regular computer that is sufficiently powerful. You might not be able to accurately simulate quantum-level effects, but you could model it fairly closely.

I do not believe "closely" is close enough then.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby JoeKhol » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:46 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:According to this article, the human brain will be reverse engineered in 20 years.


headline wrote:Reverse-Engineering of Human Brain Likely by 2030, Expert Predicts


article wrote:Reverse-engineering the human brain so we can simulate it using computers may be just two decades away


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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Diadem » Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:44 am UTC

Kyrn wrote:Of course, along with that comes the eternal question: what measure is a human life?

Personally, I suspect our brains (or at least, the portion related to sapience/sentience) works using quantum mechanics though.

Well yes, obviously. Distances between synapses are small enough that quantum effects have to play a role. I don't see the problem?

Kyrn wrote:And to do that, we need to first figure out how to simulate quantum mechanics, which invariably pre-requires the understanding of quantum mechanics...

Wait, what? What makes you think we don't understand quantum-mechanics? Or wouldn't be able to simulate it?

Kyrn wrote:I do not believe "closely" is close enough then.

I am glad that here, now, in this day and age, we have your gut feeling to replace 500 years of scientific tradition. I'm sure the scope and depth of human knowledge will be greatly improved by it.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:43 pm UTC

Oh no, quantum consciousness!? There always has to be something we can't define, something that makes consciousness special. "We cannot be reduced to simple mechanisms!", can we cower together?
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Belial » Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:58 pm UTC

I don't really get how this is that big a revelation. We've already simulated the brains of smaller mammals. Whole working rat brains in a computer and suchlike. Surely mapping and simulating a human brain is just a matter of scaling that process up.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Malice » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:38 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
Kayangelus wrote:Why would we want to reverse engineer the brain?


Off the top of my head:
- To cure neurological disorders
- To create a human-like AI
- To see if it's possible
- Because it's interesting


Also, because it might impress women at parties.

I look forward to this technology being used to cure diseases, improve psychiatric care, and perfectly recreate the experience of deathmatching against douchebag 12-year-olds in single-player mode.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby pseudoidiot » Tue Aug 17, 2010 1:44 pm UTC

the article wrote:20 petaflops per second peak performance
Floating operations per second per second. IT'S ACCELERATING
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Dauric » Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:44 pm UTC

Malice wrote:... perfectly recreate the experience of deathmatching against douchebag 12-year-olds in single-player mode.


Let's not forget all the chat-spambots that between this and the English researchers giving robots feelings will make dealing with them not only irritating, but socially awkward as well.

"It's not you, it's me. You're a very sophisticated chat-bot, and you have some great algorithms, but I'm looking for someone.. well actually human."
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Yakk » Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:29 pm UTC

Belial wrote:I don't really get how this is that big a revelation. We've already simulated the brains of smaller mammals. Whole working rat brains in a computer and suchlike. Surely mapping and simulating a human brain is just a matter of scaling that process up.

No, those are over-hyped press releases.

When the media says that "scientists have simulated the brain of an insect", what really is going on is "we built some cheap and crappy model of a neuron, wired up as many of those as there are neurons in an insect in a random manner, then ran them in an unrealistic environment for a few cycles".

That isn't simulating the brain of an insect.

(A friend of mine in cog. sci. gets exasperated at those press releases...)

The most impressive brain-simulation results I've seen involved actually replacing a handful of neurons in a low-complexity brain and having the brain still function with the simulated neurons in place.

Simulating the human brain is a neuron modeling problem, a remote sensing problem (figuring out how they are wired together), a network modeling problem (figuring out how they change over time), and a computational problem (storing all of that data, and running the simulation at useful speeds).

In order for singulatarian predictions to pay out, we need to have continued exponential remote sensing and computational power, and then we also need to solve the modeling problems.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:34 pm UTC

Kyrn wrote:Of course, along with that comes the eternal question: what measure is a human life?

Personally, I suspect our brains (or at least, the portion related to sapience/sentience) works using quantum mechanics though.

Wut? Meaning you presume that our brain, which is comprised of neurons that exist in two states, being unfired, or firing, is a quantum machine?

I also find it curious that you believe there's a 'portion' related to sentience. Like, a gland or node or region is somehow responsible for it.

Guh, also, in response to your bold: I hardly feel that recreating a human brain would question our measure of human life. It would raise questions about digital/machine life.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Yakk » Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:16 pm UTC

Iz, modelling the behaviour of a single human neuron ends up containing more than two states.

If you want to attack quantum consciousness, don't attack it using bad facts. The strongest argument against it is that the human brain is warm and wet and durable. None of these three properties are common among large-scale quantum phenomena.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:48 pm UTC

Kyrn wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:Correction: we can't at the moment. I think we will be able to eventually. Even without doing anything particularly clever, you could brute force it by simulating every single proton, neutron and electron in the brain and pressing "play" (we may one day have computers capable of running that in real time). I think most scientists with aspirations to simulating a brain real-time will be simulating it at a neuron and synapse level.


And to do that, we need to first figure out how to simulate quantum mechanics, which invariably pre-requires the understanding of quantum mechanics...


Quantum mechanics was developed in the early 20th Century. The theory itself is extremely well understood. There are a few issues at the margins that still need work, but it's unlikely that any of these problems will significantly effect our understanding of how the brain works--assuming, of course, that the brain is a quantum system at all; quantum effects are rarely significant in macroscopic systems, and even if they are, these sorts of problems tend to be more amenable to statistical mechanics. In any event, we can simulate quantum systems quite well with modern computers. The problem is mostly a matter of scale--for large numbers of particles, the quantum mechanics approach to problems becomes cumbersome, simply because the number of interactions scales at a much faster rate than the number of particles. With enough computing power, we can simulate whatever quantum system we want.

I'm not sure that quantum theory is really necessary to describe the brain. Consciousness is almost certainly an emergent phenomenon that will lend itself better to macroscopic treatment anyway.

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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Telchar » Tue Aug 17, 2010 5:21 pm UTC

I have no idea about the tech side of it, but the modeling problem alone is huge. There are a few regions of the CNS (the eye being the best example) where we have a fairly thorough understanding of how each neuron is connected to the other. We have identified ganglia all over, but understanding the reprocessing that goes on and the connections between them is something that will take either another leap in mapping technology or 3 billion people counting axons on golgi stains.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby The Reaper » Tue Aug 17, 2010 5:25 pm UTC

Singulartity <3 It'll not be here for awhile, possibly even within 20 years, but once it is, the cat's outta the bag.

Being the function, would you even notice a singularity happen?

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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Aug 17, 2010 5:33 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Iz, modelling the behaviour of a single human neuron ends up containing more than two states.

If you want to attack quantum consciousness, don't attack it using bad facts. The strongest argument against it is that the human brain is warm and wet and durable. None of these three properties are common among large-scale quantum phenomena.

Elaborate? If you're referring to states immediately after firing wherein they cannot fire again and aren't taking in signals, I hardly feel that qualifies as 'more than two states'. But I'm no neurologist, so may be entirely unaware of more complex behavior.

My understanding of quantum computing is not only a reference to the mechanism in which the crunching happens, but also in the unique way in which crunching occurs. The problem is not tackled one calculation at a time, but all states are attempted at once, and the solution, being one of the states, becomes obvious. There is nothing about the human brain or consciousness that suggests either computing via this mechanism, or arriving to conclusions via this mechanism.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Diadem » Tue Aug 17, 2010 5:49 pm UTC

I don't think neurons exist in a quantum state. But it's a gross simplification to say the brain is just a collection of neurons. A lot of funky things go in the synapses, the space between neurons. Quantum effects certainly play a role there (they have to, the distances involved are in the quantum scale). That doesn't however mean we necessarily need quantum theory to make accurate models. We might be able to simplify, or make a working model of a synaps once, figure it out once and for all, and copy the solution as many times as you have connections in your brain.

But 'quantum' is not something magical you know. We understand quantum theory. And we understand classical physics. On the scale of the human brain, the computational problems for both are huge. Having to use the formulas from quantummechanics instead of from ordinary mechanics makes your computations a bit more complex, but that's comparable to having to travel a few more meters on a 100-mile road.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:06 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:But it's a gross simplification to say the brain is just a collection of neurons. A lot of funky things go in the synapses, the space between neurons. Quantum effects certainly play a role there (they have to, the distances involved are in the quantum scale)

I don't think saying 'a collection of neurons' is a simplifying statement, anymore than saying a computer is a collection of microprocessors underwrites it's prowess.
What funky things are you talking about? And in particular, what quantum effects play a role between synapses? It's my understanding that the distances are distinctly larger than quantum scale, and distinctly less 'simply theory at this point' in their function.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby iop » Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:18 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
Kyrn wrote:Of course, along with that comes the eternal question: what measure is a human life?

Personally, I suspect our brains (or at least, the portion related to sapience/sentience) works using quantum mechanics though.

Well yes, obviously. Distances between synapses are small enough that quantum effects have to play a role.

Err, no? So far, information transmission across synapses has been very well described using diffusion.

[edit: sorry, Izawlgood for not reading your last post - you ninja'ed me there]

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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:38 pm UTC

Kayangelus wrote:Why would we want to reverse engineer the brain?

To install Linux on it.

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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Malice » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:45 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:Singulartity <3 It'll not be here for awhile, possibly even within 20 years, but once it is, the cat's outta the bag.

Being the function, would you even notice a singularity happen?


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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Yakk » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:46 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Yakk wrote:Iz, modelling the behaviour of a single human neuron ends up containing more than two states.

Elaborate? If you're referring to states immediately after firing wherein they cannot fire again and aren't taking in signals, I hardly feel that qualifies as 'more than two states'.

No, I wasn't. But that, in particular, is a state that isn't listed.

A two state system has two states. A system in which the stimulus required to cause the neuron to fire varies continuously over time is not a two state system. Such a system has a continuum of states.

Regardless, that wasn't what I was talking about. I was simply disputing that your over simplification of the neuron behavior, then strident claims that such a simplification is sufficient, then using that poor argument to strike down the quantum model of consciousness, is a pretty weak argument.

There are strong arguments why quantum consciousness isn't likely: what you described isn't one of them.
But I'm no neurologist, so may be entirely unaware of more complex behavior.

No, you aren't a neurologist. Neither am I. That which you are ignorant of, be silent on. :)

I do know that people spend years building better models of how individual neurons behave. The larger neurons in the human brain have ridiculous numbers of connections throughout the brain, and are being bathed in a chemical soup that seems to change their behavior. (as a simple thought experiment, think about SSRIs -- a pill you take that changes how your neurons behave.)

Now, we have simplified models of neuron behavior. But, short of experimentation, we don't know how much of the ridiculously complex full behavior of a neuron is needed to fully simulate a human brain. As I understand it, there are some signs that relatively simple models are sufficient (I cannot find the reference, but someone went and replaced some neurons in a worm or something, and managed to get the worm to behave the same as it did prior to replacement...) Then again, we aren't worms.

My understanding of quantum computing is not only a reference to the mechanism in which the crunching happens, but also in the unique way in which crunching occurs. The problem is not tackled one calculation at a time, but all states are attempted at once, and the solution, being one of the states, becomes obvious.

At this point, you are talking about one particular method we humans are experimenting with to use quantum effects to compute with. And your description is really poor.
There is nothing about the human brain or consciousness that suggests either computing via this mechanism, or arriving to conclusions via this mechanism.

I agree that it is likely that human consciousness doesn't require quantum computation, but the reason why I think so is that the brain seems to be a very stable, warm, wet environment in which quantum collapse type events would occur with ridiculous regularity on anything more than quantum scales. So if consciousness was a quantum-type event that occurs in the brain, it would mean that it would have to do something strange like live within a single neuron, because decoherence is inevitable in the brains environment over any kind of non-tiny time and space scale.

And it seems strange to me that consciousness would only occur within things of classical size, as far as we have found, when the consciousness would have to be time/space microscopic within it.

But at this point, I'm at the edge of my ignorance, so I won't be making strong claims.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:07 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:A two state system has two states. A system in which the stimulus required to cause the neuron to fire varies continuously over time is not a two state system. Such a system has a continuum of states.

Except it isn't a continuum of states; neurons are either firing, or not firing. They cannot partially fire. Obviously the buildup to the threshold that signals firing is a continuum, and you could even argue that it must exist in discreet quanta, as it is measured in voltage potential. But you have not provided what I understand as more than a two state situation, so, because I wasn't rude to you, but you were to me;
Yakk wrote:No, you aren't a neurologist. Neither am I. That which you are ignorant of, be silent on. :)

If you are equally, or apparently, more ignorant than I, don't tell me to be silent. Instead, try, looking up concrete information which I directly asked you about, evidence to dispute my assertion.
Yakk wrote:The larger neurons in the human brain have ridiculous numbers of connections throughout the brain

Elaborate what you mean by 'larger neurons in the human brain'. Just to clarify why I'm asking, I'm under the impression that mammalian neurons are actually quite tiny, relatively speaking. Further elaborate what you are referring to to the 'ridiculous numbers of connections', presumably between neurons, and how that has any relevance on the argument for or against quantum style computing. To preempt you, I do believe that the large connection count is responsible for consciousness, and that it is NOT quantum computing.
Yakk wrote:But, short of experimentation, we don't know how much of the ridiculously complex full behavior of a neuron is needed to fully simulate a human brain.

I'm fairly confident that our understanding of individual neuron activity vastly out matches our understanding of brainwide neuronal activity. I.e., we can map the circuit in amazing detail; we cannot map the entire computer.
Yakk wrote:At this point, you are talking about one particular method we humans are experimenting with to use quantum effects to compute with. And your description is really poor.

Dude... Again... If you dislike the description, rather than look down your nose at me, provide a better one.
Yakk wrote:So if consciousness was a quantum-type event that occurs in the brain, it would mean that it would have to do something strange like live within a single neuron, because decoherence is inevitable in the brains environment over any kind of non-tiny time and space scale.

Why? That space is only unique in that the signaling occurs in it. It is not some odd vacuum where mysterious particles of biological information are exchanged; it is in fact, quite well mapped and studied. Unless I just misinterpreted what you were saying due to a grammatical error, if so, nevermind.

You seem to be making claims about my ignorance, but have yet to put forth any indication that you are privy to knowledge I am not. Lets be clear here in my position, so you can dispute particular claims; quantum computing involves a style of calculation in which a solution is not reached in series, but in parallel (which is a poor choice of words, considering series and parallel circuits are used in normal computers, and brains). Meaning, if I want to discover what x equals when 1+x=5, and my parameters are 0<x<5, a standard method of computing said equation could be plugging in 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and then 5, until you arrive at the answer. Quantum computers solve the problem by setting x=1,2,3,4,5, simultaneously, which instantly lets you arrive at the correct answer of 4.
Our brains have been compared to computers because they are, simplified, huge processors of neurons and glial cells. The neurons function like transistors, meaning, they pass information in a unidirectional manner, and individually, are quite simple, but when arrayed, are capable of some complex activities. Now, because a neuron exists in two states, that is, waiting to fire, and firing (and yes, a third state exists as well, in which it has just fired but is unable to receive further signal for a 'cooldown' period), it is NOT a quantum machine. It does NOT calculate problems by fitting every single possibility until it arrives at the solution. Nothing about the process of neurons firing suggests quantum machinery.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby frezik » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:06 pm UTC

Hofstadter seems to have summed up my thoughts of Kurzweil's ideas pretty well:

His Goldescherbachiness wrote:It’s as if you took a lot of very good food and some dog excrement and blended it all up so that you can't possibly figure out what's good or bad. It's an intimate mixture of rubbish and good ideas, and it's very hard to disentangle the two, because these are smart people; they're not stupid.


In this case, Kurzweil seems to be completly wrong. His argument is that you can start with a genome running on an emulator, then use it to create a whole human brain. He then runs Moore's Law forward to estimate when we'll have the computing power to realistically pull that off.

The problem is that the genome alone isn't useful in creating a working brain. There are environmental factors to consider along the way, much of which isn't understood. It's a matter of looking too many levels down. It's like trying to derive the Ideal Gas Law by watching how just two molecules bounce off each other. You're looking too closely and the behavior you're looking for isn't going to emerge.

You probably don't need to understand the genome at all to build an artificial brain, anymore then you need to understand transistors to write an assembly language program. At that level, it's all been abstracted away.

My prediction: if there is ever an artificial brain created, the program will start relatively simply (a few thousand lines, or maybe even a few hundred), but self-organize itself into the equivalent of trillions of lines, and the creators will not be able to comprehend the end result. It will pass through discernible baby, child, adolescent, and adult phases, and will ultimately be as contradictory and neurotic as real people.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:50 pm UTC

frezik wrote:My prediction: if there is ever an artificial brain created, the program will start relatively simply (a few thousand lines, or maybe even a few hundred), but self-organize itself into the equivalent of trillions of lines

I too support the notion notion that AI will not be created in one shebang, as opposed to evolve or coalesce quietly, likely without us noticing it until the thing declares sovereignty and makes billions of lesser copies of itself...

I actually thought the Animatrix handled it pretty interestingly.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Ulc » Tue Aug 17, 2010 10:34 pm UTC

This morning I was tempted to write a long post about just how absurd this notion was. Then I realised I just couldn't be bothered.

So now a friend sent me a link, I read it and thought "Happy Days! I can post why Kurzweil deserves the 'crackpot of the century' award, without the trouble of writing a long post!"

frezik wrote:In this case, Kurzweil seems to be completly wrong. His argument is that you can start with a genome running on an emulator, then use it to create a whole human brain. He then runs Moore's Law forward to estimate when we'll have the computing power to realistically pull that off.


Frezik, I hate you for stealing my link.

And for the record, as a protein chemist I can attest to this. We're still decades (at the very least) away from accurate ab inito predictions of protein structural and behavioural characteristics. We're slowly getting there, but it's still a very long road. To accurately predict interaction and the lack thereof with other proteins in a heavily packed cell, with thousands of other proteins in the immediate vicinity?
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Aug 18, 2010 12:32 am UTC

Malice wrote:
The Reaper wrote:Singulartity <3 It'll not be here for awhile, possibly even within 20 years, but once it is, the cat's outta the bag.

Being the function, would you even notice a singularity happen?


http://picturesforsadchildren.com/index.php?comicID=102

(sorry)


Man, pictures for sad children is usually a good comic but this one really drops the ball. I understand making fun of nerds (especially the more nerdier variety) is a custom of general society and culture but, really? That comic applies to EVERY NEW INVENTION EVER. The comic applies to TV, if you had people predicting TV you could say that what they're reallying saying is that it'll be better to be rich and white because you'll have a TV and you'll be able to see all this quality rich white programing. But now-a-days pretty much everyone ever has a TV, a phone, and the internet.

Yes, there are an amount of people that are too poor to have those things, and due to prevelant racism the poor people in westerns societies are more likely to be black. And yes, we'll have the same problem with the singularity. But to pretend that we're going to develop some GATTACA superclass of rich white people vs. everyone else is just ridiculous.

And yeah the singularity, and even post-scarcity, won't bring the 3rd world upto the 1st either because it's a problem of distribution not scarcity (We have enough food, for instance, but just sending it over there doesn't help a bit) or technology. But I don't know many serious singularitarians (I am the very model of a...) who really think that the singularity is going to solve everything and create a utopia but it's also ridiculous to believe it'll create a dystopia. Most likely it'll be a lot like how the world is now, except we'll have a whole lot of crazy shit and things, in general, will probably be better than they were before, just not perfect or anything (like it'll ever be).
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby frezik » Wed Aug 18, 2010 1:25 am UTC

Ulc wrote:Frezik, I hate you for stealing my link.


Once it's on Slashdot, it's fair game, like a wounded Gazelle, but with fewer Discovery Channel filmmakers.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Kyrn » Wed Aug 18, 2010 2:17 am UTC

To answer, I skip several steps, and proceed straight to how consciousness interacts with quantum mechanics.

The most obvious association to be gleamed from this is that consciousness has a direct relation to quantum mechanics, regardless of whether you follow the "collapse" or "many-worlds" scenario. The question then is how does it play a part in the brain (if it does). My point being that if quantum mechanics is not factored in, we wouldn't be able to simulate consciousness, even if we can simulate a potential state of consciousness/the brain.
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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby iop » Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:01 am UTC

Kyrn wrote:To answer, I skip several steps, and proceed straight to how consciousness interacts with quantum mechanics.

The most obvious association to be gleamed from this is that consciousness has a direct relation to quantum mechanics, regardless of whether you follow the "collapse" or "many-worlds" scenario. The question then is how does it play a part in the brain (if it does). My point being that if quantum mechanics is not factored in, we wouldn't be able to simulate consciousness, even if we can simulate a potential state of consciousness/the brain.


Consciousness may cause collapse - but I don't see how that means that collapse should cause consciousness, or why you would need to invoke quantum mechanics that would mysteriously affect proteins or RNA inside cells.

Let me put it in another way: Show me a plausible way how the collapse of quantum states can affect the function of just one single protein in aqueous solution at 37 degrees C.

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Re: Human brain to be reverse engineered by 2030

Postby Texas_Ben » Wed Aug 18, 2010 3:17 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:
Malice wrote:
The Reaper wrote:Singulartity <3 It'll not be here for awhile, possibly even within 20 years, but once it is, the cat's outta the bag.

Being the function, would you even notice a singularity happen?


http://picturesforsadchildren.com/index.php?comicID=102

(sorry)


Man, pictures for sad children is usually a good comic but this one really drops the ball. I understand making fun of nerds (especially the more nerdier variety) is a custom of general society and culture but, really? That comic applies to EVERY NEW INVENTION EVER. The comic applies to TV, if you had people predicting TV you could say that what they're reallying saying is that it'll be better to be rich and white because you'll have a TV and you'll be able to see all this quality rich white programing. But now-a-days pretty much everyone ever has a TV, a phone, and the internet.

Yes, there are an amount of people that are too poor to have those things, and due to prevelant racism the poor people in westerns societies are more likely to be black. And yes, we'll have the same problem with the singularity. But to pretend that we're going to develop some GATTACA superclass of rich white people vs. everyone else is just ridiculous.

And yeah the singularity, and even post-scarcity, won't bring the 3rd world upto the 1st either because it's a problem of distribution not scarcity (We have enough food, for instance, but just sending it over there doesn't help a bit) or technology. But I don't know many serious singularitarians (I am the very model of a...) who really think that the singularity is going to solve everything and create a utopia but it's also ridiculous to believe it'll create a dystopia. Most likely it'll be a lot like how the world is now, except we'll have a whole lot of crazy shit and things, in general, will probably be better than they were before, just not perfect or anything (like it'll ever be).

I don't think you got the point of that comic at all.


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