Tuesday, March 19

Sensational science

Here are two snippets from today’s mailbox (courtesy of Scientific American) that tie in with my articles about computing (‘Pervasive and truly personal computing’ and ‘The Infoscope’) below. 'Reverse-engineering' of the human brain, with all its frightening implications, comes another step closer . . .

Implant Enables Thought to Control Computer Cursor
Scientists have now given a new twist to the phrase ‘wishful thinking’. According to new research conducted on monkeys, a tiny array of electrodes that records, interprets and reconstructs the activity involved in hand motion can harness brain power to control an on-screen cursor.

The Coming Merging of Mind and Machine
Ray Kurzweil writes: ‘By the third decade of the 21st century, we will be in a position to create complete, detailed maps of the computationally relevant features of the human brain and to re-create these designs in advanced neural computers. We will provide a variety of bodies for our machines, too, from virtual bodies in virtual reality to bodies comprising swarms of nanobots*. In fact, humanoid robots that ambulate and have lifelike facial expressions are already being developed at several laboratories in Tokyo.’
(* Kurzweil defines nanobots as microscopic robots that can be inserted into the bloodstream and programmed to explore every capillary, monitoring the brain's connections and neurotransmitter concentrations.)