Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It comes soon enough

    I never think of the future - it comes soon enough.
~Albert Einstein

I think of the future frequently - and more often than not I think it could come sooner. But sometimes I am stunned when I read things I've been talking about actually become reality.

For example, I was thinking around the time the Internet took off it would be great if customers could use this globally connected information pool to obtain additional product details upon demand. Such applications are now, though not yet wide-spread, perfectly doable by scanning a barcode with a phone and downloading the information via wireless internet connection.

RedLaser from Jeffrey Powers on Vimeo.


Granted, the information I was thinking of was more about the production details than customer reviews since lack of information skews consumers interest. You see, I wanted to improve the world. Basically I was thinking that to decide whether a product is worth the investment, the customer would need to know what fraction of the price went into the production, advertisement, marketing, and what is profit. For example, if a product has a higher price but claims to be more environmentally friendly, I would actually like to know how much of the price is due to that friendliness. I would also like to know if a product is less expensive than others because the company pays their workers less or whether they invest less in clogging my mailbox with spam.

Another development that has been on the way for a while is identification or possibly payment by fingerprint. While I totally appreciate not having to recall pins or carrying a stack of cards, using fingerprints as identification method strikes me as one of the dumber ideas I've come across. After all, you leave your fingerprints constantly and everywhere. That identification method is not yet used sufficiently often, but I have no doubt once it spreads somebody would come up with a clever method to fake an index finger. Then all he has to do is go into a public restroom and grab a few. The fingerprint payment idea made headline a few years ago, but it doesn't seem to have taken off which I'm not too surprised about.

Something else seems to me will happen in the next decade or so is that the boundary between virtual and real reality will become increasingly fuzzy and instead we'll have what could be called a multi-layered reality. Imagine you go into a cafe and your handheld device will tell you not only where you are but also the history of the place and people who've been there before and what they thought about the place. It will also tell you who are the people in the room, if they have signed up for such a service. They might have a profile online containing information they want to share. Maybe they're single and looking for somebody. Maybe they're about to go on a vacation to Cuba and are interested talking to somebody who has been there before. Maybe they're a physicist and would rather be left alone. There might be the shop owner who has his CV online and the waitress is writing a blog that you can read while you're waiting for a muffin. I can easily imagine if sufficiently many people would be using this, it also provides a basis for a new type of semi-virtual reality games.

Something entirely different that I've been thinking about was that before it becomes possible to grow human organs in the lab for transplantation purposes, something that is slowly coming closer to reality, it would be possible to grow meat suitable for consumption without having to bother with the whole animal. Last year I read that scientists are talking about genetically engineering animals to not feel pain. I don't think that's likely to spread, it's far to messy. More likely, a century from now, we'll have factories with organ bags that resemble nothing like animals at all.

And then there's all those folks who want to become immortal by uploading themselves to a computer. Well, I spent the last evening trying to reanimate my mother's crashed-down PC. The brain-upload story always gives me a good laugh. You show me a computer that is as complex as and runs as stable as the human body for 80+ years. I think people who want to upload themselves to a computer severely underestimate how amazing it is that our bodies function so well and what an incredible achievement of Nature this orchestrated complexity is. I don't think it's entirely impossible that one day we'll replace the human body with some artificial device, but it's much more in the future than people want to believe. I think it is more likely that in the end we'll have some bio-tech cross-solution.

In any case, something that seems to me much closer in the future is to overcome the isolation of the human brain. To me, the largest tragedy of life is that we're all alone and fundamentally so. However, in difference to uploading your brain to a computer, connecting it to another one doesn't seem to me that far fetched at all. Neuroscientists have made steady progress on measuring and deciphering brain activity. It is also known that the human brain is incredibly good at learning how to work with new input, and we have the ability of cognitively making extensions of our body our own, an ability known as "extended mind." The obvious step to take seems to me not trying to get a computer to decipher somebody's brain activity, but to take the output and connect it as input to somebody else. If that technique becomes doable and is successful, it will dramatically change our lives.

I just hope it comes soon enough so I have a chance to see how it works.

93 comments:

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,


A nice piece that shares your hopes and concerns in respect to the future. with some things I find as quite interesting, especially that virtual cafe idea and yet that one and the linking of minds I believe will have to wait for our species to evolve to the point where ego, insecurity and just plain selfish disregard is eliminated or significantly altered. That’s to say I find people have enough trouble being honest with themselves, let alone able to extend this to others.


I would raise in support and evidence the point that the majority of commenters (in cyberspace), even on this blog, being anonymous as evidence of that. Personally I’m of the opinion we still first have to strive as to find ways to have people to be comfortable inside of their own skins before they will be able to share whatever that is with others. Thus I don’t think either you or I will live to see such a world, yet I admit to it being a wonderful vision for the future.


Best,


Phil

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

You are of course right that with the human ego being today what it is, it is hard to imagine that people generally would be interested in sharing their experiences and possibly thoughts with strangers. But if you imagine people who are very close to each other, like maybe siblings or a courageous couple, I would bet that some would try, I certainly would. Imagine what that would mean for the process of scientific research in the long run, if there was a possibility to share ideas on such a fundamental level. On a practical, and more realistic note, think of people who have a close relative with locked-in syndrome. Some months ago, there were several news reports of attempts to communicate with coma patience by measuring their brain activity. I am basically thinking to drop the computer as a middle-man because another human brain might be more efficient with deciphering and learning to interpret the signal. While these developments are still in their infancy, I think they have a vast potential already without fundamentally new technologies. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Typo: patient, not patience

Arun said...

The experiment will then be done of one of the connected brains dying with the other observing...

Bee said...

Sooner or later, yes, probably. I would suspect though we would see very quickly safety requirements to prevent psychological trauma.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,


If you take things in steps as you noted that could be a possible beginning and in fact in terms of marriage could lead to a new standard or evolution of the concept which would serve as a challenge to people’s sincerity of purpose and intent. So perhaps this is where it could all begin, with the linking of a few brave minds to take us to where no one has actually gone before. Now that’s what I would call truly having the “Right Stuff” as to dare to imagine beyond Socrates ; so as to go from “know they self” to “know others as yourself” and the “unexamined life is not worth living” to the “unshared mind is not worth living with in having”.


Best,


Phil

Steven Colyer said...

...it would be possible to grow meat suitable for consumption without having to bother with the whole animal.

I'm sure the dairy farmers won't complain, much. What the heck Archer-Midland-Daniels owns them anyway. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if ADM isn't leading that research. Lower costs and such, and so what if it puts farmer Joe out of work. His tough luck.

The downside of technology is that as new tech creates millions of new jobs it also destroys ten times more. That's fine from a global economic perspective, but try telling that to a 55-yr-old trying to put 2 kids through college. Add to that the rapid and vast increases in medical technology and people living longer then the net poverty of the masses increases. And they said socialism was a bad thing. :-)

Politics will always stand in the way of progress, while ironically financing it at the same time. Remember when you apply for funding to explain/white lie as to how your idea can be weaponized or provide better armor. No, just weaponized. Then watch the money come flowing in.

Savvas said...

"However, in difference to uploading your brain to a computer, connecting it to another one doesn't seem to me that far fetched at all."

This reminds me of some very nice guys... the Borg.

Seriously, I value my privacy a lot and I don't want anyone messing around in my head. Since no two PCs connection is 100% safe, no matter how many firewalls etc you have, this would open the door to our brains to all the hackers out there. Therefore, I think it's a really bad idea.

Steven Colyer said...

I agree it will be a bad idea, but it will happen nevertheless. Not everyone wishes to be an independent thinker like us. Many wish to be part of a group mind. See police, military, fraternities of all sorts, and tenured professors, for reference.

nulport said...

When all information is available at will and in beige - no social advocacy "corrections" - Herrnstein and Murray The Bell Curve will emerge with a vengeance. All performance metrics have a bottom 90%. Meritocracy effortlessly trumps cacastocracy.

It is therefore necessary to legislate generous privileged minority advantage and heinous competence disadvantage to all Internet access via jackbooted State compassion. Freedom must be managed lest it work.

The cheapest way to provide meat is to capitalist grow it. Quality dressed raw chicken sells for $(USD)0.99/lb (€1.63/kg) this week at Ralphs. Imposing any sort of compassion would boost the price at least a factor of ten.

Steven Colyer said...

Do you have a new handle/avatar, Uncle Al? Interesting.

Steven Colyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Colyer said...

Haha, I was right! Clicking on "nulport" leads to Uncle Al's page. ;-)

You're awesome, Uncle Al. Thank you very much for your cool links and wisdom. Don't ever change.

Bee said...

Hej Savvas,

Borg? Sounds Swedish? ;-) I also value my privacy. I wasn't necessarily thinking of connecting your brain to the Internet, not sure why you seem to imply that. But in any case, change is rarely entirely good or entirely bad. The question is whether the advantages or the disadvantages weigh more heavily (one of the difficulties being that both might become apparent on different timescales.) Eg that your PC can catch a virus isn't a reason to completely abandon the idea of connecting to the internet, but rather a reason to take caution, knowing that it will never be entirely preventable. Clearly, people are doing it nevertheless because the advantages weigh heavier than the risk of disadvantages. I think that connecting human brains directly will have more advantages than disadvantages. But yes, there will be risks and one has to be careful. As a matter of fact, the young generation, especially in North America, seems to have a very relaxed attitude for what their privacy is concerned. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Steven: To some extend it is the role of politics to stand in the way of progress, because progress does always bring risks that carefully have to be weighted with the advantages. Somebody has to be the unfriendly, negative voice that is urging for caution. The amount of caution differs however between nations (which is frequently reason for tensions when the risk may not be confined to the nation causing it.) The example with the 55 year old who may stand in the way of progress because he is fearing for his job is only too real. But on the other side stands not only social security but also social flexibility. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Steven:

"Not everyone wishes to be an independent thinker like us."

Think about that carefully. How independent are you really? You read and follow probably dozens of other people, you think about and discuss their ideas. You are influenced and guided by the paradigms of your times, the styles, the art, the shared knowledge. The idea of an "independent thinker" is a myth altogether. In physics you find this clearly documented, till centuries back, in that it has happened over and over again that researchers who did not know of each other had the same (or very similar) ideas almost simultaneously. In these cases, the next step, some insight was "in the air," the necessary ingredients were available somewhere in a shared pool of knowledge. And then there's people who proclaim themselves as independent because they take an "against" stance, but that's just an anticorrelation rather than a correlation, they are equally dependent, they just pretend otherwise.

The homo sapiens is without doubt a zoon politikon. Alone, we would never have gotten as far as we are. That's pretty clear. The question is just how to best use the strength there is in sharing. As I said eg in my post "We are Einstein", too much dependence and lack of individuality is also counterproductive because it lowers diversity and competition. As always, a balance has to be found that's somewhere between the extremes. Best,

B.

Steven Colyer said...

The idea of an "independent thinker" is a myth altogether.

Like Einstein taking on Boltzman early in his professional career? Interesting thought, but I feel I must disagree.

That reminds me and as an aside, given the recent Entropy stuff lately, might not we go back to Einstein when all between him and Maric was bliss, and his thoughts on same? Just my 2 cents.

Moving forward (is there a better direction, being the very subject of this blog article?), you are at the very ideal age of a person's life, Bee. I have much and many wonderful things to say about a person in the first half-decade of one's 30's. Having been-there-done-that, let me assure you that THIS is YOUR time to shine (and so far, so good, as far as I can see, keep rockin' Bee). And it's not like one "falls off the cliff" afterwords.

Quite the contrary. Look to your wonderful husband for an example. Like Entropy, wisdom only increases with age/time, regardless of what else is lost, which is of course lost so slowly that it's practically unnoticeable at first. The best is yet to come! :-)

But at YOUR age, the combination of physical health, mental health, wisdom, and knowledge knows no peer, even if one lives to be 100.

Schrodinger shined at your very age, Planck 10 years older, and Einstein with EPR at age 56. So go kick ass, Stefan too. :-)

Also, I didn't say the 55-yr-old stood in the way of progress, Bee. My bad for not being as clear as I should have been. What I meant to say was that new tech got him fired, and still the bills come in.

"There is not a sparrow falls to Earth that goes unnoticed by The Father, but still the sparrow falls."

Steven Colyer said...

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

A great read.

Arun said...

Bee, the purpose of connecting a living brain to a dying one will be to find out if there is an afterlife :) or whether angels appear to the dying person, and so on :)

I can forsee religious cults where every member has a connection to the head of the cult.

And so on.

ErkDemon said...

If you're going to be using fingerprints as ID, remember to change your fingerprints every six months as a security precaution. ;)

Anonymous Snowboarder said...

Bee - two points. On things barcode, recent news is that those scanable coupons people are getting give the retailers a lot more info than you may realize. (see: nyt )

Second, on the brain stuff, surely you must remember the episode of Star Trek called Return to Tomorrow? It dealt with mind transfers. Of course there is also Fred Polhs series of books called the Heechee Saga where the main character's mind is transfered into a computer intelligence (book 4 I think).

William said...

Hi Bee,

I can picture it now. Everyone anonymously (or not) uploads recordings of their brain scans to BrainTube.com.

Then anyone else can download that data and connect to it via a USB neural interface connection device. This allows the user to have a one-way access to the inner thoughts, feeling, fears, and psyche of the braintube uploader.

The most popular downloads become the minds of uploaders who have totally messed up minds, perverts and the sexually obsessed. Next most popular for downloads are the minds of string theorists. :)

The government covertly supports this, as they become obsessed with a perceived need to collect everyone's "soul," in order to use advanced computer processing techniques to determine who might have anti-government thoughts or tendencies. The government agencies then use covert targeted assassinations of people whose psyches they find a potential danger, since they claim it is "a necessary preventive measure to secure freedom."

Personally, the thought of two-way mind bonding freaks me out. I like my individuality undivided. :)

Bee said...

Steven,

Einstein was a genius but the content of his work was a product of his time. What would Einstein have done without Minkowski, Lorentz, Maxwell? Without Michelson, Riemann, Boltzmann and his other contemporaries? He didn't work in vacuum. Science is, and has always been, a community enterprise. That's why I'm saying the idea of an independent thinker is a myth altogether. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Snowboarder,

Thanks for the link to the NYT article, that's interesting. Glad I never use coupons.

I hardly ever watch TV, and I've never been a big Star Trek fan, but these ideas a very wide spread in the SciFi genre. Best,

B.

Savvas said...

"Borg? Sounds Swedish? ;-)"
Well, actually they're from the Delta Quadrant :-)

"I wasn't necessarily thinking of connecting your brain to the Internet, not sure why you seem to imply that. "
I didn't mean that exactly. What I meant was that if you connect many minds together you would end up with a network (Brainet?) and that would be like connecting many PCs together to make the Internet. Therefore, you would need "firewalls" to keep out the (brain)hackers etc

"Eg that your PC can catch a virus isn't a reason to completely abandon the idea of connecting to the internet"
However, I can format my PC but not my brain. By the way, I usually serf the web from a live CD (the OS is running from a CD which is read-only), therefore I can't catch a virus, rootkit, etc).

"the young generation, especially in North America, seems to have a very relaxed attitude for what their privacy is concerned"
Well, too bad for them :(

Best,
Savvas

Bee said...

Hi Savvas,

"Therefore, you would need "firewalls" to keep out the (brain)hackers etc"

Yes, probably - or something similar.

"I can format my PC but not my brain."

Not yet ;-) Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi again Savvas,

To add a word of clarification, what I was writing about in my post was actually not about functionally connecting brains. I was just saying make ones output available for somebody else's input. Think about trying to read somebody's facial expression, now instead read their NMR scan. Best,

B.

Steven Colyer said...

Hi Bee,

Thanks for the clarification. Sure we're not hermits. We can be though. Doesn't sound like a lot of fun. In fact looking at the life of Einstein and contrasting his later years with his earlier ones, he did seem to become more of a hermit in his work, which hurt. So, I see your point.

You wrote:
To me, the largest tragedy of life is that we're all alone and fundamentally so.

Very interesting. Then again, we evolved this way, we survived this long, because of our individual independence. Or is it in spite of the same? Hmm. Well, it gets pretty philosophical so I'll bow out of this discussion, before I'm accused of being one of those who say "If people were meant to fly we'd have wings"

Steven Colyer said...

"If people were meant to fly we'd have wings"

And even if we could fly, we'd still have problems doing so thanks to terrorism, volcanoes, and a dozen or so neighboring countries who can't seem to get on the same page regarding the science of volcanic ash vs. jet engines. Richard Branson said today that the recent situation won't repeat itself thanks to lessons learned. Really?

Bee said...

Steven: I just don't think humans, as they are today, are the endpoint of evolution. Moreover, we are now at a point were we take an active role in the evolution rather than a passive one based on coincidence, trial and error. With the "we weren't meant to" argument, we should drop all of modern science. We weren't meant to understand quantum mechanics. We weren't meant to know how the universe started and how it ends. We weren't meant to know what is the fundamental structure of matter, since none of that is directly accessible by our senses without the help of technology. As I said previously elsewhere what is "natural" is quite a fuzzy notion. I would argue that since we're part of Nature, nothing we do or create can be unnatural. So are changes to our own nature. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

On considering having your mind connected to anothers I would say the thing that leaves most nervous is the fear of having revealed the negative thoughts they harbour. However I believe if they actually dared to do such a thing I think most would discover their thoughts in such regard are much like everyone else’s. Like I said in the outset the greatest aversion to this would be ego and insecurity and yet in the end it all boils down to the fear of the unknown.

Personally I have no fear in this regard, not because I know all of my thoughts being positive ones yet I don’t believe they would be much different from most. So Bee as I said anyone that would volunteer for such a thing I consider a truly bold person and apparently you are such. So I would agree if such an experiment could be conducted with a relative degree of safety the potential benefits would far outweigh the risks. So to put it another way, if Stefan, your siblings and all you close friends were to turn you down for a mind meld I would volunteer. However I’ll would first have you know that on the back of my head I found a warning label which reads “ caution not machine washable, dry clean or hang to dry ;-)

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Colyer said...

Anywho, much of what you ponder Bee regarding the future has already been deeply pondered in detail by the hard-SF authors Alastair Reynolds (Revelation Space) and Bruce Sterling (Schismatrix). Briefly, they posit:

Technology will allow us to evolve into 2 different human species. Let's call them "Shapers" and "Mechanists" as Sterling does.

Shapers will use Biological nanotech, and work toward creating a group mind, for greater efficiency. Much like the EU. :-)
They will reform themselves and their offspring into ... "something else", using Biological advances to improve brain function.

Mechanists will use Mechanical and Electrical nanotech, to add value to the human body's limitations. They will find it repulsive that Shapers alter human biology.

They will probably go to war with each other someday. Sure glad I won't live to see it. I've seen enough of that crap.

In any event, we see the beginnings of this in the rapid rise of nanotechnology, today.

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Yes, basically I had the same thought. I believe I'm a pretty average person, neither a saint nor particularly evil, and thus tend to think most people are similar to me, so how shocking could it be? I also believe that a lot of what you call negative thought, or maybe lying etc is a result of lacking understanding rather than true evil. For example, somebody might be afraid of doing something for quite involved psychological reasons that maybe he himself doesn't really understand. Instead of trying to explain what others probably wouldn't understand anyway, he will more likely repeatedly offend others by coming up with excuses, lies, etc etc, causing a lot of "negative thoughts" along the way that however go back to lacking communication. I actually think this happens quite frequently. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

The minds that I would most like to tap into unfortunately are no longer with us. For instance could you imagine learning geometry from the mind of Euclid or relativity from Einstein as not only to have it be known yet more importantly how it came to be known.

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Yes, it's sad how many great minds we've lost to time. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Yes when you look at this way we would be embarking on the beginnings of mind preservation as being the most precious of all human resource.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Also we then would truly come to know if men and women think differently or if this is our most persistent of myths. I think what most people so often forget being is we are already creatures of two minds and thus to add a few others would be more evolutionary then revolutionary.

Best,

Phil

Savvas said...

"I was just saying make ones output available for somebody else's input. "

Do that in real time and you've got yourself a network ;)

Christine said...

Dear Bee,

You wrote:

The obvious step to take seems to me not trying to get a computer to decipher somebody's brain activity, but to take the output and connect it as input to somebody else. If that technique becomes doable and is successful, it will dramatically change our lives.

I think that such an analysis should be left to a non-living device (a computer), and in a first moment, only for medical purposes.

Connecting a brain output as an input to another brain, in order that the receiver-brain be able to directly and instantaneously experience/process the impressions of the other brain, if feasible, seems to me a dangerous thing to begin with. This opens very delicate possibilities and, as any powerful tool, can become a weapon.

Sure, I can imagine the benefits, such as, possibly, treatments for brain damage or other illness conditions of the brain. You could connect a wealthy-brain output to an ill-brain input and somehow stimulate it positively, for instance.

However, as it appears, for the general practicing that you seem to be for, we would need exceedingly disciplined brains.

First, in order that the "contents" of one brain could be assimilated by the other one adequately, it would perhaps require a general language protocol or common framework that could allow information to be migrated from one brain to another.

Second, in order that one brain content could be exchanged with another, it is clear that the "brain-output" person is willing to pass *only* that information that she/he permits. Suppose that her/his brain is not disciplined enough to pass only certain information. "Classified" information could be released unwillingly.

Etc.

I believe it would take much more time to discipline our brains than the technology to become available, and this is what makes the whole possibility somewhat undesirable.

Best,
Christine

Christine said...

I wrote:

it would perhaps require a general language protocol or common framework that could allow information to be migrated from one brain to another.

Just to clarify: sure, we are all the same species, and our brains function similarly, specially concerning visual stimulus, motion, organs control, etc. But this is not exactly, and this is specially true for complex thoughts, and this may pose difficulties for making sense of one brain information to another.

William said...

Hi Bee,

"Einstein was a genius but the content of his work was a product of his time. What would Einstein have done without Minkowski, Lorentz, Maxwell? Without Michelson, Riemann, Boltzmann and his other contemporaries?" -Bee

Yes, and I was surprised to discover this a few nights ago:

"In 1870, he [Clifford] wrote On the Space-Theory of Matter, arguing that energy and matter are simply different types of curvature of space. These ideas later played a fundamental role in Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kingdon_Clifford

Steven Colyer said...

Good points, William, and it all starts with Galileo and his principle of relativity noting there is no difference with the flow of water being poring into a cup in a cabin aboard a ship moving at constant speed, and one at rest. Einstein upgraded to trains.

I'm glad to see someone else mention Clifford. When I think of him I am reminded that Paul Dirac, unfamiliar with his Clifford Algebras, simply re-invented them, and of Clifford's epitaph, which is better than Shakespeare's, so good in fact I have adopted it as my own:

"I was not, and was conceived. I loved and did a little work. I am not and grieve not." - epitaph.

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

Your addendum was exactly the point I was trying to make. While our brains might function similarly on some level, they are also individually different. I thus think it will be very hard, if not impossible to find a way to computer-analyze the individual level. It needs some very advanced and highly complex learning algorithm to decipher this information. It will be a very long time till a software will be able to do that, maybe it's not possible at all. But we have access to a highly complex learning algorithm, which is our own brain, and the obvious step seems to me to leave out the computer as a middle-man if the technology allows it.

What I was basically thinking of is, consider you had something like a third eye, some input system, except that the input is not your own organ, but it's the signal coming from somebody else's brain. You might use a computer system to filter the signal, such that you only have some parts of the signal that might over the course of time prove to be useful or beneficial. I am not much of a neuroscientist, but one of the amazing things about the human brain is that regions can relearn what functions they fulfill (what signals they analyze). If any analytic tool is able to make sense of the signal, then it would be the human brain. This seems so obvious, I would be surprised if if wouldn't be tried in the not-so-far future.

And sure, as I said already above, it certainly comes with risks. But everything that's new comes with risks. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi William,

This is interesting, I actually hadn't known that. But yes, it's exactly what I mean. Scientific discoveries gradually build upon each other, they are connected and interwoven. We are all 'standing on the shoulders of giants,' and it's moreover thousands of years giants standing on each other's shoulders. Just look at how some keywords spread across the disciplines, eg the word "landscape" seems to have a quite interesting recent history. How independent are all these thinkers who think they are independent? It would be interesting to know if Einstein had been born 100 years later what he would be working on. Best,

B.

Christine said...

I thus think it will be very hard, if not impossible to find a way to computer-analyze the individual level.

Yes, but I was referring to more general or gross features of the brain. There is already a lot of research on this, of course. But it will probably improve greatly with increasing computer power.

But, back to what you say, at the individual level, what is exactly the purpose you have in mind for such an analysis? (That is, making the brain -- in this case, through someone else's brain -- a tool for understanding the brain itself?)

Best,
Christine

Bee said...

Hi Savvas,

Do that in real time and you've got yourself a network ;)

Yes, but connecting nodes to a network doesn't necessarily mean you have a computation cluster, which is what you seem to have implied. (Besides, connecting two nodes is technically seen a network, but one doesn't gain very much from calling it a network.) Sharing information online doesn't force you to run the same program as somebody else. Besides this, the human brain is not a computer and you can't distribute tasks arbitrarily over a large network. I am thus not sure this would even work, if it was possible. In any case, lacking evidence, it is an open question. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

There has been a lot of progress when it comes to measuring brain activity and to do some rough assignment of areas, but to my understanding pretty much nothing is known about how to analyze such data, other than "this area lights up, chances are the candidate is hungry" or something of that sort. What I was saying is that I doubt it is even possible for a computer to do much better than this. It seems possible to me however that another human brain would be able to decipher that information better, when provided with the data, and with sufficient learning time. Much like people can learn, over the course of time, how to "see" with sound. As I wrote in my post, it is quite amazing how we can "extend" our mind to make new input or even artificial extension of our body our own.

The purpose... well, to be honest I was thinking about this mostly out of sheer curiosity. I wonder a lot what other people are thinking and how they are thinking. Don't you? Besides this, as I said in a comment to Phil above it would certainly be very useful to communicate with patients with locked-in syndrome. But mostly I think it could add a completely new level to relationships as well as collaborations because it has the potential to vastly improve mutual understanding. Imagine how much time and effort you could save if you wouldn't have to find a verbal way to express a potentially very involved emotion or idea. Best,

B.

Christine said...

Hi Bee,

Apparently, they got to the level that one could move a cursor with the mind, if I remember correctly. This is certainly all very good and positive for various brain illnesses and conditions. So, sure, we certainly would like to expand and improve on the ability to adapt the brain or use other areas of it for purposes not originally or usually meant for.

However, if we are evolving towards something like brain-to-brain connections, then we better have our brains under good control and perfectly disciplined above all. This is what appears to me as something very hard to achieve. At least not as rapidly as the technology of connecting one brain to another and transmitting electrical signals at whatever protocol/filter destined to be. Brain flexibility does not mean discipline at the same time, I guess...

I agree -- we are all curious beings and we would like to know what other people are thinking and feeling.

But that is all so complex (and not necessarily always desirable), and it comes mixed with so many intertwined inputs that perhaps they can only make sense under our own very private and individual history. The thoughts and feelings do not come up so cleanly organized and could easily be misunderstood by another brain, *even* with filters or analyzers (which should be individually constructed, but again this is a difficult question).

If more "technical" stuff or knowledge could be sorted out and passed on, this could have big advantages, indeed. For example, would it be possible for me to grasp the math knowledge of Terrence Tao, without having all the big work he had to go through all his life, not to say his intelligence? :)

In any case, it does not seem clear enough (at least to me) that we would necessarily *understand ourselves better* by brain-to-brain connection. Maybe we are all intrinsically and fundamentally unique anyway, given our unique histories (DNA and environment), so maybe we are like "irreducible representations" that can never transmit what we *really* are, think and feel to each other, but only destined to pass on partial and distorted information. So I'm not sure that the brain-to-brain method would work so wonderfully as intended... Let the future come...

Best,
Christine

Phil Warnell said...
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Phil Warnell said...

Hi Christine,

It’s always interesting to hear your point of view and even more so when you and Bee have a continued exchange. Actually it ‘s at times like this I have the feeling I become that spectator within your two minds and really when you think about this observer’s role is really what it means to have a sense of self or consciousness if you prefer. Also, for that matter, it would be incorrect for the most part for any to say we know how we think, yet rather better to say we simply know what we think and then not always able to say as to exactly why; which is something you expressed as being perhaps problematic in regards to others.

So I’ve listened to all you doubts, concerns and objections yet when you boil it all down I have a sense that most of all it rests with being more than a little uncomfortable with the thought of sharing this observer role with anyone else. I think almost all people, including Bee, would have to admit to feeling at least a little bit uncomfortable, with her saying perhaps reserving to only considering such an intimate exchange with a trusted life partner or siblings.

However I was most struck by what Bee had to say, about us condemned more or less all our lives as being lonely minds, to have at the end passing from existence , with at best the memories of other lonely minds marking our place as to stand as witness that we ever were here to be conscious at all. So then taking everything into consideration, I think if it ever became even remotely possible to join with another mind, that the possibilities of the potential it presents would be worth almost any risk. That’s to say I find no meaning to the concept of future, unless it brings with it a reason for hope and thus I find this thought of ever expanding potential the most hopeful of all.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

When we first began discussing this communication with another mind I couldn’t help but being reminded of a Ted lecture given by Jill Bolte Taylor called “Stroke of Insight”. In this lecture she as a neuroscientist explains her own experience of having a stroke and what stood out for me was how vividly she described the two minds we all have. The most interesting part being both minds seeming to have a sense of consciousness (awareness), although with one being that voice it our heads that we call the self and the other having no such bounds of restriction to encompass all of its environment or world if you like.

This presentation of hers left me with the question being , which of the two contains the imagination and which is the one that is predisposed as to even care what the thoughts of others might be. As I recall last year at that Google event to which you were invited you had the pleasure and good fortune to meet her and I was wondering by way of conversation or impression if you think you know what her answer might be? In your exchange with Christine about the possible difficulties that might be encountered in knowing another’s mind I was reminded of Taylor’s lecture where the communication between the two we all have is in itself still more then a little mysterious .

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

Yes, I recall that TED video, it left an impression on me. I am afraid I have no clue how Jill Taylor would answer your question as the only thing I recall talking to her about was the content of the gift bag.

There was something else about her video though that left me thinking for a while which was her mentioning of the inner voice (saying something is wrong, get up, take the phone, etc). I guess that all of us have to some extend such an inner voice (call your brother, get up, wash the car, we're out of toilet paper, etc), but I've been wondering frequently why and how it is coupled to language. I mean, imagine you had never learned any language, would you use a visual "voice" instead? Maybe more confusingly, since I speak two languages more or less fluently, I've noticed that I use English and German for different things, which is interesting in that this must have changed sometime within the last decade. (Disturbingly enough, the default seems to be English, unless I lack too much vocabulary on a particular topic.) Now there is some research showing how language relates to cognition (I would have to look it up, maybe content of another post), so the natural question is then how this affects your inner voice. Ie, do Germans speak to themselves differently than Canadians?

This might seem like a rather esoteric question, but it is abundantly clear if you've ever heard a good talk or read a great popular science book that there is a lot of power in words. They can also be very misleading though. Most of what we deal with in theoretical physics and math can only very poorly be expressed in words, thus the question lingers in the background whether trying to express it verbally is actually counterproductive. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

Right, now that you say that I recall having come across the example with the cursor-moving. I was somewhat confused about that though because you'd think if that was generally possible they would use it quite frequently to communicate with patients who are unable to move (or move much). Instead, the communication with the locked-in patients was a quite cumbersome procedure in which the patient was supposed to concentrate on two different tasks for yes and no (say, playing tennis and eating dinner or so), tasks that would light up different brain areas. I thus suspect that the cursor moving takes a lot of training, either of the computer or the person or both, and is not quite as straight-forward as one would want it to be. In either case, I think we agree that these measurement and analysis techniques are quite rough and there's way to go, though it seems a long way can be gone by use of already existing technology.

I am afraid I don't really know what you mean with our brains would have to be disciplined, would you explain?

Yes, sure, the individual history plays an important role to how people react to input, and you probably wouldn't know the history. But what I had in mind when I was referring to understanding was not so much the "why," which is contained somewhere in the history, but the "how," meaning you would know for example somebody feels uneasy about a particular suggestion (of whatever sort, may that be taking a trip or an idea for a research project), you might be able to understand better what is the issue. It's the "gut-feeling" which verbally is very hard to communicate that you would understand better. (See also my reply to Phil above about the limits of verbal communication.) Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...
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Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee.

” am afraid I have no clue how Jill Taylor would answer your question as the only thing I recall talking to her about was the content of the gift bag.”

Oh well maybe you will meet another time as to be able to ask her. It would also be nice to know which of your minds had interest in the grab bag :-) More seriously you saying now your liittle voice has become more of an English speaker is interesting as being a poor unilingual I was always curious to know what it was like for someone who wasn’t so restricted. Then again I quess it more relates to vocabulary then any particular language, as I often find if I use a word someone else is not familiar with and they ask me to explain that I find such explaination stiil lacking the full meaning I intended.

I also find it interesting to consider that perhaps spoken or written language in itself may extend what we mean as being conscious or self aware along with the more abstract ones like mathematics and formal logic. So perhaps your answer is in part that this little voice is as much a measure or metric of awareness if you will and for those for whom there is less or no such chatter haven’t attained the same level in such regard. The one thing I can tell you about language and particularly when it is written that the better I am able to surrender my own thoughts to those of the speaker or writer, the more I myself am able to learn as to have them be understood. So I would say even without having a third eye we all have an ability to have for ourselves the thoughts of others and also to share our own.

Best,

Phil

Christine said...

Hi Bee,

By disciplined, I mean that one should be able to be selective on her/his thoughts or feelings in order to "send them for output" to another brain, otherwise you could "send" information or feelings that you don't want. The problem is that our thoughts and feelings are complex and intertwined with other thoughts and feelings, so to be selective and clear would require a lot of discipline to make them so, unless the intention is to "open" one's mind completely, without restrictions, and hopefully make the information understandable to another brain "as it is".

Best,
Christine

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

Thanks. Well, yes, I was thinking that to be without restrictions. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

I would agree that what is received should be uncensored, rather then censored. That would be like insisting we would have mental illness only understood if the data was first to be normalized. This of course would have the observer as having no ability to understand beyond what they receive, which I think is one of the greatest abilities of the human intellect, which is reflected in science.

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

It's just that I am thinking you can't filter something that you don't know how to analyze it in the first place. Ie one would start with the unfiltered signal and if you understand it sufficiently well, you can think about how to filter it. Best,

B.

Arun said...

Communications with restrictions - not wanting all you think to be conveyed - I can do that now. Speech does that quite well.

I think it will take really mature minds to withstand linking of minds.

Quote (from Balu)

"I live in a culture (the Western culture) whose members not only pride themselves on their self-knowledge but also believe such knowledge is an index of their maturity, independence, and stability. What they mean by self-knowledge is actually self-representation, which is more often than not at odds with their true nature. Instead, it is a mixture of odds and ends: ideas, pictures, values, fantasies, ideals, etc., that they have accumulated through their lives.

Psychology considers an individual to have a stable and mature identity as long as the assortment from which it is built, is not confronted by situations which break it down and show its true, unstable nature. (Creation or emergence of an identity refers to that process or event where the person in question begins to relate to this picture consciously and explicitly)."

"Can this be called self-knowledge? While this amalgam does contain elements of insights by the person about him/herself, it is not the deliberate result of exploration and reflection into oneself. Mostly, they are the insights the organism has acquired about itself during the course of its journey through life. Grafted onto this are other odds and ends: the strategies one used as a child, the remembered feelings one has had at different phases in life, a way of being alone with oneself, different ways (both successful and failed) of relating to people, vague images of heroes one admired but has since forgotten. . . In the full sense of the word, it is an assortment of junk that is somehow held together and accumulated in the course of one’s life."

Christine said...

Hi Phil,

I was most struck by what Bee had to say, about us condemned more or less all our lives as being lonely minds, to have at the end passing from existence , with at best the memories of other lonely minds marking our place as to stand as witness that we ever were here to be conscious at all.

I think of that issue every day and it troubles me deeply.

I wonder what the future brings to mankind, whether it would be possible to "free ourselves" from that.

As I mentioned in a previous comment, I am not sure whether the content of our brains (or whatever that expresses our deepest "essence", that makes what we are) could eventually be exactly transfered and sensed by others.

Maybe there is always a part that will be fundamentally lost, or something that will be distorted, given the fact that we are unique, a product of individual history (both the DNA and experience).

So although we are from the same species and can at some level "understand each other" (up to communication limitations), our intrinsic differences may be the ultimate limit that could impair an exact brain-to-brain transfer of thoughts and feelings. Or maybe I am wrong, and that will be possible. In any case, I agree that this is a fascinating possibility, although I do have some restrictions.

The fact that our minds are lonely is what makes us human. This loneliness also implies the complete freedom of the human mind. I am not sure if you change that, what would be the outcome, individually and as a society (or as a species).

At the end, we are searching for a way to live forever (or more), transferring our minds as back ups to other minds and so on. It would be some kind of extension of mechanisms we already use -- by leaving our work to "prosperity" and having children... but, of course, at a much more deeper sense.

Best,
Christine

Christine said...

Bee wrote:

you can't filter something that you don't know how to analyze it in the first place

Sure, and I have mentioned that previously. This is why the brain itself would have to do the job, i.e., we should have our brains disciplined in order to pass on a selective set of thoughts and feelings, unless that is not the idea to begin with.

Best,
Christine

Christine said...

Now I also remind of cases of siamese children with their heads connected, in that case, some part of the brain is connected. This is very amazing, I have seen on TV a case of two adults (women) sisters that live like that. And although they do have independent minds and independent personalities, it appears that they do share some brain functioning, perhaps even thoughts, as seen by a magnetic resonance imaging or something.

Steven Colyer said...

Hi Christine,

You wrote:
The fact that our minds are lonely is what makes us human. This loneliness also implies the complete freedom of the human mind. I am not sure if you change that, what would be the outcome, individually and as a society (or as a species).

Very well said.

Then you wrote:
At the end, we are searching for a way to live forever (or more), transferring our minds as back ups to other minds and so on.

This is not the first time you mention mind transference, so let's talk about the Physics of that, because it's muy interesting.

In Iain M. Banks' novels, minds can be transferred to others, yes, and in Alastair Reynolds' works previously mentioned, a mind can be scanned and inputted into a vast supercomputer (much larger than the ones we have now), and also in Greg Bear's Eon, etc.

Here's a basic problem, though. To measure the exact location of every atom in every brain neuron, you will collapse the wavefunctions of the fundamental particles therein, thus destroying said brain.

So assuming we have this technology, which at best IMHO is probably 500 years away, or more...

What are the ethical/biological ramifications? Can the "new you" be considered "you", or rather a copy?

Christine said...

Hi Steven,

Well, if you are willing to accept that you need to go to the level of quantum mechanics to define the mind, then we are dices, the mind is a very inspiring result of playing dices.

OTOH, you may object that there are certain permanencies of the mind that could entirely be described classically, at the level of electromagnetic impulses among the neurons. Then in principle you could have the storage and computational power to mimic such impulses and expect that the final result would give you "a mind".

I'm not certain of either approaches to what the mind really is. But to proceed under so little information is not scientific, but speculation, of course. Nor I am qualified to advance, I do not know much about the latest findings about the brain.

Alternatively, there is SF. I wrote a novel that deals with that issue as well, but it is in Portuguese. The mankind splits into divergent evolutionary paths, one is exponentially evolving which can no longer understand/communicate with the other branch, being so different that even a description of them cannot be made understandable to the other branch, which did not evolve much. Then they send back one of them in the form of a human, which ends up being partly from the evolved branch and partly not, in the form of a clone. So the question is what he is, and what mankind is. Etc.

Best,
Christine

Plato said...

Avatar on thoughts of "mind transference?"

In this case you are not talking about uploading to an supercomputer but to "another" biological form.

"Alien life forms" that use the host who has chosen soul wise from continuing the journey, and makes way for this "alien expression" in the life form we are accustom too?

The ideas around this might have to do with correlating literature that was expressed in the idea of lets say the Dalai Lama being reincarnated successively in lineage to current position today.

But it's more then that though and aside from the ideas of reincarnation, makes for interesting science fiction in a neurological idea of a "space created(synapse)" that can be filled?

Where do ideas come from, does not mean we are not incapable of creating that space only that we understand it as, that we can creatively do so, "for the next step." We set that up all the time by running to the limits of(an inductive/deductive position).

An example, that might be used may be as if in molecularity, we looked at water and understood that before Archimedes principle was brought to bear, that an amount of substance could be deposited "until" the level of water was saturated.

This idea was related too, how much the soul can weight at death which was inconclusive.

Best,

Plato said...
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Steven Colyer said...

With all due respect, Plato, please don't bring Noetic "Science" into this discussion. That was also the theme of Dan Brown's recent novel. I don't see any of that ending well.

If you insist on doing so though, I may have to jump into my FTL singleship, gather up Leibniz' "Alpha waves" 300+ light years away with my Decoherence Filter, then return with them and input them into a brain-dead comatose person and bring him back to life so he could discuss "monads" here.

I'd rather not. We are but puppies playing in the fields of ignorance. OK, 2 year old canines, as the fields are larger than we thought.

Bee, I've noticed a greater interest in Biology from you of late. Could this be a fourth-decade-of-life thing? Ask Stefan, he's been-than-done that. Speaking just for myself and likely not just me, I remember my 30's being the decade when the inevitability of my mortality hit home.

I'm at peace with Mortality now. Not gonna throw a party for it, but as the years pass, the wisdom increases and the bucket list gets longer, concurrent with the realization that the percentage of items on said list that will actually be achieved gets shorter.

No wonder middle-aged men are so cranky. Reality sets in.

Oh to be young and ignorant again! :-p

More happy thoughts available on on request. :-)

Steven Colyer said...

Hi Christine,

You wrote:

I wrote a novel that deals with that issue as well, but it is in Portuguese. The mankind splits into divergent evolutionary paths, one is exponentially evolving which can no longer understand/communicate with the other branch, being so different that even a description of them cannot be made understandable to the other branch, which did not evolve much. Then they send back one of them in the form of a human, which ends up being partly from the evolved branch and partly not, in the form of a clone. So the question is what he is, and what mankind is. Etc.

Well, I would very much like to read that novel. Is it online? if so, we now have Babel Fish and Google Translate at our disposal (which is better, Portuguese ==> English ?).

It would take a while, but I could see myself translating it paragraph by paragraph into English.

Best,

Steve

Christine said...

Hi Steven,

Thanks for you interest. It is not online. I don't think an advertisement would be allowed here, email me at christinedantas(at)yahoo.com and I send you the lulu site link for the book. Or try the link over at my Theorema Egregium blog.

I advice against using those translators. They are horrible. In addition, my book was written with a care for the literary aspects as well. Some may not agree, but Portuguese is much richer than English, and a translation must be appropriately done. I thought about doing this with a professional, but since the book was actually written when I was in my 20's, there are some things that I would change now. So, I have this project of writing a new novel, directly in English, also because the market for Portuguese/Brazilian SF is very small.

Best,
Christine

Steven Colyer said...

That's fine, Christine. When I have enough money after my two teenage kids in high school (including a special needs child with Tourette's Syndrome) complete high school, and the one non-special-needs child who is an academic superstar completes Medical Scvhool, and when my two college-student children (including a special-needs child, a paranoid schizophrenic on Ambilfy and therefore currently normal) complete college/grad school, I will have the money to buy your book, translate it by typing it in, and read it. I'm 53 now, 54 in October, so at the rate things are going, I'm looking at another bucket list at age 70.

But I will read it! Have no fear. Someday. :-)

I look forward to your 2nd novel in English. Good luck on that and yah I'll read that first (as you can see why), most likely.

"Cloning" I have problems with. A clone is a reproduction, therefore a completely different individual, as I said. A clone has the same DNA, but it's not you.

More importantly, the persons we are at age 20 are far different than what we are at age 40. Same person, same name, same Government numbers, but so much more experience and therefore so much wiser. It's almost like 2 different people. :-)

Christine said...

Steven wrote:

When I have enough money after my (...) ETC.

Wow.

No, I don't need the money, I have a pretty good salary, BTW. Also, I'll never make money by selling SF books, specially in Portuguese. The intention of selling my novel from Lulu is that you have the possibility of having a paper copy that is nice and at a good price, as a book for a gift, for instance. However, it is copyright material and I did not want to make it widely available. I am definitely not making money with it and that is not the idea anyway.

Send me an email and I send you an electronic copy for personal use.

Thanks again for your interest!

Best,
Christine

Christine said...

the persons we are at age 20 are far different than what we are at age 40

Those are time-clones, right? We are time-clones.

William said...

Hi Bee,

Some thoughts on mind-sharing or mind-melding as related to sex ...

1.) Mind-sharing would be not only extremely intimate, but also equivalent in many aspects to sexual intimacy. So heterosexuals may find the thought of mind-sharing with someone of the same sex be repugnant and creepy. Homosexuals might feel the same about mind-sharing with heterosexuals.

2.) Due to the differences in the "natures" of men and women, women may be more receptive to mind-sharing with other women, as well as to mind-sharing in general, as compared to men.

3.) Another sexual aspect is the differences in thought processing at the neural level between men and women. The female brain, in some aspects, functions in different ways from the male brain on a neural level. The brains are structured differently. As example, there is greater communication between the hemispheres of a woman's brain, compared to a man's brain.

So two people of the *same* sex might be able to better decode and make sense of each-other's mental activity, due to their more similarly structured brains, as compared to two people of the opposite sex. For instance, women are known to be much better than men in mentally processing many different trains of thought at the same time (multitasking). If those neural processes were fed somehow into a man's brain, it could be like a huge multi-train collision in the male's brain, since he would lack the neural structures to handle that input.

As an analogy, man's thoughts are more like a series of photons, whereas women's thoughts often manifest as spatially-spread-out waves in super-position? That analogy may also apply to physical intimacy, but that's another story. :)

4.) If two minds are bound in a mind-sharing session which they can not quickly terminate, it might be that a spurious, perhaps subconscious, random sexual thought in one person might be processed by the other person and amplified by an automatic response of additional similar sexual thoughts, which would then feed back to the other person, causing more additional sexual thought processing, and then continue back and forth in an increasingly amplified loop, causing an unintended and unwilled runaway avalanche of sexual thinking. Like when the output from a speaker is accidentally fed into a microphone. And if termination of the session is under control of the participants, maybe, due to the avalanche-effect preventing other thoughts, they would not be able to quickly free-will their way out of the avalanche of sexual thinking, to regain the "presence of mind" in order to initiate termination of the session. Maybe that could be fun. But more likely, not.

The idea of mental-bonding and a similar instance of unanticipated, runaway emotional turmoil is dramatized in this excellent episode of Star Trek voyager (also includes other interesting scientific themes):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nsqpd8Uuekk
Star Trek Voyager: The Thaw (in 5 short parts)

It starts off low key, but quickly builds in intensity.

Best quote from the episode:
Harry Kim: This is not reality. It's an illusion!
Clown: When your only reality is an illusion, then illusion is a reality.

Which rings a relevant bell:
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." - Einstein

Last lines from the episode:
[Note: The Clown is a compter-created manifestation of fear, in form of a clown.]
Clown: What will become of us... of me?
Captain Kathryn Janeway: Like all fear, you eventually... vanish.
Clown: I'm afraid.
Captain Kathryn Janeway: [whispers] I know.
Clown: [vanishing] Drat!

Plato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Colyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Colyer said...

William wrote:
As an analogy, man's thoughts are more like a series of photons, whereas women's thoughts often manifest as spatially-spread-out waves in super-position?

I agreed with everything you said until you wrote this. It's not just a bad analogy, it's not even wrong, and untrue.

Women are bosonic, not men. Men are fermionic. Women like bosons are naturally social. Men are in their own state like fermions. Predictable yes (women have it SO easy that way in comparison), yet still distinct but different.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Christine,

I understand and can appreciate what you say about the significance and importance of our uniqueness and yet would be the first to point out how much we are all similar, beginning from the standpoint of DNA all the way to what forms as being the basic and common human experience. I think this aspect of self as to impotance of it remaining private as an attribute and thus at all times always be maintained relates more to our egos and insecurities, with most of all coming down to fear of the unknown.

Then my basic argument being, that on at least this planet we stand as being the only creatures who explore and shape it by way of science in having the unknown able to become known, as able to mitigate our instinctive reactions to fear in relieving its primary trigger as to not only know how and when to take action, yet even more so as to why.

So I would submit that if we are to be true as to follow our evolutionary destiny, this step in seeking to unify our minds in a voluntary and reasoned manner is unavoidable and thus should become a vision as to become a common goal, rather than something to be avoided primarily out of fear. That is as I acknowledge that our common link to all other creatures being fear, that we alone may be the only ones capable of boldness resultant of reason and have this being our only true unique quality which we should insist be maintained.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

With all that is going on in your life at present, serves to indicate why mind melding would be a positive move as there's a distinct difference between being able to sympathize as opposed to empathize, with the sharing of minds able to more reliably facilitate the latter. Isn’t it strange then that although many would insist that transparency is what’s required for the success of democratic governance along with fair and productive commerce, that individual transparency is considered as contrary to our freedom and security. It has me to wonder as it is demonstrated in games like poker, if there is any true value to a bluff that is not ultimately only self serving if there never existed such an ability for anyone to begin with ?


Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Steven:

Women like bosons are naturally social.

All humans are naturally social. There's evidence that women are more skilled in social interactions (like teamwork), but that's not the same thing. I would be very surprised if there's evidence that men are less social than women. They just express it differently. Besides this, I've said this several times before, how "social" people are (or are perceived) is also cultural. If you don't know what I mean, try to attend a wine and cheese reception with a) mostly US Americans and b) mostly Swedes and Finns. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi William,

And how come the fermions always think about sex? ;-) But I'll admit the thought occurred to me too, it would without doubt be interesting... In any case, just another reason why it seems likely sooner or later somebody will try... Best,

B.

Bee said...

Dear Arun,

I think it will take really mature minds to withstand linking of minds.

Or it will result in maturity. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

"we should have our brains disciplined in order to pass on a selective set of thoughts and feelings, unless that is not the idea to begin with."

As I said above, no, that was not what I had in mind. In fact, I think it will be pretty much impossible since there's no knowing how to do it. If it is possible at all, we could only learn it by doing over the course of time. Best,

B.

Steven Colyer said...

If you don't know what I mean, try to attend a wine and cheese reception with a) mostly US Americans and b) mostly Swedes and Finns.

I've never done this, but your position fascinates me.

Reasons I haven't done this:
1) I haven't had the pleasure of being in Scandinavia, but living 35 miles due west or so of the United Nations bldg in NYC, I suppose I could arrange it.
2) I'm not a wine drinker. Beer (especially the German pilsner: Warsteiners!) or bust. Cheese is good though.
3) As an anti-social male ... well, that's too strong ... as a self-imposed recluse in the best traditions of Paul Dirac and Dave Deutsch, and Einstein in 1915 before he was ready to present Gen Rev at The Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin and went temporarily "hermit" ... I try to avoid large gatherings of humans as much as possible. Then again I guess I am social to the extent that I have always sought out one-on-one relationships. No social butterfly me, but no wallflower either.
3) I live in NJ, where wine-and-cheese events are generally considered "women stuff." But beer and kielbasa, beer and corned beef, beer and pasta? Now you're talking. :-)

Bee said...

Hi Steven,

Well, truth be spoken the wine-and-cheese, Swedish style, seems to tend towards Beer and crackers. Point I was trying to make is that women and men seem to find these social situations similarly awkward with the difference depending more on their upbringing than their gender, and they might have different preferences for how to be "social." At least that's my experience. I for myself have been dubbed anti-social on many occasions, which isn't quite true though. It's not that I don't like spending time with others, it's just that I can only take it in small doses. I find people generally... complicated. They take up a lot of my brain power which I find very exhausting. In our marriage, Stefan is clearly the more social one. The most comfortably withdrawn people I've come across were women. In any case, I'll admit that the sample of people I know isn't very representative for the general population. Best,

B.

Steven Colyer said...

Hi Christine,

Yup, sure we're time-clones, nice way to put it. Each of us changes so much over every 4-5 year period of our lives, as our attitudes and challenges change. Our genetics and basic personalities are fairly constant, but we differ in views as we gain experience and note the changes not just in ourselves but also in others around us, and in the world at large.

Hi Bee,

Well I like the Swedes better already! Thanks for that. And yup, I'm the more social one in my marriage too. Then again, we have a large and extended family. Tough not to be social in that case, eh? Where's a cave I can hide in? :-)

In any event, anything anyone needs to know about human relationships can be found here, combined with real-world human experience. Robert Wright's and Helen Fisher's book especially important. The point is not to get to the point where you're Ozzie Osbourne at age 60, telling the whole world at the end of the first season of his show that at age 60 you've figured people out, but what's the point? You're 60!

Christine said...

Bee,

Take a look at this:

Ultrathin Silk-Based Electronics Make Better Brain Implants

Best,
Christine

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

Thanks, that's very interesting. Now they only have to come up with a good way to get the electronics on the brain... Best,

B.

Bee said...

Just read: There's indeed a German researcher working on growing steaks in the lab.

Christine said...

Hi Bee

See this one...

Best,
Christine