Cyborgs

Part 3 of 5 in the series Biotech

Science has given us a whole new toolbox for tinkering with life, and we have the power to modify animals in profound new ways. — Frankenstein’s Cat (2013)

neural network: DTREG/MLFN

Brain cells in petri dish
 
A microscopic view of the “brain in a dish,” or
rat neurons growing on a multi-electrode array
in a petri dish. (Tom DeMarse)
 
 
Four current neurotechnologies
 
MRI of child's brain featuring hippocampus
 
Futurama's Bender
Futurama

Neurons have even been cultured on a computer chip that in a matter of minutes learned how to control a virtual F-16 fighter jet. “Enzymes were used to extract neurons from the motor cortex of mature rat embryos and cells were then seeded onto a grid of [60] gold electrodes patterned on a glass Petri dish,” reports the NewScientist.com website. University of Florida in Gainesville biomedical engineer Thomas “DeMarse’s array of 25,000 interconnected neurons were able to convert signals that indicated whether the simulated plane is experiencing stable conditions or hurricanes into a measurement of whether the plane is flying straight or tilted and then correct the flight path by transmitting signals to the airplane’s controls.” 33

“When the system is first engaged, the neurones don’t know how to control the aeroplane; they don’t have any experience,” notes the Australian Broadcasting Company:

“Over time, these stimulations modify the network’s response such that the neurones slowly [over the course of 15 minutes] learn to control the aircraft,” [DeMarse] said. “The end result is a neural network that can fly the plane to produce relatively stable straight and level flight.” 34

“(The brain is) getting its network to the point where it’s a live computation device,” said DeMarse in the University of Florida press release.35 ABC News reports on additional neural computer studies noting:

It is clear that a marriage between neurology, or the study of the human brain, and high speed computers is leading into territory that sounds more like science fiction than fact. Some experts have warned that incredibly smart machines might someday leave the rest of us in the dust, usurping our self-appointed role as the most important creatures on the planet, if not the universe.36

“We’re closer to becoming real cyborgs than most people realize,” writes the io9.com website. “With our brains connected to computers at a fundamental level.” 37 NewScientist.com reports:

The world’s first brain prosthesis – an artificial hippocampus – is about to be tested in California. Unlike devices like cochlear implants, which merely stimulate brain activity, this silicon chip implant will perform the same processes as the damaged part of the brain it is replacing.…The job of the hippocampus appears to be to “encode” experiences so they can be stored as long-term memories elsewhere in the brain.38

IBM, “along with four universities and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), have created the basic design of an experimental computer chip that emulates the way the brain processes information,” reports the VenturBeat.com website. “IBM’s so-called cognitive computing chips could one day simulate and emulate the brain’s ability to sense, perceive, interact and recognize – all tasks that humans can currently do much better than computers can.” 39

 

“First we get our chatbots to sound and act realistic – and then we get them to convince everyone they’re actually human,” writes George Dvorsky on IO9 about Time’s run-in with such a software application.40 Wikipedia writes:

A chatter robot, chatterbot, chatbot, or chat bot is a computer program designed to simulate an intelligent conversation with one or more human users via auditory or textual methods, primarily for engaging in small talk. The primary aim of such simulation has been to fool the user into thinking that the program’s output has been produced by a human (the Turing test).

Programs playing this role are sometimes referred to as Artificial Conversational Entities, talk bots or chatterboxes. In addition, however, chatterbots are often integrated into dialog systems for various practical purposes such as offline help, personalised service, or information acquisition. Some chatterbots use sophisticated natural language processing systems, but many simply scan for keywords within the input and pull a reply with the most matching keywords, or the most similar wording pattern, from a textual database.

The term “ChatterBot” was originally coined by Michael Mauldin (Creator of the first Verbot, Julia) in 1994 to describe these conversational programs [Mauldin, Michael (1994), “ChatterBots, TinyMuds, and the Turing Test: Entering the Loebner Prize Competition”, Proceedings of the Eleventh National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI Press, retrieved 2008-03-05, abstract].41

Continue to page 5 »


33 Celeste Biever (Discovery News), “Brain cells in a dish fly fighter plane,” NewScientist.com, 26 Oct 2004, at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn6573-brain-cells-in-a-dish-fly-fighter-plane.html (retrieved: 1 May 2011).

34 Jennifer Viegas (Discovery News), “Brain-in-a-dish flies plane,” Australian Broadcasting Company, 26 Oct 2004, at http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2004/10/26/1228132.htm (retrieved: 1 May 2011).

35 “UF scientist: ‘Brain’ in a dish acts as autopilot, living computer,” University of Florida press release, 21 Oct 2004, at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-10/uof-us102104.php (retrieved: 1 May 2011).

36 Lee Dye, “Scientist Build a ‘Brain’ From Rat Cells,” ABC News, 30 Oct 2004, at http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/DyeHard/story?id=198839&page=1 (retrieved: 1 May 2011).

37 “We’re closer to becoming real cyborgs than most people realize,” io9, 19 September 2011, at http://io9.com/5841901/were-closer-to-becoming-real-cyborgs-than-most-people-realize (retrieved: 8 October 2011).

38 Duncan Graham-Rowe, “World’s first brain prosthesis revealed,” NewScientist.com, 12 March 2003, at http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3488-worlds-first-brain-prosthesis-revealed.html (retrieved: 8 October 2011).

39 Dean Takahashi, “IBM produces first working chips modeled on the human brain,” VentureBeat.com, 17 August 2011, at http://venturebeat.com/2011/08/17/ibm-cognitive-computing-chips/ (retrieved: 8 October 2011).

40 George Dvorsky, “Freakishly realistic telemarketing robots are denying they’re robots,” 12 December 2013, at http://io9.com/freakishly-realistic-telemarketing-robots-are-denying-t-1481050295 (retrieved: 12 December 2013); See also Zeke Miller and Denver Nicks, “Meet the Robot Telemarketer Who Denies She’s A Robot,” 10 December 2013, at Meet the Robot Telemarketer Who Denies She’s A Robot (retrieved: 12 December 2013).

41 Chatterbot, Wikipedia.org, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatterbot (retrieved: 12 December 2013).

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