Cyborg Upgrades

This from LiveScience via Kurtzweil AI: Monkeys Brains Alter to Work Robotic Arm

A new study finds a monkey’s brain structure adapts to treat a robotic arm as if it was a natural appendage. The finding bolsters the notion that the primate brain is highly adaptable, and it adds more knowledge to the effort to create useful prosthetic devices for…

This is a very thought provoking piece of news. To me it seems to point out the way that awareness inhabits the sensorium, no matter what the origin of that sensorium. If the monkey brain can adapt to the use of non-organic appendages, then maybe it is possible that one can go further and progressively substitute pieces of the body with cyborg replacements. It brings to my mind the thought experiments where functionally identical transistorised components are used to replace neurons in the brain. The thought experiment was intended to highlight the difference between those who hold that hard-AI is true, and those who believe that something ineffible is lost in the process, which I guess they would call consciousness or soul or some similarly ill-defined term.

Others have argued that the challenge is in replacing the neurons with functionally equivalent components because of the potential for brain cells to be small quantum computers, but in recent years even that is now seen as a hurdle that can be overcome. I’m encouraged with these results because they silence the objections of those who hold that the ineffable thing that is lost in a cyborg is an organic nature. As though Carbon-based molecules were somehow privileged and able to yield consciousness in a way that other assemblages of atoms were not.

Surely it is the pattern of signals going to and from the brain that counts, not their origin?

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One comment

  1. If you combine this result with the research on determining what people are looking at from the parts of their brain that are active then you get the basis for a weapons targetting system for the US military. I’m not so encourages with this result…

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