Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Human intelligence can only be emulated by technology

I've been reading news reports about how technology is advancing so rapidly that by the year 2050, we're supposed to be able to download our entire consciousness into our laptop computers. That right, just plug in your brain, and apparently you can download your memories and all the data in your head. Now, what's wrong with this? First of all, the brain does not store information in bits and bytes. The brain is not a digital storage system. The brain, and more importantly, the mind, is holographic in the way that it stores and retrieves information. And, by the way, the information that the brain stores isn't even really stored with perfectly accuracy anyway.Peoples' perceptions are distorted; peoples' memories are distorted. They're fuzzy. They waver in and out. They can be created on the fly, so it's not like you have a databank in your head that's just sitting there waiting to be downloaded. All the memories and perceptions in your head are shifting around all the time. What you think you remember today may not have happened that way at all. In fact, very little of what you remember actually happened that way.
In other words, we don't see reality. We experience a very tiny interpretation of the world around us. The universe out there, and what's encoded in our head, is really just an experience; a holographic representation of various sensory inputs, emotions and experiences at that time. This it not just some data, and this is not like a zip file. You can't just download it into a computer or slap it onto a flash drive.Human intelligence can only be emulated by technologySo, I don't care how advanced computing technology gets, you're never going to be able to just download your memory like a giant storage file, because it's not stored that way. Your brain is not a giant flash chip.Now, what's really important about this, and what's worth discussing about this news, is that there continues to be this great tendency by scientists, especially those in the fields of artificial intelligence and computer science, to think of the human brain as being just some really advanced computer. They think that if computers keep getting more and more advanced, at the pace that it's going today, if Moore's law holds up, and they can keep cramming more transistors onto computer chips at ever increasing rates -- they figure sooner or later, these computers will achieve consciousness. completely disagree. I think that computers could someday be able to emulate intelligence. There is no question in my mind that there will be artificial intelligence. But consciousness? That's another matter completely. We don't even really know what the nature of consciousness is. We don't really even know ourselves yet. Even our best scientists really have no clue how consciousness comes into being. How many people sit down and truly explore the meaning of self? How many people even know themselves? How many people understand consciousness even at a basic level? Very few, I think. The people who do are not scientists, by the way. They tend to be spiritual people who meditate and are in touch with themselves and the universe, and who don't have any technical training in the sciences.
But technicians out there love to look at the human body and the human mind as nothing but a collection of parts. This is not only true in the fields of intelligence and AI; it's also true, of course, in medicine. Doctors and surgeons, especially, tend to look at the human body as a collection of parts; they think that if we just understand all the parts, then we'll understand the organism. They think if you can x-ray and image and categorize and name all the individual components of the human body, then you understand all the biochemistry that's taking place. And then you understand the person. I completely disagree with that.
You can get lost by looking at the little components, all these little parts. You can only understand a person by taking a step back and looking at the whole person with a holistic view of health and consciousness. So, what does all this have to do with downloading your brain into a computer? We have to look at the holistic or holographic view of what human consciousness is, and even just what a basic human memory is.
"Reality" definedIn fact, if you get down to it, what is the nature of our reality, and how is it that we perceive this reality when much of it, frankly, isn't even there? Think about it. If you know anything about physics, especially quantum physics, you know that all of this so-called stuff that we think is around us is almost entirely not there from a technical point of view.
For example, consider a wall. A wall is made of certain elements made up of atoms. If you look inside those atoms, you can potentially name electrons, neutrons and protons. If you look in those, you find out it's nothing but vibrations. It's just probability waves that appear as reality, that appear to be substance, but is really not there at all. It's almost all empty space. The closer you look at it, the more it disappears, so even the stuff we think is real isn't real.
Even our memories aren't real; our memories are just holographic interpretations of our experience of this so-called real world, which isn't real anyway. Our memoirs are based only on those things that we can perceive. And our perception is very, very limited. If you look at the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and then you take a look at the tiny sliver of that spectrum that's visible light, that is what we see. What we see is just a small fraction of what's available in the electromagnetic spectrum. Even honeybees see more then we do. Other animals hear at much higher frequencies than we do. What we feel, touch and taste are basically just very crude representations of what's going on around us. It's all interpreted in our heads through a system of filters, beliefs and distortions, and then it becomes a memory. So, memory is not at all a representation of what's going on in the world.
Artificial Intelligence is about to take a quantum leap forwardNow, I don't discount the idea that computing power is going to take a quantum leap forward, and I use "quantum" deliberately in this case. If we have quantum computers and they become practical, then watch out, because there are going to be some real questions about what is reality at that point. Because if a computer can effectively solve problems by sending little qubits into other dimensions and calculate problems in an infinite number of dimensions and bring the solutions back in this world and hand it over to us, that's mind blowing.
Yet that's happening right now at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, in Boulder, Colorado. They're doing this stuff; they have computers that reach into other dimensions and bring solutions back into this dimension. They're doing this today. If they can make this practical and increase the number of bits, this thing will really, again, cause us to question the whole nature of reality.
So I don't discount the fact there is really some amazing technology out there, and that artificial intelligence will certainly become a very important factor in the ongoing march of technology and how it affects society. What I'm questioning is that we'll be able to interface this digital world of computers with the world of the human mind and consciousness. I don't think these connect very well. It's not like we have a VGA connection in the back of our heads, and if we plug it into our computer monitor while we're sleeping, we could view our dreams. It would be cool, but it's not going to work that way; it's going to take a lot more than just raw computer power to even come close to figuring out how to interface with our minds.
I am very interested in the impact of emerging technology on our civilization, especially those that can enhance the quality of life on this planet -- so, even though I'm a futurist, I'm also very skeptical of other futurists. I think a lot of times when people talk about these emerging technologies, it's just a lot of hyping, someone trying to get a lot of grant money, or somebody just trying to attract some attention talking about something that really isn't practical.
You see this with nanotechnology all the time. "Nanotech, nanotech." It's nanotech all the time. Why? Because that's what gets you grant money in the scientific community these days. If you look at the statistics today, and you think about how many researchers and scientists are working on "nanotechnology," you think, "Gee, this field is exploding." It's not true. It's just that everybody who used to work on less glamorous projects just renamed all their stuff to be nanotechnology. So, now they call it nanotech, and they're getting grant money, and the statistics show that there's all this nanotech research going on. It's the same research; it's just been renamed.
Now, there is some new nanotech research going on, but I'm skeptical about this, as well. They say they'll be able to build an army of nanotechnology robots, little molecular-scaled robots that will run around your body and cure cancer. That's right, these little robots are going to snip away at cancer tumors, and I've said this before, but we already have such a system. It's in our bodies right now. It's called the immune system, and it's the most advanced nanotechnology in the world. This stuff is amazing. It cures cancer every single day in every single human being who's alive right now. It takes care of the job for us. We don't need microscopic robots to take care of it, we just need to take care of the immune system we have right now.
Social and political implications of emerging technologySo getting back to the original item here, what if we were able to download our brains into computers? It sounds great in terms of technology, but what about the social and political implications of this? What would it mean? Would it mean that if you were suspected of committing a crime, the courts would force a download of your brain? Would it mean that your memories and thoughts were no longer your own?
If it did mean that, then, of course, we'd have an era of thought crimes -- an era where it could be criminal to think the wrong thoughts or have the wrong memories, or just to have the wrong imagination. If you happen to have the wrong images pop up into your head, and it gets downloaded onto the computer, all of a sudden, you're a criminal. You're an enemy of the state. Why? Because you don't fit the norm. Because you have ideas that they consider to be a threat to their stranglehold on power. You've got to think about these things. Technologies can be promising, but they can also be very threatening, not only to our sense of who we are, but also to our security and privacy as individuals and our very freedoms.
Today in the United States, we have a federal government that is spying on millions of U.S. citizens. Our Dept. of Homeland Security is reading your international mail, digitally filtering all your international phone calls for audible keywords, scanning virtually all internet traffic, and even tracking citizens by their cell phone transponders. All of this is blatantly illegal, by the way. Do you have any doubt that this police state government would hesitate to download and scan your memories and thoughts if the technology were available? All this stuff was considered science fiction by most Americans until recently, when the mainstream press finally woke up to the realities of the NSA spying on American citizens (but those of us "in the know" have been writing about these Police State tactics for years. Just check the archives on www.Rense.com to see for yourself. Or search Google for the "echelon project.")
Ultimately, what I'm trying to say is that technology is not the solution to uplifting our civilization. It is not the answer to the problems in our world. They say we have hunger and starvation in Africa. We have the technology to grow all the food we need. We have an abundance of food right here in the United States, that is somehow not getting to the mouths of the people over there who need it. We're paying farmers to not grow crops, so how can there be a food shortage? It's not a food problem. It's not a farming technology problem. It's a political problem. It's an issue of control. Who's controlling those people? Who benefits from scarcity? Who benefits from having a population that's always at war?
More technology is not the answer. It sounds cool, and all those new electronic gadgets look cool. But technology is not the answer to solving the problems of our civilization. So what is the answer, you might ask? Well, look; I'm no master of this. I'm still a student of all of it. But I've got some ideas that the answers are in the world of consciousness, spirituality, ethics and empathy. I think the answers are in things like being able to actually care about fellow human beings and act on that care, and making efforts to end the suffering in the world, rather than trying to maintain control over people all the time. The answers are found through spiritualism, meditation and self-introspection. The answers are essentially found by looking inward, not by examining the physical stuff of the world around us and coming up with more and more clever ways to alter it or control it.
We have to look inward, and stop thinking that the answers can be found in technology, chemistry, gene therapy and medical science. These are not the answers; these are just distractions from the real answers. You can have the best technology in the world, but you will still not solve the problems of this planet unless you can act with integrity, ethics, honesty, empathy, humility and compassion. These are the issues that really matter.
Frankly, if we mastered those as a world, we wouldn't need much technology. We really wouldn't. We have plenty of technology today to take care of all the basic needs of everyone; enough to put a home over people's heads, to feed the population and to cover basic health. What we're lacking is that sense of awareness, ethics, spirituality and a higher level of operation and thinking, or rather, experiencing a higher level of being. Ultimately, I don't want a world where a bunch of computers are looking into our heads. I hope to see a world where individuals examine their own minds. That, to me, would be the most amazing breakthrough of all.


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