Archive for June, 2006

The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence

Ray Kurzweil is one of the most vocal proponents of the acendency of thinking machines. His The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence, written in 1999 is dated, but that is a good thing for a book predicting the future! You can see how many predictions have come true. Much of what he predicted for 2009 is on the money. The interesting thing is that these predictions, which must have seemed wild in the last century, are just part of our everyday life!
The picture of the future he paints is one where machines and humans join to form a new intelligent species. His positive view of this brave new world is infectuous, but he is careful to evaluate the position of the naysayers, and respond. (more…)

Allan Snyder and his team of researchers have shown that “savant” capabilities can be induced in people without Autism by using the strong magnetic field of a Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator to inhibit the action of the left anterior temporaral cortex. According to a post on www.huge-entity.com the theory behind this effect is that the TMS suppresses filtering and grouping mechanisms of the brain, thereby directly “connecting” the raw sensory data to the number estimation functionsof the brain. By allowing this direct connection between the estimation process and the raw data the brain was able to function in the ‘savant’ mode. (more…)

Lamb : The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal

The Bible does not say much about the life of Jesus while he was growing up. What happened in the thirty years between the Nativity and the marriage feast of Cana? Well, Christopher Moore has finally told the story! Yes, it is all made up, but completely plausible. Moore has researched all that is known and woven a light hearted tale of the Messiah’s coming of age that fits the record. This story is told in the spirit of Jesus’ message. (more…)

First let us postulate that the computer scientists succeed in developing intelligent machines that can do all things better than human beings can do them. In that case, presumably all work will be done by vast, highly organized systems of machines and no human effort will be necessary. Either of two cases might occur. The machines might be permitted to make all of their own decisions without human oversight, or else human control over the machines might be retained.If the machines are permitted to make all their own decisions, we can’t make any conjectures as to the results, because it is impossible to guess how such machines might behave. We only point out that the fate of the human race would be at the mercy of the machines. (more…)

Arrow of TimeDileep George has conducted research into modeling the structure of the human neocortex and constructed artificial neocortical arrays that mimic thought processes. These arrays are arranged in a heirarcial structure, with some closely connected to sensors and others a level removed, and so forth. Each heirarchial level resolves the invariant portions of a signature of the inputs through learning. His example of the visual cortex’s ability to identify the difference between a dog and a helicopter independent of position, version or race through learning. An audio recording of Dileep’s paper is at http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail732.html
The structure and organization of the neocortex requires a number of relationships and feedbacks including statistics, probability and temporal feedback. It occurs to me that the human perception of time may be inextricably linked to this temporal feedback. If time is not a fundimental feature of the universe, but instead simply a “rate variable” clocked by our own neocortex, then the time we have used as reference for all of our present science may be merely an artifact of our mind’s perception. (more…)