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Gordon_Shea
22nd Jan 2011, 21:34
...will basically never happen, sez Princeton Doctoral Candidate Timothy Lee.

Responding to singularity cultists who think that we'll all upload our cyberbrains into the technofuture, Lee argues that a computer will most likely never be able to emulate a brain well enough to run its contents. Lee's argument hinges on the difference between emulation and simulation. According to Lee, we will never be able to emulate the human brain because, unlike computer hardware or software, it is not intelligently designed from the top down around a specific and logical mathematical model.

In fact, sez Lee, we have never been able to emulate any natural system because they're so complicated and illogical. Instead, we simulate them using best-guesses, approximations, or predictions based upon past behavior. His example is weather. We can predict large trends, like where or when it's likely to rain, but we can't predict where each raindrop will fall, or exactly how long it'll fall. Moreover, increased processing power doesn't really make that much of a difference in the modeling of weather. Over the last twenty years, we've seen modest improvement at best from drastically increased processing power. Although Lee doesn't argue it himself, I'd wager that this is because the rate at which returns diminish increases for more complicated systems.

What do you guys think?
link (http://timothyblee.com/2011/01/13/emulation-simulation-and-the-human-brain/)

Fox89
22nd Jan 2011, 22:03
I think Timothy Lee is rather foolish. Never say never.

I imagine (I may be wrong) scientists in 1869 thought we'd never get a man on the moon. 100 years later, we did. I swear I've read people saying we will 'never' have viable nuclear fusion as an energy source, and then over the last two years it's come vastly closer to becoming a reality.

Never is a word for people who lack foresight and/or ambition. And when used in contexts such as speculation about the capabilities of future technology, it is rarely (but not never!) accurate.

Rindill the Red
22nd Jan 2011, 22:08
I agree, to an extent. Can we do it right now? No. Can we do it in 15, 20, 100 years? I feel... yes.

Like it or not, scientists' mathematical models of reality are often very good at predicting the behavior of the systems they study.

Going back to physics 101.

We start with Newton's Second Law: F = ma, and the observed acceleration due to gravity.

Using this and basic calculus we can predict the motion of some object's center of mass falling through a vacuum at some small distance above the earth's surface.

To account for air resistance, we add a term for the force of air resistance, Fn = ma + Fa, where Fa may be approximately proportional to the speed of the object.

Then, if we need to account for further complexity, we further modify the equation to account for other factors in the equation.

The point is... the human brain is a system with behavior. And that knowing and studying that behavior can allow us to model it... given certain "simplifying assumptions." Comparing that model, then, to the brain and noting the discrepancies allows us to further adjust the model. Applying that model in a computer would give rise to simulations of the human brain.

First we need a reliable way of studying the human brain's behavior.

AlexOfSpades
22nd Jan 2011, 22:10
Five centuries ago, people said the same thing about flying.

Much has changed, and much will change in the upcoming centuries. "Princeton Doctoral Candidate" Lee may not live to see the changes, but they will come.

When i was a kid (and i'm just 18), my computer had a 4gb hard disk. A decade later, i have a 500gb hard disk, and that's the "standard". A real computer have more than 1 tb.

We can say that in 10 years, maybe less, the average hard disk size got 100 times bigger (actually more).

Nothing can stop the technology. Not even the Princeton Doctoral Candidate.

Gordon_Shea
22nd Jan 2011, 22:36
Five centuries ago, people said the same thing about flying.

Much has changed, and much will change in the upcoming centuries. "Princeton Doctoral Candidate" Lee may not live to see the changes, but they will come.

When i was a kid (and i'm just 18), my computer had a 4gb hard disk. A decade later, i have a 500gb hard disk, and that's the "standard". A real computer have more than 1 tb.

We can say that in 10 years, maybe less, the average hard disk size got 100 times bigger (actually more).

Nothing can stop the technology. Not even the Princeton Doctoral Candidate.

Actually he mentions that, which you'd know if you read my post or his. He points to the fact that even the massive increase in the power of our computers over the last twenty years has made, at best, a modest increase in our ability to simulate things like weather. Plus, even Moore admits that there's an upward limit on how long this explosive process can continue, and that we see diminishing returns in more sophisticated systems.

Of course the fact you peg this to hard disk space rather than processors implies that you don't really know dick about how computers work.




I agree, to an extent. Can we do it right now? No. Can we do it in 15, 20, 100 years? I feel... yes.

Like it or not, scientists' mathematical models of reality are often very good at predicting the behavior of the systems they study.

Going back to physics 101.

We start with Newton's Second Law: F = ma, and the observed acceleration due to gravity.

Using this and basic calculus we can predict the motion of some object's center of mass falling through a vacuum at some small distance above the earth's surface.

To account for air resistance, we add a term for the force of air resistance, Fn = ma + Fa, where Fa may be approximately proportional to the speed of the object.

Then, if we need to account for further complexity, we further modify the equation to account for other factors in the equation.

The point is... the human brain is a system with behavior. And that knowing and studying that behavior can allow us to model it... given certain "simplifying assumptions." Comparing that model, then, to the brain and noting the discrepancies allows us to further adjust the model. Applying that model in a computer would give rise to simulations of the human brain.

First we need a reliable way of studying the human brain's behavior.
But Physics isn't emulation, it's simulation. It itself is a flawed and incomplete system, just like meteorology. Hence we get things like the Higgs Mechanism, where we have to assume the existence of a particle that we have yet to actually observe in order for things to make sense.

Plus, again, if Gordon Moore, David Turek, and others are right we're going to see clock speed and other real markers of computational power plateau in the near future. Considering that the rate at which increased circuit density translates into higher clock speed is decreasing...

El_Bel
22nd Jan 2011, 22:43
Don't talk like that to anyone else again.

Alex as well as the whole world knows about Moore's law. But most people accept that when we get to the upper limit of Moore's law, another law will come out and it will continue the upward trend. Like Quantum computers or other technologies.

Gordon_Shea
22nd Jan 2011, 22:56
Don't talk like that to anyone else again.

Alex as well as the whole world knows about Moore's law. But most people accept that when we get to the upper limit of Moore's law, another law will come out and it will continue the upward trend. Like Quantum computers or other technologies.
A) You're not my Mom.

B) Theoretical Technologies that are still in their infancy are a great way to argue against the very real problem of diminishing returns, they're totally predictable. Oh wait, they're not. In fact, Moore says it's unlikely that we'll see novel computing paradigms any time in the near future outside of government and university research because the industry itself is conservative.

mad825
22nd Jan 2011, 23:00
May be not with transistor technology but however if Quantum or biological computing becomes a success then there would be no trouble although don't expect it to be mobile.

Fox89
22nd Jan 2011, 23:02
May be not with transistor technology but however if Quantum or biological computing becomes a success then there would be no trouble although don't expect it to be mobile.

Yet. Don't expect it to be mobile yet. :)

Like everything else, it's just a question of time.

mad825
22nd Jan 2011, 23:08
Yet. Don't expect it to be mobile yet. :)

Like everything else, it's just a question of time.

eh, I very much doubt so. Like with any current mobile technology, powering the damn thing has always been the problem.

Until we can harness the whole energy that is emitted (the electrons) of radioactive sources or other sources such as Anti-matter I would not see it become mobile.

Fox89
22nd Jan 2011, 23:22
Until we can harness the whole energy that is emitted (the electrons) of radioactive sources or other sources such as Anti-matter I would not see it become mobile.

Anti-matter falls into the "will never happen because it is completely impossible" category :)

And you may be right, but it's still just a matter of time. A LOT of time, perhaps yes, but one day.

mad825
22nd Jan 2011, 23:30
Anti-matter (Antihydrogen) has been caught and contained (http://alpha.web.cern.ch/alpha/) fairly recently although it was for a very,very,very short time...but nevertheless it's not completely impossible but maybe impractical on a mass scale for the time being.

Fox89
22nd Jan 2011, 23:39
Anti-matter (Antihydrogen) has been caught and contained (http://alpha.web.cern.ch/alpha/) fairly recently although it was for a very,very,very short time...but nevertheless it's not completely impossible but maybe impractical on a mass scale for the time being.

Oh yeah I know that bit. I was reading something recently from someone who works with anti-matter (don't ask for a source as I can't remember exactly where the hell it was :) ) that basically said the act of annihilation produced a relatively tiny amount of energy, so you will always be using more power to find and contain the anti-matter then you would gain by annihilating it! So although technically possible to use it as a power source, impractical and pointless.

AlexOfSpades
22nd Jan 2011, 23:49
Of course the fact you peg this to hard disk space rather than processors implies that you don't really know dick about how computers work.



Hard disk was an example. Its a matter of rethoric.

Also, El Bel may not be your mom, but the ToU can slap you twice as more as your mom ever did.

My point was to show how much computers have advanced in such a small period of time. If you take on account that computers (actual computers, not that Antikythera thing) are a fairly recent invention, we're advacing pretty well. Eventually computers will have power enough to emulate an entire universe - why not? Really, why not?

Of course the computers will get there, and it wont take long, but the programmers will take a while.

Since we didnt even fully understood all of the inner workings of the brain and mapped everything, how can we expect to emulate it?

How to emulate something we dont understand completely?

Neural science isnt advancing as quickly as computer science is, so brain-emulation probably isnt something i'll see. Maybe my son will.

Now, about "simulations" we already have plenty of small-sized human simulators. How many Chatting AI's we have?

From ALICE to Cleverbot..

St. Mellow
23rd Jan 2011, 00:19
For now, I'll just say this: I can't wait for K^2 to get in here.

K^2
23rd Jan 2011, 01:20
But Physics isn't emulation, it's simulation. It itself is a flawed and incomplete system, just like meteorology. Hence we get things like the Higgs Mechanism, where we have to assume the existence of a particle that we have yet to actually observe in order for things to make sense.
Yeah, and we produce precision of 10^-12 with these "simulations". If we can "simulate" a brain with 10^-12 precision, the person being "simulated" isn't going to know the difference, and neither will anyone else. So who cares?

FrankCSIS
23rd Jan 2011, 02:24
I did not read his own argument, but going by the bulk of what you presented, it seems to me the core of his reasoning lies with OUR current inability to fully understand ourselves, or in the case of weather, the world around us. It has very little to do with technological limitations. While it may be true we do not have god-like insight, I would be very careful when it comes to claiming we never will fully grasp the big picture, if there is indeed such a thing.

ArcR
23rd Jan 2011, 03:36
Pretty much. First he goes after the semantics and then in his own words.


You can’t emulate a natural system because natural systems don’t have designers, and therefore weren’t built to conform to any particular mathematical model.

But in response...


Our biochem corpus is far in advance of theirs, as is our electronic sentience. And their...ethical inflexibility has allowed us to make progress in areas they refuse to consider.

masume21
23rd Jan 2011, 05:23
doubters gonna doubt! I'd say its possible and definatly coming, hopefully sooner than later. First Simulation then emulation. Memristors are probably going to be the way (for simulation at least) http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/25659/

xaduha
23rd Jan 2011, 06:28
Chaos theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_theory). This thread needs it.

xaduha
23rd Jan 2011, 06:44
To emulate The Universe all required is One Almighty Computer.

Gordon_Shea
23rd Jan 2011, 08:34
Yeah, and we produce precision of 10^-12 with these "simulations". If we can "simulate" a brain with 10^-12 precision, the person being "simulated" isn't going to know the difference, and neither will anyone else. So who cares?

That would be great except the brain performs anywhere from 10^13 to 10^16 actions per second, depending on what estimate you go by. So basically you're going to see (conservatively) hundreds of errors per second, assuming that that failure rate would hold true for a system that simulates neurons themselves instead of just how neurons are networked. Moreover, the volume of errors will increase over time. :rolleyes:

Sotsiak
23rd Jan 2011, 10:38
Maybe my son will.


You are 18 and you have a son? :eek:

And if not, how do you know you will have a son ?

I hope you'll get a daughter :D

IdiotInAJeep
23rd Jan 2011, 11:59
(Arrives at hospital expecting to see baby boy) "I never asked for this"

Rheinhold
23rd Jan 2011, 13:33
That would be great except the brain performs anywhere from 10^13 to 10^16 actions per second, depending on what estimate you go by. So basically you're going to see (conservatively) hundreds of errors per second, assuming that that failure rate would hold true for a system that simulates neurons themselves instead of just how neurons are networked. Moreover, the volume of errors will increase over time. :rolleyes:

Good point, but please validate it with a source, and you'll be good to go...

About the Higgs-particle... I actually think they might just find it with the LHC. They would be one step closer to an all-including theory. I think that as soon as we get all four - known- forces to be written in one single equation (and I frankly dont care how big and complex it will be), we can start dreaming about making our own 'matrix'...

But to what use should we start to digitally emulate reality? really? For the human mind to live on? Right until the powerstations fail to power that Allmight Computer.
I think at least an equal portion of knowldge should be invested into making a mobile platform for this reality emulation device to function with, so people will not be stationary inside a computer, but will be able to live (as long as that Reality Emulation device properly functions) and do stuff we like... Another thing is: people will still make war. When all human bodies are swapped for mechanical counterparts fitted with that reality emulation device, how do we stop ourselves from extuingishing the human race? (Oh wait, by that time we will have no real humans left...)

In all, my expectations are this:
-Higgs particle gets found
-that leads (eventually) to a universal theory
-Mind emulation will not be able, simulation will be

This third point is because we might get to know how neurons in our brain are connected with eachother, but are we automatically capable of programming a creative mind? I really doubt that. Besides, to get a working emulation, people will need to work in immens teams to write that software, for years on end. And programming always has a bug here or there. I have heard that a good piece of programming contains about 1 bug per 100 lines.
As we need an immense ammount of lines... I am afraid we wont be done debugging our electronic friend before an catastroph with apocalyptic proportions hits the earth... :o

K^2
23rd Jan 2011, 15:11
That would be great except the brain performs anywhere from 10^13 to 10^16 actions per second, depending on what estimate you go by. So basically you're going to see (conservatively) hundreds of errors per second, assuming that that failure rate would hold true for a system that simulates neurons themselves instead of just how neurons are networked. Moreover, the volume of errors will increase over time. :rolleyes:
Do you know the fail rate of a normally operating brain? Yeah, it's a lot higher than that. Slightest imbalance in salt contents in your system changes how the neurons respond to stimuli. When you are intoxicated, 100% of your neurons are significantly affected. That's how much it takes to make your brain malfunction.

It's an adaptive system. A sufficiently close simulation will adjust itself to any changes in parameters.

Sulix
23rd Jan 2011, 17:48
In fact he CAN say never. Such processes as weather consist of uncharacteristic partial differential equations of 2nd and higher order which are proven to be unsolveable. You can only approximate the solution, so the error will get smaller as technology progresses, but it will never be 100% correct. It's a mathematical fact, there is no way around it.

JCpies
23rd Jan 2011, 18:05
You are 18 and you have a son? :eek:

And if not, how do you know you will have a son ?

I hope you'll get a daughter :D

He could get the scientists to remove the chromosomes that turn the baby in a female to make sure he will get a son.

TrickyVein
23rd Jan 2011, 19:44
^^ Pretty sure your testicles have got to drop for you to become a man. Think it's the other around, physiologically-developmentally.

K^2
23rd Jan 2011, 20:01
And genetically, too.

AlexOfSpades
23rd Jan 2011, 21:06
A son would be cool, i can teach him how to shoot and all of that "man" thing.

I mean, i can teach my daughter how to shoot but i'm sure she wouldnt be interested.

No, no, i'm not a father, heh, it was just rethorical.

But sometimes i feel like adopting a chinese girl. You know, there's that conspiracy that the Chinese people kill the female babies and so on, for population control. I could save one, at least.

Rheinhold
23rd Jan 2011, 21:28
A son would be cool, i can teach him how to shoot and all of that "man" thing.

I mean, i can teach my daughter how to shoot but i'm sure she wouldnt be interested.

No, no, i'm not a father, heh, it was just rethorical.

But sometimes i feel like adopting a chinese girl. You know, there's that conspiracy that the Chinese people kill the female babies and so on, for population control. I could save one, at least.

You're such a good man...
...try adopting some kids from Congo too, for they have a really bad life expectancy as well!

Thet thing is, you cant really make sure you will get a male or female kid, only if you adopt it...

Romeo
24th Jan 2011, 01:28
I do like his argument, but he isn't the first to point out the two most blatent faults of uploading by today's standard's. Yes, we don't have the ability to transfer illogical chemical reactions to that of transistors yet, nor do we have large enough mass-produced memory available for the way complex memories are stored, but I could imagine both issues being solved in the future.

For one, I cannot help but feel quantum computing may help with the issue of "translating" thought processes, given it's already abnormal nature. Although I lack sufficient knowledge in the area to make valid predictions, given that the research effectively amounts to immortality, I can imagine the amount of drive and desire in the area will help push things along.

The second was supposed "simple memory" versus "complex memory". In just storing the basic senses for information as a memory means a very limited amount of computer memory was needed (Two terabytes, if memory serves). But the method in which the brain stores them, in which memories can be altered, applied to different situations and created from intangible events (Dreams and ideas) would apparently take alot of petabytes. Although this is available today (Such as the WoW servers), as a singular unit (All memories on one disc) it doesn't exist, nor is it in a price point where an individual could afford it. But looking at the explosion of advancement in computers, it's not hard to imagine this aspect will be nothing in perhaps less than a decade.

No, the issue I still see is trying to get something which is based upon set commands (Transistors) to adapt to something which can create, and doesn't follow a set method of thought (Neural network).

Shralla
24th Jan 2011, 01:46
unlike computer hardware or software, it is not intelligently designed from the top down around a specific and logical mathematical model.

Bull****. Everything ever is based on math. It's how the world works.

K^2
24th Jan 2011, 04:00
Bull****. Everything ever is based on math. It's how the world works.
Yes, but it is chaotic. In fact, quantum chaos is not out of the question. No computer in any reasonably foreseeable future would be able to simulate that perfectly. Just because individual elements are described by simple equations, doesn't mean the whole is.

Fortunately, you really, really don't need to simulate the whole thing. As long as you have a descent conduction model, and you simulate synaptic logic, it's close enough. And that we should be able to start doing in a few decades.

Romeo
24th Jan 2011, 07:14
Yes, but it is chaotic. In fact, quantum chaos is not out of the question. No computer in any reasonably foreseeable future would be able to simulate that perfectly. Just because individual elements are described by simple equations, doesn't mean the whole is.

Fortunately, you really, really don't need to simulate the whole thing. As long as you have a descent conduction model, and you simulate synaptic logic, it's close enough. And that we should be able to start doing in a few decades.
My only concern with that though, is that in using a limited simulation, do you not simplify the host mind? Dumb it down? As I said, my understanding in this field is exceptionally limited, but I know in car simulators, the more variables they can tackle, typically the more "intelligent" they are. Does the same logic apply here?

xaduha
24th Jan 2011, 07:33
Fortunately, you really, really don't need to simulate the whole thing. As long as you have a descent conduction model, and you simulate synaptic logic, it's close enough. And that we should be able to start doing in a few decades.

It won't be a human brain, methinks. Even if you have some kind of a snapshot of a brain, will it be enough just to press that "Start" button to, well, start it? Won't it go crazy without sensory inputs? :nut:

It's better to simulate whole thing, whole nervous system and part of the world to boot.

Shall we talk about ethical issues it will raise? :)

K^2
24th Jan 2011, 08:37
My only concern with that though, is that in using a limited simulation, do you not simplify the host mind? Dumb it down? As I said, my understanding in this field is exceptionally limited, but I know in car simulators, the more variables they can tackle, typically the more "intelligent" they are. Does the same logic apply here?
This is probably going to be true for early prototypes, but ultimately, what you'll be loosing is crazy unpredictable effects of environmental factors. Say you are in a room with 25% oxygen instead of 24% oxygen. Your brain will run slightly differently. Will one of them be "smarter"? Probably by some immeasurably small margin. I couldn't even begin guessing which one. More oxygen will stimulate, but also reduce focus. At a difference of 1%, though, you won't really notice either effect without some crazy equipment.

Anyways, it's possible to get a simulation where the difference with the real deal will fall within this type of variation. Brain is not a piece of computer hardware that's going to execute the same program the same way every time, and that's the part that would be lost. But it will definitely run like one of the possible runs by the real brain.

It won't be a human brain, methinks. Even if you have some kind of a snapshot of a brain, will it be enough just to press that "Start" button to, well, start it? Won't it go crazy without sensory inputs?

It's better to simulate whole thing, whole nervous system and part of the world to boot.
Oh, yeah. Definitely. I kind of just assumed that this is what we're talking about it. Isolating a brain from input is bad mojo. Try one of these sensory deprivation tanks. You start going loco within hours, sometimes minutes, and that's with suppressed input. Total blackout would not be good.


Shall we talk about ethical issues it will raise?I've been thinking about that for a while. We have no technology to obtain a snapshot of a brain in-viva, and such tech is not even on the horizon. The only way we know how to get to all the info you'd need is to freeze the person and then cut the brain layer by tiny layer, taking mass spectrometer probes as we go along. I think we might be ready to try this with mice, including a simulation, within 2 decades. The tech is basically here. All required improvements are of quantitative nature.

What we can use is the fact that even after brain death, the chemical potentials ate synapses, which is what actually stores information, remain for some time. A quickly frozen corpse should still have all the info present, ready to be scanned and jammed into a simulation. So this is most likely the way this is going to be first used. So in terms of secular ethics, if that's what the person wanted, no problems. I'm sure there will be a lot of legal hoops to jump through. Figuring out the new rules for "legally dead", and getting constructs like that allowed human rights, and so on. But not many ethical concerns, really.

From perspective of religion, though. Damn, it's going to get ugly. Can you imagine how many people will go around claiming that these abominations have no soul, and therefore should not be allowed to exist? There might be some loopholes in holly texts and dogma that may be exploited. I know that Orthodox Christians mark 9 days after the death and 40 days after the death. It is believed that after 9 days, the soul leaves the body. After 40, the soul leaves Earth. Might be possible to exploit that time frame and omnipotence of God to squeeze this idea through somehow. I have not heard of anything like that within the context of Catholicism, though. But there might be other similar beliefs that could be used to convince people that the soul remains with the construct.

xaduha
24th Jan 2011, 09:22
Can you imagine how many people will go around claiming that these abominations have no soul, and therefore should not be allowed to exist?.
Yet others may claim that these poor souls are being tortured and used as lab mice.

demon boy
25th Jan 2011, 18:53
I think the problem with saying that something will never be achieved is that it is profoundly arrogant and actually quite stupid. The very parameters through which we consider this goal of "downloading" the human brain are constrained by our current understanding of the potential ways that this could be achieved (which will inevitably change with time).

As someone mentioned earlier in the thread; the idea of a flying machine has been around for hundreds of years (possibly thousands if you consider ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics) but most people probably assumed it was impossible to create one. Even those that thought you might be able to create a flying vehicle never considered the possibility that this vehicle could get you across an entire ocean.

A big part of that is the fact that conceiving of a Boeing 747 at a time before you even had combustion engines would have been all but impossible. The emergence of other technologies can make seemingly impossible goals far more reachable. Likewise, advancements in artificial intelligence, neurological science and other areas might some day make it possible to successfully transmit a human consciousness from one place to another. To suggest it cannot be done is actually absurd. The way in which this task will be accomplished is not likely to have already been conceived of so discussing it in the way that we have here in this thread is relatively meaningless.

Fox89
25th Jan 2011, 19:02
From perspective of religion, though. Damn, it's going to get ugly. Can you imagine how many people will go around claiming that these abominations have no soul, and therefore should not be allowed to exist?

There will be loads. But I have a cunning solution to this problem: sod them! Any new invention or way of doing things is always going to be an abomination to someone's god. It's just another form of prejudice, and that's not exactly something we're new to. It'll be like stem cell research, cloning and IVF: they'll make a fuss but in the end it'll happen. And they'll forget about it after a while.

K^2
26th Jan 2011, 01:19
This will be worse. A lot worse than anything we've seen before. A creature not of God's design that walks and talks like a man but has no soul. This isn't just going to bother fringe groups. This is going to bother every conservative religious person on this planet. That's at least 25% of the post-industrial world. In 3rd world, we are looking at close to 100%.

Fox89
26th Jan 2011, 01:28
This will be worse. A lot worse than anything we've seen before. A creature not of God's design that walks and talks like a man but has no soul. This isn't just going to bother fringe groups. This is going to bother every conservative religious person on this planet. That's at least 25% of the post-industrial world. In 3rd world, we are looking at close to 100%.

I wonder if they'd buy "Well, man is god's design, and man created these creatures. Therefore they are god's design by proxy!"

Rindill the Red
26th Jan 2011, 03:24
Those Luddites are gonna get a groundswell of political backing once engineered brains start taking our intellectually intensive jobs.

xaduha
26th Jan 2011, 03:41
Insta-learning, Matrix style.
Yep.

K^2
26th Jan 2011, 05:16
Insta-learning, Matrix style.
Yep.
That's not going to happen for a long, long, long time. Taking a brain apart and putting it back together in a simulation is one thing. Actually modifying or even just reading something from it, forget about it. Information in the human brain is very efficiently compressed, with algorithm doing the compression being part of the information that is compressed, and it's constantly changing. Most advanced encryption algorithms are substitution cyphers by comparison.

Rheinhold
26th Jan 2011, 12:42
Technologically it may be seen as possible within the next couple of decades. But I think that all we will end up with, is some sort of very intricate robot with the most advanced AI we will ever see. But that's about it. It will always be an Artificial Intelligence. A mere simulation of ONE of the ways a human brain works, partially.

I cannot see what the problem would be with such advanced robots. There is only one mistake that can be made, and that is putting these robots on the same step as humans.
As long as we do not give those robots the status of 'equal to human', we will not have to worry about all (reasonable) believers, political issues like "they are taking our jobs". It will turn into just another handy tool for the human kind. A robot that understands how my lownmower works.

In all, what is the big problem? I think that if scientists and engineers think that it is worth the time, then why not? Other people have already bothered making AI, robots, and the like.
For me, there is one question though: to what end do you develop an AI that is supposed to be a copy of the human mind? Will you ever succeed to satisfaction? That depends very much on what you plan to do with the final outcome of your research. Will it make you rich? No, not really. Will you have any benefit from making such an AI, after you died? No, not at all. All you gain is a nice way to fill your time with, for the time that you live. There will be others that will develop your AI even further and get the credit in the end. But did that ever stop a man once he had a dream...?

K^2
26th Jan 2011, 13:24
This is the problem you do not understand. In 2-3 decades we will be able to put an equivalent of a human mind into a computer. Fully aware, conscious, creative, emotional, spiritual. In fact, we should be able to put a mind from a living person into it, and confirm that it is the same person in every way you could possibly imagine testing. Not to give such a construct human rights is opening the door for all kinds of exploitation. Can't get information out of a person? Create a copy, and torture it out of a copy.

And the fact that people like you are incapable of getting it through their limited minds that all you are is a sum of electrochemical signals in a relatively simple analogue computer, and that a reasonable simulation can be created that in no way less human, are the reason this will turn bloody before it is over.

Oh, and trust me. You won't be on the winning side.

Fox89
26th Jan 2011, 13:34
As long as we do not give those robots the status of 'equal to human', we will not have to worry about all (reasonable) believers, political issues like "they are taking our jobs". It will turn into just another handy tool for the human kind. A robot that understands how my lownmower works.

The trouble is, if you do that then it's only a matter of time before Will Smith comes and shoots you.

Rheinhold
26th Jan 2011, 17:29
This is the problem you do not understand. In 2-3 decades we will be able to put an equivalent of a human mind into a computer. Fully aware, conscious, creative, emotional, spiritual. In fact, we should be able to put a mind from a living person into it, and confirm that it is the same person in every way you could possibly imagine testing. Not to give such a construct human rights is opening the door for all kinds of exploitation. Can't get information out of a person? Create a copy, and torture it out of a copy.

And the fact that people like you are incapable of getting it through their limited minds that all you are is a sum of electrochemical signals in a relatively simple analogue computer, and that a reasonable simulation can be created that in no way less human, are the reason this will turn bloody before it is over.

Oh, and trust me. You won't be on the winning side.

Striking. Immediate hostility. I know that you think you have the wisdom in your pocket. No way I can show you otherwise, huh. How did you plan on introducing me to a copy of yourself within the next 30 years? A computer is and will always be a machine, and machines have a tendency to be unable to feel emotions, think creative, be spiritual... you claim they once will, but remember that that will have to be programmed. That means that you will have to know very precise how something unstable and rather unpredictable as emotions and creativity are to be programmed, and the spiritual stuff where you don't know bunnies about, it seems... The best effort one can do in that field is a simulation. Not a copy of someone's character in enough detail, along with all his memories and his spirit. Oh, and soul. Therefore the product of this endeavour will never be a real copy of a human, so it would be a mistake to handle it as a real human.

The final point is that you think that all you can see is all that exists. Me, on the other hand, am a Christian. I believe otherwise then you, thus you can say I am wrong, and/or on the losing side of something bloody... I just don't think so. Different assumptions lead to different reasonings, regardless of how smart you or I are.

As I said before, K^2: send me a message on january the first, 2090, in which you tell me how wrong I was. That'll do. If I am wrong now, I'll be convinced of my errors by that time, don't you think? ;)


The trouble is, if you do that then it's only a matter of time before Will Smith comes and shoots you.
Oh, if so, I can finally ask him for his autograph...

K^2
26th Jan 2011, 19:26
A computer is and will always be a machine, and machines have a tendency to be unable to feel emotions, think creative, be spiritual...
[...]
The final point is that you think that all you can see is all that exists. Me, on the other hand, am a Christian.
And hence my thesis. People who made up an explanation and claim they need no other evidence than that they believe in it will make life miserable for untold numbers of artificial beings, simply because they cannot get through to their heads that they are nothing but machines themselves. And all they need to prove they are right, is their belief. Forget scientific method. Forget reasons of any kind. You believe, and therefore, you will not accept.

Have fun living in hell you are going to create, because it's coming down in your life time.

Rheinhold
26th Jan 2011, 19:34
And hence my thesis. People who made up an explanation and claim they need no other evidence than that they believe in it will make life miserable for untold numbers of artificial beings, simply because they cannot get through to their heads that they are nothing but machines themselves. And all they need to prove they are right, is their belief. Forget scientific method. Forget reasons of any kind. You believe, and therefore, you will not accept.

Have fun living in hell you are going to create, because it's coming down in your life time.

If you still think I made up my own religion and I do not understand that you see the human being as merely its brains, I have nothing more to say to you.

I cant talk to arrogance. Just wait 80 years and send the message... :o

K^2
26th Jan 2011, 20:09
No, you believe in a religion somebody else made up. That's a lot better, right?

And you are telling me that when you'll see a machine exhibiting emotion you will not simply claim that it was programmed to?

You are not going to live to year 2090. Either you won't, or none of us will. So it's a moot point. You will not be convinced in your life time, and then it's going to be too late. Personally, I'm happy enough to just wait long enough to outlive you, but there'll be these who will try to move up the time frame on that, and I just want you to know that it will be entirely your own fault.

IwantedOrange
26th Jan 2011, 22:02
People, who are really thinking about that nonsense, have some serious problems. Some very... serious problems.

K^2
26th Jan 2011, 22:27
There are ~2x10^9 transistors in a modern CPU. We can expect equivalent of ~10^12 by 2030. With a multi-layered design, that's sufficient to fully simulate human brain. Game, set, match. This nonsense will be something you'll have to deal with very, very soon.

TheMorten
26th Jan 2011, 23:39
People, who are really thinking about that nonsense, have some serious problems. Some very... serious problems.

Tell that to Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest pioneers of science fiction literature. He might not have dealt with this exact problem, but he's been writing about so much else, and in great detail.

And there's reason to it: Did you know the US government supports science fiction literature on the basis that it inspires children to imagine and invent, and become interested in science and development?

Giving thought to these very imaginary things is what inspires technological progress. I imagine a comment equivalent to yours could have been spoken by a man confronted with theoretical ideas of the Internet in 1930.

TheMorten
26th Jan 2011, 23:44
There are ~2x10^9 transistors in a modern CPU. We can expect equivalent of ~10^12 by 2030. With a multi-layered design, that's sufficient to fully simulate human brain. Game, set, match. This nonsense will be something you'll have to deal with very, very soon.

I don't deny you have a great knowledge in this field, but I'd like to know about the whole "emulation" problem. For example, it's very difficult for even a modern-day CPU to successfully virtualize other hardware (especially GPUs, but also older CPUs and their inner workings).

To me it seems like it would demand power vastly in excess of the human brain, in order to successfully virtualize one?

I am, however, completely convinced it will happen someday. Just not necessarily when CPUs achieve the theoretical FLOPs or transistors of a human brain. :)

Rindill the Red
26th Jan 2011, 23:45
There are ~2x10^9 transistors in a modern CPU. We can expect equivalent of ~10^12 by 2030. With a multi-layered design, that's sufficient to fully simulate human brain. Game, set, match. This nonsense will be something you'll have to deal with very, very soon.

I love how very many atheists believe in their point of view with as much vehemence as do believers in a religion/spirituality/etc.

I'm talking about the day that a company finds out how to produce hundreds of engineering brains/AIs/whatever using some conglomeration of brilliant engineers' minds as a template... and can produce these "engineering" "brains" for less than it costs to support and educate a human being. When that happens, it will be economically advantageous for companies to hire the "computer" brain to do their engineering work for them, rather than to hire a "human" brain.

When that happens, lots of intellectual jobs that have here-to-fore seemed secure, will suddenly be replaced by machines.

And let's take this a step further... what if that company then creates an "artist" brain that can paint pictures of greater quality and emotional resonance than many humans... and "musician" brains... and "researcher" brains...

The question I'm asking is. "When our brains become obsolete... do we become obsolete as well?"

TheMorten
26th Jan 2011, 23:55
I love how very many atheists believe in their point of view with as much vehemence as do believers in a religion/spirituality/etc.

[...]

I take offense to that, since the view K^2 is arguing for in no way implies the need for or against religion. He is stating mathematical fact, and so far most religious and atheist movements have agreed that math works. Discrediting his argument because he is a "devout" atheist, is the same as disregarding Socrates' teachings on the grounds he believed in the Olympic gods.

Now, there might be something wrong with the way K^2 presents the mathematical fact here, and if there is a proper argument against it, use it. Don't discredit him, ubiquitously citing the very popular argument that atheists can become preachy.

That said, there is definitely an ethical side to this we cannot comprehend using math - at least not with out current understanding of it. :)

K^2
27th Jan 2011, 00:00
Atheism is a religion. I don't do religions. Organized or otherwise. I make observations. I make assumption of objective reality as required by minimal pragmatism. I make predictions based on these. I act on predictions. Beliefs don't enter into consideration at any point.


I don't deny you have a great knowledge in this field, but I'd like to know about the whole "emulation" problem. For example, it's very difficult for even a modern-day CPU to successfully virtualize other hardware (especially GPUs, but also older CPUs and their inner workings).

To me it seems like it would demand power vastly in excess of the human brain, in order to successfully virtualize one?
Absolutely valid point. Virtualizing cerebral cortex on a general purpose processor will always demand significantly more power. We are talking orders of magnitude here. But a processor specifically manufactured with a single purpose of emulating a specific brain should not need nearly as much overhead. Keep also in mind that human brain fires neurons at ~100Hz, while electronic system in question will be capable of at least hundreds of MHz.

Around 2030 we will be able to make an electronic brain much like human brain. It will not be suitable for simulating a brain of a specific person yet. But it will be capable of learning, abstract thought, and communication. With the right architecture, it should be self-aware. If it will have emotion, it will not be human emotion, though, it might be able to mimic it well enough. In any case, it will change the question of machine intelligence from "What will we don when..." to "What do we do now?"

From there to actual human minds running on artificial hardware could be decades still, but most of the questions will have to be faced then.

TheMorten
27th Jan 2011, 00:11
Atheism is absence of religion. Anyone saying they do not do religion, and include atheism in that exclusion, are trying to distance themselves from the inevitable hotheads and wankers that happen to use flawed arguments in favor of atheism. Don't give them the credit of patenting the word "atheism" for themselves.


Around 2030 we will be able to make an electronic brain much like human brain. It will not be suitable for simulating a brain of a specific person yet. But it will be capable of learning, abstract thought, and communication. With the right architecture, it should be self-aware. If it will have emotion, it will not be human emotion, though, it might be able to mimic it well enough. In any case, it will change the question of machine intelligence from "What will we don when..." to "What do we do now?"

But then we are talking about silicon chips, that cannot be altered structurally on-the-fly. The plasticity of the brain does just that and as far as I know this plasticity and ability to re-structure physical connections is absolutely vital to the brain's success.

Of course, one could imagine employing some sort of semi-organic material that could actively change its own structure... But such a development does not necessarily follow Moore's law (or the newer 12-month equivalent).

Rindill the Red
27th Jan 2011, 00:15
I take offense to that, since the view K^2 is arguing for in no way implies the need for or against religion. He is stating mathematical fact, and so far most religious and atheist movements have agreed that math works. Discrediting his argument because he is a "devout" atheist, is the same as disregarding Socrates' teachings on the grounds he believed in the Olympic gods.

Now, there might be something wrong with the way K^2 presents the mathematical fact here, and if there is a proper argument against it, use it. Don't discredit him, ubiquitously citing the very popular argument that atheists can become preachy.

That said, there is definitely an ethical side to this we cannot comprehend using math - at least not with out current understanding of it. :)

I take offense to the fact that you read my statement as discrediting K^2. On the contrary I agree with K^2 the vast majority of the time (mostly because he knows so much and has built up a significant ethos). I was merely making the observation that whatever side you are on, you do believe something, whether that something is no soul/no god, or whether that something is god and a soul (inseparable from the human body/brain)... and that usually those beliefs are a very powerful part of your person.

Scientists claim to be the reasonable ones, but when talking about God it's completely a belief thing.

Of course, K^2, has clarified himself. Not an atheist. Likely agnostic.

Until a scientist actually emulates or simulates a human brain... the question, "Is there something "magic" that happens in the human brain... (a soul or a spirit) that allows humans to think and feel like they do? Or is the subjective human experience just a deterministic part of the universe" is still up in the air.

Fox89
27th Jan 2011, 00:25
you do believe something, whether that something is no soul/no god

Lack of belief in something =/= belief in something. Q.E.D. If I believe that there is no soul then you believe there is no Zeus (presumably). I would say it's semantics but to say "I believe in something" carries with it an implication I don't like. ie: if you 'believe in the lack of something' without being able to present proof as to why, that is just as irrational as belief in the something in question. Which I don't buy at all, seems to me as a way for people with no argument to try and wriggle out of it by saying "well you're just as bad".

TheMorten
27th Jan 2011, 00:36
I take offense to the fact that you read my statement as discrediting K^2. On the contrary I agree with K^2 the vast majority of the time (mostly because he knows so much and has built up a significant ethos). I was merely making the observation that whatever side you are on, you do believe something, whether that something is no soul/no god, or whether that something is god and a soul (inseparable from the human body/brain)... and that usually those beliefs are a very powerful part of your person.

Scientists claim to be the reasonable ones, but when talking about God it's completely a belief thing.

Of course, K^2, has clarified himself. Not an atheist. Likely agnostic.

Alright, I seem to have misunderstood your message, I apologize. However, even knowing this, I cannot help but interpreting it as a comment meant to deter from K^2's arguments... But let's move on...

I will, however, state that atheism as it is defined implies that you do not believe in a spiritual side to the world. The term "belief" insinuates that a part of the atheist's understanding is not immediately rational or hasn't been tested, and requires some leap of faith to accept. That is not the case. Of course, that "belief" is sometimes put to shame when some scientists stick to old or pseudo-scientific theories - but that's their own mistake to make.

But, I digress... Best to get back on track. This is a discussion that has raged on thousands of forums and is, as of yet, unsolved. :( If you want to discuss further (and I always enjoy a good discussion about suitably high-class subjects), I suggest we take it to PMs. :)

K^2
27th Jan 2011, 01:06
Atheism is absence of religion. Anyone saying they do not do religion, and include atheism in that exclusion, are trying to distance themselves from the inevitable hotheads and wankers that happen to use flawed arguments in favor of atheism. Don't give them the credit of patenting the word "atheism" for themselves.
If you are an atheist, you believe there is no god. There is no way to argument that point of view any better than belief that there is one. Granted, your odds are better if you bet on no god than betting on a specific god, but if it's simply theism vs atheism, your best estimate of odds is 50/50 based on least assumption theorem.

Atheism or theism is unfounded belief regardless of specific deities you want to include/exclude or arguments you use. You take it on faith alone, and that's religion.

If you do not believe in either of these two options, you are an agnostic. That is what you call a person who does not know whether there is a god. There are a whole bunch of variations there, of course, but that's the general term.


But then we are talking about silicon chips, that cannot be altered structurally on-the-fly. The plasticity of the brain does just that and as far as I know this plasticity and ability to re-structure physical connections is absolutely vital to the brain's success.
Nah. Fixed architecture can do just fine if nothing fails. Most of the plasticity comes from changes of chemical concentrations/potentials at synapses, and that can be simulated with floating gates in a fixed circuit. If formation of new synapses really does prove to be important, only local connections can contribute significantly. So you can easily simulate that by having more connections to begin with, and simply have conductivity of these connections set to zero.

Oh, and this thing is certainly not without challenges. Personally, I'm thinking of what hell it would be to keep it at operational temperatures, considering the fact that it cannot be constructed on a plane, making cooling of internal areas very difficult. And I'm sure there will be many failed attempts before something that really works. But the biggest problem is still complexity of the circuit, and that should be resolved, so I'm confident that the other issues will be cleared up as well.

Ghostface
27th Jan 2011, 02:22
No need to worry about operational temperatures. We will be using optical circuits by then

SquidPirate
27th Jan 2011, 04:40
I interviewed Dr. Christoff Koch on this very subject; he's one of the guys behind Project Blue Brain, which recently replicated a neocortical column in a computer. He doesn't come as as a transhumanist "true believer" like Kurzweil or Aubrey; instead, he points out that the human brain is vast but finite, and if you have a powerful enough storage medium and processor, it's simply a matter of download. 100 billion neurons is a lot, but it isn't infinite, and everything we are comes down to physical facts. Your brain is you. If we can save it, we save you... for as long as the storage medium can survive, or as long as you want to churn out multiple copies.

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/trent_08_09/

masume21
27th Jan 2011, 05:24
I think a lot of people are hung up on seeing this "brain uploading" being put into the computer architectural terms that we know today. In the future (I imagine) that the whole systems architecture will be streamlined for the specific purpose of brain simulation or emulation with specifically modified hardware that is much faster for this purpose. Now, all we need is a good financial/economic incentive to go along with this to help cull investors...

K^2
27th Jan 2011, 13:56
No need to worry about operational temperatures. We will be using optical circuits by then
Heat generation is a rather fundamental requirement for a state machine of any kind. On the most basic level, imagine a mechanical switch. When you flip it, the energy you put into making it move has to be converted to heat after the flip, or the switch will bounce. This is true of any storage system, and is actually the reason we experience time the way we do. Entropy must increase for information to be stored.

This will be true for an optical circuit as well. We can make it a lot more efficient than modern circuits, but it will also contain at least a thousand times more "switches". Human brain is damn efficient, running at 50-100 Watts. Early systems are likely to do worse even if they are optical. And even 50 Watts can make something extremely hot if the heat from the core is not taken out.

As for actual operating ranges, I see no reason why optical circuits should be more heat resistant. It would still have to be a crystal. It would still have to have different doping to make it have needed optical properties. That doping would still diffuse at high temperatures.

Finally, I'm not convinced that optical is the way to go here. Reason for optical circuits is that they can operate at far higher frequencies. Miniaturization of optical circuits, on the other hand, is a far more complex task. In this particular case, I'd take the increased density possible with silicon over increased frequency possible with optics.

Arksun
27th Jan 2011, 14:50
The problem I have with any consciousness transferral is the same problem I have with teleporters, which is that, even if the technology was possible to do it, it would most likely make a copy and not a transfer.

By that I mean, the second you step into that teleporter, you're dead. An exact replica pops out the other side. For sure the person on the other side looks like you, sounds like you, has all the exact memories up to that point, remembers stepping into the teleporter and tells everyone around them how great it is.

But its not really you :O.

And there's the rub, there's the catch right there, we will never know if its really the same consciousness or not. Just as you have to die to really know if there is a god and heaven, you have to actually have your mind sucked out or teleport to be sure, but only YOU will know if it worked (by the fact you're still alive, or not). No-one else will because, they won't be able to tell the difference whether its really REALLY you, or just a carbon copy of you.

This is why if teleportation ever gets invented in my lifetime I will never EVER step in one. Not worth the risk.

Rheinhold
27th Jan 2011, 15:26
The problem I have with any consciousness transferral is the same problem I have with teleporters, which is that, even if the technology was possible to do it, it would most likely make a copy and not a transfer.

By that I mean, the second you step into that teleporter, you're dead. An exact replica pops out the other side. For sure the person on the other side looks like you, sounds like you, has all the exact memories up to that point, remembers stepping into the teleporter and tells everyone around them how great it is.

But its not really you :O.

And there's the rub, there's the catch right there, we will never know if its really the same consciousness or not. Just as you have to die to really know if there is a god and heaven, you have to actually have your mind sucked out or teleport to be sure, but only YOU will know if it worked (by the fact you're still alive, or not). No-one else will because, they won't be able to tell the difference whether its really REALLY you, or just a carbon copy of you.

This is why if teleportation ever gets invented in my lifetime I will never EVER step in one. Not worth the risk.

Arksun, that is quite a point. As far as I seem to understand, K^2 and some other fine people think that who you are, is defined by your brain. Simply copying your brain will copy you as well. If this is the case, there is no harm in stepping into a (well functioning and very precise) teleport.

Then there are the folks who believe that there is more then you can see, and that implies that 'you' are not necessarily your brain. In this case, your fears would be correct up to the point that you may just die, and a lifeless copy will end up in the other side of the teleport, instead of 'you'.

By the way: if a brain is so efficient, why not try to mimic the brain with using the same materials and architecture, instead of semi-condutors? If you can make a computer from chemicals like that, you are in for at least a Nobel prize...
And 2090 is not a bad assumption at all. If I am wrong, we will live to see that year because of those wonderful technological advancements...:)

AxiomaticBadger
27th Jan 2011, 15:42
I never really got the attraction of brain uploading. So you run in a computer. Yaaaaay.
I'd much rather use cybernetics or genetics alteration to enhance the dedicated hardware I already have. Similar effect without the economic and religious issues.
Matrix style uploading is unnecessary. We already use external media for information storage, all we need is to up the rate information can be written and retrieved from it.

If I may get philosphical for a second ('coz it's what I do), even if we accept the existance of the soul it doesn't necessarily mean that AI won't have them. If the soul exists it exists in conjunction with the squishy processor in our heads, and surely a system of complex enough for a human conciousness would be a capable recepticle for a soul. Or to put it another way, if I have a child then surely it is deserving of a soul regardless of what it uses to think.

That said, soul or no, a copy of me is not me. It is an independant entity with my memories and thought patterns, basically a twin. As we go forward we would experience dofferent things, and so we would grow apart. For me to exist in a computer I would have to, at least briefly, operate in my own brain and the machine simultaniously.
It's the difference between a cell moving via pseudopod and a cell reproducing.

In any case, we would have to treat an AI as a sentient being. Or rather, as I've said before, any entity capable of asking for sentient/human rights has entitlement to those rights, as through the act of asking they demonstrate self awareness, self ownership, the ability to comprehend abstract concepts, the ability to communicate on a significant level, and willingness to be judged as an independant entity.

xaduha
27th Jan 2011, 16:02
By that I mean, the second you step into that teleporter, you're dead.

Yeah, yeah, we had discussion about this in our huge Transhumanism thread.

Here's some questions, everyone.

a) Will you step into that teleporter if your life was at stake?

b) Will you step into "The Prestige (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0482571/)"-type teleporter? (Knowing that your clone will kill you.)

TheMorten
27th Jan 2011, 18:09
I've given this a lot of thought the last couple of years and I can't help but wonder if, when talking about teleportation of the brain or copying instances of the mind, it all boils down to one thing; your brain is not the same as it was a second ago. You are not the same person as you were on seconds ago. In essence, the second-ago-you has ceased to exist and been replaced by a current-you who inherited all the memories and thoughts of the second-ago-you.

When we think "I'd like to experience [X] in the future", that thought is created and carried on to the next 'you', but the process that created that though essentially dies out and that thought will never see the thing it expressed a wish to see.

In essence I can't help but think of our "selves" as dying billions of times a second, and then future processes simply remembering what earlier "selves" thought and experienced. In that perspective, a "regular" teleporter does nothing different from the temporal shifts we are already subject to. A "copy" of you being uploaded would have to be an exact image of the brain at an exact instant. Some hard sci-fi literature propose this might be possible by super-freezing the human brain, then pull it apart molecule by molecule and map the structure and electrical charges.

In this case "uploading" wouldn't be much different from sleep - your uploaded self would simply be an exact continuation of you, after a loss of conscience.

Rindill the Red
27th Jan 2011, 19:21
I've given this a lot of thought the last couple of years and I can't help but wonder if, when talking about teleportation of the brain or copying instances of the mind, it all boils down to one thing; your brain is not the same as it was a second ago. You are not the same person as you were on seconds ago. In essence, the second-ago-you has ceased to exist and been replaced by a current-you who inherited all the memories and thoughts of the second-ago-you.

When we think "I'd like to experience [X] in the future", that thought is created and carried on to the next 'you', but the process that created that though essentially dies out and that thought will never see the thing it expressed a wish to see.

In essence I can't help but think of our "selves" as dying billions of times a second, and then future processes simply remembering what earlier "selves" thought and experienced. In that perspective, a "regular" teleporter does nothing different from the temporal shifts we are already subject to. A "copy" of you being uploaded would have to be an exact image of the brain at an exact instant. Some hard sci-fi literature propose this might be possible by super-freezing the human brain, then pull it apart molecule by molecule and map the structure and electrical charges.

In this case "uploading" wouldn't be much different from sleep - your uploaded self would simply be an exact continuation of you, after a loss of conscience.

I like where you're going with this. You are talking about the notion of time and really the fabric of the universe itself. Everything in existence is changing (no 0 K) and somehow interacting with itself.

Of course, I have to disagree about us dying constantly and being reborn. I like to look at it another way. We only exist in the change, in the time. When we think, that's a process, is a thought really a state, or a bunch of changing states (I actually don't know the answer to that... maybe K^2 can weigh in here). But it seems to me that our individual consciousness, as it defines who we are, only exists as it changes, in the same way that everything only exists as it changes and interacts with the rest of existence.

When you download your consciousness into the computer, and I'm supposing that the device wouldn't be able to capture all the information in your brain like a photograph (instantaneously). That copied brain would have to "restart" as it were. And when it restarts, a new consciousness is born separate from your own.

Fox89
27th Jan 2011, 19:26
At the end of the day, all these concerns come a bout because we don't know what awareness is and how it functions. At least not to my knowledge. I'm sure once we figure that out I'll have fewer concerns about uploading my brain or getting into a teleporter.

NeoSuplex
27th Jan 2011, 19:44
The human body only lasts around seven years though... Teleporter, cyborg twin, brain copy... how is any of that different from that fact that you were sporting a whole new body at the age of seven with no ill effects?

TheMorten
27th Jan 2011, 20:09
[...]When you download your consciousness into the computer, and I'm supposing that the device wouldn't be able to capture all the information in your brain like a photograph (instantaneously). That copied brain would have to "restart" as it were. And when it restarts, a new consciousness is born separate from your own.

First of all, I agree that we exist as a process in time, I think that was what I was trying to say with my previous post - but I have one addendum: When we lose consciousness, for example in a car crash or when being sedated, does the re-emergence of consciousness constitute a new, separate consciousness from the old, or is it somehow still the same consciousness in your opinion?

When I wake up after deep sleep I only really have my memories to tell me who I am, as I see it. Fortunately they do a good job of it for most of us. :)

TrickyVein
27th Jan 2011, 20:22
TheMorten, I like how you think.

Indeed.

Sense of one's self as a continuous entity through time an illusion.

Rindill the Red
27th Jan 2011, 20:46
TheMorten, I like how you think.

Indeed.

Sense of one's self as a continuous entity through time an illusion.

I disagree here.

I think the sense of oneself as separate from time is an illusion.

The structure of and "programmed" behavior of the brain would still exist even if all activity suddenly stopped. But if all activity stops then what you know as yourself would cease to exist.

Say that you are in an accident or receive electro-shock therapy to the point where the brain truly is completely "off", and they have to restart your heart and brain. Then yes, I'd say that new consciousness is... well... new. It's based on the you... the structure, the behavior, the memories, but it's a new consciousness a new string of activity run by the stimulations coming in from outside and the propagation throughout the brain through existing structures. But it's a new consciousness. One's sense of self has to be extremely fluid... and it all depends on what you define the sense of identity as.

AxiomaticBadger
27th Jan 2011, 20:47
Thought is like music. To see it in stillness is to capture a single note and call it a symphony.
Your mind doesn't stop when you are asleep. It only stops when you die.
-
I am me because I define myself to be me. I have memories, both accessable and subconcious, of my entire existance as a sentient being that correspond to the length of time I have existed. I may have altered my substance but I have continuity. Again, It's like a cell. I extend my "self" like a pseudopod into my new atoms and remove myself from the old.
Should I step into a teleporter that works via replication then I lose continuity. The new version of me may have my memories but at no point was part of the new entity a part of the old, and so it cannot share definition.

The ship of theseus is the ship of theseus because I say it is.

Rindill the Red
27th Jan 2011, 20:57
Thought is like music. To see it in stillness is to capture a single note and call it a symphony.
Your mind doesn't stop when you are asleep. It only stops when you die.
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I am me because I define myself to be me. I have memories, both accessable and subconcious, of my entire existance as a sentient being that correspond to the length of time I have existed. I may have altered my substance but I have continuity. Again, It's like a cell. I extend my "self" like a pseudopod into my new atoms and remove myself from the old.
Should I step into a teleporter that works via replication then I lose continuity. The new version of me may have my memories but at no point was part of the new entity a part of the old, and so it cannot share definition.

The ship of theseus is the ship of theseus because I say it is.

I am the result of incalculable many interactions resulting in a singular caolescence of consciousness.

So long as my leg is part of my body, my leg is part of who I am... but chop it off, and no longer am I that leg. Chop of my hand, and no longer am I that hand. Pluck out my eye, and no longer am I that eye. Cut out my heart, and no longer am I that heart. Replace my entire body with a machine, and now I am that machine. But cut out piece of my brain? Am I really who I am anymore?

TrickyVein
27th Jan 2011, 21:09
I disagree here.

I think the sense of oneself as separate from time is an illusion.

The structure of and "programmed" behavior of the brain would still exist even if all activity suddenly stopped. But if all activity stops then what you know as yourself would cease to exist.

Say that you are in an accident or receive electro-shock therapy to the point where the brain truly is completely "off", and they have to restart your heart and brain. Then yes, I'd say that new consciousness is... well... new. It's based on the you... the structure, the behavior, the memories, but it's a new consciousness a new string of activity run by the stimulations coming in from outside and the propagation throughout the brain through existing structures. But it's a new consciousness. One's sense of self has to be extremely fluid... and it all depends on what you define the sense of identity as.

The way I'm understanding your post, it reads like you're agreeing with me, no?

Rindill the Red
27th Jan 2011, 21:23
The way I'm understanding your post, it reads like you're agreeing with me, no?

Yes, but I get to say I disagree because I misunderstood your post.

Rheinhold
27th Jan 2011, 23:23
even if you are able to make an exact copy of the 'switches' inside your brain, then that copy has still to be started up. give it an elctrical jolt, you say. Then I wish to ask you what you think will happen when a bunch of knit-together neurons that have never been inside a living organism before, will react to that. It will still be a matter of your input (the elctric currrent or maybe chemicals) to get a reaction from the 'brain'. But will that brain, after initial triggering, be active for as long as it is complete?
Will it generate pulses out of itself, like thoughts in a human mind? Or will it just be a fancy compputer: "if I give it a shock here, these neurons are supposed to fire".

I personally think that the copy will do nothing at all, unless it gets information feeded. So you make a body around it with sensory organs, right? That brain will react in its way on the input from those sensory organs, but it won't be much more then a reflex.

The state of the 'copy', I think, is very much the same of that of a fresh dead body. You can apply eletric shocks into its brain (some folks did exactly that...), but it will not make those brains go 'live' again. It remains dead, but because it has mechanics (interconnected neurons), it will send reflexes.

So if I have to chose to step into a teleporter if my life depends on it, I wouldn't: it is suicide. At best, they will find a fresh dead body on the receiving end...

K^2
27th Jan 2011, 23:31
I've given this a lot of thought the last couple of years and I can't help but wonder if, when talking about teleportation of the brain or copying instances of the mind, it all boils down to one thing; your brain is not the same as it was a second ago. You are not the same person as you were on seconds ago. In essence, the second-ago-you has ceased to exist and been replaced by a current-you who inherited all the memories and thoughts of the second-ago-you.

In essence I can't help but think of our "selves" as dying billions of times a second, and then future processes simply remembering what earlier "selves" thought and experienced. In that perspective, a "regular" teleporter does nothing different from the temporal shifts we are already subject to. A "copy" of you being uploaded would have to be an exact image of the brain at an exact instant. Some hard sci-fi literature propose this might be possible by super-freezing the human brain, then pull it apart molecule by molecule and map the structure and electrical charges.
This depends strongly on what we mean by teleportation. The process must guarantee destruction of the original as it is being transfered. If you read the information first, then destroyed the original, you just killed somebody.

This is why I like quantum teleportation. Here the process of teleportation is what destroys the original. The time evolution of the teleported state is the exact continuation of the original, while original ceases to exist at the exact instance of teleportation. It's really clean and complete.

As far as brain uploading, yes, I think rapid freezing is the way to go. Besides, I really think we'll start seeing this as a way of reviving people who died already. Since you don't need the neurons to be actually alive for this, you should have a few hours to deep-freeze the body before you actually start having loss of information stored in the brain.

Again, quantum teleportation might become an option at some point in the future. The nice thing about quantum teleportation procedure is that instead of teleporting to a physical state, you can teleport a physical state into a quantum storage state or vice versa. Imagine a solid wall whose surface is actually an interface between matter storage and quantum simulation, acting as a gateway between physical world and a simulated one. Step through it, and you are just data. You can be sent to a remote location and step out there, you can be loaded into a machine, or you can hang around the virtual world. This would basically resolve all of the issues discussed with both teleportation and brain uploads.

P.S. Note that with this method, the process of transfer from physical to virtual world is not instant, but since the gateway is two-way, and it transfers states of matter, rather than just information about positions of the atoms, it's not a problem. You still have circulation going across the gateway. You still have electrochemical waves from real neurons passing through to virtual ones, and so on. At no point is the continuity of thought and organ function is interrupted.

St. Mellow
28th Jan 2011, 02:41
The idea of a "self" as an integral unit is fallacious to me. What is this "me"? Merely an ever-changing perception. It moves at every moment. Always elusive. A lie. A false border that separates and has some use, but ultimately distracts us from the truth: all is one. Distinctions are artificial.

K^2
28th Jan 2011, 04:36
There is a continuum of states. Yes, states change, but two states separated by infinitesimal time are different by infinitesimal amount. So we can still clearly define an individual.

Rindill the Red
28th Jan 2011, 04:50
The idea of a "self" as an integral unit is fallacious to me. What is this "me"? Merely an ever-changing perception. It moves at every moment. Always elusive. A lie. A false border that separates and has some use, but ultimately distracts us from the truth: all is one. Distinctions are artificial.

http://www.shodan.fi/images/digital_shodan.jpg

Join us.

The distinction that everything is one is itself a distinction. That is we are separate and one, depending on your relative point of view.

Say you are outside the universe.
Then the universe is one and nothing, a self contained existence of interaction.

It is only within the universe that we can create distinctions of separation. You are you and I am I, because I have a relative position and composition to you, but we only know each other because we are one.

BigBoss
28th Jan 2011, 06:07
With all this talk of teleportation, you guys should watch the fly.

St. Mellow
28th Jan 2011, 15:14
So we can still clearly define an individual.

Well, such definitions are obviously useful, but I think it is important to not dwell on them lest it distract us. Many of humanity's problems are a result of egocentrism and the suffering it causes. Also, a big part of the issue is confusing the purpose of such distinctions, a purpose that often has practical purposes: size, color, gender, property, function, preference, etc. But we mustn't lose sight of the temporary and relatively arbitrary nature of these, nor use them as justification for despicable actions and arguments. So said Heraclitus: πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει”; "everything changes and nothing remains still".


You are you and I am I, because I have a relative position and composition to you, but we only know each other because we are one.

Yes! That's even better.

K^2
28th Jan 2011, 16:21
St. Mellow, you are at odds with Quantum Mechanics. According to QM, the world you observe is your world and no-one else's. The world I interact with is not the world you interact with. The universe I'm seeing exists there for me and me alone. Any choice of action I make must be egocentric, because otherwise, I'm simply acting irrationally.

If you are interested in mathematical derivation of the above statements, I can go through it, though, I doubt it'd make a whole lot of sense to you.

MaxxQ1
28th Jan 2011, 17:14
I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together

:D

St. Mellow
28th Jan 2011, 17:52
K^2: I would appreciate it if you refrained from insulting my intelligence. There's no need for that. Like many have said, it is clear that your opinion comes from vast education and knowledge, and I generally appreciate your (so often needed) rationality and common sense, but that does not mean that you hold all the final answers. Seems to me like you generally choose to regard your opinion and conclusions as undeniable fact. Instead of just arguing back, you also often choose to dismiss everyone else as an idiot. For example, you don't know about my education, knowledge and intelligence to make that call. It's clear that your experience surpasses mine, but then again, I'm just 20 years old and my field is not physics, or any exact science, for that matter. But I am very interested in QM. In fact, I have interest, will and disposition to learn from and about almost every subject. And I always try to give my best effort. Now, I think that either I expressed myself unsatisfactorily and thus my message was unclear or you failed to read my post more carefully. Could be any, could be some of both. Clarification: I am not defending the idea of an "objective" universe. I was merely pointing out, in some agreement with your previous post, that such distinctions do have a place and utility. Our experiences and interactions are subjective, definitely, but I don't see how from that necessarily follows that I am acting irrationally unless I act egocentrically. I am talking about phenomenological intersubjectivity, about the need for empathy, of seeing the other as a subject like ourselves. Or this could be a classic case of semantic confusion: I was using "egocentrism" as a synonym for "narcissism"/"egotism" while you read it as "subjectivity". That would be my mistake, mostly. Whatever the case, I am not backing down from my opinion. Which is not the same as saying I wouldn't if I was convinced. Also, it seems to me that such an interpretation of QM would inevitably lead to a nihilistic solipsism. I eagerly await your answer and would love to see the math. Finally, I wish to clarify that I am not trying to be insulting or offensive in any way with this post. But I have a hard time being diplomatic and I say it like I see it, always.

EDIT:
I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together

Goo goo g'joob! :D

K^2
28th Jan 2011, 17:53
Goo goo g'joob.


I would appreciate it if you refrained from insulting my intelligence.
You don't understand enough QM for me to write out the equations of state that clearly show that you are wrong. That's all there is to it. I don't give a damn whether you have the intelligence for it or not. You lack education in the subject, and if that insults your intelligence, it's not anyone's fault but your own.

St. Mellow
28th Jan 2011, 19:00
Can't even bother to back up your argument or give a real answer. Hit a nerve there, apparently. Suit yourself.

K^2
28th Jan 2011, 23:08
I gave you an answer. MWI tells us that every observer interacts with a unique world. You will not understand the derivation. If you are so insecure that you consider that an insult, that's really your problem.

I've spent well over a decade studying physics. My work in high energy particle physics is what pays my bills. There are things I work with that I could not give explicit proofs for that you will be able to understand. That's how things work. You can either accept the above statement, or you can keep on pretending than you know better than a person who's job it is to study such things. Your call.

BigBoss
28th Jan 2011, 23:25
Brain flexin' contest

Rheinhold
29th Jan 2011, 01:00
None of my business this, clearly, but I ran into the same thing with dear K^2. He is smart, for sure. But he is also very convinced that only he is right, and that everyone else must be either an absolute idiot for thinking otherwise or an absolute imbecile for not knowing what he knows after decades of fine education and what not.

I understand that QM is K^2's piece of the pie, and I wouldn't dare to say I know as much as he does about that topic too. Yet the fact that he applies it so bluntly on anything that even looks soemwhat related, gives me the cranks. But OK, I can still live with that.
My real problem is that you, K^2, start to call people dumb, or "brainless", only because they think different then you. I have to agree with St. Mellow on his statements about that.
And yes, you are allowed to think you are the only one on the forum who can handle the mathof QM, and you may be right as well. Still, I like to see it, curious as I (and others) am. ;)

back on topic: the teleporter that makes use of Qm makes the most sense. I agree on that. But then again, I still am not too sure whether the thing that ends up on the other side will be exactly you. I am convinced that the body can be an exact copy, with all the neurons firing as they did and all. But I somehow have the gut feeling that those firings will also be the last firings of those neurons without sensory input... I have NO evidence backing that up, I am sorry for that. But then again, there is no QM-based teleporter yet that can teleport living organisms to test my hypothesis with... :hmm:

K^2
29th Jan 2011, 01:31
I don't think we'll ever see QT applied to a whole body. It's beyond impractical. QT gateways make much more sense. By applying QT algorithm only to particles that cross the boundary, you cut down on bandwidth requirements dramatically, and resolve decoherence problems. The only remaining problem is light-delay, which means direct gateway-to-gateway transfer could be done only over short distances. For long distance travel, you'd need a virtual buffer.

At any rate, one of the benefits of gateway travel is that the part of the body that has not yet crossed the threshold can exchange information with the part that has. If your only problem with teleportation is that lack of initial jolt, here you have it.

St. Mellow
29th Jan 2011, 02:02
I choose neither. I choose not taking something on faith in your almighty knowledge, without seeing any evidence. I choose to draw my own conclusions. Personal issues and "insecurity" have nothing to do with this. We're not talking factual, exact science here. We're discussing philosophically, we're talking in a very different level of abstraction than that of particle physics. Now that you've mentioned MWI, I can see how one would draw such a conclusion. I will admit, it sounds like a fascinating possibility. But it is not fact. MWI itself is just one of many explanations consistent with current observations. Hell, as was already mentioned, physics still needs to assume many things and fill many gaps to account for our present (last time I checked) lack of complete understanding of the universe. That's how science works, many things have to be discarded and modified in the face of new evidence. At least that's how I thought it worked. This trend of turning science into dogma is becoming commonplace everywhere I look. If you want to go through your life like House M.D. because you're so proud of your limitless intellect and incapability of error, knock yourself out. I'm done with this pointless "discussion", as it is impossible to argue/discuss/converse with someone who is so dogmatic as the most hardcore religious fundamentalist.

P.S. It's whose. ;)

K^2
29th Jan 2011, 02:34
MWI is tested to 12 orders of magnitude. There is a better chance of the Sun shooting out a cataclysmic flare tomorrow and wiping life on this planet than MWI not holding. Want to make a bet on it? Yeah, we still don't know a lot of things. Like what happens to the theory near event horizon of a black hole. Are we at the event horizon of a black hole? No? Moving on. The only assumption required to make MWI work is principle of superposition, which is absolutely true for flat or moderately curved space-time. No ifs or buts. Nearest objects that can throw it off are located hundreds if not thousands of light years away. (Depending on whether a neutron star might do it.) So while I can't claim that the theory certainly works on the time scale of Earth's history, within one human life, yeah, it's about as certain as things get.

Your arguments of "scientists can't possibly know everything," are absolutely out of place. Of course we can't bloody well know everything. Certain knowledge is for theologists. It's their racket. We deal in statistics. I can give you any number of examples of things that you would claim to be certain that are confirmed with far less precision than what I'm talking about. In fact, the only thing we can be as certain of as QM, and by extension MWI, is gravity.

So what do you say. Is there something to that gravity business, or are you going to be claiming that you've stuck to this rock by random chance for all these years? Because what you're claiming is equivalent.

But again, if you want to draw your own conclusion about things you have absolutely no knowledge about, I can lend you a quarter to flip.

Romeo
29th Jan 2011, 03:27
Nice straw man, K^2, but what his point is would be more along the lines of Sir Isaac Newton discovering gravity, and then proceeding to tell everyone he knows everything there is to know, about every subject. It's an incredibly annoying habit of yours.

BigBoss
29th Jan 2011, 03:34
Why is it when someone on these threads loses an intellectual conversation, they always start to play victim and accuse the other as being mean? k^2 wasn't being mean, he was just acknowledging that because of his higher education, it would take too long to explain the flaws in someone else's logic, purely on the basis that they haven't received the right schooling and NOT because they lack the capacity to understand it. I agree with him that it probably isn't worth the time it would take just to catch up to where he is. How is that mean?

K^2
29th Jan 2011, 03:41
Nice straw man, K^2, but what his point is would be more along the lines of Sir Isaac Newton discovering gravity, and then proceeding to tell everyone he knows everything there is to know, about every subject. It's an incredibly annoying habit of yours.And he had certainty of what, 2 orders of magnitude? Great comparison there. Newtonian Gravity has been tested since. It is wrong. General Relativity on the other hand, also gives 11-12 orders of magnitude precision having been tested out for nearly a century. Can we make some claims about it at that point? Yeah, I think we can.

Again, you are trying to grasp at some superficial knowledge to find a flaw in something that a century of brilliant minds have put their life's work into. Not going to happen.

Romeo
29th Jan 2011, 03:47
And he had certainty of what, 2 orders of magnitude? Great comparison there. Newtonian Gravity has been tested since. It is wrong. General Relativity on the other hand, also gives 11-12 orders of magnitude precision having been tested out for nearly a century. Can we make some claims about it at that point? Yeah, I think we can.

Again, you are trying to grasp at some superficial knowledge to find a flaw in something that a century of brilliant minds have put their life's work into. Not going to happen.
Once again, you've completely glanced over my point: I'm sure when it comes to physics, you're an intelligent individual. But you seem to assume that makes your points valid in every single discussion. It doesn't; And it's why a great deal of people no longer bother trying to have an intelligent discussion with you.

Rheinhold
29th Jan 2011, 12:11
I've got one thing to add to that.

I am sure K^2 knows what he says when it comes to science. But science has limitations. It can only describe, and at best make a forecast (with due statistical error) of how materiel things behave or will behave. In short, the field of science is not everything there is. Applying scientific knowledge to any and all discussions you have, will sooner or later end up in you making statements that have nothing to say about the discussion...

On topic:

Though I have to thank K^2 for at least trying to make clear how he thinks that the portal will work. I've read about the succesfull teleportation of a (single or couple, I cant remember) hydrogen atom, using the inherent uncertainty where a particle is at a given time. At a certain moment, that hydrogen atom was at both locations 'present', with both locations somehow (I dont exactly know) communicating with eachother. In all, I have already stated that I am convinced that over a couple of decades of research, larger and larger pieces can be teleported. eventually, if no other problems are found, an entire body can be teleported. That initial jolt might be also there, after perfecting the teleporter. Yet my doubt remains. Will your conscioussness be teleported along with your body? And how about the soul? The spirit? Neither of these have been scientifically proven to exist, because (again, as far as I know) we haven't found tangible evidence of it. Those are topics on themselves and are not studied by science. As long as we don't know how to teleport 'things' that we have never seen, and have no idea of how they really are and where they really are and when they really are where, I don't have much hope for living organisms to be teleported.

Though it would be awesome to have real food being teleported from where it is originally made, straight onto my desk... Real Italian Spaghetti, ordered via internet, delivered via my personal teleporter that was dialed in on the Italian restaurant in Rome... :)

Fox89
29th Jan 2011, 12:41
In short, the field of science is not everything there is

Science is a method of discovery. And it can be used to learn about everything it is possible to prove the existence of. I truly believe if there is any form of god, it would be discoverable with science. I may be wrong but I would imagine that by far the most likely scenario.


It can only describe, and at best make a forecast (with due statistical error) of how materiel things behave or will behave.

'Due statistical error' usually means 'flaws in the theory' which are later rectified by further experimentation and revision. The orbit of Mercury around the sun could be predicted with 'due statistical error' using Newton's Theory of Gravity, but with Einstein's Theory of Relativity it can be predicted exactly.


Applying scientific knowledge to any and all discussions you have, will sooner or later end up in you making statements that have nothing to say about the discussion...

That is because you inevitably get somebody questioning the merits of the scientific method. Personally, I find claims that 'not everything can be explained by science' a form of denial. "My beliefs cannot be proven or have been falsified by science, therefore the scientific method must be flawed". In regards to this topic, the question of the soul and human awareness is an interesting one. I get the impression that you think as science cannot explain such a thing, it is outside of science. Perhaps spiritual?

I on the other hand see no reason to think that it isn't simply a limitation of our understanding and equipment. We know how our vision works. We know how our hearing works. We know how taste and touch work. I imagine a few decades or centuries from now, a scientist will be able to stand in front of a class and explain exactly what we often refer to as the 'soul' is, how it works, and why it gives us a sense of individuality. Unknown =/= Unknowable.

mad825
29th Jan 2011, 13:04
hm. Someone needs to make another Forum/topic/conversation law which is very similar to Godwin's.

Rheinhold
29th Jan 2011, 13:23
Science is a method of discovery. And it can be used to learn about everything it is possible to prove the existence of. I truly believe if there is any form of god, it would be discoverable with science. I may be wrong but I would imagine that by far the most likely scenario.



'Due statistical error' usually means 'flaws in the theory' which are later rectified by further experimentation and revision. The orbit of Mercury around the sun could be predicted with 'due statistical error' using Newton's Theory of Gravity, but with Einstein's Theory of Relativity it can be predicted exactly.



That is because you inevitably get somebody questioning the merits of the scientific method. Personally, I find claims that 'not everything can be explained by science' a form of denial. "My beliefs cannot be proven or have been falsified by science, therefore the scientific method must be flawed". In regards to this topic, the question of the soul and human awareness is an interesting one. I get the impression that you think as science cannot explain such a thing, it is outside of science. Perhaps spiritual?

I on the other hand see no reason to think that it isn't simply a limitation of our understanding and equipment. We know how our vision works. We know how our hearing works. We know how taste and touch work. I imagine a few decades or centuries from now, a scientist will be able to stand in front of a class and explain exactly what we often refer to as the 'soul' is, how it works, and why it gives us a sense of individuality. Unknown =/= Unknowable.
Did I state that I think that science is flawed? No. I said that science has a field that it studies, and this field IS limited. If you wish to believe that the scientific field is not limited, you are not going to be executed or something similar. You are free to believe as you like... I am waiting for salvation. You keep waiting on a 'theory on everything there is'. If science is but a method of studying, and if its capable of generating all the correct answers on everything and all, why on earth do we bother with theology, philosophy, psychology and sociology? Not to mention the pointlessness of religions and all that jazz. :rolleyes:

Nope, I am glad I do not believe in science as dogmatic as some do. At least I have a hope and a reason to live for in this barren existence...


hm. Someone needs to make another Forum/topic/conversation law which is very similar to Godwin's.
Instead of Nazis, it should run like: "In any online conversation, after enough time, the chance that the discussion will hit science and beliefs will be 1". Might be appropriate for this forum, at least... Not really surprising. The topics of Deus Ex are pretty much on those crossroads in some sort of way... makes for intersting forum talk sometimes. :D

K^2
29th Jan 2011, 13:34
I've read about the succesfull teleportation of a (single or couple, I cant remember) hydrogen atom, using the inherent uncertainty where a particle is at a given time. At a certain moment, that hydrogen atom was at both locations 'present', with both locations somehow (I dont exactly know) communicating with eachother. In all, I have already stated that I am convinced that over a couple of decades of research, larger and larger pieces can be teleported. eventually, if no other problems are found, an entire body can be teleported.
See? That's why you shouldn't draw your own conclusions. This is a relatively "simple" experiment as far as QM goes. I can go through that one and point out important steps.

First of all, quantum teleportation is a teleportation of state, not of matter. It relies on the fact that particles everywhere are identical, so you don't need to bother to send them. Simply switching their states is absolutely equivalent.

Second, what has been sent is the single state of a two-state system. In the particular experiment, the state was the excitation of the optically active nucleus. Initially, a particle at location A was excited a certain way, and after the experiment, particle at location B was excited that exact same way.

You may ask why they did not just measure the state and send information about it. Well, they can't. When you measure the state of a two-state system, you only get a yes/no answer out of it, and the real state is some superposition of the two. That's the uncertainty that's being talked about. Nothing to do with uncertainty in position. Measurement destroys superposition, and the quantum state is effectively lost. Quantum Teleportation is a procedure to circumvent that. Transfer state without measuring it.

Why are they only teleporting one atom and not two or more. Well, if you only teleport one atom, you don't need to worry about its location or movement. You only need to encode its other states. So far, it's been only one excitation level, but you could do more. In order to teleport two atoms, their relative location and motion must be encoded. Suddenly, this is a far more complicated problem. Without any additional constraints, the number of possible states is enormous.

So what's the problem with sending over multiple states? Well, it's the algorithm itself. In order to perform it, you need to start out with two copies of your system that are maximally entangled to each other. It's another superposition uncertainty state, but it has a caveat. If you measure the state of one of these, the state of the other is exactly the same. One entangled copy is placed with system you want to teleport, a measurement is made in bell state, and information about that measurement sent to destination. That information can be used to transform the second copy into a copy of the system you wanted to send. Two problems with that.

First, there is the quantity of information. If only two states are possible, 4 bits of information must be sent. For 3 states, 9 bits must be sent. For 4 states, 16 bits. It's always N^2. Furthermore, states are multiplicative. If your system consists of two particles with M and N states respectively, the system contains M*N states, and you need to send (M*N)^2 bits of data. So if you have N particles with M states each, we are talking about M^(2*N) states total. Now how many particles are there in human body? Even if there were just a few states, the amount of information exceeds number of particles in known universe. That's a problem.

Second problem is decoherence. Entangled states have a finite life time because of interaction with environment. The more complicated system, the less it lives. The life time works out to be proportional to the number of bits of information in the above. For a system of complexity approaching that of human body, that life time is effectively zero.

There are also problems with actually preparing the entangled states and making measurements in Bell basis for complex systems, but that's more of a technical issue considering the two problems above.

When we will see teleportation of a single molecule, as a bound state of target atoms, it will be a triumph of modern science. And that's pretty much as far as any of this will go. This is why the ultimate solution will be a gateway. Taking the problem one particle at a time means that instead of M^N, you are dealing with M*N quantity of information. That's still a lot, but it is at least manageable.

St. Mellow
29th Jan 2011, 13:41
[...] purely on the basis that they haven't received the right schooling and NOT because they lack the capacity to understand it.

"You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother." :D

Frequently misattributed to Einstein. But he did say, according to Broglie, "that all physical theories, their mathematical expressions apart, ought to lend themselves to so simple a description 'that even a child could understand them.' " K^2 has neglected to show both the math and the verbal explanation. He really is asking us to accept something based on nothing but faith. I don't even need to mention that MWI is not the only popular interpretation of QM. There's the Copenhagen Interpretation, which is still more accepted than MWI, and various others. Under these, does the math (that we haven't seen) hold to the same conclusion?

Ah, wouldn't it be great to win every argument by default just because of your schooling? And when pushed into a corner, to keep pumping out straw men and fallacy until the other finally gets tired and leaves so you can go back to your crumbling ivory tower? The similarities with fundamentalist argument are patent. I can understand someone's relative pride over their accomplishments, but this is ridiculous. And yet he keeps hammering on the same nail, and will persist, insulting the intelligence of everyone who dares stand in his way. I don't care if you're Max Planck or Albert Einstein, you better back up your arguments with something better than "I'm right because I studied this for twenty years/won a Nobel prize/work at the LHC". Alas, I know the type. Wanna get personal? Megalomania and superiority complex hide underlying insecurities. The fact that you accused me first of insecurity sounds a lot like a preemptive strike. Projection much? "Success is a menace. It fools smart people into thinking they can't lose." But like I said before, 'tis pointless to keep arguing directly. I write this mostly as an exposé and for myself, since it's obvious that there won't be a real answer, like with all my previous posts.

Fox89
29th Jan 2011, 14:20
I said that science has a field that it studies, and this field IS limited

Science is a method of study. The fields of science are individually limited yes, biology only deals with certain things, physics only deals with certain things. The way I see it: if something exists, then it most likely leaves evidence of its existence and can thus be discovered. There is no such thing as the super-natural because anything that exists is, by definition, natural.


why on earth do we bother with...psychology and sociology

Psychology and sociology are, to the best of my knowledge, both scientific. A field of scientific study, just like chemistry, biology and physics. Philosophy speculates about the things we do not yet understand and follows similar principles to science. Not sure how much of value we actually learn from philosophical pursuits though, especially in the modern day. And theology is not about furthering our understanding of the truth, but furthering our understanding of what one particular religion claims is the truth.


Nope, I am glad I do not believe in science as dogmatic as some do

I put my trust in things that have proven to work consistently. The scientific method has done this. Any other method of discovery I have come across has consistently failed. Blind faith and random guesses are the two most common alternatives to rational evaluation.


At least I have a hope and a reason to live for in this barren existence...

You're right, every atheist in the world is suicidally depressed. Oh wait. Personally, I think that believing that 'this is it' is a much better incentive to enjoy life than 'behave so you can go to heaven'. But I suppose there's something that's completely subjective.

mad825
29th Jan 2011, 15:09
. At least I have a hope and a reason to live for in this barren existence...

So you believe in a religion because you want to feel special? not alone? worthy? just to fill a void within you.


There doesn't need to be a reason, it's possible to say that science is there just to improve the quality of our lives but in-order to gain the ability to progress we need to understand more and more things. Computer for example, without the knowledge of the atom (electrons), the computer would be very difficult to operate as it would be steam powered :nut:

Fox89
29th Jan 2011, 15:14
without the knowledge of the atom, the computer would be very difficult to operate as it would be steam powered

That would be awesome!!!

K^2
29th Jan 2011, 15:20
I don't even need to mention that MWI is not the only popular interpretation of QM. There's the Copenhagen Interpretation, which is still more accepted than MWI, and various others. Under these, does the math (that we haven't seen) hold to the same conclusion?
And again you have no idea what you are talking about and mis-interpreting something you read somewhere. Having fun with that?

You know what's great about QM interpretations? They are equivalent. They are simply alternative ways to write down exactly the same equations. Certain things are obvious in one interpretation, but obscure in another. If you want to talk about measurements, Copenhagen is easier to deal with. If you want to talk about EPR, you want MWI. A conclusion derived in one interpretation always holds in all the other interpretations. It simply may be more difficult to derive.

And what you are arguing against is a premise of MWI. You are saying MWI is wrong. You are by extension saying that all other interpretations are wrong. That QM is wrong. And you are asking me to give you a proof. Don't you think that if you are arguing against a well-established theory the burden of proof is on you?

The derivation of MWI from basic QM principles is not straight forward. If I write Σ|a_i><a_i|b>, you need to know what that means, otherwise, I'm wasting my time. There are entire books dedicated to explaining MWI to laymen like yourself. Feel free to pick up any one of them. Don't expect me to write out contents of a book in a post.

You keep arguing purely from your own ignorance. You don't understand the subject, so you don't understand what's so complex about it, so you don't understand why I can't explain it, and so it must be my fault. Yeah, good luck with that attitude.

Rindill the Red
29th Jan 2011, 15:29
You keep arguing purely from your own ignorance. You don't understand the subject, so you don't understand what's so complex about it, so you don't understand why I can't explain it, and so it must be my fault. Yeah, good luck with that attitude.

I have respect for the crazy work particle physicists are doing.

But I have to wonder if any of the work they're doing has any bearing on the reality most people live day to day.

Sure, you know a lot about individual atoms and their constituents and stuff really small, but how does it actually fit into "the real world", being, the macroscopic functioning of daily life.

What actual improvements or uses has QM served humanity?

I believe, and this is just what I've been told, that there are issues relating QM to the rest of our knowledge of physics.

El_Bel
29th Jan 2011, 15:40
Hey K^2, i recently started studying physics, (Now i am reading my high school books, and when i finish them i'm moving to Feynman Lectures on Physics.) Any idea what should i read next?

St. Mellow
29th Jan 2011, 17:06
I'm discussing your derivative philosophical argument, not the math or physics I don't understand. Precisely because not everyone here is a physicist, we are not really discussing QM or complex mathematics, and unless someone with more understanding of the field than yourself started posting on this forum, anyone doing so will inevitably "lose". I am most definitely not saying QM is false or assuming knowledge I don't have. I do have something akin to "faith" or rather belief in science, and a strong one at that. I am not even refuting your argument completely, having even acknowledged that it sounds like an intriguing possibility. But I'm also discussing, perhaps more importantly, your attitude of unwarranted self-importance, and the complete arrogance and lack of respect for others you espouse. This sums it up perfectly:

I'm sure when it comes to physics, you're an intelligent individual. But you seem to assume that makes your points valid in every single discussion. It doesn't; And it's why a great deal of people no longer bother trying to have an intelligent discussion with you.

Should I also go back and mention again the endless straw men? And how you fail to address all of the points brought up in, not only mine, but most arguments that do not agree with your opinions and instead focus on refuting just the fraction you can with the knowledge of a specific area? It's rare to meet a scientist/academic with such a toxic attitude. I'm actually surprised. You're almost a walking stereotype. I kind of feel bad for you. I don't even want to imagine how you act around people in real life. But whatever, again, why do I bother? Romeo said it all in fewer words. It's not like you will change because of what anyone says.

Personally, I think these are good guidelines and strive to follow them: "Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times."

Peace.

K^2
29th Jan 2011, 17:30
What actual improvements or uses has QM served humanity?
As far as practical every-day applications go, solid state physics is Quantum Field Theory. So basically, anything with a modern semiconductor device in it is due, in part, to QM.

Of practical but less widespread are superconductors. These are 100% QM. They are not possible in classical physics. Their most common use is in MRI tomographers at clinics.

Superconductors are also a good demonstration that QM is not just microscopic. Entire superconductor must be in a quantum state in order for it to operate, and superconducting magnets in particle accelerators can be hundreds of tons. That's not microscopic by anyone's standards.


I believe, and this is just what I've been told, that there are issues relating QM to the rest of our knowledge of physics.
There are issues between QM and General Relativity. QM is inherently linear. GR is inherently non-linear. However, we do have linearized gravity, which allows us to use the two together in any practical situation. So as I mentioned earlier, our understanding of QM breaks down near super-massive objects, like black holes, in space-time that's only moderately curved, like the entire Solar System, the laws of Quantum Mechanics are sufficient to describe everything that is going on.

It is usually extremely impractical to describe macroscopic objects with QM, but that's the same issue as you have in classical physics. If you want to describe the way Earth orbits around the Sun, you do not need to describe motion of every single particle that the planet consists of. You could, if you had computational capacity for it, and it would give you good results, but you can get the answers you practically need by considering Earth as a "solid" object.

Similarly, describing wave-function of every single particle and quantizing every single field within a macroscopic object is a way to get a proper description, but it's going to be infinitely complex and absolutely useless. There are ways of dealing with these in a statistical way, and that's what Condensed Matter is all about. It's figuring out how quantum properties of individual particles affect macroscopic electrical, thermal, chemical and other properties of materials, so that we can then describe them using classical mechanics, electrodynamics, and thermodynamics.

That doesn't mean that the objects are no longer subjects to the laws of QM. It just tells you that there is a much easier way to describe these objects by ignoring QM effects on large scales. Again, if you want to see how this agrees with different interpretations of QM, there are books written about it.


Hey K^2, i recently started studying physics, (Now i am reading my high school books, and when i finish them i'm moving to Feynman Lectures on Physics.) Any idea what should i read next?
Well, if you read all 3 volumes of Feynman Lectures, you'd have a very good basis. Assuming you are fine with Calculus, the next step would normally be to go beyond Newtonian Mechanics with a good Classical Mechanics text. I know the one by Goldstein is very good, but it's graduate level. You should take a look at it and see if it's too advanced. If it is, you can try Classical Dynamics of Particles Systems by Marion. It explains the variation method in the least confusing way I've seen, and even if you only get the general idea of where it comes from, you should still be able to get your head around Lagrangian Mechanics, which is a very important subject.



I'm discussing your derivative philosophical argument, not the math or physics I don't understand.
There is no philosophical argument. According to MWI, the universe you observe is observed only by you. Period. Nothing to discuss.

AxiomaticBadger
29th Jan 2011, 18:56
Look, the self exists. It's axiomatic: You say I do not exist as a seperate entity, I say I do. In order for me to challenge your assertation I must have a different opinion than you, and thus there must be a boundary between us where "You are not" becomes "I am".
Yes, we're all part of the same universe, but we remain seperate, like facets of a gemstone.

Duality: Learn to love it.

@K^2: Entangled particles are becoming popular as an excuse for FTL or non-interuptable transmision. Are either of these actually possible, or has public knowledge once again got the wrong end of the stick?

St. Mellow
29th Jan 2011, 19:00
According to MWI, the universe you observe is observed only by you. Period. Nothing to discuss.

I can admit that this is true. But MWI is not fact. It's not even close to being universally accepted. Many physicists object to it entirely. (Again, you could keep on blabbing about how I don't know what I'm talking about, you're infallible, etc.) It is most definitely not as factual as gravity. Maybe it will be proven so in the future, maybe not. Maybe it's the end-all absolute truth. But that doesn't matter, because your argument is that if I, or anyone else, dare doubt you, not QM, MWI, science or anything else, they are wrong, period. It's extremely frustrating. And sad, actually. Not to mention wrong. Why do you even bother responding to anyone here, if there's no discussion? Ego? Some kind of "educational" crusade? You are just picking on someone to quarrel, basically. If you're so infallible, why bother, really? Let everyone else discuss like the morons they are in peace. Of course you will never admit any of this. So, like I said, no difference from fundamentalism: you believe in this hypothesis, or rather, in yourself, fanatically. It's like talking to a child. Truly, there is no discussion.


Yes, we're all part of the same universe, but we remain seperate, like facets of a gemstone.

Duality: Learn to love it.

Now that's a counterargument. Well reasoned and written. And respectful to boot! Dialectic synthesis: love it.

BigBoss
29th Jan 2011, 19:18
I have respect for the crazy work particle physicists are doing.
But I have to wonder if any of the work they're doing has any bearing on the reality most people live day to day.
Sure, you know a lot about individual atoms and their constituents and stuff really small, but how does it actually fit into "the real world", being, the macroscopic functioning of daily life.
What actual improvements or uses has QM served humanity?
I believe, and this is just what I've been told, that there are issues relating QM to the rest of our knowledge of physics.

This is always one of the most unfair arguments that is made against science. My dad is head of the Kinesiology and Nutrition departments at UIC. His research in motor control and learning, as well as Interlimb coordination and study of EMG parameters associated with rapid movement was under constant fire (before he became head of the dept:)) because the almighty grant providers would want something that would either cure a disease, or lead to some revolutionary scientific idea. Either way, they just wanted something that they can turn a profit off of. While his friends at the school who were trying to look into cures for types of heart disease because it was more "practical", would almost effortlessly receive money, he had a much harder time getting grants. Just because it doesn't give your car better gas mileage or warm you house, doesn't mean that it's not important.

Rindill the Red
29th Jan 2011, 20:52
As far as practical every-day applications go, solid state physics is Quantum Field Theory. So basically, anything with a modern semiconductor device in it is due, in part, to QM.

Of practical but less widespread are superconductors. These are 100% QM. They are not possible in classical physics. Their most common use is in MRI tomographers at clinics.

Superconductors are also a good demonstration that QM is not just microscopic. Entire superconductor must be in a quantum state in order for it to operate, and superconducting magnets in particle accelerators can be hundreds of tons. That's not microscopic by anyone's standards.


There are issues between QM and General Relativity. QM is inherently linear. GR is inherently non-linear. However, we do have linearized gravity, which allows us to use the two together in any practical situation. So as I mentioned earlier, our understanding of QM breaks down near super-massive objects, like black holes, in space-time that's only moderately curved, like the entire Solar System, the laws of Quantum Mechanics are sufficient to describe everything that is going on.

It is usually extremely impractical to describe macroscopic objects with QM, but that's the same issue as you have in classical physics. If you want to describe the way Earth orbits around the Sun, you do not need to describe motion of every single particle that the planet consists of. You could, if you had computational capacity for it, and it would give you good results, but you can get the answers you practically need by considering Earth as a "solid" object.

Similarly, describing wave-function of every single particle and quantizing every single field within a macroscopic object is a way to get a proper description, but it's going to be infinitely complex and absolutely useless. There are ways of dealing with these in a statistical way, and that's what Condensed Matter is all about. It's figuring out how quantum properties of individual particles affect macroscopic electrical, thermal, chemical and other properties of materials, so that we can then describe them using classical mechanics, electrodynamics, and thermodynamics.

That doesn't mean that the objects are no longer subjects to the laws of QM. It just tells you that there is a much easier way to describe these objects by ignoring QM effects on large scales. Again, if you want to see how this agrees with different interpretations of QM, there are books written about it.

Well, if you read all 3 volumes of Feynman Lectures, you'd have a very good basis. Assuming you are fine with Calculus, the next step would normally be to go beyond Newtonian Mechanics with a good Classical Mechanics text. I know the one by Goldstein is very good, but it's graduate level. You should take a look at it and see if it's too advanced. If it is, you can try Classical Dynamics of Particles Systems by Marion. It explains the variation method in the least confusing way I've seen, and even if you only get the general idea of where it comes from, you should still be able to get your head around Lagrangian Mechanics, which is a very important subject.

Thanks for answering my questions. That's interesting. So as scientists learn more about QM and the small stuff, we may discover new things to use in the macroscopic world.

FrankCSIS
29th Jan 2011, 21:12
As vague and "impractical" as it may sound, advanced research is necessary in all fields of hard sciences because you want your answers available when the rest of the world catches up with the field. Science does not, and should not, work the other way around.

That's why I will always argue continuous public funding is fundamental. This is possibly the one area where the private sector cannot be relied on to properly invest. Management has the forecasting capacities of a fortune cookie. Government in itself is of course not any better. But at least the continuous finding remains, regardless of how incompetent the public sector is when it comes to understanding the necessities of research.

As for the sudden K^2 bashing, I will just say that if one wishes to argue against an established theory, he should bring more to the table than personal vibes, feelings and observations. You do not counter a theory with "I read somewhere that" and "I see the world differently". We all have personal interpretations of the world, sometimes based on personal observations that are very real to us, but they do not suffice to challenge a well-constructed theory. Yes, we can discuss them for the hell of it, but this is as far as they go. Putting them on the same level as mathematical theories is a tad ridiculous, wouldn't you think? This is where k^2's reaction is justifiable. It lacked tact, yes, but this is the internet, where everything personal should be left at the door.

BigBoss
29th Jan 2011, 21:32
As for the sudden K^2 bashing, I will just say that if one wishes to argue against an established theory, he should bring more to the table than personal vibes, feelings and observations.

Please don't tell me that you think he argued from vibes and feelings.........

FrankCSIS
29th Jan 2011, 21:33
I'm saying he has been mostly counter-argued with vibes and feelings :p

Rindill the Red
29th Jan 2011, 21:35
I'm saying he has been mostly counter-argued with vibes and feelings :p

K^2:
2h1E3YJMKfA

Others:
TCeD_6Y3GQc

BigBoss
29th Jan 2011, 21:41
I'm saying he has been mostly counter-argued with vibes and feelings :p

.........

K^2
29th Jan 2011, 21:44
I can admit that this is true. But MWI is not fact. It's not even close to being universally accepted. Many physicists object to it entirely.
Not a single person who specializes in Quantum Physics doubts MWI any more than Quantum Mechanics overall. Sure, there are plenty of scientists in other areas who have no idea what they are talking about.

MWI is EQUIVALENT to other interpretations of QM. That's a mathematical theorem. It is irrefutable.

Once you agree that your world view contradicts MWI, that's it. Your argument is done for.


@K^2: Entangled particles are becoming popular as an excuse for FTL or non-interuptable transmision. Are either of these actually possible, or has public knowledge once again got the wrong end of the stick?
Entanglement cannot be used to transmit information. Another theorem from QM. It can assist in transmitting quantum information over classical channel, which is precisely what it is used for in QT or in quantum key encryption, but it cannot transmit information on its own. You still need to send something the old fashioned way.

The confusion comes from the explanation of entanglement often given to laymen and the press, where the particles are said to communicate the result of the measurement. One may think of entanglement that way, but one must also keep in mind that this does not allow for any useful information to be transmitted.

On the other hand, there are things in QM that violate locality, and people have carried out some rudimentary experiments in FTL communication. There are still arguments about what this actually means, of course, so take it with a grain of salt. But the idea is that when a particle encounters an energy barrier it cannot overcome, there is a chance that it will tunnel and make it to the other side anyways. Well, it turns out that tunneling takes less time than propagating through space at light speed. Since particle isn't really ever traveling through that region of space, it doesn't cause any of the problems with Special Relativity that a particle traveling FTL would. But you do end up with a possibility to send information faster than you could with a beam of light.

Unfortunately, the strength of the tunneling signal drops exponentially with distance, so it's not terribly useful outside of the lab as-is. Whether this is a fundamental limitation or if we'll be able to use this for long distance communication is an open question.

FrankCSIS
29th Jan 2011, 21:46
.........

Aparently there is a gap between what I seem to be saying and how it actually reads out.

From now on I will speak strictly with diagrams.

AxiomaticBadger
29th Jan 2011, 21:50
I think the problem K^2 keeps running into comes from how he phrases his arguments. He may know what he's talking about, but he comes across as slightly aggressive and people react to that, responding to the comment's tone instead of it's content.
Entanglement cannot be used to transmit information. ... Whether this is a fundamental limitation or if we'll be able to use this for long distance communication is an open question.Bugger. Thanks for answering though :)

BigBoss
29th Jan 2011, 22:36
Or it's not aggressive and some people are very sensitive to being wrong

Romeo
30th Jan 2011, 05:24
This is always one of the most unfair arguments that is made against science. My dad is head of the Kinesiology and Nutrition departments at UIC. His research in motor control and learning, as well as Interlimb coordination and study of EMG parameters associated with rapid movement was under constant fire (before he became head of the dept:)) because the almighty grant providers would want something that would either cure a disease, or lead to some revolutionary scientific idea. Either way, they just wanted something that they can turn a profit off of. While his friends at the school who were trying to look into cures for types of heart disease because it was more "practical", would almost effortlessly receive money, he had a much harder time getting grants. Just because it doesn't give your car better gas mileage or warm you house, doesn't mean that it's not important.
I'm sure no matter how I say this, I'm going to come across as a colossal prick, but I sort've agree with the logic behind the grant-givers... Practicality must always come before art.

If I had to kill off Ferrari or Ford, it would hurt, but I'd get rid of Ferrari - Ford is too useful. The same logic applies to science, in my opinion - If I'm going to give money to one scientist, and one is trying to cure something, and the other is simply hoping to see "what if", I'm going with the cure. Because if I don't, and more people get sick, or die of the disease, learning "what if" to something abstract isn't really going to console those people or their families.

When humanity has conquered disease and death, then I believe it will be time to dabble in the bizarre and the unnecessary.

BigBoss
30th Jan 2011, 05:42
I'm sure no matter how I say this, I'm going to come across as a colossal prick, but I sort've agree with the logic behind the grant-givers... Practicality must always come before art.

If I had to kill off Ferrari or Ford, it would hurt, but I'd get rid of Ferrari - Ford is too useful. The same logic applies to science, in my opinion - If I'm going to give money to one scientist, and one is trying to cure something, and the other is simply hoping to see "what if", I'm going with the cure. Because if I don't, and more people get sick, or die of the disease, learning "what if" to something abstract isn't really going to console those people or their families.

When humanity has conquered disease and death, then I believe it will be time to dabble in the bizarre and the unnecessary.

LOL I hope you don't mind me sharing your response with him. He is trying to work with augmented feedback and "adaptive tuning" of task parameters to simplify performance during learning, and his clinical investigations have examined different forms, and led to new techniques of bilateral training during stroke rehabilitation. Most people as you have just proven, don't connect the dots towards a bigger picture as to how science is interrelated, and can only see one researcher as doing the "unnecessary" and one as doing the important heart disease research simply because it's easier to understand and the connection is clear.

Edit: I'm not trying to be condescending, it is understandable why you think that way. He doesn't hold it against them that they couldn't see a connection that he did, but had little proof to support.

Romeo
30th Jan 2011, 05:48
And education and rehabilitation are noble endeavors. But when one has to rely upon the fact their research will be used for it's intended purpose, as opposed to a direct link to something such as curing diabetes, it's a safer bet to go with the direct cause-and-effect research.

As I said, I'm not trying to condemn your father's research, but I do understand why the grant's are given to those who's results are immediate.

BigBoss
30th Jan 2011, 06:21
I'm not offended or anything and I can tell you aren't upset the way i'm speaking to you, so let's cut the cushion parts in the posts out for efficiency.

So you're telling me in a hypothetical, that if one person wanted to do a project that had 5 components, and a clear cut objective and obvious end result that is trying to be achieved, you would be more inclined to give that person money over a person who has a project that has 20 components, a clear cut objective but a subjective end result?

[FGS]Shadowrunner
30th Jan 2011, 06:35
What I've learned in the UK is that grants and funding is very much about ticking boxes and it's ALL politics. Doesn't matter how successful a project is, if a government changes, the project gets scrapped, renamed and relaunched, requiring millions of pounds to retrain all the people involved. The funders don't often care about the result, it's only important to be SEEN funding and ticking boxes, which is why so many projects in the UK last about six months and aren't given time to develop or produce any results.

A classic example is Richard Branson bidding for the lottery. He wanted to give 80% to charity. The winners of the lottery management only give about 12% to charity, the rest is "administration".

BigBoss
30th Jan 2011, 06:54
I don’t think he’s coming back so I’ll just state my point. Let’s take this hypothetical, and apply it in two experiments. Let’s say that we know nothing about water, and there is someone who wants to find out how much water a particular shelf can hold, versus someone who wants to know the properties of water. After the first scientist conducts experiments for cheap and finds the definite answer, a major problem is solved. But when you understand the properties of water, yes it takes more money, yes it will take more time, but that data can be used in a multitude of ways long after. When those two projects were proposed, you would be inclined to think for the first project “This will solve the crisis of shelves everywhere!” and the latter “This doesn’t directly help anything, I still drink it just the same now that I know that it freezes at 0..…” But let’s say that shelf is replaced by a stronger one a decade later, the data becomes useless. Water on the other hand is so basic, that the knowledge has a far greater life expectancy.
I hope that didn’t sound too crazy

Rheinhold
30th Jan 2011, 15:56
Politics. Good, we are getting closer now to Godwin's law...

...but again, where does that leave the OP? Will human brain downloading ever be common practice here?

Or is it just the wrong question, really? Because why would we upload human brains? What is it that we want to achieve by doing so? Eternal life?
I think it is common knowledge that everything degrades here. Simple example: your car in your garage. If you let it be, it will be a rusty pile of uselessness in 100 years or so. So even if we somehow could upload our brains... will you have eternal life? You will downgrade anyway, inside your body or inside a computer/robot.

And if I read K^2's post, it makes it look like there will never be practical teleportation anyway.
The thing that you not need to transfer the particles themselves but only their state... mustnt there be an equal ammount of particles at both ends of the teleport to transfer the states to and from? Like, are there variations in particle density and can that play a role in this?
Oh, and thanks for trying to explain a bit more. Liking it. :)

St. Mellow
30th Jan 2011, 16:12
So even if we somehow could upload our brains... will you have eternal life? You will downgrade anyway, inside your body or inside a computer/robot.

Why? As long as the machine is maintained, it will always be at peak performance. There's no decaying body anymore. As I understand it, your "neurons" won't degrade, thus your brain won't age physically and you'd have perfect memory, theoretically. The only problem I see are the unpredictable psychological effects. How would human minds deal with this new, possibly immortal condition?

K^2
30th Jan 2011, 17:04
I'm sure no matter how I say this, I'm going to come across as a colossal prick, but I sort've agree with the logic behind the grant-givers... Practicality must always come before art.

If I had to kill off Ferrari or Ford, it would hurt, but I'd get rid of Ferrari - Ford is too useful. The same logic applies to science, in my opinion - If I'm going to give money to one scientist, and one is trying to cure something, and the other is simply hoping to see "what if", I'm going with the cure. Because if I don't, and more people get sick, or die of the disease, learning "what if" to something abstract isn't really going to console those people or their families.

When humanity has conquered disease and death, then I believe it will be time to dabble in the bizarre and the unnecessary.
And your attempt to save some lives now might have just killed a huge number of people 100 years down the line.

Let me give you a real example. Early 20th century. Wave nature of particles is being realized, people are running some really bizarre experiments to see when each property is exhibited to zero down on some sort of a description. At the same time antibiotics, starting with penicillin are a new craze.

Suppose you cut funding to the bizarre experiments. You might have acquired a few antibiotics a bit sooner. Saved some people from deaths due to allergic reactions to penicillin. What you just killed is early Quantum Mechanics, consequently crystallography, quantum chemistry, magnetic resonance, and a number of other fields with direct applications in medicine that not only allowed for much better synthetic antibiotics and many other drugs, but also provided means of detection and diagnosis that are simply not possible otherwise. And we are just starting to tap into some of it.

The problem with science is that you never really know the outcome of the research and what will turn out to be practical. The lag between fundamental sciences and real applications is sometimes over 100 years. Nobody can predict practicality over such a huge span of time.

If you start funding only that which is immediately practical, you are causing a huge damage to overall progress, and that will come back to bite you.

There has to be a fraction of the overall R&D funding that goes into practical. Maybe the biggest chunk. But private sector takes care of that pretty well. If there is a cure to be developed now, pharmaceutical companies will take care of it. This part of the problem takes care of itself.

But you have to find crazy, apparently pointless experiments driven by nothing other than curiosity. Private sector will not do that. It has to be done by governments. For the large part it is, but a lot of people who decide the spending run into the same error that you do. They try to fund practical research, when it's looked after just fine in the private sector. If government spending is not directed towards fundamental research, we are going to run out of practical things to research, and our understanding of fundamental laws to go further will lag by a century.


And if I read K^2's post, it makes it look like there will never be practical teleportation anyway.
The thing that you not need to transfer the particles themselves but only their state... mustnt there be an equal ammount of particles at both ends of the teleport to transfer the states to and from? Like, are there variations in particle density and can that play a role in this?
Hence me talking about gateways instead. You don't need to teleport the whole thing at once. You really don't. If you build a surface which teleports individual particles at interface with sufficient precision, you'd be able to just walk through it.

And yeah, the surface would need a way to feed matter in/out sufficiently fast, perhaps using ion channels of some sort. It's not without some serious challenges, but at least all of the basic physics we have. So that's something we at least have a chance to see within the next century or so.


The only problem I see are the unpredictable psychological effects. How would human minds deal with this new, possibly immortal condition?
This is kind of a big one. One of the reasons learning capacity drops in the later teens is because there are limits to information stored, and you can re-organize it only so much once your brain is set in its ways. An artificial copy of a human brain might lose ability to adapt to changing world, which can cause serious problems. And if you change the way this works, you are no longer you, really. But this is really something we need to see happen to say what can be done about it.

demon boy
31st Jan 2011, 21:50
Why? As long as the machine is maintained, it will always be at peak performance. There's no decaying body anymore. As I understand it, your "neurons" won't degrade, thus your brain won't age physically and you'd have perfect memory, theoretically. The only problem I see are the unpredictable psychological effects. How would human minds deal with this new, possibly immortal condition?

The psychological effects are actually only a portion of the problem. The reason why this technology is desirable is because it would greatly improve our lifespans. The obvious ramification of this would be rapid over-population. If you go back in time 150 years, you would see a human race that is made up of an entirely different cast of characters to that of today. Literally no human being that was alive in 1861 is still alive today. Even so, there are close to 7 billion human beings alive today and billions more who were born and died between then and now. You can imagine how quickly things could get out of hand if aging and death were no longer necessary.

Changes to our resource consumtion habbits would be a must. More importantly, the development of technologies that drammatically increase human lifespans must almost certainly coincide with the development of technologies that would make it possible for us to explore and indeed live extra-terrestrially. Sociological adjustments such as having fewer children would only serve to stem the tide of population growth. We would need to be able to expand.

This line of thinking sort of feeds into singularity theories where there will be an explosion of technological progress in which humanity will evolve and spread in a virulent manner.



..............................................................................................................


As for the topic of "death" via teleportation or neural uploading; I think it is one of the most fundamentally important issues that we will face in the 21st century. It has to do with our concept of self but more importantly, it has to do with our ideas about what we should be striving for.

Some argue that the person you are at this moment is different from the person that you were 12 seconds ago and so on. Their argument is that even if the "real" you is destroyed in a teleportation device, it would be no different to the process you go through every day when you wake up. When you really stop and think about it; this might be true, however there is no current way to know whether it is true or not.

Deep down inside, I think most people believe in continuity. We believe that we are the same person that we were 12 seconds ago or even 12 years ago. Even if every single cell in our body has been replaced over that span of time; we feel that the continuity of our experience makes us the same individual that we were back then. Even when we go to sleep; our dreams are evidence that there is a continuous experience.

That's why a teleportation device that works by creating a perfect copy of someone while destroying the original doesn't really sit well with me. It is one of those things where you have to separate the scientific and practical view from the more personal reality.

From a practical standpoint it would allow you to achieve many things. You could preserve the memories and mind of a human being for an indefinite period of time. You could also potentially transport the contents of a human mind over vast distances instantaneously.

One thing that has to be remembered, however, is that new technologies should always be developed in order to improve the quality of our lives. If you used that teleportation device it probably wouldn't improve your quality of life because it would probably kill you instantly. The continuity that began when you were conceived in the womb would end and a perfect replica would be created to take its place.

From a utilitarian standpoint, it would be fine. The copy would have all of your memories and it would behave in exactly the same way that you would. It's productivity and efficiency would be perfectly equal to yours and everyone else would see the copy as the real you. Unfortunately that wouldn't change the fact that it would not be you. For you, the experience of teleportation would be one of stepping into a machine and then instantly being killed. After which point you would cease to exist.

You have to be careful with the excessive human/computer analogies because it leads to an understanding of humans as machines. Again; functionally this may be somewhat accurate. You can certainly look at the human body and brain as hardware and look at our memories and thought patterns as software but you then have to go a step further and realize that while you can certainly transfer the contents of your hard-drive to another computer, the computer that you transfered the data to would not be the same as the original. Further, if you destroyed the original computer, it would really and trully be gone. I certainly don't want to live in a world where human life is seen as insignificant; where our minds are seen as data and our bodies only as recepticals; where the average life-span is probably only a few hours.

On a side note; you have to be very careful when you try to separate the human mind from the human body. Our bodies are a very significant part of what we are.

One of the issues with people who choose to approach this topic strictly from a scientific perspective is that they leave the subjective interpretation of the issue out of the discussion. That might make their arguments more logically sound but it also renders them meaningless when put into the context of the world we live in.

We are human beings and as such, the majority of our behaviors and aspirations come from illogical places. Our egoes, sexual urges and insecurities fuel us to a far greater degree than do our logical conclusions. As such, a concept of humanity striving towards nothing but improved productivity, efficiency and longevity sounds a bit divorced from reality TBH. We would be a completely different type of organism. A much simpler organism.

The idea that we are nothing more than highly advanced computers is not one that I think most people will accept and it's certainly not something that will inspire people to get behind it. We don't want to be machines. We don't want to simply preserve our memories and likenesses indefinitely; we actually want to live indefinitely in one continuous experience (hence the pervasive popularity of religions that involve an afterlife). You can call that egotistical but it is really just the obvious desire to improve one's quality of life.

Rindill the Red
31st Jan 2011, 22:24
K^2's theoretical "portal" is really interesting. I've never really encountered the concept of an actual "doorway" to another type of existence from science's side. It's always been the realm of magic. If the device works perfectly (which in today's terms would be extraordinarily difficult), then wouldn't human beings be able to keep their perceived continuity? In this case the information wouldn't be copied, it would simply be "encoded" into a different form.

When you talk about computers... you have hardware and software... and the analogy for humans is software = brain/consciousness, hardware = body. But in terms of physics, all we really are is information and energy, in the form of atoms and molecules and movement and interactions. If all of our information is "encoded" then we are "transformed" but retain our identities and "energy".

This would be totally different than an engineered intelligence that will take over thinking for humans.

We could just walk into a different existence, opening up huge possibilities for our very conception of reality in the future. And while "encoded" in this different reality what new abilities and possibilities could open up for us? Just thinking about what you could do with math has me all giddy.

Rheinhold
31st Jan 2011, 22:37
I'm saying he has been mostly counter-argued with vibes and feelings :p

I can't help but seeing the connection between this and:



One of the issues with people who choose to approach this topic strictly from a scientific perspective is that they leave the subjective interpretation of the issue out of the discussion. That might make their arguments more logically sound but it also renders them meaningless when put into the context of the world we live in.


I think Mr. Demon boy has a point. Vibes and feelings are considered non-scientific, yet they are a very important part of human existence. I am sorry for all the enthusiasts, but it'll have to be considered as well, besides whether teleportation and human brain uploading are scientifically possible or no.



We could just walk into a different existence, opening up huge possibilities for our very conception of reality in the future. And while "encoded" in this different reality what new abilities and possibilities could open up for us? Just thinking about what you could do with math has me all giddy.
And how did you plan on enjoying being inside a chip? Sorry to break it to you, but in your new little reality, you will be deaf, blind, mute, insensitive, and basically running mad within an hour because all there is is a whole lot of stuff you cant perceive. In short: there is nothing. Nothing you can perceive or detect or sense. You do not have 'eyes' or 'ears' for that other reality, so forget about its enjoyment... I dont say you need sensors to pick up electromagnetic rays or shockwaves, there will be a whole other set of things on that other side of the chip, and no ways of perceiving them.

So when they finally let you out of your chip, you'll be good for nothing but the sane asylum... :(

So if it's possible, it doesnt mean it's smart to do... ;)

FrankCSIS
1st Feb 2011, 00:25
I think Mr. Demon boy has a point. Vibes and feelings are considered non-scientific, yet they are a very important part of human existence. I am sorry for all the enthusiasts, but it'll have to be considered as well, besides whether teleportation and human brain uploading are scientifically possible or no.

It's true, in a way, but you must also understand that you, as a human being, are "trapped" within the boundaries of your contemporary context, to which a scientific is not truly subject to, and should not be. Your vibes, my feelings, they are subject to their times. We have, as accute beings, a capacity to observe, anticipate and extrapolate without the necessity of profound knowledge, but we are also very much limited by the time and place we live in. If you remove scientific perspective from the equation, our feelings and observations of the world are not more advanced than they were two or three thousand years ago. They have merely adapted to the new scientific context.

In the same vein, also keep in mind that what you consider off limit today in terms of acceptability will be the norm for anyone born into it. As such, your personal feelings will always be at least partly biased, and certainly limited, to the initial context in which you were raised.

The one true issue is one of adaptability. So far our discoveries have not exceeded our capacity, as a society, to catch up and adapt. Science is not that far out just yet, but its rythm is certainly accelerating. It is entirely possible that an entire generation may end up paying the price of a single discovery, or that a specific knowledge throws us into an unforseen era, where our inexperience may cost us dearly. I would wager though that we would eventually catch up and embrace it, no matter what it is.

demon boy
1st Feb 2011, 00:31
The one true issue is one of adaptability. So far our discoveries have not exceeded our capacity, as a society, to catch up and adapt. Science is not that far out just yet, but its rythm is certainly accelerating. It is entirely possible that an entire generation may end up paying the price of a single discovery, or that a specific knowledge throws us into an unforseen era, where our inexperience may cost us dearly. I would wager though that we would eventually catch up and embrace it, no matter what it is.

Like the internet?

FrankCSIS
1st Feb 2011, 00:36
I'm not prepared to say the internet just yet, because it IS possible to gain from it much more than we lose. You should not mistake the average person's tendency to fall for trends and manipulation to be a sign of an era gone wrong. Every single generation for the past 3 thousand years of well-recorded history has fallen for the silly patterns of their time. It did not stop many human beings from thriving. I view the internet as the same. I'm of that generation, and so far I am far from being a victim of it. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I'm massively in love with the possibilities it brings.

But yes, technically this is an unforseen era we live in, although one which does not steer far from past trends or evolutions. The idea of mass communication has been around at the very least since the Gutenberg bible.

K^2
1st Feb 2011, 01:24
And how did you plan on enjoying being inside a chip? Sorry to break it to you, but in your new little reality, you will be deaf, blind, mute, insensitive, and basically running mad within an hour because all there is is a whole lot of stuff you cant perceive. In short: there is nothing. Nothing you can perceive or detect or sense. You do not have 'eyes' or 'ears' for that other reality, so forget about its enjoyment... I dont say you need sensors to pick up electromagnetic rays or shockwaves, there will be a whole other set of things on that other side of the chip, and no ways of perceiving them.

So when they finally let you out of your chip, you'll be good for nothing but the sane asylum... :(

So if it's possible, it doesnt mean it's smart to do... ;)
Way to miss the point. Again.

This isn't a method for transporting human brain into a simulated environment. It's a way to transport the entire body into a simulated environment. That includes your eyes with the retina, the skin with all the relevant sensory systems, and so on. This also includes a simulated environment which is a lot like physical environment. Not only would you retain all your normal senses, but you'd be using them to interface with and navigate virtual environment the same way you use normal senses. The difference is that being a virtual environment, the rules of the game become rather flexible. Need to traverse great distances instantly? No problem. Need to change the way the time flows? Sure thing. Need to make a backup copy of yourself? Go ahead. Need to have a major surgery done without cutting yourself open? Just find a competent surgeon that can work with the environment. No chance of bleeding out either, since your physical function can be suspended as necessary.

Rindill the Red
1st Feb 2011, 01:27
I'm not prepared to say the internet just yet, because it IS possible to gain from it much more than we lose. You should not mistake the average person's tendency to fall for trends and manipulation to be a sign of an era gone wrong. Every single generation for the past 3 thousand years of well-recorded history has fallen for the silly patterns of their time. It did not stop many human beings from thriving. I view the internet as the same. I'm of that generation, and so far I am far from being a victim of it. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I'm massively in love with the possibilities it brings.

But yes, technically this is an unforseen era we live in, although one which does not steer far from past trends or evolutions. The idea of mass communication has been around at the very least since the Gutenberg bible.

I can't help but recognize how vastly different our smartphone-texting-twitter-instant-soundbite-wikipedia-pandering-social-media intensive culture is from a 1000+ year old book being mass produced.

K^2
1st Feb 2011, 02:11
Just like generation of TV was different from generation of Radio, was different from generation of wired phones, from generation of telegraph, from generation... Mass communication did not just suddenly evolve in the past 3 decades. It's been evolving since the time people started to write on clay tablets. The progress is certainly accelerated, and that does make a lot of difference, but we still have at least 2-3 generations back to make descent comparisons with. Technology of their times was also growing at rates unimaginable to generations before. They managed to deal with it. We'll be fine too.

BigBoss
1st Feb 2011, 06:20
Like the internet?

absolutely not. Look at the ****storm that was created in Cairo/all of Egypt when that shmuck cut the internet. It became virtually impossible to get through the airports,communicate,organize,ect... All of human knowledge in on there, so it is actually quite precious, it's just that the other half is filled with porn.

demon boy
1st Feb 2011, 16:28
I wasn't suggesting that the internet was bad. I was responding to someone's assertion that an entire generation could suffer from a single discovery. That we could unknowingly thrust ourselves into an "unforseen era in which our inexperience costs us dearly".

I think that we are already in a situation like that. There are many positives associated with the internet and ultimately I believe it is a very necessary tool but there are a growing number of unforseen negatives surfacing every year.

Studies have been done on children born into the internet era and there are some disturbing findings. These children are less active than children of past generations and spend far more time indoors. They are also less comfortable in their interpersonal interactions that take place either in person or over the telephone. They display higher amounts of ambivalent traits and some suggest that there is a pervasive diconnection from society.

Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that the average age at which kids are exposed to pornographic material has dropped from 14 to 6! Kids are exposed to a near limitless supply of pornography from a very early age now. Parental controls only get you so far and certainly most kids find ways to circumvent them by the time they reach their teens. Several studies show that excessive viewing of pornography distorts people's minds and perception of reality as well as their sexual expectations. There is growing evidence of vast sexual disfunction among the youngest generations.

Of course sexual disfunction is as old as the human race and if the internet wasn't contributing to it, something else would be. I still think that it's important to note that we do not really understand the ramifications of this technology because the rate of technological advancement is so rapid that we have not yet had the chance to observe an entire generation with access to it.

There are also positives that come from the use of the internet. Young people today are more adaptable than they were in past generations. There is also an inherant distrust of authority and the establishment (I consider this a positive). They are also far more technically savvy than previous generations.

Romeo
1st Feb 2011, 18:36
I'm not offended or anything and I can tell you aren't upset the way i'm speaking to you, so let's cut the cushion parts in the posts out for efficiency.

So you're telling me in a hypothetical, that if one person wanted to do a project that had 5 components, and a clear cut objective and obvious end result that is trying to be achieved, you would be more inclined to give that person money over a person who has a project that has 20 components, a clear cut objective but a subjective end result?
No, my point is this: If I had someone with a definite end point, which couldn't be misinterpreted (I want to cure X), I am going to side with them over something which may or may not be used as intended (I'm going to see what Y does, in the hope it solves X).

An analogy I can best attribute would be that of cars (Surprise!): If I'm going to grant one of my designers money, and one is looking at technologies used to directly increase mileage, and the other is delving in technologies which may increase mileage - I'm going with the former.

K^2
1st Feb 2011, 20:00
Romeo, I think I addressed that point of view in my earlier post. You have to fund both, and private sector will take care of the former, so government spending must be directed towards the Y that may solve X, precisely because instead of X you might get something else.

Romeo
2nd Feb 2011, 03:30
Romeo, I think I addressed that point of view in my earlier post. You have to fund both, and private sector will take care of the former, so government spending must be directed towards the Y that may solve X, precisely because instead of X you might get something else.
Didn't really read anything other than his post. As to your point, I fail to see why. If 'x' gets solved, no more funding is required, you move to the next issue that needs solving, until you run out of issues. If and when that happens, then you can spend money on non-essentials, or subjects that may have been used as non-essentials. But when you start spending money under the vain hope that someone connects the dots and uses non-essential research responsibly, things take longer, and there's a good deal you don't get there in the first place.

TrickyVein
2nd Feb 2011, 03:45
OK, I'm going to weigh in on this here.

It's not appropriate to think that anything actually gets solved when it comes to funding technology and science solutions of the future.

One can make improvements, sure, but there are problems you don't even have the know-how to be able to foresee which require funding and attention now in order to be able to address down the line.

Furthermore, it's somewhat of a myopic interpretation of things. Today's abstract dilemmas are tomorrow's very real and pressing concerns. We know enough now about many facets of today's globalizing infrastructure to be able to identify what will become very real problems in the future (perhaps sooner than what is though): resource management, waste ", ecological and environmental ", etc.

Historical precedent shows us that there is absolutely no way to be able to identify which innovations provide the basis for later innovation or the appropriate kind of environment to foster that innovation in the future. I wish I could come up with some examples of how change has transformed itself throughout history, but refer any and all to the excellent BBC series Connections, presented by James Burke, that deals with this very issue.

Rindill the Red
2nd Feb 2011, 03:47
Didn't really read anything other than his post. As to your point, I fail to see why. If 'x' gets solved, no more funding is required, you move to the next issue that needs solving, until you run out of issues. If and when that happens, then you can spend money on non-essentials, or subjects that may have been used as non-essentials. But when you start spending money under the vain hope that someone connects the dots and uses non-essential research responsibly, things take longer, and there's a good deal you don't get there in the first place.

I'm in K^2's camp. People can't solve certain problems until the "pure" scientific ground-work has been laid.

An analogy is you can't invent the light-bulb until you understand electricity's movement through wires.

You can't invent the MRI until you understand the spins associated with subatomic particles.

The purpose of pure science isn't driven by applications but by curiosity and discovery, and it lays the groundwork for new inventions down the road that have large impacts, many of which are completely unforeseen.

Application-based research and progress has goals, so if you do end up getting somewhere, it's likely going to be where you are trying to get (sans serendipitous discoveries). It, in itself, isn't good for getting where you didn't even know you could go... that's what pure science provides. It takes you "where no man has been before", because you aren't trying to get somewhere, you are just trying to understand the universe.

TrickyVein
2nd Feb 2011, 03:50
For instance, a synopsis lifted from Wikipedia for episode 5, season 1:

"The Wheel of Fortune" traces astrological knowledge in ancient Greek manuscripts from Baghdad’s founder, Caliph Al-Mansur, via the Muslim monastery/medical school at Gundeshapur, to the medieval Church’s need for alarm clocks (the water horologium and the verge and foliot clock). The clock mainspring gave way to the pendulum clock, but the latter could not be used by mariners, thus the need for precision machining by way of Huntsman’s improved steel (1797) and Maudslay’s use (1800) of Ramsden’s idea of using a screw to better measure (which he took from the turner’s trade). This process made a better mainspring and was also used by the Royal Navy to make better blocks. Le Blanc mentioned this same basic idea to Thomas Jefferson who transmitted this "American system of manufactures" -- precision machine-tooling of musket parts for interchangeability -- to New Englanders Eli Whitney, John Hall and Simeon North. The American efficiency expert Frank Gilbreth and his psychologist wife later improved the whole new system of the modern production line."

- which links the modern production line back through time to the need for medieval priests to rise at the correct time for prayer.

TrickyVein
2nd Feb 2011, 04:02
The purpose of pure science isn't driven by applications but by curiosity and discovery, and it lays the groundwork for new inventions down the road that have large impacts, many of which are completely unforeseen.

Correct; however, one need not always understand natural phenomenon in order to make practical use of the universe. The examples you provide of the MRI machine and light-bulb are just some examples of innovations that have come about through scientific understanding, but there are many others (and I'd argue the majority) which have been arrived at purely by accident.

Case in point: radiation. Didn't know what it was exactly or what it did initially, except make pretty pictures of people's bones.

There's a whole class of antiques that deals with various products from the early 20th century that irradiated your food and water for your health, though I've forgotten what they might be called.

It was finally worked out what radiation was, exactly, at which point its application changed, but initially, ignorance wasn't a barrier when it came to application.

Romeo
2nd Feb 2011, 07:47
I'm in K^2's camp. People can't solve certain problems until the "pure" scientific ground-work has been laid.

An analogy is you can't invent the light-bulb until you understand electricity's movement through wires.

You can't invent the MRI until you understand the spins associated with subatomic particles.

The purpose of pure science isn't driven by applications but by curiosity and discovery, and it lays the groundwork for new inventions down the road that have large impacts, many of which are completely unforeseen.

Application-based research and progress has goals, so if you do end up getting somewhere, it's likely going to be where you are trying to get (sans serendipitous discoveries). It, in itself, isn't good for getting where you didn't even know you could go... that's what pure science provides. It takes you "where no man has been before", because you aren't trying to get somewhere, you are just trying to understand the universe.
And you can't invent the nuclear bomb until you understand the strong nuclear force stored within an atom.

I'm not saying we don't ever need to study things beyond the necessary, but if it ever comes down to a financial decision of where to allocate funds, logically speaking, it makes sense to give the grant to the team who's goals are definite and direct. If I'm trying to design a car that gets 50MPG, I'm not going to give my money to a designer who says he's building a sports car, even if he manages to stumble on to that figure. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_CR-X) I'm going to go with the individual who's objective is clearly what I'm asking for. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Insight)

K^2
2nd Feb 2011, 16:38
No. logically, it does not make sense. Funding within private companies is already allocated that way. Market demand WILL take care of necessary. You have to take care of fundamental science by government grants, or it all falls apart.

When you run out of issues, you will not be able to start spending on "non-essential". You'll be over a century behind with no specialists who can actually take care of these things. We are in a bad enough situation already. If they started doing what you are suggesting, we'll be completely and totally screwed down the line.

BigBoss
3rd Feb 2011, 00:55
I think the two strains of thought are "invest in the essentials first" and "everything will eventually become essential at some point" I'm on the second one.