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The science itself

Heated debate over a high-profile project of the European Commission to simulate the entire brain on a supercomputer – a long needed “paradigm-shift” in neuroscience, or an over-hyped, over-funded boondoggle destined to fail, at the expense of other smaller, cheaper, less sexy researches?

Researchers say European commission-funded initiative to simulate human brain suffers from ‘substantial failures’

From The Guardian 

Many researchers refused to join on the grounds that it was too premature to attempt a simulation of the entire human brain. Photograph: Sebastian Kaulitzki /Alamy

Many researchers refused to join on the grounds that it was too premature to attempt a simulation of the entire human brain. Photograph: Sebastian Kaulitzki /Alamy

The world’s largest project to unravel the mysteries of the human brain has been thrown into crisis with more than 100 leading researchers threatening to boycott the effort amid accusations of mismanagement and fears that it is doomed to failure.

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By Dr Llewellyn Cox, Principal, LieuLabs

On an otherwise unremarkable Saturday in June 2014, a group of computer scientists, public figures, and celebrities gathered at London’s Royal Society. They were all there for one reason — to engage in a text-based chat game to determine if a computer could pass the “iconic” Turing test.

A few hours later, the results were in. Professor Warwick of Reading University announced that a chatbot had successfully tricked 33% of the judges into thinking it was a real boy, and had therefore become the first computer to have passed the Turing test:

It is fitting that such an important landmark has been reached at the Royal Society in London, the home of British science and the scene of many great advances in human understanding over the centuries. This milestone will go down in history as one of the most exciting. — Prof. Kevin Warwick

 

HER

Within hours, breathless tweets, likes and pins swept across the internet, announcing this amazing result to the world, or at least across the subculture that apparently really f***ing loves science, but doesn’t seem to have much time or inclination toward actual critical analysis. A day or so later came the rebuttals and debunkings from the more inquisitive corners of the online universe. So what really happened, and what does a machine passing a Turing test mean for society?

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Republished from BBC News | Health

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Learning a second language could improve reading and intelligence skills

Learning a second language can have a positive effect on the brain, even if it is taken up in adulthood, a University of Edinburgh study suggests.

Researchers found that reading, verbal fluency and intelligence were improved in a study of 262 people tested either aged 11 or in their seventies.

A previous study suggested that being bilingual could delay the onset of dementia by several years. The study is published in Annals of Neurology.

The big question in this study was whether learning a new language improved cognitive functions or whether individuals with better cognitive abilities were more likely to become bilingual. Dr Thomas Bak, from the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said he believed he had found the answer.

Using data from intelligence tests on 262 Edinburgh-born individuals at the age of 11, the study looked at how their cognitive abilities had changed when they were tested again in their seventies. Read More

By Dr Llewellyn Cox, Principal, LieuLabs

prima sextilibri
ASK a person to describe themself, and they will probably recite a list of their physical features — their height, weight, the color of their skin, hair, and eyes. If they’re more a more externalized type, they might mention their job, sexuality, religion, or a major life achievement. Some might feel a desire to be precise and catalog their external features: their eyes, face, arms, hands, legs, feet, fingers, and toes for you.

Few will ever mention their brain.
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By Dr Llewellyn Cox, Principal, LieuLabs

Why Your Mind Will Never Be Uploadable.

The rise of computing and the exponential rate of increase in processing speed pose an intriguing questions for scientists; what happens when computers become smarter than their human masters — the so-called “Technological Singularity”. Will machines take over? Would they turn on humans and destroy us? Will we increasingly integrate computing modules into our bodies to cure disease or enhance our natural abilities? What effect does all of this technology have on issues of equality and power among the various members of the human race?

One of the popular philosophies attached to this futurist realm is the idea of transcendence (now a major motion picture!). That is, the concept that a person’s mind could be digitally uploaded to a computer, thus “transcending” the limitations of the biological body to acquire immortality. It’s a relatively widespread idea that has been written about extensively in popular science literature, even making a cameo in an episode of “The Big Bang Theory”. It is also a major theme for followers of Transhumanist philosophy. As the world focuses more and more on the implications of our technological development, transcendence is becoming one of those concepts in popular science that are so widely-known that they become accepted as inevitable, regardless of the state of current scientific knowledge regarding their actual feasibility. Fortunately, no one reading this in the early 21st Century will achieve immortality by uploading their mind to Amazon. Read More

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

Musings on Memory and Aging

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

Stanford Center on Longevity

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

where neural understanding interacts with the rest of life

The Beautiful Brain

a website about neuroscience and art that peaked in 2009 but is still going