This is what we should live for, Danlo: the heightening of our sensibilities, the rarefying of our desire, the deepening of our purpose, the vastening of our selves. The power to overcome ourselves. To be more. Or rather, to become more. Who hasn't dreamed of such becoming? - David Zindell: "The Broken God".

Kinds of Minds

Zo heet hoofdstuk 15 van J. Storrs Hall's boek "Beyond AI". Over dit boek schreef ik al eens kort op een ander weblog, naar aaanleiding van een ander onderwerp (NeuroHacking). Het boek is, na Michio Kaku's "Visions", het meest "transhumanistische" boek dat ik gelezen heb.

Storrs Hall gebruikt voor de traditionele indeling Human - Transhuman - Posthuman - Singularity een iets andere terminologie, waarbij het voornaamste onderscheid is dat er volgens hem bij posthumans en zeker bij transhumans mog een zekere continuïteit is met de mens, maar deze indeling geeft ook ruimte, zoals de titel van het boek natuurlijk al aangeeft, voor kunstmatige intelligenties.

De posthuman is te vergelijken met de epihuman van Storrs Hall, maar, in Storrs Hall's eigen woorden:

The word posthuman is often used to describe what humans may be like after various technological enhancements. Like transhuman, posthuman is generally used formodified humans instead of synthetic AIs.
My model for what an epihuman AI would be like is to take the ten smartest people you know, remove their egos, and duplicate them a hundred times, so that you have a thousand really bright people willing to apply themselves all to the same project.
(...) It could, for example:
    Read an average book in one second with full comprehension
    Take a college course and do all the homework and research in ten minutes.
    Write a book, again with ample research, in two or three hours.
    Produce the equivalent of a human's lifetime intellectual output, complete with all the learning, growth and experience involved, in a couple of weeks.

Klinkt goed.
Hyperhuman Intelligence staat dan min of meer op het niveau van de Singulariteit. Vernor Vinge gebruikt in zijn belangrijke artikel "The Coming Technological Singularity" het woord Superhuman Intelligence; Nick Bostrom gebruikt Superintelligence. Arthur C. Clarke in zijn drie wetten stelt dat de singulariteit voor ons waarschijnlijk gelijk staat aan magie.
Storrs Hall:

Any individual hyperhuman AI would be productive, intellectually or industrially, on the scale of the human race as a whole.(...) The really interesting question then will be, what will it want?

Craig Venter maakt synthetische bacterie

De Volkskrant schreef er afgelopen zaterdag over: zeven jaar na zijn eerste aankondiging heeft Craig Venter "kunstmatig leven" gemaakt. Op deze website schreef ik er zo'n drie jaar geleden ook al over. Blijkens een artikel in Science is nu een bacterie ontwikkeld op basis van kunstmatig dna.

‘Dit is de eerste synthetische cel ooit’, claimt Venter in een persbericht. ‘En we noemen hem synthetisch omdat hij geheel is afgeleid van een synthetisch chromosoom dat we hebben gemaakt met behulp van computerdata, vier flessen chemicaliën en een dna-synthetizer.’

Er is uiteraard heel wat publiciteit geweest, vandaar dat ik hier volsta met wat links:
1. Het artikel uit de Volkskrant.
2. First Self-Replicating, Synthetic Bacterial Cell Constructed by J. Craig Venter Institute Researchers.

As in the team’s 2008 publication in which they described the successful synthesis of the M. genitalium genome, they designed and inserted into the genome what they called watermarks. These are specifically designed segments of DNA that use the “alphabet” of genes and proteins that enable the researcher to spell out words and phrases. The watermarks are an essential means to prove that the genome is synthetic and not native, and to identify the laboratory of origin. Encoded in the watermarks is a new DNA code for writing words, sentences and numbers. In addition to the new code there is a web address to send emails to if you can successfully decode the new code, the names of 46 authors and other key contributors and three quotations: "TO LIVE, TO ERR, TO FALL, TO TRIUMPH, TO RECREATE LIFE OUT OF LIFE." - JAMES JOYCE; "SEE THINGS NOT AS THEY ARE, BUT AS THEY MIGHT BE.”-A quote from the book, “American Prometheus”; "WHAT I CANNOT BUILD, I CANNOT UNDERSTAND." - RICHARD FEYNMAN.

3. Venter Creates First Synthetic Self-Replicating Bacteria from Scratch. Singularity Hub.

Craig Venter wants to program life the way we program computers, and today he announced a momentous win: the first synthetic self-replicating bacterium. The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) used the four types of chemicals that make up DNA, and complex assembly methods utilizing yeast cells, to ’program’ the 1.08 million base pairs that make up the genome for the bacteria cell. As described in the journal Science, the result was a synthetic copy of the Mycoplasma mycoides, dubbed M. mycoides JCVI-syn1.0, that can grow and divide like normal. The little “1.0″ highlights the vast potential of Venter’s project, as JCVI will be able to update and improve their synthetic organism base pair by base pair, gene by gene. Computers can now program sustainable synthetic life – welcome to the future.

4. Foto's en artikelen van het J.Craig Venter Institute.
5. Craig Venter unveils "synthetic life" op TED.

6. Het complete artikel van Science.

Freitas awarded first mechanosynthesis patent

Via Foresight:

The winner of the 2009 Foresight Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology (Theory), Robert A. Freitas Jr., has now been granted the first diamond mechanosynthesis patent. This is not just the first DMS patent but also, I believe, the first mechanosynthesis patent that has ever been issued. Freitas is the sole inventor on this patent, which was assigned to Zyvex because the work was done while he was a contractor for the company.

Echt duizelingwekkend interessant is het patent zelf, na de "legal stuff" (boring) een verhaal om je tanden in te zetten.

Robert Freitas is wat mij betreft nog het meest bekend door zijn serie "Nanomedicine", een project waaraan hij al jaren bezig is, maar waarvan tot nu toe pas twee kloeke delen zijn verschenen.

Volume I was published by Landes Bioscience in October 1999. Volume IIA was published by Landes Bioscience in October 2003. Volume IIB and Volume III will be published in future years.

Die delen kun je kopen, maar je kunt ze ook helemaal gratis online lezen; klik hier voor deel I en hier voor deel IIa. Ook zijn boek "Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines (Landes Bioscience, 2004)" is geheel gratis online te lezen.

Nanotechnology's road to artificial brains

Via NanoWerk:

(Nanowerk Spotlight) If you think that building an artificial human brain is science fiction, you are probably right – for now. But don't think for a moment that researchers are not working hard on laying the foundations for what is called neuromorphic engineering – a new interdisciplinary discipline that includes nanotechnologies and whose goal is to design artificial neural systems with physical architectures similar to biological nervous systems.
One of the key components of any neuromorphic effort is the design of artificial synapses. The human brain contains vastly more synapses than neurons – by a factor of about 10,000 – and therefore it is necessary to develop a nanoscale, low power, synapse-like device if scientists want to scale neuromorphic circuits towards the human brain level.

Toch wel erg interessant onderzoek om de werking van de hersenen te imiteren in toekomstige computersytemen. De belangrijke functies van een synapse kunnen worden overgenomen door een hybride transistor gebaseerd op nano-schaal.

Bron: Scientists use nanotechnology to try building computers modeled after the brain.

Maar nu blijkt dat ook de zgn "memristor" de werking van biologische synapsen kan emuleren.

A memristor is a two-terminal electronic device whose conductance can be precisely modulated by charge or flux through it. Here we experimentally demonstrate a nanoscale silicon-based memristor device and show that a hybrid system composed of complementary metal−oxide semiconductor neurons and memristor synapses can support important synaptic functions such as spike timing dependent plasticity. Using memristors as synapses in neuromorphic circuits can potentially offer both high connectivity and high density required for efficient computing.)

Bron: Nanoscale Memristor Device as Synapse in Neuromorphic System.

These findings show that it is now possible to build a brain-like computer using electronic components, namely, transistors and memristors. The key is to realize the similarity between synapses and memristors.

Personal Cyberconsciousness

Terasem Movement, Inc. is a 501c3 not-for-profit charity endowed for the purpose of educating the public on the practicality and necessity of greatly extending human life, consistent with diversity and unity, via geoethical nanotechnology and personal cyberconsciousness, concentrating in particular on facilitating revivals from biostasis. The Movement focuses on preserving, evoking, reviving and downloading human consciousness.

Een interessant project van Terasem ("Lives are Good"), beetje vergelijkbaar met het Virsona-project, waarover ik eerder schreef, is het CyBeRev-project, dat momenteel nog in beta-fase is. En dat zal het wellicht wel een tijdje blijven, want de software om een persoon op grond van zijn "Bemes" (=Units of personal information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another or by uploading to the CyBeRev database.) als een CyberPerson te doen herleven is nog lang niet voorhanden.

Goed, ik heb natuurlijk een account aangemaakt, net als bij Virsona, maar heb nu besloten er ook iets mee te doen.:-) Dus ben ik een klein beetje begonnen met het invullen van de Bainbridge personality modules. Als eerste leek mij de year 2100 module, die mij laat voorspellen hoe de wereld er tegen die tijd uit zal zien wel aardig.

In so doing, it measures and records your values, beliefs, hopes, and goals.

Deze vragen lijken een beetje op de vragen die FM2030 opstelde in zijn boek "Are You a Transhuman?" uit 1989. Tot nu toe vind ik de vragen niet zo vooruitstrevend als je anno 2010 zou verwachten: bijvoorbeeld

Entertainment will become compartmentalized, as people tailor their entertainment packages to their own desires using Internet and rental of multimedia recordings.

Dat gaat eigenlijk uit van de media die we vandaag de dag gebruiken, zoals CD's, DVD's en boeken,evt E-boeken, maar het lijkt me onwaarschijnlijk dat er dan nog fysiek tastbare media zullen zijn. Ik denk dat kunst/entertainment vooral interactief zal zijn, waarbij ingrijpen in media de gewoonste zaak van de wereld wordt - bijvoorbeeld virtueel een rol overnemen in een film, waardoor je bijvoorbeeld de rol van Leonardo di Caprio in de Titanic kunt spelen - gesteld dat je dat zou willen natuurlijk - en de film bovendien heel anders kunt laten aflopen. Hetzelfde geldt volgens mij voor muziek; wat op dit moment door DJ's gedaan wordt - bestaande muziek mixen tot een nieuwe compositie - zal straks wellicht een heel normale manier zijn van met muziek omgaan: het publiek wordt daarmee deelnemer en zelfs schepper.

Aan de ene kant denk ik dus dat we steeds meer in een collectief zullen opgaan, maar tegelijkertijd kun je je hele leven ingrijpend personaliseren.

A Cyborg Space Race

Summary: Who should explore space: robots or humans? Our ability to travel beyond Earth is hampered by the harsh conditions of space, but rather than let robots have all the fun, could cyborg technology allow humans to make greater strides into the final frontier?

Cyborgs – human beings merged with machines -- are a staple of science fiction. Star Wars’s Darth Vader, Star Trek’s Borg, and the Cybermen of Dr. Who are variations on this theme – and it’s no coincidence they’re all “bad guys.” Cyborgs symbolize one of our greatest fears: that over time, we will become so enmeshed in our technology that we lose our humanity.

The real-life application of cyborg science is far from horrifying. Medical technology has developed implantable heart pacemakers, insulin pumps, hearing aids, and even computer chips for the brain to treat depression and Parkinson’s disease. In that sense, we are already on the path to becoming cyborgs.

Transhumanists believe that the development of such technology will lead one day to “Human version 2.0” – an upgrade of the human body that not only eliminates many of the problems that plague us, but improves upon the basic human design. For instance, some transhumanists envision a day when the human brain will be re-wired with computer chips, allowing us to think, learn and communicate with unprecedented speed and accuracy.

Lees verder

Anders Sandberg in Teleplace

Anders Sandberg on Neuroselves and exoselves: distributed cognition inside and outside brains, Teleplace, April 18

Anders Sandberg will give an online talk in Teleplace on Sunday, April 18:

Date and time: Sunday April 18 at 6pm continental EU (5pm UK, 9am PST, noon EST)

Title: Neuroselves and exoselves: distributed cognition inside and outside brains

Abstract: In the past the human mind was seen as atomic and clearly distinguished from the body and environment. As cognitive science has advanced this view has become increasingly untenable. The emerging view is instead that our minds are composed of networks of simpler parts. As we understand our brains better new possibilities for enhancing cognition biologically open up, but also intriguing possibilities to offload or copy our mental processes into external systems such as software. This talk will discuss the possibilities for distributed cognition inside our brains and computers and across society.

Lees verder

British scientists discover 'secret to ageing'

Interessant onderzoek - wellicht iets te hoopvol, ik geloof het pas als ik het zie.

The international team of researchers based Newcastle University have reportedly unlocked the secret as to how and why living cells grow old by discovering the biochemical pathway involved in ageing.
The study, together with German experts from the University of Ulm, could lead to a “much better chance of making a successful attack on age-related diseases”.

The results, published by the journal Molecular Systems Biology, also showed that when an ageing cell detects serious DNA damage that could be caused by general wear from life it sent out internal signals to the brain.
These distress signals trigger the cell’s “mitochondria”, or its tiny energy-producing power packs, to make “free radical” molecules.
This in turn informs the cell to either to destroy itself or stop dividing which is aimed at avoiding damaged DNA that can cause cancer.
It also reportedly plays down the role of telomeres, which are the protective tips on the ends of human chromosomes, which gradually become shorter as humans age.

Ook interessant is dat de rol van telomeren in het verouderingsproces hier wat minder belangrijk wordt geacht.

“There has been a huge amount of speculation about how blocking telomere erosion might cure ageing and age-related diseases,” Prof Kirkwood said. “The telomere story has over-promised and the biology is more complicated.

Lees het hele artikel.

Nano technology tackles heart disease

Via BBC:

A molecule designed to find, latch onto, then treat hardened arteries could offer a new way to tackle heart disease, say its inventors.

Nanoburrs, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), target only damaged cells in blood vessel walls.

Once attached, they can release drugs in precisely the right place.

But the British Heart Foundation warned the technology was some years from being used in patients.

The hardening of the arteries which supply the heart, or atherosclerosis, can eventually lead to blockages which can cause heart attacks.

The study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal says specialists normally use tiny balloons to force open the vessels, then place a tube called a stent inside to keep it open.

Often the process triggers a rapid re-growth of tissue around the stent which can lead to the artery blocking again, and a recent advance has been a stent which releases drugs for a number of days after insertion to keep this process under control.

The MIT approach offers another way to get these drugs to exactly the right place.

Its nanoburrs are coated with proteins which can only stick to a structure in the blood vessel wall called the "basement membrane".

This is only exposed when the wall is damaged, so only damaged sections of blood vessel are targeted.

Once in place, a reaction takes place to release the drug over a prolonged period - up to 12 days so far.

lees meer..

Fake blood cells so agile they can carry drugs

Via NewScientist:

You can't get blood from a stone, but it seems you can make imitation red blood cells from polymers.
Just like real blood cells the pretenders can squeeze through spaces much smaller than their own diameter and absorb and release substances to order, including oxygen.
They could be used to disperse drugs, or the contrast agents used in medical imaging, throughout the body with fewer side effects than direct injection.
The fake cells could also be given to people who have lost blood instead of a blood transfusion.

Lees meer..

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