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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

via Video – How you can change the past – New Scientist.

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The system was still able to identify which animal had been named, despite being trained with patterns generated for English words. For example, the word “horse” and its Dutch equivalent “paard” gave rise to the same brain pattern, suggesting that the activity represented the word’s meaning – the concept of a horse. 

However, the brain patterns that Correia identified were unique to each person. Brains are like faces – the eyes, nose and mouth are all in the same place, but the details can be different, says Davis. “The meanings might be stored in the same area, but the actual neurons would be idiosyncratic.” To read someone’s mind, a machine would first need to learn that individual’s unique representation of each word. “You would have to scan a person as they thought their way through a dictionary,” says Davis.

via Mind-reading scan locates site of meaning in the brain – health – 16 November 2012 – New Scientist.

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UCLA researchers have�discovered that�the activity of a brain region known to be involved in learning, memory and Alzheimer’s disease behaves as if it’s remembering something during sleep, even under anesthesia — a finding that counters conventional theories about memory consolidation during sleep.

His team found that the entorhinal cortex showed what is called persistent activity, which is thought to mediate working memory during waking life — for example, when people pay close attention to remember things temporarily, such as recalling a phone number or following directions.

“The big surprise here is that this kind of persistent activity is happening during sleep, pretty much all the time.” Mehta said. “These results are entirely novel and surprising. In fact, this working memory-like persistent activity occurred in the entorhinal cortex even under anesthesia.”

The findings are important, Mehta said, because humans spend one-third of their lives sleeping and a lack of sleep results in adverse effects on health, including learning and memory problems.

via The sleeping brain behaves as if it’s remembering something | KurzweilAI.

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Why?

What if the universe simply doesn’t need reasons? What if reason is relevant only in our human realm? A plant doesn’t need a reason to blossom. It just does it. Lightning strikes and meteors crash without a reason. The question “why?” only arises in the human mind.

We evolved to discover simple cause and effect. We know ginger roots settle the stomach and a black widow spider can kill you. Our species has thrived by understanding what might be beneficial and what might be harmful. However, when it comes to questions about the purpose of our existence, our brains fail us.

via Being Human A-Z | Being Human.

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Perhaps our brains are not equipped to get the Big Picture. Maybe they evolved to deal with only a narrow spectrum of reality, focused on day to day reality just enough to keep us going. Maybe at this point our brains are not capable of comprehending the incomprehensible.

Perhaps the question of our origin and of ultimate reality doesn’t need to be answered to find wellbeing. What if freedom lies instead in the capacity to live with not knowing? What would it feel like to be utterly at home, in the midst of the mystery?

 

via Being Human A-Z | Being Human.

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Physicists Are Building Their Own Version of the Matrix’s “Red Pill”

According to Silas Beane and his team at the University of Bonn in Germany, a simulation of the universe should still have constraints, no matter how powerful. These limitations, they argue, would be observed by the people within the simulation as a kind of constraint on physical processes.

So, how could we ever hope to identify these constraints? Easy: We just need build our own simulation of the universe and find out. And in fact, this is fairly close to what the physicists are actually trying to do. To that end, they’ve created an ultra-small version of the universe that’s down to the femto-scale.

via Physicists say there may be a way to prove that we live in a computer simulation.

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To state that the human brain has capabilities that are, in some respects, far superior to those of all other known objects in the cosmos would be uncontroversial. The brain is the only kind of object capable of understanding that the cosmos is even there, or why there are infinitely many prime numbers, or that apples fall because of the curvature of space-time, or that obeying its own inborn instincts can be morally wrong, or that it itself exists. Nor are its unique abilities confined to such cerebral matters. The cold, physical fact is that it is the only kind of object that can propel itself into space and back without harm, or predict and prevent a meteor strike on itself, or cool objects to a billionth of a degree above absolute zero, or detect others of its kind across galactic distances.

But no brain on Earth is yet close to knowing what brains do in order to achieve any of that functionality. The enterprise of achieving it artificially – the field of “artificial general intelligence” or AGI – has made no progress whatever during the entire six decades of its existence.

Despite this long record of failure, AGI must be possible. That is because of a deep property of the laws of physics, namely the universality of computation. It entails that everything that the laws of physics require physical objects to do can, in principle, be emulated in arbitrarily fine detail by some program on a general-purpose computer, provided it is given enough time and memory.

So why has the field not progressed? In my view it is because, as an unknown sage once remarked, “it ain’t what we don’t know that causes trouble, it’s what we know that just ain’t so.” I cannot think of any other significant field of knowledge where the prevailing wisdom, not only in society at large but among experts, is so beset with entrenched, overlapping, fundamental errors. Yet it has also been one of the most self-confident fields in prophesying that it will soon achieve the ultimate breakthrough.

via Philosophy will be the key that unlocks artificial intelligence | David Deutsch | Science | guardian.co.uk.

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