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loop johnny

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Is it possible to upload/download your conscience/memories to/from a computer?

Ed Boyden's talk opens up a lot of possibilities regarding human-computer interfaces with his binary approach. The implications in curing mental illnesses is just a sight of the surface, in my opinion. If we can create an input into the brain, through light signals and their respective light-sensitive proteins, I think it is a matter of time before we can develop very accurate output and recording devices for all these signals.

We can already see the brains outputs and its activity through MRI scanners but, I think, delivering DNA that contains the blueprint for a light emitting protein to the respective neurons ( note that the respective protein might use different frequencies of light for different types of neurons; for better accuracy ) I think we can achieve higher levels of accuracy - I think it is possible to pinpoint an individual neuron firing at a given time. This is just an idea.

Once we can implement both input and output methods I think we can develop algorithms that can decode the information from the brain and store it on the computer. Through such an interface we could access the Internet with our minds, giving a new dimension to our thought.

I wonder, if in the future we could be living inside machines because I really think that what we really are is not limited to our body, but to our genome and, especially, our connectome. I think, for this feat to be achieved, we must fully understand how the brain works so that we can simulate it on a computer and, more importantly, we have to understand how a complex logical and mechanical system like our brain can give rise to consciousness.

I would like to see your guys and gals view on this matter.

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    May 26 2011: As far as I know, it is not impossible...

    though we do need a lot more understanding of the brain, and quite powerful computers and technology to be able to achieve this...

    I revel at the thought to be connected to the collective (Like the Borg in Star-trek, but more peaceful)... All the knowledge, all the experiences (& the speed of it!), all the new feelings, sensors, perceptions, dreams, understanding,...

    It might mean the end of homo sapiens...

    So what should be the next steps of research be?
    - neuronal network experiments (in vitro, in vivo and artificial)
    - use the 'neuronal light switch' in many experiments, attached to different parts of the brain
    - improve scanning technology
    - establish a working AI model and run more simulations
    - figure out stronger learning algorithms
    - find switches for singular neurons.
    - develop read-write neuron-connectors
    - attach read-write neuron-connection fibers to the hypothalamic entry and exit axons.
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    May 20 2011: The argument that we should not develop technologies because they might hurt us is bad due to the fact that you couldn't find a person on the planet who doesn't use a technology that has the potential of hurting us. If not developing a technology for risk prevention is logical than we should never have harnessed fire.
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    May 17 2011: I was utterly blown away by the ideas that suddenly went from science fiction to real possibilites in Ed Boydon's talk. I love the way it has sparked question like yours too. The future will certainly be interesting. It will have to be one heck of a computer to hold all the data but then many brain sytems will not have to be represented. For example, there would be no need for balance (as we need in the body) or for hunger and digestive processes. Can you imagine catching the digital reading for love, for the ah- ha moment or for a startle reaction?!
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      May 17 2011: Hunger and digestive processes will still exist in a form of metabolism but, possibly, an electricity based metabolism.

      Also, catching emotions will be the same as catching any kind of thought for that matter. Emotions don't seem to make sense to a rational mind because they have been hard-wired into us through natural selection. For example, the emotion of fear has been very useful when humans were living in the forest, thus those who had a sense of fear were more likely to survive.
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        May 17 2011: Actually Loop Johnny, the study and role of emotions will be among the most crucial and enlightening aspects of this work. Many dismiss emotions as primative but they are fundamental and intregal to the higher thought processes, informing and directing them. You are right that fear can be a very valuable tool. It makes sense for us to be fearful of somethings and it can not only pertetuate survival but it might also have other purposes like signaling when we just do not understand something so much that we err on the side of self protection.
        I am surprised that you believe that hunger and digestion would still be part of the mix. That is a facinating idea.
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          May 17 2011: Hunger and digestion play the role of metabolism. ( "metabolism" - The chemical processes that occur within a living organism in order to maintain life ). I think, if we would reach the stage of a different life form, probably engineered by ourselves, we would have something similar that will play that role ( like the electricity we get for batteries, for example ).

          Batteries eating life forms - Om Nom Nom!

          Also, we have evolved to have emotions because they were useful in a natural environment but in a society so complex as ours they can do more harm then good since they are not rational mechanisms. They are just basic instincts that helped use survive in the past. Not so helpful right now when we are changing so rapidly.
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          May 18 2011: @ loop johnny..I'm not sure whta alternatives to computers might be.."Well I am assuming that when the human brain interacts with information of any kind it emits recapturable signal beyond the brain.. energy.(notjust te lectrical signal we can measure and know how to interface with).it is sent out.beyond us..survives beyond us just like a radio wave or television transmission...its actual energy and its out there somehwere and recapturable..I was thinking more along the lines that the neuron technology might enance our brains abaility to directly download this information from "the field" to which all humans for all time have contributed"..that we could hone in on specific frequencies..the frequencies of spefici people.and then through our brain transfer that informationonto stirage devisces which might be other thna computers as well..some say water and stones are information storage devices,for example.Not advocating as gospel but see for example Lynne NcTaggerts work, Living in the Field and the intention Experinent..also the mind matter interfaces andmind to mind aspects of QiGong
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          May 20 2011: @lindsay
          I see you are using a sort of "Field Theory" - an abstract place where our minds live in. That is a concept very largely used with religions and I do not think this is the case. It is true that our brains activity produces different electro-magnetic waves of various frequencies as a result of our electrical activity, but those waves are interfered with the real world and could not be decoded back into thoughts again because they have been "corrupted" by other interferences and because they are too weak.
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          May 20 2011: loop johnny @ field theory yes something like that..of course you understand your rather definitive reply is as far into the realm of conjecture as my "field theory"..at least I have a physicist or two on my side...along with, as you corrcetly note..many estoricists. As it was not what you intended to explore here anyway, I ma happy to discontnue that. You've been a very good host about it. Thank you. Great fun!!!
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        May 17 2011: that was my assumption too Johnny ( or do we call you loop) that the recirding device would not be what we know now as computers. but perhaps accessible through them ( which alreday exists in primitive form with the the quadrapalegics who control computers with their brains alone)
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          May 17 2011: Yes, you can call me loop.

          I am not sure what the alternative to the computers may be but I am open to new ideas. The future is always uncertain.

          Maybe DNA based computers?...
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        May 17 2011: I try to keep up with the neuroscience literature and I came across this today. I thought of you Loop Johnny and thought it might spark your imagination:

        http://neurosciencenews.com/blood-simple-circuitry-cyborgs-memristors/
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    May 19 2011: Loop : You brought up the question of the meaning of consiousness. I'd like to take a crack at it and ask others to critique this definition. Please point out anything you think is missing or superfluous.

    Consciousness is an emergent property resulting from lifeforms' development of mental processes which originally evolved to enhance survivability.

    Broadly speaking, it is awareness. Both of the immediate environment as well as past memories, associations and speculations. Closely related with conscioussnes is subconsciosness which is the mental processing which occurs without awareness, but which may effect conscious thought or even become conscious under the proper conditions.

    Consciousness has associated with it a mood as well as the experience of pleasure and pain. These sensations are what motivate the focus of consciousness.

    In higher forms it involves the awareness of self as well as the outside world and questions the significance of all.
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      May 19 2011: Hi Tim..thanks for this..I also took a crack at it below byway of apology for bringing this confusion to Loop Johnny's talk. He wsspeaking of conscience/mind..I immediately leapt past that to consider the possibility of this technology for recording consciousness. He is a wonderful modertaor and appatently doesn't consider this diversion off topiv. In that event..and given your distinction of consciousness from mind..what woud you say inutivelt about it being downloadbale? ( this is all speculation of course but how does it fit with your sensibility on things?)
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        May 19 2011: Yes Lindsay. Your comment stimulated my thoughts on this and I thought it would be worthwhile to make it a separate thread.

        Any elements you would add or subtract from this description of consciousness?
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          May 19 2011: Tim, thanks for trying to clarify what consciousness is and how it might be different from what Loop Johnny had in mind when he used the terms "conscience/mind" I am sure this will sound very strange and incomprehensible to you but I resist the urge in all things, even things that I am deeply engage in like "consciousness" to describe it definitively,calssify it give it a taxonomy. I am more involved with its workings , phenomenologically in my own life, my own direct expereience than with its description or an explanation of how it works. ..not a cop out..that's a core part of my practice. For purposes of this discussion though I felt some attempt to distinguish/clarify was sort of owed to Loop Johnny and I appreciate your enaggement in that.I wuld only say my expereience of cosciousness is not within..it is very much relational,,very much other directed. May I ask, is the distinction meaningful to you, personally..the distinction between cosncience and consciousness? And if so does that distinction affect your inuitive sense of whether both are downloadable?
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      May 20 2011: I enjoyed your definition of consciousness.

      I would like to point out that the significance that consciousness generates is different for each mind. You and I can have the same concept in our mind ( let's say the sun ) and we might hold different significance to it( like I may be a sun worshiper and you might be an astrophysicist).

      Also, in my mind, consciousness is an abstract and very useful tool we have evolved with. Without it we would, by definition, not think or be self aware. Plants are life forms but they do not posses a consciousness as advanced to the one generated by the human brain.

      The real, concrete, tool is the brain and that brain generates the effect that we all benefit from - the mind.
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    May 18 2011: Transhumanism, ah awesome to see this being discussed more and more.

    A.I. and neuroscience is still new to me, but I like what you got to say loop, these are awesome ideas to consider.

    By understanding/considering these possibilities now will better prepare our usages of it. Science fiction to me is just future reality, people need to consider what could happen in order to prepare for what will happen.

    Technology advances of today:
    http://www.utexas.edu/news/2011/05/05/schizophrenia_discern/
    http://www.fastcompany.com/1650212/hydra-fuel-cell-hydrogen-solar-power-clean-water-drinking-thirst-famine
    http://www.fastcompany.com/1734252/intrapace-abiliti-stomach-pacemaker-to-help-the-obese-stop-overeating
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/04/01/hondas-mind-controlled-robot-could-be-your-avatar-in-the-real-world/comment-page-1/
    http://www.magenn.com/
    http://www.biopowersystems.com/

    We are in the age where all science fiction can become a reality, we just now need people to think in these terms and understand the universal benefits. The biggest being all primary needs being met.

    Truly though, I would only want to be uploaded if my body was no longer healthy and would want to be downloaded into another body. No amount of imagination can compare to what really exist in the universe!
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      May 18 2011: Not all science fiction can become reality. There are a lot of things in science fiction that are plain wrong ( like sounds in space, etc. ).

      I agree with your last paragraph. I would also agree to upload or upgrade myself only if my body was no longer healthy OR if the 'bionic' body is way better than the current body I have.

      ====================================
      Also, question for all of you guys. How do you think we would reproduce in the future IF we would continue to live as cyborgs?
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        May 19 2011: Of course that is why it is fiction. However you go to a star trek convention these guys will be happy to tell you how accurate the writers for the show got ideas of space exploration involving vehicles. I mean science fiction as being of value as in just thinking towards the future. We do not have a lot of that today with Academic Education. Yes, college future, but no, not global, communal and long term personal future.

        We are technically cyborgs right now loop, by me using this computer to talk to you over the internet is making technology an extension of me. The technology is being used under my consciousness it is being used by my will. Sounds cyborg right? Now if you are considering actual metal and flesh cyborgs like Robo-Cop. That would also be sweet, depending on if I was able to have human sense still.
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        May 19 2011: Loop Johnny.Why would you not uplaod yourself?

        In my imaginal vision of all this .you would still have whatever was uploaded..it would be just a back up. as of that moment and we could direct its output..direct how it is organized and stored..we could control it ourselves. We could elect what parts of our meory and expereience we want to be able to restore if we suffered a brain injry in which those parts of us were lost.

        Did you read Jill Bolte Taylor's k "Stroke of Insight" or see her TED talk? A perfect example . She had to worrk so hard to "find" all she had lost up there in the attic of her stroke injured brain..if she could have had a back up copy of her conscious mind..she could have just plugged it in and restored all that.

        In my imaginal version of how this would work the backup would know the exact location of very information element..it could check and see which were damaged or missing and just write that onto new neurons in the correct location if the original source was permanently damaged.

        In my imaginal schema would you have any resrvation sabout uploading yourself? What parts of "you" would you would you back up regularly in case they were lost to you by injury or accident?
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    May 18 2011: Loop: Definitely believe that you outline the direction that technology will go.

    Big question though - how do we integrate the artificial mind into the environment? Providing sensory input is one aspect. But what about the motivational features of life? Perhaps everything is founded on a pain/pleasure principle. Perhaps there are other stimuli to behavior.

    What do you think?
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      May 18 2011: Hey Tim, I posted this neuroscience link below but I am reposting it here because I think it goes a long way toward answering your question.Researchers found that blood could be used to create memristors which could help develop circuitry linking neural tissue to electronic components more effectively. Cyborg interfaces involving artificial eyes and prosthetic limbs could benefit from such advances.


      http://neurosciencenews.com/blood-simple-circuitry-cyborgs-memristors/
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        May 19 2011: Debra: You got me thinking about the function of blood in general. Since it carries chemicals around our body and chemicals effect our emotions, could that be a missing piece in the artificial consciousness structure? After all, Dasein is a being in a mood.
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          May 19 2011: Now who is asking tough questions. I'll think and get back to you with something.
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          May 19 2011: Tim/Debra Yes I was getting at that same thing..memory and expereience are not all in our brain..( that i strue genetically, in evolution as well..wish I had a cite) That was the heart of my question on whether consciousness (what I call cosbciousness ) actually resides in the brain or is a more universal "sentience" that exists within us in a more generalized way..like the blood in our veins or the cells that swim in us.
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      May 18 2011: Hmm. Pain and pleasur are drivers, from my point of view. It is not necessary for our motivational system to be based on them. Maybe, if we reach such an advanced stage of understanding and re-engineer ourselves, we might as well change our motivators to an evidence based one.

      For example, instead of judging certain actions as good or bad based on pain and pleasure ( which in the old times were key elements to our survival ) we could judge certain actions based on their outcome ( that we could simulate on a computer in a similar manner our brain simulates through imagination ). We might be motivated on evidence and experience of the consequences of a certain action instead of simple pain / pleasure, which, I think, is not that useful when you are a Cyborg.

      The artificial mind concept could take many many different forms. I am not sure if you are familiar with the hive-mind concept ( a whole population of cyborgs that think individually but for the team - like a bee hive ). That is a concept of integration.

      I don't think it will be that dramatic in the foreseeing future. I think we may use brain interfaces for simple things in the near future, especially to aid disabled people.

      Human - machine hybrids are actually happening, if you consider how many gadgets and devices we 'attach' to our being.
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        May 18 2011: Man loop. You're taking all the fun out of the whole idea!

        OK, if the goal is not to increase pleasure and reduce pain, what will be the positive re-enforcement for a particular type of thought?
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          May 18 2011: Pain and pleasure are just signals. I think reenforcement/motivators/drivers such as pain or pleasure will be, still, a signal.

          I just presumed that if we would be cyborgs -> we would be wired differently -> we would have different signals that come to our main processing unit(s)

          Also, the goal ( I think you mean THE goal ) depends on the users point of view. Some people might choose pleasure minus pain as a goal, or knowledge as a goal, or any other.

          It is hard to think about it but the 'goal' we think about is still a function of our mind. And the mind is basically the effect of the brain. The brain is wired specifically. So, with some twisted logic, the goals we would be having, if we were cyborg-like beings, will be different and not only a function of our biological brain, but also of our 'second' computational processor.

          Too much science-fiction?
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        May 18 2011: Hey, we're just getting started.

        So you're thinking about this artificial brain as an extension of our real brain. I was thinking a little bit more of our being (as in sentient being) transferring it's residence (or cloning) to the artificial space. But again, to establish this consciousness as a true being-in-the-world our connection to the world would need to be more complete. Otherwise we might just decide to take a nap with no motivation to ever wake up.
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    May 17 2011: I'am a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist.I think the answer is yes. The ideas that solve the problem are related with "Emulation", "Virtual Machines", "Brain-interfaces", "Finite State Machines". The most important thint is not the hardware but the mathemathical understanding of the system. The neurons work like transitors...
  • Jun 13 2011: PS: Talk about current events. Living cells to produce laser light? Awesome applications for this field though they still require blue light to be shines on them. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13725719
  • Jun 12 2011: I know I read an article awhile ago about similar research where they actually added phosphorescent genes into the neurons as well such that when they output a signal they would glow. The article outlined how, theoretically, this combined with the photosensitive genes could allow a blue/yellow light projector along with a light sensor to read and write to the brain, almost like a hard disk.

    Of course, as the lecturer here states, the virus vectors they're using can only be tuned to manipulate similar groups of cells. Likewise, the light they shine on the neurons is general and not specific. The major challenge will be manipulating small groups, if not individual, neurons using more targeted vectors and lasers (or some other sort of aimed light) to start building a truly one-to-one model of brain activity. Still, the potential leaves me speechless.
  • Jun 6 2011: hello,
    sorry if I have not read all comments.
    I only had a quick review.
    I have a question:
    where is place of memory?
    I think memory is stored in soul and brain is only a terminal for connecting body and soul.
    for example our eye see and send it to brain and brain send information to soul for interpreting.
    so I think we only can store a copy of our information when information are passed brain to soul using brain waves and ,... . but we can not restore past information using brain. because information are not stored in brain. and we have no access to soul using material tools.
    unless we can communicate soul using non-material ways like hypnotherapy/telepathy,...
    http://parapsych.org/
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      Jun 8 2011: What evidence do you have for this non-corporeal soul? Or how you suggest it functions and interacts with the brain?
      • Jun 9 2011: Dear Simon Tovey,
        some abilities of human like Intention can not be explained by only corporeal human. what is Intention? and also independence of personality. ie when you think to yourself you find a "me" that is independent and out of corporeal world.

        "Or how you suggest it functions and interacts with the brain?"
        i suggest it interacts with brain using WATER. water is amazing and I think it is the only material that is both non-corporeal and corporeal.
        please have a look:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masaru_Emoto

        http://www.parapsych.org/articles/36/55/what_is_the_stateoftheevidence.aspx
        http://www.parapsych.org/articles/36/54/what_is_the_stateofthetheory.aspx
        • Jun 9 2011: Things like intention CAN be explained by physical processes. A computer program can have the intention of moving a piece on a chess board to a certain position in order to obtain victory. Think of a brain as a machine, even though a program is not a physical thing, it exist through the configuration of bits, just like a thought is a configuration of brain cell and electrical discharges (and neurotransmitters).
      • Jun 9 2011: Dear Pier-Luc Gagnon,
        an computer program does not have Intention.
        how a computer program starts running?
        a human should press a button. OK? this is intention for a computer. so computer works by Intention of human. also body is like computer. who/what press a button to brain starts thinking and working?
        do you think material can have intention?
        can a computer program start absolutely independent and without any kind of human intention?
        computer does not have a "me" or "I" or "self"
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    May 20 2011: Saying we shouldn't develop a technology because it might hurt us is a bad argument due to the fact that it would be impossible to find a person on the planet who doesn't use a technology that has the potential of hurting us. If risk prevention is a logical argument for not developing technologies than we should never have harnessed fire.
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    May 19 2011: Here is a quote from Sean Carroll 5 minutes ago on the live TED Conversation..thought I would bring it here as it has a bearing on some of the threads in this conversation""I believe that consciousness, like every property of matter and energy, is ultimately compatible with the underlying laws of physics. That is, we don't need to violate the laws of physics to explain consciousness. On the other hand, it might not be helpful to think in terms of particles and forces if we want to create a theory of consciousness, just as we don't invoke particles and forces when we talk about hurricanes or the stock market. We'll have to see how the research goes. "I like that he referred to consciousness as in the realm on matter and energy..fits my model of the recaptuarbility of consciousness from past and present.
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    May 17 2011: Loop, here is an interesting quote from Noe's work, "Out of Our Heads". He says that while neuroscience is essential to a considertaion of consciousness brain based science doesn;t really capture what consciousness is or how it emanates and eveloves

    .“We need a science that is contextual, that will look at the way brains are embodied in animals, which are in turn situated in environments with histories and cultures,” Noë says. “It needs to be much more nuanced and indeed more humanistic. It needs to be more like history, or evolutionary biology, than it is like molecular biology."

    http://ls.berkeley.edu/?q=arts-ideas/archive/no%C3%AB-takes-novel-philosphical-view-consciousness

    I haven't read the whole book,just this link, and don't now his full scope. What he refers to as "consciousness" is closer to what I mean. Not clear that his theory would preclude storage of all the information which consitutes consciousness in the brain..perhaps it would include that possibility. ( I am leaning that way.. Ilike that idea) "

    Also possible that what he refers to as history, culture, cultural memory is stored in the memory of our cells..not the memory of our brain. That waht we call inuition, or part of that, may have a biological base, may be recorded as memory within us..but not in our brains. ( some science on that..will look for cites). That kind of memory would also be recordable on the brain since as as we intercat with that in our expereience of life the product of that intercation would be a brain resident memory..one that is dynamic and constantly being updated.
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      May 18 2011: I understand what you mean now.

      It is true there are other forms of information like history and culture that has been stored on other objects like paper, sculptures, paintings, etc., but all those cultural values have been made through a conscious process of various generations of people. All that info is not stored on our cells but rather it is accessed when needed ( like reading a book and learning about the past ).

      It is also true that a lot of information is stored in our genes. Our genes dictate what we will look like and our genes are the ones that ultimately structure the brain so that it would feel emotions like fear, cuteness, etc. ( because those traits had an evolutionary advantage ).

      I would like to ask you to clarify your thoughts on the matter of consciousness by answering this questions, please.
      What is consciousness, in your opinion?
      Where is it located?
      -and more-

      Hope to hear from you,
      Loop.
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        May 18 2011: Hi Loop Johnny ( you are a wonderful modertaor by the way..jumpingwith intertest into all these diveregent ideas your conversation has promted)..I think what you mean by "conscience/mind" is different from the leap I decided to take into "consciousness" which is a very different thing. By "conscience/mind" I think you meant more cognitive attributes and activities. ..the abiity to recognize, classify, remember things, order things, combine things etc. consciousness is more about sentience, sensibility,values, beliefs, faith, disposition ( comapssion ,empathy etc)and mostly arises from and is about a qualtitative relational caring for otherss, for the planet, for animals for other sentient beings) and usually some idea of the etheric or spiritual. The pre frontal cortex is genrally considered to be "the seat of consciousness" in that it allows us to emathize, love, feel joy, feel compassion or sadness or the condition of another. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome, children left in orphanges with no nurtutre, soldiers who have witnessed or been asked to comit unpseakable acts and people who have damage to that part of the brain lose these empathicc other related capacities. ( I'm wandering out of my depth here a bit having no expertise in neuroscience but in my schema what I mean by consciousness is most associated with the pre frontal cortex. Conscience/mind might remember dates in history, recognize who painted a particlar painting..consciousness would have a more sentient experience and interaction with these events or objects. And for me and many consciousness includes not just what resides in us but some kind of other web or superfield of consciousness. Scientifically we know the brain sends and receives signals so in the same way that all those radio & tv broadcatsa are still out these in the atmosphere somehow,,what we think, expereince and feel is out there too..even after we die. Once emitted it is in the field forever.
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          May 20 2011: The consciousness, in my view, is just an effect of a complex system. Basically, if a circuit gets input, it processes it ( this is the conscious part ) and then gives an output, that "processor" is the one who gives the order. Consciousness is, of course, abstract. Consciousness is an effect of a physical system. When that processing consciousness has enough information and is advanced enough to self sustain itself and when it develops self awareness, I call that being a conscious being.

          For example, we have computers but it is hard to say they are conscious because they are not self-aware or self-sustainable. They are just tools.

          Working on your example with the broadcast signal ( comparing it to a neurological signal ), if the radio station shuts off then the radio signal stops too. The brain works the same. If your perception stops there is no other instance where your perceptions can be seen ( so, if the radio station shuts down, you have no place where you can catch that radio ).

          Also, in my opinion, feelings and experiences are one and the same with thoughts and they can be used interchangeably.

          Good replies here.
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        May 20 2011: Hi Johnny..when the radio suts off the signals are stillout there.. ( at least that's what folks say)..that once they are broadcast they are out there forever. Our receivers pick it up from the trasmitter and of course he power of the trasnmitter must determine how far the signa can travel.. But the signal, recoverable as "an informational unit" is outthere traveling in space . That's why rdaio telepscopes like the one at areceibo send signals into outer sace and listen to signals. Because they travel, like light infinitely, in tack "module specific" ( ege the light from a distant star travels for hundreds of thousands of years in space arriving to us as the shape, brighyness, color of that satr..it isn't diffused..it's an in tact information module. Same with the energy on consiousness as even Sean the physiicist ackowldeges is most likely.
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    May 17 2011: Loop I love the vision and insipration you took from Ed Boydens talk. I am an advocate for people with brain injury and cognitive disabilities so, of course I love the promise in that work for the hundreds of thosands who suffer this. But my heart and spirit also leaped, as yours apparently did, well beyond the amazing possibilities of help for them..to the idea that we could somehow download consciousmess as recoverable and returnable information. Boyden referenced but did not really explore in the talk ( how much can you do in 10 minutes) personality ( which I consider to be an outward expression of inner consiousness) . I immediately saw the possibility of preserving our spiritual selves the memories that shape us being, on some kind of back up drive that could be given back to people who lose it. I immediatelyalso had a viision of sitting down with each of my parents and asking them questions, interacting with their consciousness directly, perhaps actually "viewing" the experiences that shaped their lives, knowing all that was unspoken. For examaple, years after my mother's death I had a sudden insight that she probbaly had had post traumatc stress dosorder as a survivor of the London Blitz. If her expereience and her interpretations of events that folowed that were downloadable I could explore that "with her".As a contemplative your question challenges me to think about just where I think my cosnciousness resides ( That probably sounds strange to you..but us mystics aren't lalways so determined to find answers like that..we are more focused on emergence and nurture of consciousness of cultivating spirit in action in the world). I am happy now to consider that consciousness resides in the amazing circuitry of our brains and is down loadable and reloadable.
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      May 17 2011: Thanks. To answer the part on the source of the consciousness, that source is the brain. The mind is the effect of a brain. Consciousness is an ordered flow of energy ( in the case of neurons, electrical energy ) so complex, that it has a logic behind it.

      Also, those persons brains are dead, I don't think we can ever and ever talk again to them without appealing to some form of time travel ( to get their brain backs, because they have rotted and all that order has been destroyed ). To 'talk' again to those persons we need their preserved brain to decode it in any way.
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        May 17 2011: loop yes ,of course, those persons brains are dead and not down loadable.at least not as you are framing here spinning off from D's talk.. Of course I don't agree that "the source of cosncioussness" is the brain..( and offer no hypotheses on what I think the source is) but we are on the same page with the very exciting possibility that consciousness is at least recorded in the brain and downloadable.May I ask how you came to this leap of possibility? That consciousnessmight be stored in the brain and downloadable?.
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          May 17 2011: Actually, let me tell you the reasons why consciousness is situated in the brain. If you take ones brain ( I do not recommend ) and hit its, let's say, parietal lobe ( where the speech center is located ) you will suddenly see that the person can no longer speak ( if not worse ). After damaging a portion of the brain the corresponding effect that has been produced in that area will vanish ( in this example speech ). The damage a brain suffers is directly proportional in the loss of brain function. You can even lose consciousness if hit in the 'right' spots.

          If you continue this process: of hitting the cortex and measuring mental capacity afterwards, you will see that the brain is in close relation to the conscious mind ( which, in fact, is the effect of the brain, as a biological organ ).

          If you completely kill the brain or make it unusable that person will have 0 brain activity and the consciousness will stop being produced by it.

          I do not agree with the concept of an afterlife ( which I am sure you are referring here ) since it is absurd to think that if you have 0 brain activity you are somehow doing well and talking to your grandma, etc.

          If your brain stops working, your perception and your consciousness stops with it. So, we can say, that the brain is the source of consciousness.

          ( here is the definition of "source" - A place, person, or thing from which something comes or can be obtained )
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        May 17 2011: Thank you Johnny..glad to know more of your thinking and as we are all in the realm of speculation on what consciousness is (we may be using the term differently I am thinking) all ideas are interesting to consider.Just for the record,,I don't know what I believe, beyond allowing for hundreds of thousands of fisrt hand accounts, about consciousness survivng death, . survivng death in tact as the person we knew on earth. I do read and consider with interest though the many accounts..I also consider it an important part of my intellectual rigor and creative process to not ever ever ever react to anything in the first instance as "impossible". I try to resist forming rigid conclusions about things I do not comprehend. An absolutely brilliant intellect and highly regarded theologian, Cynthia Bourgeault, wrote a courageous and very daring book , Love is Stronger Than Death, about her continuing direct communication with her teacher Raf. An intriguing read and the expereience as she recounts it, in the intuitive leap you invite here, would allow for the consciousness of the dead to be come down loadabale through the brains of the living .Since we are entirely in the realm of speculation in this whole conversation I must say I Ilike the idea that the consciousness of great beings in the past might somehow be accessible and transcribable to a storage device with which all could interact.
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          May 18 2011: Interesting. Also, there are impossible things for the record ( like you can't go faster than the speed of light and so on ). It is true that in our imaginary realms we can make anything possible. I just would like to point out that not all that is imagined is manifested in reality. I can think of many concepts, like square circles; concepts that are not logically sound, or life after death ( if you are dead, you cannot be alive, by definition ).

          Indeed it is interesting to see how everything is advancing. There are a lot of mysterious concepts that stumped humanity but have been explained and understood ( like evolution - explaining life, gravity - explaining 'the heavens' and so on ).

          Consciousness is one of those things that completely fascinates me. I can't wait for a theory of the mind.
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        May 18 2011: Johnny (Loop)..You obviously have a very giffted mind and the discipline of will to guide its inuqiries..I have a feeling you may be making contributions of your own. Thank you for your very thoughtful consideration of my comment even though it contains much that I allow as possible that you may not. I believe we learn and come to see and understand most when we stay open to possibility..or certainly when we don't have an immediate response of impossibility to things we don't understand and can't explain.In fact that's where many of the great advances in science come from..where many great inventions and insights come from..being willing to live with not having answers..being willing to ask questions that don't contain our idea of the answer....as you have done here in framing this question.
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          May 18 2011: Thank you. I am not sure if there is a possibility for an object travelling faster than light. I think it is possible in an imaginary plain ( or in a parallel universe if you're into it deep .. lol ). I agree that, in our minds, we should never think that things are impossible but, in reality, as we can test, some things are impossible. It is a hack that makes us more productive in our thoughts.

          Rule of thumb: never limit your thoughts.

          I have a nice quote from Leonardo DaVinci
          "Everything you can imagine is real."
    • May 18 2011: >> I immediately had a viision of sitting down with each of my parents and asking them questions, interacting with their consciousness directly, perhaps actually "viewing" the experiences that shaped their lives, knowing all that was unspoken.

      Actually, I have the same vision and did dome research to understand how it could be implemented (see these links http://bit.ly/d3siZi, http://bit.ly/e6ngNQ)

      Unfortunately, serious research and studies take a lot of time and hence need to be paid for. I tried applying for graduate school at MIT so I could continue my studies, but the competition was very high, and I didn't get through.

      Studies that promise some cure for some disease like psychiatric diseases or blindness are much easier to fund of course. (BTW, consciousness-related approach also has potential to be helpful against blindness, but implementation in this case is not as straightforward and primitive as with Dr. Boyden's optogenetics)

      Regarding Dr. Boyden's talk, I doubt this approach can be in any way helpful for anything beyond the most primitive things. Forget about consciousness when optogenetics is involved.
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        May 18 2011: The field of optogenetics is at its inception. I think there is room for tackling consciousness in it ( not in the near future of course ).
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        May 18 2011: So exciting Alexandra..just had a chance to take a quick look at your links and want to put some real time in there later. My quick scan of your two links suggests that although you seem to be sayoing in your lastsentence above that you do not believe consciouness is brain centered per se ( that it evolves there or resides there) yourpresntation seems oi me very barin centered. Or are you just saying that the content of our consciousness as evolved at any moment in time might be recorded in the brain somewhere, somehow that is down loadable? Although the phenomenology of cosnciousness is verymuch at the center of my life as a contemplative I don't normally address myself to the kinds of question syou & Lop are posing and exploring..ie to whether personal consciousness might be recorded in its entirety somewhere in our brain from which it can be downloaded. My own sense of consciousness.my own expereience is most in line with the idea of infinite interppentration that we are not just separate consciousness although we have a distinct, unique and needed capacity for cnsciousness..but that we also affect others and are affected by a collective consciousness and by the consciousness of specific others we encounter. In otherwords in application to loop Johhny's intriguing question. Although Loop Johnny & I have very dicffernt ideas, apparently, on what cobsciousness is,the idea that perhaps a complete record of my individual consciousness may exit or be summoned to some place in my brain from which it could be downloaded is not inconsistent with even my very esoteric ideas of consciousness.My comment about my first reaction to the idea ..accessing and interacting with the cosbciousness of my decased parents isn't part of any evolved or articylated eliefs about the afterlife o any serious speculation on about the natu e of afterlife...Just a an expression of my abiding connection to them.,
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          May 18 2011: This reply made a lot of clarifications on your position. I now understand what you say but I cannot see the rationalizations for it.

          It is interesting, though.
  • May 17 2011: I don't know, but I see only bad sides at the moment. I think about soldiers, who can deactivate their fear, communicate over some wireless network or even be controlled like this. And there are so many other possibilities to abuse this technology.

    I am really scared now and I am really not a conservative or technology-fearing person.

    Am I the only one?
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      May 17 2011: I understand your position. Science has always been like this. What science does is unlock new options in the reality we live in. How we use that knowledge depends on the user.

      I think we, as a specie, have to keep up our responsibility and mentality with the progress of science. An uneducated man with a nuclear bomb at his disposal is something utterly frightening whereas a team of expert physicists don't scare me as much.

      We have to take responsibility for our tools.
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      May 19 2011: Hi Robin..well suppose we had an ethics system for this so that each person controlled the uploads..the content of them and alsothe ownership of them? Suppose a young man going off to a war where he risks exposure to things that could cause post traumatic stress syndrome or traumatic head injury in which meory and personality might be lost could upload all those htings he wanted to be sure he could have and on his return all the trauatic PTSD stuff could be expunged and what he has chosen to keep restored to him? ( this is imaginal so we can design it however we want and obviously ethical issues and issues of control and use would be part of this technology)
      • May 26 2011: I'm a psychology student and I agree with you to some point. I agree that it would be the greatest thing if one could "erase" PTSD and live on like a normal person. But I think there is something that's been left out of the equation here. What keeps us from fighting each-other is not really a PTSD but a more complex thing of moral standards for example - if I can be trivial. But moral standards or norms whatever you like are being preserved by sanctions, and conscience is sort of a natural sanction mechanism. We feel guilty when we do something wrong. And this is as well how we learn not to do wrong things again and again. Therefore if a soldier comes home after killing tons of people and then just erases effects of his conscience then the natural 'holding-back' mechanism is basically lost. And what happens is we start to believe there's nothing really wrong with wars and stuff like that.

        Well, that is just my humble opinion and I apologize for any spelling mistakes.
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          May 26 2011: Nicely argued Zala and you bring up some important considerations. There is already drug therapy in the works that would erase traumatic events from memory if administered shortly after the trauma itself.
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          May 26 2011: Hi Zala I understand and share the core value in what you are saying ( that we wouldn't want to lose accountablity or remorse for our actions)

          PTSD people were involved in a scientific study of injuries to the pre fronta lobe ..the part of the brain where these moral judgements and empathy and our values reside..Sorry I don't have the citation but my recollection is that the conflict within the brain between values and the acts they were required to commit actually shorted out the pre-frontal cortex..in PTSD..In other words PTSD is a "blow out" resulting from the intolerable conflict between personal values and the acts they were required to witness or commit.

          That is the context in which my comment was framed. That this neuron "transplant" or exchnage..could erase the memory of that intolerable conflict and restore the persons previous normal personality.(These boxes are sometimes too small to provide a clear exchange. I apologize if I did not provide a clear context for my comment on PTSD )
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          May 26 2011: Hi Lindsay, Nice review of the research there. The prefrontal cortex is where logic and emotion are integrated and so there is a tremendous battle that goes on there in PTSD. It can actually short out the immune system if it gets bad enough. These events can also cause the amygdala to shrival. When I was in grad school we saw the brains of some men who had been tortured in Japan when they were prisoners of war and it was shrivelled like a dried up old bean. It really hit home that cruelty really takes its toll on people even when we cannot see it on the outside.
          I wonder what the milk of human kindess does?
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    May 16 2011: It is all so fascinating to my amateur-in-science mind. I can't really respond to your position except to say I have thought about what it would mean to live forever, because I do think what you're speaking of leads to that. I've realized that living now and living forever are one in the same, so it doesn't matter. We'll always be discovering. Just think what Einstein has missed, but what he found!!