augmenting humans is difficult and slow...

From: Ben Houston (
Date: Sat Jul 07 2001 - 07:07:37 MDT


Just did a talk on augmenting humans through direct brain interfaces --
my degree is cognitive science / neuroscience so I have a little of the
requisite knowledge in this area. It seems very likely that we can do a
lot by making little additions or regulatory changes but it will not be
that easy.

The technology to read from individual neurons within chronic
implantations is here. I have not yet read of any major successes in
long-term artificial stimulation of individual neurons -- but that's
just an engineering problem and just give it time. This stuff doesn't
really require esoteric nanotechnology, magical quantum interfaces but
just electrical current readings of the relevant neurons. In other
words, the technology for making the bidirectional connections is not
major limiting factor.
What is the problem is figuring out what exactly will make us smarter
and how to integrate that in to our existing brain architecture. It's
not as simple as adding more memory -- there is tons of different types
of memory in the brain and they are highly distributed very connected
with the computations being preformed. Also there are a lot of
calibration problems that have to be overcome if we would like to be
able to recognize meaningful patterns in the brain.

-ben houston

> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Of Peter Voss
> Sent: Friday, July 06, 2001 4:54 PM
> To:; Michael Korns
> Subject: RE: The Human Augmentation Strategy
> Michael Korns coined the tern 'inloading' at Extro5 for the approach
> adding artificial neurons to live humans to upgrade them. He sees
> inloading
> as a more likely, and preferable path to human super-intelligence. It
> incremental, and less shocking than uploading - and will probably also
> easier to achieve.
> Inloading involves gradually adding silicon/ nanotube/ quantum?! (or
> whatever) artificial neurons & connection to our brains, together will
> some
> technology to transmit all relevant information to an external
> for
> backup. Eventually, artificial neurons would vastly outnumber original
> ones.
> I don't actually buy into this scenario for a number of reasons, some
> which are here:
> But I like the meme: inloading - less threatening than uploading.
> the enhancement of brain function, but ultimately the same result
> - Any and all feedback welcome:
> -----Original Message-----
> >The suggestion I was trying to make (and not doing so very well) was
> the attainment of super-intelligence may be easier to achieve through
> human
> augmentation rather than starting from scratch with today's machines.
> ... . However, I think that such a course is unfeasible both from the
> moralist perspective and also from a technical perspective....

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