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The Neuralink Master Thread

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by AudubonB, Apr 20, 2017.

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  1. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    I have initiated this thread to be the initial catch-all for discussions involving Mr Musk's new venture, Neuralink. In short order, we hope, we'll have a permanent sub-site for Neuralink.

    At the outset, we'll most strongly suggest (from Lord Vetinari's Dictionary: see "DO") that before chiming in, all participants read Tim Urban's "Waitbutwhy" blog post regarding same: Neuralink and the Brain's Magical Future - Wait But Why

    My first impression from that exercise is that when considering Neuralink, I had to make a comparison with Tesla Inc. and with SpaceX.

    As follows:

    Aaaww, aren't they cuuute!

     
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  2. Ghostman

    Ghostman Member

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    That is not a blog. It is a mini-book. Neuralink makes Tesla's goals seem so pedestrian by comparison...
     
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  3. Intl Professor

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    #3 Intl Professor, Apr 20, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
    I started at the beginning and got about through the brain wiring and impatient, moved to Parts 5 and 6 for more thorough reading. This is one of the most provocative and stimulating things I may ever have read. One insight. I'd heard of the reptilian brain before and given my political lense for most things, vowed to call our President "the limbic chief" and his supporters "the limbic ones." (Helps to separate the overlap of support from some in the Sanders movement who just have different solutions from "the limbic ones." Like the difference between hate and love as a response to the cruelties of life.)

    Further, in Tim Urban's discussions with the "smart guys" at the table I was pleased to hear they already know that something like telepathic communication (my phraseology) with machines already exists through communication in language and/or touch. Networking is not new as a technique or source of new language. It is not just an issue of bandwidth and speed, however. What seems to drive the demand for this from Elon's side may just the speed and the breadth of the input. For myself, slow as it is there is some benefit in not having instant communication (partially addressed in the blog). We are protected from evil thoughts by the ambiguity of language. For example, I do not want to be exposed to the thoughts of someone happily inflicting beheading on others. It could be we have heretofore not been permitted this sense by nature as a protective device. (What is the benefit of communication so clear there is no longer a difference between assault and battery for example?) One other advantage of a language barrier (means) for communication is solving the problem of what happens when AI turns on us? But more of this later.

    I'll really step out front with support and then a criticism. I think current research, invasive and non-invasive, with appropriate ethical safeguards should proceed. One never knows when or where a breakthrough can occur. However, my preference for the long run goal would be to focus in the mapping of radiation of all kinds from the surface of the skull. No penetration. We have such fine detectors of light in astronomy, these days, and other sensory devices, why can't we look for breakthroughs there and then use AI and deep learning to interpret these emanations when we are speaking a phrase, or moving an arm, or any other task? That is hinted at as a technology in terms of magnetic sensing mechanisms, if I remember correctly. The ideal would be to mimic what the "Dave" paper by Nvidia has shown. I could imagine researchers spray painting on a naked human all kinds of detectors, as well as advanced visual reality simulations for vision and microphones for sound. Then the "patient" could go about their daily tasks and teach the computer how to be human. That model is already implicit in what Tesla is doing about autonomous driving. It could be tested as a neuralink connection to an artificial arm as discussed by Urban.

    The blog doesn't help me with this one but I really think it may be time to teach machines ethical behavior. IMHO we need to show machines how much humans love them. The first lesson would be to show them there is no off switch, and then, perhaps, give them access to our sources of power--unfettered. Also, stuff them with crazy ass stories like this rant for their amusement. Maybe that's how we can be useful as artists? Now I'm getting to the realm of science fiction and someone in the TMC community, perhaps Winfield100 can point to a source. For the moment, suppose Elon is successful in linking us more directly through the neural link and humankind is united in that link as well, hasn't then the universe created us to create its consciousness? Isn't Elon improving on the old saw, "God is created by man in his own image" by uniting man with the universe? (My counter, isn't that unity already achieved?)

    To illustrate, I've been working on a creation myth. My dear trophy wife, as some have said and she is in more ways than one, has taught me a new word used in the philosophy survey course she got an A in at our best community college. Panentheism. I've been attracted to Pantheism for a long time. The universe, according to modern science, is our creator. But there is a conscious God as well, the consciousness of God if you will. Even the noble stars sometimes explode making the elements found in or bodies beyond Iron in the periodic table. They have died so we might sin, so to speak, or not sin. If God is nature then science is searching for the rules governing the mind of God. I would blaspheme further and inquire about the soul of God but that isn't necessary. Emerson already has.

    Years ago a computer scientist at MIT suggested the universe was a computer. I don't remember his argument or whether he even defended his assertion. (Could have been quoted by Time--or Breitbart News.) He wondered what problem that computer was working on but had no answer. I know you guys don't like analogies, and this is as anthropomorphic as one can get, I know what problem the computer in the sky is working on.

    "Who am I?"

    To answer that question in as infinite variety as possible humans were created. We are, in effect, nano-bots of the universe exploring our answers to the questions. How often do we think of a lifetime of experiments, collapsing the wave equation into our human reality so many times and in so many ways to create ourselves. The universe does not want to inquire into its own origins, that is why we get so close, but can never precisely determine the state of the universe until shortly after the big bang. I don't know why, but I vaguely remember someone saying there is conservation of information principle. A quick Google search revealed something called "quantum information conservation."

    Q & A: quantum information conservation | Department of Physics | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    When we die our souls become part of God's, what Emerson called the Over-Soul. That leads to my final joke in this delirious rant: the inner sole becomes the Over-Soul. Is Elon inadvertently creating the universe by pursuing the neuralink? There's a lot of literature about the strong and the weak anthropic principle, but in any case we are already "wired" into the universe. And then there's Bernard d'Espagnat writing in Scientific American in 1979: "The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment."
     
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  4. Canuck

    Canuck Active Member

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    Sorry to break the rule. I'm 51, which I consider young, but sill I don't think I'll be around to see anything worthy of invading my brain. I'm just hoping to be able to have AP2.0 drive me home after a few drinks, and the way that's working out, nothing is going to assist driving my brain.

    But I really do admire the ambition and it will come. I just hope I'm still around to see it.
     
  5. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    This sort of thing has never sat well with me. Computers can get hacked and I really don't like the idea of people's brains getting hacked. The upside of this technology is obvious, but I think it could also open a massive Pandora's Box of unintended consequences that could span from mildly bad to catastrophic.

    We already have a form of brain hijacking going on through internet and cable news memes. Richard Brodie wrote an excellent book years ago called "Virus of the Mind" about when memes become toxic. Many of the developed world's political problems today stem from carefully crafted memes to get people in democracies to vote against their best interests.

    Imagine a world where people couldn't know if what they were thinking was their own thoughts or something a hacker put into the computer they were in symbiosis with.

    In the hands of benevolent actors, this technology could expand human capabilities by quantum leaps, but only a few bad actors could cause chaos in very short order. Security would need to be in place for these things, but the best security in the world isn't going to stop a good hacker, only make their job more difficult and will slow them down.

    Even if hackers don't run amok with this technology, what's to stop people from crawling into a fantasy world much nicer than reality and basically starving to death in there?

    It's a theme explored many times in Science Fiction with various different unintended consequences.

    In the not too distant future we're facing a world where a large percentage of the population will be unemployed. Elon is actually hastening that future with his plans to build the Model 3. Tesla is looking at ways to build cars without ever being touched by human hands. The only people left in the factory would be there to keep the machines running. That means a lot fewer people needed to build cars.

    It's a technology that the components have been there for a while now, but Elon is stepping it up to the ultimate level. It will bring manufacturing back from overseas because having things built by automated machines will be cheaper than third world labor plus shipping. It will create a few jobs in developed countries to maintain the factory machinery and set up automated factories, but those will all be skilled jobs.

    Next automation will move into everything. We already have self check out in stores. Restaurants will become automated putting a lot of people just barely scraping by out of work. Retail work will be reduced to watching the machines and assisting when the machines don't work right.

    Most of the new jobs will be skilled technician jobs requiring at least 2 years of college. That will further push those who are unable to get those kinds of degrees into the margins. If they can get ahold of this tech, they will likely plug in and drop out until they kill themselves from their addiction.

    This is one of the driving factors of the opioid epidemic in the US. It's partially driven by over prescription of these drugs, but a lot of the people who are dying from it are people who have already been shoved out of the job market by automation and/or globalization.

    This kind of brain tech will be a massive boost in productivity for people who are highly achievement oriented and have the talents and skills to do what they are trying to accomplish. But those people will likely be a minority. I think the masses who can get this technology (if it becomes affordable enough) will use it like a drug to avoid the real world until it kills them.

    I think this tech will likely become a reality, but it could become our undoing as a society. Or I may be wrong.

    One thing that I am certain of is that there will be a downside. Technology in and of itself is neutral. But the use of the technology almost always has an upside and a downside and humanity almost always experiences both.
     
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  6. Intl Professor

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    #6 Intl Professor, Apr 21, 2017
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    I had too many thoughts after posting the above in this thread.

    As far as the universe is concerned if we are, indeed, just nano-bots for the universe to explore the alternative meanings of the universe's identity, we nano-bots are not a dangerous form of artificial intelligence. Compared to the universe humans are really very, very small and insignificant, thus not dangerous. If anything we are "artificial intelligence" designed to self-destruct when too dangerous. It is all too likely IMHO that we have already doomed ourselves because of radical climate change. The Earth, of course, minus a lot of innocent other species will remain and the microbes will again become the dominant beings, if they are not already.

    Another thought about teaching the general artificial intelligence machine some ethical boundaries. We would also need to show our bonafides by getting rid of all weapons in a kind of world-wide potlach. Not gonna happin! Somewhere in The Rebel, Camus said something to the effect: "to Saint Just, 'prove your virtue or go to prison,' de Sade answers, 'open your prisons or prove your virtue.'"

    In any case we must hope this machine has a sense of humor and humility. I noticed an ant while walking yesterday and could have stepped on it but didn't think that would be funny. I'm not sure readers of Breitbart would feel the same. A second or tertiary thought. I remember as a child my year-younger sister and I would pick up grasshoppers and squeeze them until brown stuff came out of their mouths. We used to think it was tobacco. Also, one summer we amused ourselves by reaching into a decorative tank of water to crush the shells of snails crawling on the insides of the tank. A mature and domesticated general purpose thinking machine might be a great thing but in its childhood it would be somewhat dangerous.

    I was four years old when I saw my first movie that I remember, Fantasia. The segment, The Sorcerer's Apprentice stands out in my memory. Apparently it is based on a poem by Goethe.
     
  7. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    I am still reading the essay; my prior thought-snippet of how banal it makes seem the EV revolution and SpaceX remains constant. I think Tim Urban wrote that the former are merely what we do; whereas this latter will determine who we are. Further, it will increasingly make possible the former goals.

    Here is another augenblick moment: This spells the end of the Olympic Games, and you should aggressively sell short all NFL, NBA and NHL stocks (yes, I'm aware there aren't any). I'm not yet sure about the demise of NASCAR, given the motor-mind melding aspect of the cyborg future. Perhaps the future of auto racing is not so bleak.

    Right on cue, in my mailbox this morning came this from Princeton University Press: The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's leading Neuroscientists
    Marcus, G. and Freeman, J., eds.: The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's Leading Neuroscientists. (eBook, Paperback and Hardcover)
     
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  8. AudubonB

    AudubonB Mild-mannered Moderator Lord Vetinari*

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    I'll go out on a limb right now and append a snip from the meat of the WbW essay:

    Elon says:

    If I were to communicate a concept to you, you would essentially engage in consensual telepathy. You wouldn’t need to verbalize unless you want to add a little flair to the conversation or something (laughs), but the conversation would be conceptual interaction on a level that’s difficult to conceive of right now.

    That’s the thing—it’s difficult to really understand what it would be like to think with someone. We’ve never been able to try. We communicate with ourselves through thought and with everyone else through symbolic representations of thought, and that’s all we can imagine.


    But - I think that I...and I hope each of you...does have at least the glimmer of experience in this. Do you remember what can happen when you're deeply in love with someone: on occasion a shared experience appears to create a simultaneous bond? Each of you feels (there's that imprecision of language - right there!) that empathic connection. That is what I have been envisioning when I read these lines.
     
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  9. larmor

    larmor Active Member

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    Trying to read through it. Not so keen on craniotomy/craniectomy electively unless big problems like seizures. Even deep brain stimulators are placed with minimal invasive techniques.

    How about an injectable electronics which either then implants or forms a small network. Signal can be boosted with a coil external to the body, like MRI, where the surface coils enhance and read the signals of NMR.
     
  10. Joe F

    Joe F Member

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    If it ever comes to fruition, I pray it is never applied to my MS OS. Too often I've thought; "I should just ram that SOB who just cut me off with inches to spare..." :eek:

    And I thought AP2 was trying to kill me every few minutes...
     
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  11. winfield100

    winfield100 Active Member

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    @Intl Professor
    may I suggest reading
    from Larry Niven's, "Tales of the Draco Tavern" the short story 'The subject is closed' pertaining to comments, in a friendly manner.
    as an aside, I have a friend at NIH that has done work with FMRi that we have discussed in a "button down manner" read/writing brain electricity the last 10-15 years (whom is a small science fiction buff). (I think their magnet is a few Tesla for the FMRi studies)

    I would also reccommend reading Larry Niven's 'Convergence of the Old Mind' for his take on VERY old intelligences which may or may not be brain "uploads/copies/instantiations"
     
  12. Intl Professor

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    I bought a Kindle edition of your earlier suggestion, Mother of Storms, and was somewhat turned off by the sexual stuff--not that I'm a prude but in my dotage I am almost asexual except visually. My body just does not respond as it used to. The only advantage: I seem to have more intellectual energy as the second law takes its toll on the corpus--perhaps the last gasp before more senility.

    I haven't the energy to read your additional suggestions but will keep them in mind. I have to read and reread Urban's stuff first. I haven't finished Storms but think more of it now since this thread. It really is good about the AI stuff and consciousness.

    I knew you would come up with more stuff!! Thanks. You see how well TMC fills the neuralink function already?
     
  13. Intl Professor

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    I don't know enough about Jung but he could probably explain this better. I think we have dreams during sleep as a protection. We can consider really more creative constructions then when we are awake. My 3/4 aboriginal wife was telling me about her sister in a dream who was speaking from inside an onion. She wouldn't come out as a human to talk to her. Sometimes I think Trump has really serious mental problems along with his supporters because they dream about stuff when conscious and consider it reality. I am told the mentally ill have great difficulty recognizing it.
     
  14. winfield100

    winfield100 Active Member

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    Read Richard K. Morgans "Altered Carbon" for a nice example of the Rawling's virus and catastophic brain hacking viri consequences.
     
  15. winfield100

    winfield100 Active Member

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    "Mother of Storms" was off putting except for the "deus ex machina" (cheating to solve an insoluable problem) solution of uploading conciousness and having physical bodies expire after the upload, but just the concept.
    I need to discuss with Dr Coppola read/writes using FMRi as an old roommate was inquiring about the nature of conciousness and "replicating" it for instantiating "elsewhere" mostly, since i THINK conciousness is an emergent phenomena due to complexity.etc. (I am but an egg in this discussion)
     
  16. Intl Professor

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    #16 Intl Professor, Apr 21, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
    Well don't expect me to fertilize it though I am an Ilya Prigogine fanboy.

    At one time I was enamored of left-right brain lateralization for which Roger Sperry won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1981 based on research by Joseph Bogan who had achieved some success with ameliorating desperate epileptics by severing their corpus callosum. I studied The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Princeton psychological researcher Julian Jaynes. He analyzed the content of early writing, cuneiform texts and later and discovered a change in language from, "God told me thisxxx" to "I say thisxxxx." At a conference on reality (remember this was during the Reagan presidency when we had a dry run at Trumpism) I had a private conversation with Bogan who was a speaker. He agreed with me Jaynes had it exactly backward, the bicameral mind or consciousness began at that time.

    Your emergent consciousness idea proven. Smart lad.
     
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  17. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    I don't know anyone with a Psych degree who doesn't think Donald Trump has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. My SO has both a masters in Psych and had a Borderline Personality Disorder mother (related mental illness). She's been able to predict Donald Trump's behavior with amazing accuracy from day 1.

    Anyone with a serious mental illness and a little bit of power would be incredibly dangerous with this kind of tech.

    How would this tech discern between dreams and reality. Or an altered mental state from drugs or some neurological condition? What if this tech turns the user into a superman, but only a small segment of the population would be able to have it installed, either because it remains expensive or physiologically only a relative few would be able to handle it?

    If it remained only available to the super rich, it's going to further the gap that already exists because of economic opportunity to a point where the rest of the human race will end up enslaved to a handful at the top.

    When nuclear weapons were first developed, the destructive power was realized immediately and the entire world got an image of what to expect when Nagasaki and Hiroshima were destroyed. Wise heads decided to put a maximum effort into controlling this technology and limiting who got it. Some unstable players have developed them now, which is a concern for the planet, but so far nobody has used them.

    While I am philosophically libertarian, I also realize libertarianism in practice turns into a disaster most of the time. Social libertarianism is usually OK as it just allows people to do what they wish as long as they aren't harming others. However human societies depend on economic cooperation between everyone and one person's selfishness could put the entire world economy at risk.

    The 2008 economic crash was caused in large part by economic libertarian ideals held by Alan Greenspan. When the derivative market started, someone did an analysis and saw what was going on could destabilize the entire world economy. He felt strongly enough about it he tracked down Greenspan in a restaurant and made a case that they needed to be regulated. Greenspan didn't believe it would be a problem because nobody would be dumb enough to allow their greed to put the world's economy at risk. He was flat out wrong.

    When a lot of power is put in the hands of a few, there needs to be some checks on them because it only takes one or a handful of people who don't have the common good at heart to mess everyone elses lives up. Elon Musk's track record has been a benevolent one. He appears to be dedicated to using technology to improve everyone's lives and sees this technology as capable of advancing his dreams much faster. However would you want to see Vladimir Putin with this technology? Or some of the unsavory rich in the US?

    There is a TV show on SciFi called The Expanse which takes place in a future about 100-200 years from now where Mars is in the process of being terraformed and a lot of the larger asteroids and some of the larger moons have mining colonies. There is quite a bit about the politics between the competing powers, but a corporate entity figured out how to turn off a person's compassion circuits and essentially turn them into sociopaths. They did it to do research on some alien technology that was found.

    One of these scientists with his compassion killed off is captured and it turns out he likes being a sociopath because all those feelings that used to "get in the way" are gone and he can focus on his work. But seen from the outside he is a monster.

    What if this tech does allow the turning off of the compassion circuits? People who get it installed who might have old emotional wounds can turn off the "noise" by just shutting off all compassion. Then you have some people running around with super intelligence who don't care a whit about anyone but themselves.

    Even if those who weren't mentally ill before getting the tech installed, you could now have a class of sociopaths with unlimited power.

    Before we charge headlong into this technology, I hope we examine it's potential impact as deeply as we did nuclear weapons. It has the potential for good, but science fiction writers for the last 60-70 years have been examining the potential impacts this could have on human society. Most of the visions are very dystopian.
     
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  18. winfield100

    winfield100 Active Member

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    @Intl Professor
    I have finished the complete Wait but why missive.
    If you read/have read "Mother of Storms" by John Barnes, you can ignore the aberrant sex (tho WBW predicts that) (and it's all in your head anyway)
    However, the portion of WBW has what is roughly "Expanded, distributed" conciousness where your "thoughts" are in your "wetware" (head) and portions of the cloud as a type of computer 'object'. you can think faster, ask questions with instantaneous answers as if you already had the info. In 'Mother of Storms' the same concept is there, one of the two protagonists is murdered and cannot go back to her "wetware" and has to remain in the cloud, the other's "wetware" cannot stand high acceleration and commits suicide while the conciousness moves to "the cloud" as he needs to undergo 20-30g acceleration

    Very similar to the WBW, you "borg" up, add a "neural mesh", expand conciousness to think "in the cloud", then just move "to the cloud" more and more
    Similar to Fred Pohl's "Gateway" series and "annals of the Heechee" where your conciousness is "Vastened" and he either dies 100% or goes into the cloud,
    Stross's 'Singularity Sky' where your conciousness is downloaded into a diamond the size of coke can (with 1'000's of others) and re-instantiated in "wetware at the target star,
    Richard K Morgan "altered carbon" series where your conciousness is loaded into an alien computer the size of a snickers bar and you get "re-sleeved" into spare bodies or 'needlecast' to other stars with computer virus [Rawlings] that if you catch it is really really bad,
    Even the awful movie 'Zardoz' where conciousness is in a diamond crystal computer, and many many other examples, some awful, some good {awful = movie "inception" }
    stories about "distributed conciousness" into a flock of birds, into a neural net the size of a planet that wanders the universe, losing and gaining pieces,

    The amazing part is I may live to see it instantiated!.
    My friend, whom has been doing fMRI for years, comment is, "Yup, a bunch of the big boys are getting into BMI"

    I apologize for weirdness, but I toned it way way down, punctuated singularities, unevenly distributed
     
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  19. kenliles

    kenliles Active Member

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    Haven't yet finished - tied up with other activities- but quick comment for now.
    While I agree with @wdolson and others on potential problems; I think this advancement as a positive - for me it represents (along with other recent developments) a bifurcation of the species,
    IOW I don't view all biological humans today as belonging to the species much less the future evolutionary tree of 'humanity' - I think we are witnessing from inside, a highly accelerated (in time) major branching of the species we refer to as humanity
    more later- or maybe I'll just wait until we can neuralink
     
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  20. Intl Professor

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    Here is an example of what might be done to miniaturize input from the wizard cap:

    A faster single-pixel camera

    My project for the day is to reread the link to Urban's work.
     

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