News from the Neuro Geeks


DLD's Lukas Kubina introduces neuro-geek Moran Cerf (UCLA), AI philosopher Joscha Bach (MIT), and science punk Amol Sarva (Knotable) that will bring us news from the front lines of brain research.

Amol Sarva begins with presenting three of his inventions and warns the audience beforehand: "You will probably think we are crazy."

  1. Halo Neuroscience is the first one, Amol is currently actually working on. It is a wearable device that makes your brain work better and thus makes you smarter when you put it on. The project has been announced today along with its funding by Andreessen Horowitz and Soft-Tech VC.

  2. The second invention is software using the front door, the command line of the brain, which are the sensors you use to gather information and put it back out. It could be images, text and sounds on a smart phone screen to influence your eyes, ears and other experiences to change sleep. The software monitors how you sleep and then is able to make you sleep or improve sleep using hypnosis, meditation and cognitive behaviorial therapy.

  3. The last one is an embeddable object that fits in your skin like an RFID tag. It could, for instance, fit behind your ear and transmit energy into your auditory processing system and improve hearing by stimulating that part of your brain.

Before Moran Cerf tells us his predictions for the future, he explains his reluctance quoting von Neumann: "Predictions are very hard, especially the ones about the future." Anyway Moran predicts the following:

  1. We will see less criminals in prison and a lot of them will be medicated. You can see that a lot of people being arrested for their actions have in fact mental disorders you could cure and thus prevent crime.

  2. We will see an introduction of neuroscience to the courthouses.

  3. We will see more neuroscientists in the business world. Aside from neuro-marketing, Neuroscientists can give helpful advise on recruiting.

  4. Sleep will become a commodity.Neuroscientists will be able to influence sleep. So you could use the time you are sleeping to learn Chinese.

Joscha Bach thinks that AI research is the best bet to understand the mind. Joscha doesn't believe artificial intelligence systems that could think and be creative like humans are already around the corner. However, we will see hybrid minds in the near future, minds that combine human and artificial intelligence.

  1. The systems of the future will be able to model your mind, they will know what you want, what you know and what you feel.

  2. There will be systems that enable us to use our motivation better. You can already see this happening in gamification applications.

  3. We will see new programming paradigms like disambiguating programming that brings more aspects of natural language structures into programming.

Excited about these ideas, Amol jumps in to suggest they should found a company using Joscha's software and Halo's input / output mechanisms to read and write to the mind and implement that hybrid mind. He says we can realize this fantasy in the next 5 years.

Citing Bill Gates, Moran says: People often overestimate what will change within the next 10 years and underestimate the transformations within the next year. However, there is one thing that is accelerating in neuroscience that some people call Human 2.0. Neuroscientists now have the ability to read activity from your brain to know what you are up to: they can measure what's happening in your brain, for instance, when you want to turn your arm left. With that knowledge, it is possible to build a robotic arm which you can control with the same thinking. The robotic arm would continue to work even if you remove the person's natural arm. While evolution is pretty slow, this offers you the possibility to add things to your body, like wings to fly. We now have the technology to do that. What right now is stopping us is the ethical believe that it is our given body and we hesitate to intervene and change it dramatically.

Joscha adds that this is the nature of disruptive technologies. These kind of technologies will either have to be tremendously useful or they have to work in our existing environment in a seamless way.

Mentioned in this live blog

Moran Cerf
Kellogg School of Management and NYU department of Neurosurgery
Professor Neurosurgery
Kellogg School of Management and NYU department of Neurosurgery
Armol sarva web quadrat
Amol Sarva
Knotel, Knotable, Halo Neuro
Knotel, Knotable, Halo Neuro
New York

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