This article covers whether scientists have discovered how to upload knowledge to your brain. The article will cover the original research along with its limitations. The article will also shed light on the phenomenon of Mind Uploading. In the end, the article discusses some frequently asked questions about the brain.
Scientists Discover How to ‘Upload Knowledge to Your Brain?
Just like the classic sci-fi movie, the Matrix, researchers have developed a new way of inserting information into a person’s brain. This can teach them new skills in a small amount of time. In another neo-noir sci-fi classic, the protagonist is taught martial arts by directly uploading them into his brain.
He was able to learn kung-fu in a short span of time. Similar to this, researchers from California, HRL Laboratories, have found of way of making this a reality.
Researchers studied the electric signals of the brain of a trained piolet and this data was then transferred to novice subjects while through the realistic flight simulator, these subjects learned to pilot an aeroplane.
In this study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, it was found that compared to the placebo group, the subjects that received brain stimulation via electrode-embedded head caps had significantly improved their piloting skills and had learnt the task 33 per cent better.
How does it work?
TDCS (Transcranial direct current stimulation) was used to transmit the brain activity of the trained piolets into the novices while they used the flight simulator.
While wearing the electrode-embedded head cap, these novices were subjected to several tests for four consecutive days within the simulator. The participant’s performance was then monitored as they tried to land the aircraft.
Through the results, they found out that the group of participants who received stimulation had an improved performance as compared to the control group participants.
The researchers used (TDCS) transcranial direct current stimulation to electrically stimulate some volunteers, this was done in order to make the subjects learn better. However, there was no uploading of data done. The data from this ‘the electrical signals of a trained pilot’ is not mentioned in research papers.
The role of TDCS was intended to boost the brain’s neuroplasticity. This was used to put the brain in a state where one could learn faster. However, this stimulation is electrical or chemical, there is no download of knowledge that takes place in either case.
The Telegraph report that the TDCS was shown to be effective, i.e it made the subjects learn 33% better on this simulator task. However, it was found that the TDCS had no effect on the mean performance of the five performance indicators of this simulator task.
One of the results was that on some of the metrics, some stimulation made people more similar to one another, but in none of the cases, did it make their performance better on an average. Hence, the stimulation which was associated reduced significantly and was reduced between-subject variance.
Thus, it was concluded that there was an observed reduction in group differences in online learning that may be attributed to “convergence to the mean” (i.e., increasing online learning rates of low-performing individuals and reducing online learning rates of high-performing individuals).
However as the groups in this study were tiny (32 participants were split across four groups, of 7-10 people each), the variance was rather noisy. The authors themselves mention “exceptionally high within-group variance.” To be honest, I would want to see a lot more data before I was convinced that something as unusual as ‘convergence to the mean was happening.
What is Mind Uploading?
Whole-brain emulation (WBE), also known as Mind uploading is known as the futuristic process of scanning a physical structure of the brain accurately enough to create an emulation of the mental state which includes long-term memories. These memories are then transferred into the computer into a more digital form.
The computer later runs a simulation of a brain’s information processing and it would respond in a similar way to the original brain and its experience of the conscious mind.
This is a relatively new idea, however, many of the tools and ideas which are needed to use mind uploading and is currently under development and exist. This idea does not seem impossible anymore due to complex technological advances.
Similarly, much research in related fields is being conducted on the development of fast supercomputers, brain-computer interfaces, animal brain mapping and simulation, virtual reality connectomics and removal of information from dynamic brain functioning.
There are two- methods to achieve this process of mind uploading:
One way is called the copy -and -upload or copy and delete. This is done by the gradual replacement of neurons, this is considered as gradual destructive uploading, this is done until the computer program emulation takes over the brain and controls the body until the original organic brain doesn’t exist.
In the other method, mind uploading is achieved by mapping and scanning all the salient features of the biological brain. This is done by copying and storing information into the computer system or another electronic device.
The brain, however, might not be able to survive this process of copying or may be destroyed during some variants of uploading. This simulated mind could be in a simulated world or virtual reality. This is supported by an anatomic 3D body simulation model.
This mind could also reside inside of a computer, robot or biological cybernetic body, which could be connected or remotely controlled
Some futurists and some individuals who are part of the transhumanist movement treat the mind uploading technique as an important part of the proposed life extension measure, also known as immortality technology, as it is possible digitally.
The aim of mind uploading is to provide a backup to our “mind-file”, which can then enable interstellar space travel. In order to survive a natural global disaster, a functional copy of the human society is made in a computing device.
Some people also believe that the best way to preserve the identity of the species as opposed to cryonics is the process known as mind uploading.
Few futurists have discussed whole-brain emulation as the logical endpoint which is of the field of topical computational neuroscience and neuroinformatics. Within recent research publications, this is discussed as artificial intelligence or super intelligence.
Seed AI is another approach and is not based on existing human brains. Computer-based intelligence such as the upload can think much faster than the human brain despite its intelligence.
At present, mind uploading is a central conceptual feature of several sci-gi films, novels and games. According to futurists, a large-scale society of uploads gives rise to the singularity of technology. This signifies the development of technology and the sudden constant decrease in the development of technology.
What are the practical issues with Mind Uploading?
According to Kenneth D. Miller, a professor of neuroscience at Columbia and a co-director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, there are several issues and doubts raised regarding the practicality of mind uploading.
One of his major arguments is that reconstructing the neurons and their connections is a formidable and difficult task, and this process is very far-fetched.
The brain operates with the dynamics of exchange between the electrical and biochemical signal exchange between neurons; therefore, capturing them in a single “frozen” really might seem insufficient.
Another matter of concern is that the nature of these signals requires them to model down to the molecular level and maybe beyond that. Thence, miller believes that the complexity of the “absolute” duplication of a person’s mind is impossible till the next hundred years.
This article covered whether scientists have discovered how to upload knowledge to your brain. The article also covered the original research along with its limitations. The article also sheds light on the phenomenon of Mind Uploading. In the end, the article discusses some frequently asked questions about the brain.
Frequently Asked Questions: Scientists Discover How to ‘Upload Knowledge to Your Brain?
How fast can the human brain think?
According to some estimates, the human brain can experience sensory stimuli presented to it in as less than 50 milliseconds. 50 milliseconds is one-twentieth of a second. However, scientists do believe that our brain can in fact respond to information briefer than this, information that lasts for less than a quarter of a millisecond.
Can your brain get full?
No. This is because the human brain is very sophisticated. In order to make space for new information, old information is pushed out of the system instead of just cramming and crowding information in.
What can happen when brain processes malfunction?
When the brain processes malfunction, it can cause problems such as mental illness, tremors, Parkinson’s disease, and other motor system disorders.
Choe J, Coffman BA, Bergstedt DT, Ziegler MD, & Phillips ME (2016). Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Modulates Neuronal Activity and Learning in Pilot Training. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 10 PMID: 26903841