The essay below is the fourth in a series by our English correspondent Seneca III. Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.,
So Here There Be Dragons!
by Seneca III
Part IIIB — Synthetic evolution continued
4. Electro-neural prosthesis (Neuroprosthetics) and Artificial Intelligence
Electro-neural prosthesis is the biomedical engineering development of devices that can substitute a motor, sensory or cognitive modality that might have been damaged as a result of an injury or disease. For example, cochlear implants substitute the functions performed by the eardrum and stapes while simulating the frequency analysis performed in the cochlea. A microphone on an external unit gathers the sound and processes it; the processed signal is then transferred to an implanted unit that stimulates the auditory nerve through a microelectrode array. Through the replacement or augmentation of damaged senses, these localised devices/procedures could be developed into a brain-computer interface, a generalised all-body system which connects the brain to a computer rather than being a device replacing missing biological functions such as motor, sensory or cognitive modality that might have been damaged as a result of an injury or a disease.
These devices are also used in animal experiments. By wirelessly monitoring the brain’s electrical signals sent out by electrodes implanted in the subject’s brain, the subject can be studied without the device affecting the results. Neural implants are designed to be as small as possible in order to be minimally invasive, particularly in areas surrounding the brain, eyes or cochlea. They typically communicate with their prosthetic counterparts wirelessly. Additionally, power is currently received through wireless power transmission through the skin. The tissue surrounding the implant is usually highly sensitive to temperature rise, meaning that power consumption must be minimal in order to prevent tissue damage.
However, assuming that the frequency requirements of a micro miniature quantum computer would be minimal, say in the range from 1 Hertz up to as much as 100 Hz we should note that these brain wave frequencies are clustered into four basic categories associated with different mental functions…
- Delta, from 1 Hz to 4 Hz, is associated with sleep.
- Theta, from 4 Hz to 8 Hz, is associated with hypnagogic and hypnopompic states (states between sleep and wakefulness).
- Alpha, from 8 Hz to 13 Hz, is associated with a deeply relaxed, yet waking state.
- Beta, from 13 Hz to 40 Hz, is the frequency range in which we operate in our day-to-day waking state.
…and if one or more quantum devices were implanted in a human brain, say in the frontal lobe which is responsible for thinking, planning, memory and judgment, the parietal lobe which is responsible for bodily sensations and touch, in the temporal lobe which is responsible for hearing and language, and the occipital lobe which is responsible for vision, would not such a being be in possession of an internal, extremely fast-response and data-rich version of the Baron’s oft mentioned ‘auxiliary brain’?
The human brain is a wondrous marriage of electricity and chemistry. Neurons are microscopic power sources that build up an electrical charge by chemical means (like a battery), then briefly reverse the voltage over and over again. In this way, electrical potentials can shoot along the neuron’s major extension — the axon — and be translated into chemicals that cross the synapse, the tiny gap between neurons, to produce electrical potentials in the receiving dendrites of the next neuron. In that neuron, the process can begin again, so that the electrical potential can keep moving. Neurons fire these action potentials in unison to accomplish whatever task the brain is undertaking. The number of times a cell builds up a charge and reverses it determines the frequency of the cortical rhythms in the brain. The cortical rhythm is the sum of the brain’s action and dendrite potentials specific to parts of the brain, and specific neurons can be recognized for their involvement in forming memories. The main parts of the brain involved with memory are the amygdala, the hippocampus, the cerebellum and the prefrontal cortex.
Artificial intelligence is a recent construct, and it has not evolved over eons as did human intelligence but was manufactured in the wink of a cosmic eye. The definition of artificial is “Made or produced by human beings rather than occurring naturally, especially as a copy of something natural.” i.e. synthetic.
‘Human intelligence’ is defined as the mental quality that consists of the abilities to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understand and handle abstract concepts, and use knowledge to manipulate one’s environment. It is worth noting that according to Moravec’s paradox the observation by artificial intelligence and robotics researchers that, contrary to traditional assumptions, reasoning requires very little computation, but sensorimotor skills require enormous computational resource and can be extended to many forms of social intelligence.