Mind Control

Published by MindTech Sweden

Brain Memory Chip…


Total Recall

Duane Michals/Pace/MacGill Gallery

By GARY MARCUS
Published: April 13, 2008

How much would you pay to have a small memory chip implanted in your brain if that chip would double the capacity of your short-term memory? Or guarantee that you would never again forget a face or a name?

There’s good reason to consider such offers. Although our memories are sometimes spectacular — we are very good at recognizing photos, for example — our memory capacities are often disappointing. Faulty memories have been known to lead to erroneous eyewitness testimony (and false imprisonment), to marital friction (in the form of overlooked anniversaries) and even death (sky divers have been known to forget to pull their ripcords — accounting, by one estimate, for approximately 6 percent of sky-diving fatalities). The dubious dynamics of memory leave us vulnerable to the predations of spin doctors (because a phrase like “death tax” automatically brings to mind a different set of associations than “estate tax”), the pitfalls of stereotyping (in which easily accessible memories wash out less common counterexamples) and what the psychologist Timothy Wilson calls “mental contamination.” To the extent that we frequently can’t separate relevant information from irrelevant information, memory is often the culprit.

brain memmory neuro-memmory

All this becomes even more poignant when you compare our memories to those of the average laptop. Whereas it takes the average human child weeks or even months or years to memorize something as simple as a multiplication table, any modern computer can memorize any table in an instant — and never forget it. Why can’t we do the same?

Much of the difference lies in the basic organization of memory. Computers organize everything they store according to physical or logical locations, with each bit stored in a specific place according to some sort of master map, but we have no idea where anything in our brains is stored. We retrieve information not by knowing where it is but by using cues or clues that hint at what we are looking for.

In the best-case situation, this process works well: the particular memory we need just “pops” into our minds, automatically and effortlessly. The catch, however, is that our memories can easily get confused, especially when a given set of cues points to more than one memory. What we remember at any given moment depends heavily on the accidents of which bits of mental flotsam and jetsam happen to be active at that instant. Our mood, our environment, even our posture can all influence our delicate memories. To take but one example, studies suggest that if you learn a word while you happen to be slouching, you’ll be better able to remember that word at a later time if you are slouching than if you happen to be standing upright.

Computer-generated image of a human brain

And it’s not just humans. Cue-driven memory with all its idiosyncrasies has been found in just about every creature ever studied, from snails to flies, spiders, rats and monkeys. As a product of evolution, it is what engineers might call a kluge, a system that is clumsy and inelegant but a lot better than nothing.

If we dared, could we use the resources of modern science to improve human memory? Quite possibly, yes. A team of Toronto researchers, for example, has shown how a technique known as deep-brain stimulation can make small but measurable improvements by using electrical stimulation to drive the cue-driven circuits we already have.

But techniques like that can only take us so far. They can make memories more accessible but not necessarily more reliable, and the improvements are most likely to be only incremental. Making our memories both more accessible and more reliable would require something else, perhaps a system modeled on Google, which combines cue-driven promptings similar to human memory with the location-addressability of computers.

brain nerwork  mind control sweden

However difficult the practicalities, there’s no reason in principle why a future generation of neural prostheticists couldn’t pick up where nature left off, incorporating Google-like master maps into neural implants. This in turn would allow us to search our own memories — not just those on the Web — with something like the efficiency and reliability of a computer search engine.

Would this turn us into computers? Not at all. A neural implant equipped with a master memory map wouldn’t impair our capacity to think, or to feel, to love or to laugh; it wouldn’t change the nature of what we chose to remember; and it wouldn’t necessarily even expand the sheer size of our memory banks. But then again our problem has never been how much information we could store in our memories; it’s always been in getting that information back out — which is precisely where taking a clue from computer memory could help.

Gary Marcus, professor of psychology at New York University, is the author of “Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind.”

Brain Chips: Artificial Intelligence Is All in Your Head


15 Replies

  1. Ben Brown Mar 12th 2010

    The problem is that scientists, operating from clandestine subterranean facilties, surreptiously bio-implant unknowing People when they are very young, then archive his/her life and later psycho-physiologically tortures them, via synthetic telepathy/neuro-impulse weapons, to accept indoctrination and placement. These horrific defacto “abductions” require socio-incommuicado and geographic isolation as well as economic deprivation so as to affect a resolution satisfactory to the scientists, which includes secrecy and protection of their demonic and inhuman mechanisms and programs.

    Anagram:

    Advanced Hell technologies = The concealed slaveholding

  2. George U.S.A Mar 23rd 2010

    “Today’s micro- and nanoelectronic processes already would allow us to produce complex 3-dimensional microscale structures as sensors and actuators” José Antonio Plaza tells Nanowerk. “Complex structures, smaller than cells, can be mass produced with nanometer precision in shape and dimensions and at low cost already. Furthermore, many different materials (semiconductors, metals, and insulators) could be patterned on the silicon chip with accurate dimensions and geometries.”

  3. Brian implant chips, for example, “don’t necessarily improve the quality of life yet,” said Chris Van Hook, a program director for smart implants at the Leuven, Belgium-based group.

  4. Steve USA Mar 24th 2010

    Bionics meets the human brain!!. Many of the new and not-so-new miniaturized implants for the human body enable people with disabilities to lead more fulfilling and productive lives.

  5. Richard Mar 24th 2010

    There’s little fanfare in the mainstream media about the FDA’s approval of Cyberonic’s implanted Anti-depression device. What’s the big deal?

  6. Nike U.S.A Mar 26th 2010

    Or perhaps extra copies of genes that code for certain neural receptor sites could be introduced in the brain, to improve learning skills; that has been done in mice, in the lab of Joe Z. Tsien, of Boston University. Electrical stimulation has been used with some success as an adjunct to standard rehabilitation techniques for stroke victims — could it improve cognitive functions in healthy individuals?

  7. Jhonny U.S.A Mar 29th 2010

    Wideband Link
    The implants used by Unity to achieve group consciousness. Unlike an ordinary neurointerface it connects to most of the cerebral cortex and has a much higher bandwidth. It can send and receive signals not just of primary sensory and motor information but also higher order associations and thoughts. Since each human has an individual “mental language” sophisticated translation systems and much training is required before digital telepathy is possible. Wideband links are also used by the Net Transcendence and Next Step Foundation in their experiments with expanding the human mind. One of the most controversial and interesting applications is to let software rewrite parts of the cortex; theoretically this could be the ultimate psychodesign, even if it is currently extremely crude. Some AIs are apparently interested in using this approach to “download” themselves to physical bodies.

    Common brands: Unity Neurotechnologies Wideband Link™, BridgeTech Neocortex Interface™.

    Medial forebrain pacemaker
    An implant in the motivation and pleasure centres that is controlled by the owner’s neurocomputer. It is illegal on Nova and very addictive: users quickly become hooked on anything that activates it. It can be used together with behaviour therapy to change habits and personality, a kind of bionic psychodesign: the user links the implant to some reward evaluator (such as a monitoring AI) that rewards certain actions. The result is a strong increase in rewarded actions, which can be used to produce extreme ambition or tenacity. Unfortunately the temptations and dangers of use are huge.

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  9. Joe D. USA Apr 6th 2010

    Does it matter that human microchipping is a violation of at least nineteen of the United Nations – Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Well it seems that Wall Street does not answer to the moral and ethic construct…

  10. KTH Stockholm (Kista) Apr 22nd 2010

    As intelligence or sensory “amplifiers”, the implantable chip will generate at least four benefits: 1) it will increase the dynamic range of senses, enabling, for example, seeing IR, UV, and chemical spectra; 2) it will enhance memory; 3) it will enable “cyberthink” — invisible communication with others when making decisions, and 4) it will enable consistent and constant access to information where and when it is needed. For many these enhancements will produce major improvements in the quality of life, or their survivability, or their performance in a job. The first prototype devices for these improvements in human functioning should be available in five years, with the military prototypes starting within ten years, and information workers using prototypes within fifteen years; general adoption will take roughly twenty to thirty years. The brain chip will probably function as a prosthetic cortical implant. The user’s visual cortex will receive stimulation from a computer based either on what a camera sees or based on an artificial “window” interface.

  11. Niclas SWEDEN May 5th 2010

    Tending to civilize human experimentation (HE) intentionally disregards law and ethics. Are existing laws providing sufficient defense against experiments done without consent? What chance does a person stand in the court of law when making a case against the government, industry and military for illegal experimentation? And to make the matter worse, how does a victim take legal action when statements or proofs are non-admissible as testimony in a court of law.

  12. U.S.A May 7th 2010

    “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts.
    With our thoughts, we make the world.”

    -Gotama Buddha, 563-483 BCE

  13. Daniel U.K May 26th 2010

    Would this turn us into computers? Not at all. A neural implant equipped with a master memory map wouldn’t impair our capacity to think, or to feel, to love or to laugh; it wouldn’t change the nature of what we chose to remember; and it wouldn’t necessarily even expand the sheer size of our memory banks. But then again our problem has never been how much information we could store in our memories; it’s always been in getting that information back out — which is precisely where taking a clue from computer memory could help.

    Gary Marcus, professor of psychology at New York University, is the author of “Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind.”

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  15. So what exactly am I talking about here? Simply put, it is the ability to use a small computer to feed information directly to the brain. This is now the stuff of science fiction, but according to the people doing the research, not all that difficult do accomplish. The end result is seen as a nano-computer, implanted under the skin somewhere on the body. This computer would be wirelessly updated and able to wirelessly transmit information to nano-implants in the brain. Eventually you could have all the information in the world available to your brain. Everyone could in theory, know everything.

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