January 31, 2013

New Super Accurate Leap Controller will be the Standard

Have you ever seen the movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise where he's controlling a computer screen with special gloves.

There's a cool new product coming out very soon that senses hand gestures almost exactly like in that movie. Its similar to the xbox kinect but looks much more responsive to small gestures as opposed to kinect where you need to make larger motions for control.

And it even looks like the price will be affordable at under 80$.

"The leap controller senses your individual hand and finger movements so you can interact directly with your computer. Just connect our iPod-sized device and instantly get 8 cubic feet of awesome, intuitive, 3D interaction space."

 Here's a video of it in action

I can't wait to hook the leapcontroller up to my Kondo Humanoid robot at home and play with the cat.

Post by J5un for Emerging Tech Trends for Transhumanism

January 30, 2013

IBM reveals five innovations that will change our lives within five years

The era of cognitive systems: when computers will, in their own way, see, smell, touch, taste and hearIBM announced today the seventh annual “IBM 5 in 5” — a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years, based on market and societal trends as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s R&D labs. This one is focused on cognitive systems.


In the next five years, industries such as retail will be transformed by the ability to “touch” a product through your mobile device, using haptic, infrared and pressure-sensitive technologies to simulate touch — such as the texture and weave of a fabric as a shopper brushes their finger over the image of the item on a device screen.

Each object will have a unique set of vibration patterns that represents the touch experience: short fast patterns, or longer and stronger sets of vibrations. The vibration pattern will differentiate silk from linen or cotton, helping simulate the physical sensation of actually touching the material.
Current uses of haptic and graphic technology in the gaming industry, for example, will take the end user into a simulated environment.

In the next five years, “brain-like” capabilities will let computers analyze features in visual media such as color, texture patterns, or edge information and extract insights. This will have a profound impact for industries such as healthcare, retail and agriculture.
These capabilities will be put to work in healthcare by making sense out of massive volumes of medical information, such as MRIs, CT scans, X-Rays and ultrasound images, to capture information tailored to particular anatomy or pathologies. By being trained to discriminate what to look for in images — such as differentiating healthy from diseased tissue — and correlating that with patient records and scientific literature, systems that can “see” will help doctors detect medical problems with far greater speed and accuracy.

Within five years, a distributed system of clever sensors will detect elements of sound such as sound pressure, vibrations and sound waves at different frequencies. It will interpret these inputs to predict when trees will fall in a forest or when a landslide is imminent. Such a system will “listen” to our surroundings and measure movements, or the stress in a material, to warn us if danger lies ahead.

Raw sounds will be detected by sensors, much like the human brain. A system that receives this data will take into account other modalities, such as visual or tactile information, and classify and interpret the sounds based on what it has learned. When new sounds are detected, the system will form conclusions based on previous knowledge and the ability to recognize patterns.

For example, “baby talk” will be understood as a language, telling parents or doctors what infants are trying to communicate. Sounds can be a trigger for interpreting a baby’s behavior or needs. By being taught what baby sounds mean — whether fussing indicates a baby is hungry, hot, tired or in pain — a sophisticated speech recognition system would correlate sounds and babbles with other sensory or physiological information such as heart rate, pulse and temperature.

In the next five years, by learning about emotion and being able to sense mood, systems will pinpoint aspects of a conversation and analyze pitch, tone and hesitancy to help us have more productive dialogues that could improve customer call center interactions, or allow us to seamlessly interact with different cultures.

For example, today, IBM scientists are beginning to capture underwater noise levels in Galway Bay, Ireland to understand the sounds and vibrations of wave energy conversion machines, and the impact on sea life, by using underwater sensors that capture sound waves and transmit them to a receiving system to be analyzed.\

Taste What if we could make healthy foods taste delicious using a different kind of computing system that is built for creativity?

IBM researchers are developing a computing system that detects flavor, to be used with chefs to create the most tasty and novel recipes. It will break down ingredients to their molecular level and blend the chemistry of food compounds with the psychology behind what flavors and smells humans prefer. By comparing this with millions of recipes, the system will be able to create new flavor combinations that pair, for example, roasted chestnuts with other foods such as cooked beetroot, fresh caviar, and dry-cured ham.

A system like this can also be used to help us eat healthier, creating novel flavor combinations that will make us crave a vegetable casserole instead of potato chips.

The computer will be able to use algorithms to determine the precise chemical structure of food and why people like certain tastes. These algorithms will examine how chemicals interact with each other, the molecular complexity of flavor compounds and their bonding structure, and use that information, together with models of perception to predict the taste appeal of flavors.

Not only will it make healthy foods more palatable — it will also surprise us with unusual pairings of foods actually designed to maximize our experience of taste and flavor. In the case of people with special dietary needs, such as individuals with diabetes, it would develop flavors and recipes to keep their blood sugar regulated, but satisfy their sweet tooth.   

During the next five years, tiny sensors embedded in your computer or cell phone will detect if you’re coming down with a cold or other illness. By analyzing odors, biomarkers and thousands of molecules in someone’s breath, doctors will have help diagnosing and monitoring the onset of ailments such as liver and kidney disorders, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy by detecting which odors are normal and which are not.

In the next five years, IBM technology will “smell” surfaces for disinfectants to determine whether rooms have been sanitized. Using novel wireless “mesh” networks, data on various chemicals will be gathered and measured by sensors, and continuously learn and adapt to new smells over time.

Due to advances in sensor and communication technologies in combination with deep learning systems, sensors can measure data in places never thought possible. For example, computer systems can be used in agriculture to “smell” or analyze the soil condition of crops. In urban environments, this technology will be used to monitor issues with refuge, sanitation and pollution — helping city agencies spot potential problems before they get out of hand.

Today IBM scientists are already sensing environmental conditions and gases to preserve works of art. This innovation is beginning to be applied to tackle clinical hygiene, one of the biggest challenges in healthcare today.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which in 2005 was associated with almost 19,000 hospital stay-related deaths in the United States, is commonly found on the skin and can be easily transmitted wherever people are in close contact. One way of fighting MRSA exposure in healthcare institutions is by ensuring medical staff follow clinical hygiene guidelines.

To see Video presentations and infographics about these five innovations see the original article here

January 28, 2013

New Neuromodulation Technique: Optogenetics

First a little background from wikipedia if you are new to optogenetics

"Optogenetics is a neuromodulation technique employed in behavioral neuroscience that uses a combination of techniques from optics and genetics to control the activity of individual neurons in living tissue—even within freely-moving animals—and to precisely measure the effects of those manipulations in real-time.  Optogenetics is known for the high spatial and temporal resolutions that it provides, which allow for observation of individual neurons over a timecourse of milliseconds, but is primarily famous for its ability to precisely alter the activity of specific brain areas without directly affecting a subject's behavior.

In 2012 Gero Miesenböck was awarded the InBev-Baillet Latour International Health Prize for "pioneering optogenetic approaches to manipulate neuronal activity and to control animal behaviour."

In 2010 Karl Deisseroth was awarded the inaugural HFSP Nakasone Award for "for his pioneering work on the development of optogenetic methods for studying the function of neuronal networks underlying behavior."
In 2010, optogenetics was chosen as the Method of the Year across all fields of science and engineering by the interdisciplinary research journal Nature Methods Commentary. At the same time, optogenetics was highlighted in the article on “Breakthroughs of the Decade” in the scientific research journal Science Breakthrough of the Decade; these journals also referenced recent public-access general-interest video Method of the year video and textual SciAm summaries of optogenetics."

Here a video of it in action

It is still pretty new but already its shown enough promise that there are many research projects already underway in areas of:

1)Parkinsons disease and epilepsy treaments
2)Learning how activity occurs between neurons and brain mapping by characterizing the role of specific neurons, identifying the circuits responsible for behavior, and enhancing the methods of operant conditioning
3)Reasearch will be used to create better theories on how neural nets work
4)Gene therapy
5)A cure for blindness. Experiments on blind mice have shown that light evokes potentials in the visual cortex indicating that the retina of the animals regained photosensitivity, which is transmitted via the optic nerve to the brain. It is conceivable that such an approach might be possible for blind humans, suffering e.g. the dry or the wet macular degeneration. This would be an alternative to the technology, which implants photosensitive chips in the human eye, which is far away from a satisfying treatment.

Make Transhumanism a Reality

So you've finally decided to get off the sidelines and participate in getting this movement underway. You might be asking yourself where you can start especially if you are not gifted in the sciences or have tones of cash.

Don't worry you can still make a difference. You can
1)get the word out which would in turn attract people that well off in one of those areas
2)set up a business that caters to this niche or do some fundraising yourself and collect money from people that want to donate.
3)set up a group, participate in discussions, and get the ball rolling.
4)Use your hard earned bucks to buy some tech
5) Donate Time or money to a cause that already has the ball rolling

This page will be updated regularly with organizations that I have found to be legitimate.

January 27, 2013

About Transhumanism

Sometimes referred to Transhumanism is also referred to Posthuman. Without being redundant the wikipedia version is a pretty dam good verison.

 Transhumanism, abbreviated as H+ or h+, is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.[1] Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as study the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. They predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman".[1]

Other organizations have other extended versions of this that get more into religious beliefs area.

Resources For Transhumanists

Our ever expanding list of  Resources. If you see something missing and you'd like it to be added just contact us at the About/Contact  page and email us the name and URL of the site.

1)Our top ten books about Transhumanism .

2)List of Transhuman movies

3)List of Forums and Facebook Pages for discussions revolving around transhumansim

4)Events like lectures, seminars, conferences, or discussions related to transhumanism

5)Sites about Transhumanism
(Note: If you want your site listed on here just email us your site name and the URL on  the contact page)

Bang Science-Oxford Science Magazine
Immortal Life-Blog with a community dedicated to ending aging
Biohackyourself-About biohacking yourself. Lots of resources
H+Magazine-covers technological, scientific, and cultural trends that are changing us.
Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies- title pretty much says it all
KurzweilAcceleratingIntelligence-Ray Kurzweils blog
Singularity Hub- Topics about everything related to Kurzweil's Singularity
RationalWiki-Transhumanism - Wiki with resources on transhumanism

January 26, 2013

Billion-euro brain simulation and graphene projects win European funds

Neocortical column studied in Henry Markram’s Blue Brain project 
(Credit: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
The European Commission has selected the two research proposals it will fund to the tune of half-a-billion euros ($650 million U.S.) each, after a two-year, high-profile contest, Nature News reports.

The Human Brain Project, led by neuroscientist Henry Markram at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, plans for human brain simulation in a supercomputer. (See “Brain in a box”).

The other project, called Graphene, is led by theoretical physicist Jari Kinaret at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. It will develop the potential of graphene — an ultrathin, flexible and conducting form of carbon — along with related materials for applications in computing, batteries and sensors.

The projects expect to receive €1 billion ($1.3 billion) over ten years, half to be provided by the European Commission and half by participants. The commission will make its formal announcement on Monday, 28 January.

The Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagship competition was launched in 2009 as a challenge to apply information and communication technologies to social problems. The Human Brain Project claims that it will aid medical advancement in brain disorders. Graphene claims it will lead to development of new materials that will revolutionize diverse industries.

Original story from Kurzweil.AI

January 23, 2013

Collection of tranhumanism resources

Post by transhumanity.net
Posted: Thu, January 17, 2013 | By: Joern Pallensen
Note: Thanks to The Transhumanist (see logo) for this list, which is curated and updated regularly, here.


The Transhumanist Wiki (lots of good stuff here)

Singularity Symposium

biohack.me — discussion forum for grinding/biohacking & wiki

Serious Wonder — “Future consciousness and emergent technologies”

Singularity Hub

Future of Humanity Institute



Longecity Forum

Singularity Institute & Singularity University

The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET)

Extropy Institute


Nick Bostrom’s homepage

Koen De Paus’s H+ blog

Eliezer Yudkowsky’s homepage

Anders Sandberg’s homepage

Transhumanisten (joern Pallensen’s homepage)

Robin Hanson’s homepage

Max More’s homepage


Extreme Futurist Festival

Zero State: Positive social change through technology

transhumanism.meetup.com groups

Humanity+ Events

Transhumanist wiki list of communities


Transhumanism Ted Talks


The Singularity Film

Transcendent Man

Jason Silva’s Youtube Channel

Terence McKenna: The Transhuman Agenda

Singularity Symposium — Beyond Human: The Cyborg Revolution

The Singularity Is Near








r/nootropics and their FAQ





Related articles

* Recommendation: Transhumanity.net / DEBATE FORUM: Transhumanism, Politics, Religion, Sex… (transhumanisten.com)
* Transhumanism (atlantaen.wordpress.com)

January 21, 2013

Advanced humanoid Roboy to be ‘born’ in nine months

Humanoid service robot from I, Robot movie (credit: 20th Century Fox)

Meet Roboy, “one of the most advanced humanoid robots,” say researchers at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich.

Their 15 project partners and over 40 engineers and scientists are constructing Roboy as a tendon-driven robot modeled on human beings (robots usually have their motors in their joints, giving them that “robot” break-dance look), so it will move almost as elegantly as a human.

Roboy will be a “service robot,” meaning it will execute services independently for the convenience of human beings, as in the movie Robot & Frank.

And since service robots share their “living space” with people, user-friendliness and safety, above all, are of great importance, roboticists point out.

Which is why “soft robotics” — soft to the touch, soft in their interaction, soft and natural in their movements — will be important, and Roboy will be covered with “soft skin,” making interacting with him safer and more pleasant.

Service robots are already used in a wide variety of areas today, including for household chores, surveillance work and cleaning, and in hospitals and care homes. Our aging population is making it necessary to keep older people as autonomous as possible for as long as possible, which means caring for aged people is likely to be an important area for the deployment of service robots, roboticists say.

To speed up the process, the AI Lab researchers set a goal to build Roboy in just 9 months (the project began five months ago). Roboy will be unveiled at the Robots on Tour March 8 and 9, 2013 in Zurich.
To make this ambitious schedule possible, they decided to finance the first grassroots robotics project via crowdfunding. To participate, see Make Roboy your friend.

You can also friend Roboy on Facebook.

January 18, 2013

Ray Kurzweil Joins Google

Ray Kurzweil, the famed inventor and futurist, said today that he would join Google, starting Monday, to work on "some of the hardest problems in computer science."

Kurzweil's title will be director of engineering. In a long statement on his Web site, he said he would focus on machine learning and language processing:

"I've been interested in technology, and machine learning in particular, for a long time: when I was 14, I designed software that wrote original music, and later went on to invent the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, among other inventions. I've always worked to create practical systems that will make a difference in people's lives, which is what excites me as an inventor.

"In 1999, I said that in about a decade we would see technologies such as self-driving cars, and mobile phones that could answer your questions, and people criticized these predictions as unrealistic. Fast-forward a decade -- Google has demonstrated self-driving cars, and people are indeed asking questions of their Android phones. It's easy to shrug our collective shoulders as if these technologies have always been around, but we're really on a remarkable trajectory of quickening innovation, and Google is at the forefront of much of this development.

"I'm thrilled to be teaming up with Google to work on some of the hardest problems in computer science so
we can turn the next decade's 'unrealistic' visions into reality."

Google confirmed the news and said Kurzweil's long history of invention would prove useful.

"Ray's contributions to science and technology, through research in character and speech recognition and machine learning, have led to technological achievements that have had an enormous impact on society," Peter Norvig, Google's director of research, said in a statement. Norvig cited the Kurzweil Reading Machine, used by Stevie Wonder and others for having words read aloud to them. "We appreciate his ambitious, long-term thinking, and we think his approach to problem-solving will be incredibly valuable to projects we're working on at Google."

Original article by Casey Newton for Cnet

January 17, 2013

Mind Uploading/Downloading is closer than you think

There were some amazing discoveries last year by MIT scientists that show in fact are memories are stored in specific networks of neurons. Previously it was only postulated but now there is definitive proof.

In 2011 researchers from MIT discovered the  Npas4 gene, that controls the formation of memories; without Npas4, you cannot remember anything. MIT has successfully bred mice without the Npas4 gene.

 The MIT researchers made this discovery by triggering small clusters of neurons in mice causing them to recall specific memories. When they would remove these neurons the mice would then lose those specific memories.

Optogenetics Neuron
To accomplish this the researchers bred genetically engineered mice with light sensitive neurons that could be triggered by  pointing  the laser at the cluster of neurons via a hole drilled in the mice's skull

In order to show that a specific memory was triggered the mice were administered an electric shock to create a memory of fear. Later when the cluster of neurons were triggered the mice went into a a defensive posture showing the fear memory was triggered

What still needs to found out though is HOW memories are encoded into neurons. Like how exactly a cluster of 100,000 neurons creates the memory of an elephant. There has been some work done in this area on the Optic Nerve Psychology is primarily the science how WHY their are encoded and how they affect us.

Still a little ways off from the envisioned future of brain downloading and uploading but getting a hell of a lot closer

For further reading on Optic Nerve research go here

The article was a summary of Extremetech.com

January 16, 2013

Robots That Write Our News

News aggregators are used daily by people over the net to bring back relevant stories and news so they don't have to spend the time gong through countless webpages just to find what they are really looking for. Services like Google alerts is a good example of this. There is a program that i use to write articles for blogs that curates some of the content from multiple sources for me.

It got me wondering how far robotics might have penetrated the media world so i started looking around and found an article by wired on Narrative Science and how they program machines to write news stories.

As it turns out they are already being used by reputable companies like Forbes to write for their websites.

Narrative Science’s algorithms built this article using pitch-by-pitch game data that parents entered into an iPhone app called GameChanger. Last year the software produced nearly 400,000 accounts of Little League games. This year that number is expected to top 1.5 million.
   "Friona fell 10-8 to Boys Ranch in five innings on Monday at Friona despite racking up seven hits and eight runs. Friona was led by a flawless day at the dish by Hunter Sundre, who went 2-2 against Boys Ranch pitching. Sundre singled in the third inning and tripled in the fourth inning … Friona piled up the steals, swiping eight bags in all …"

Couldn't notice the difference could you. It may lack a little character but that could easily change. If you think that a computer could never really replace a human at writing stories think again. Robots have already replaced us at many things. Sports writers might have some cause for concern

Narrative Science's co founder Kristian Hammond was recently asked at a conference by wired reporter Steven Levy to predict what percentage of news would be written by computers in 15 years. At first he tried to duck the question, but with some prodding he sighed and gave in: “More than 90 percent.”

He also seems to be pretty optimistic that a computer could win a Pulitzer prize within five years

They can customize their software to act a certain way like purposely omit data like errors at a softball game.Articles that require lots of data and follow a predictable formula or framework like sports and finance are best suited for Narrative science's programs. They can customize the tone of the stories to sound like a breathless financial reporter screaming from a trading floor or a dry sell-side researcher pedantically walking you through it.

Recently they have been trying to tackle other areas outside sports and finance like:

1)writing reviews of the best restaurants.

2)writing a monthly report for its franchise operators that analyzes sales figures, compares them to regional peers, and suggests particular menu items to push.3

3) producing personalized 401(k) financial reports

4)synopses of World of Warcraft sessions—players could get a recap after a big raid that would read as if an embedded journalist had accompanied their guild.

Hammond"s bold vision is within 20 years as more data is available and the programs mature be in every area of writing from commodity news to explanatory journalism and, ultimately, detailed long-form articles.

Article by J5un for Emerging Tech Trends for Transhumanism
You can check out Narrative Science here

Post Update- Since I have written this article I have came across an app for websites that has update real time news. You can check it out at Nozzl.com.

January 13, 2013

Transhumanism and Hermaphroditism

I just read this interesting article by Terra Bosart for transhumanity.net on how transhumanism might lead to hermaphroditism in some. Being a transhumanist myself you cannot help but wonder about the different ways our bodies can be manipulated.

There is estimated to be 0.033% to 0.05% on wikipedia's intersexuality page of hermaphrodite  births. 

recently i watched a documentary by national geographic on immortality in nature and the scientist interviewed in it talked about many asexual organisms like the Turritopsis nutricula jellyfish are though to be physically immortal and can only die from external circumstances.

If  one was trying to achieve immortality then they may go in that direction towards one sex.

If you have any thoughts on this please leave them below or on my twitter acct
link to Terra Bosart's article

January 11, 2013

Creating Substrate independent minds

Carboncopies.org is a nonprofit organisation with a goal of advancing and creating Substrate-Independent Minds (SIM). Through carboncopies.org, we reach out to the public (e.g. meetings, Facebook group), to projects and experts, in order to introduce SIM, to explain why we should accomplish SIM, to maintain development roadmaps, as well as to facilitate research and development networks, secure funding and the establishment of new projects to address the complete mosaic of requirements.

Besides Whole Brain Emulation (WBE), they also look at Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) and Loosely-Coupled Off-Loading (LCOL).   LCOL would be re-creations dependent on sources such as self-report, life-logs, video recordings, artificial intelligence that attempts to learn about an individual, etc.

Information presented here is from the Carboncopies.org FAQ and website. There is article by Randal A. Koene, on Substrate Independent minds

What is Advancing Substrate-Independent Minds (ASIM)?

In the past the transferal of minds into computer-based systems has been rather vaguely referred to as 'uploading'. However, those hoping to advance this multidisciplinary field of research prefer to use the term Advancing Substrate Independent Minds (ASIM), to emphasize a more scientific, and less science fiction approach to creating emulations of human brains in substrates other than the original biological substrate. The term ASIM captures the fact that there are several ways in which hardware and software may be used to run algorithms which mimic the human brain, and that there are many different approaches that can be used to realize this objective.

Once you implement the functions originally carried out in one substrate in the computational hardware of another substrate you have achieved substrate-independence for those functions.

ASIM depends on developments in many disciplines. From a technical perspective, some of the foremost are neuroinformatics, neuroprosthetics, artificial general intelligence, high-throughput microscopy and brain-computer interfaces. Conceptually, there are also strong associations with applied bioinformatics and life-extension research.

The notion that the human mind is central to the experience of our existence and the realization that the brain can be understood as a biological machine have both been raised many times throughout the history of science. Following the development of computers and serious attempts to create mind-like function in artificial intelligence, there are now multiple high-profile projects directly aimed at reimplementing brain structure and functions of neurophysiology. To name the most obvious current candidates: the Blue-Brain Project, and the DARPA Synapse Project. Finally, converging developments in the areas of neural interfacing, optogenetic techniques and high-throughput microscopy, we arrive at the very real possibility to learn from and re-implement structure and function of specific brain samples.

ASIM is a subset of AGI (artificial general intelligence). It is the technical approach to mind uploading.

Concrete Steps

The term “mind uploading” has been used to describe a transition from the brain's implementation of mind functions to SIM. Ideally, we would always re-compile functions of mind to make optimal use of a new target substrate. But at present, we do not understand enough about the hierarchy of interacting strategies employed at different cognitive levels of the mind to carry out such optimization. We do understand a great deal more about the principles of the fundamental biophysical components from which functions of mind emerge.

In neuroscience, we have experience identifying mechanistic aspects of neurophysiology, measuring functional responses and determining modulating contributors. While we may not have a complete descriptive catalog of all types of neurons, synaptic channels, and so forth, we do know how to obtain that information in a specific case when we need it. By analogy, it is as if we know how to read out the assembly language instructions of a program from its executable file, even though we do not have an adequate high level description to write an alternative implementation of the same program.

This is why the vast majority of actual research and development towards SIM is focused on the most conservative route, which we call whole brain emulation (WBE). In whole brain emulation, we aim to replicate the functions of neurophysiology and the structure of neuroanatomy that determines the interactions of basic components. The same general method, brain emulation at increasing resolution and scale, is adopted by pioneers on the advanced frontiers of computational neuroscience and neuroinformatics, frequently with previously unimaginable results.

We emphasize once more that the objective of Substrate-Independent Minds may be achieved through a number of different ways. Carboncopies.org is a-priori technology agnostic, and we have identified several conceptually distinct approaches, although the following focuses on the WBE approach.

Solution Projects

The four requirements for whole brain emulation are very concrete and there are solutions that are feasible by applying the capabilities of science and engineering today. Right now, several projects are in stages of preparation or execution. (For details, see http://carboncopies.org and my upcoming article on “Experimental Research in Whole Brain Emulation” in the 2012 special issue of the International Journal of Machine Consciousness.)

The obvious way to acquire a structural connectome is to look at the spatial morphology of cells and fibers in the brain. Electron microscopy provides the resolution that is needed. Automated sectioning and imaging of a brain gives us the scope. Such volume microscopy is actively developed by several groups (e.g. the ATLUM project at Harvard University).

An entirely different solution to the acquisition of the structural connectome is tagged connection inference. There, biological bar codes (e.g., distinct artificial sequences of DNA or RNA) are used to mark pre- and post-synaptic sites throughout the brain. The tags form bidirectional pointers between neurons. After extracting tags at all sites, the sets of pointers provide the structural connectome in terms of synapses between neurons. This biological tool is being developed in the laboratories of Dr. Anthony Zador and Dr. Ed Callaway.

To satisfy the resolution requirements of in-vivo functional characterization of the elements of the connectome we look primarily to the development of new tools that can take these measurements from within. One strategy to manage scale and resolution is to establish a hierarchy of interfaces, reminiscent of the de-multiplexing of signals. Dr. Suzanne Gildert named this category the Demux-Tree approach. An example was introduced by Dr. Rudolpho Llinas, where the edges between nodes of the tree are formed by nanowires delivered through the vasculature of the brain. Flexible nanowires with a diameter of 500 nanometers have been developed at the New York University School of Medicine. Directing the wires into a Demux-Tree remains to be achieved, and a large number of nanowires still displaces significant brain volume.

Here too, there are projects aimed at developing biological tools. These have the advantage that they readily operate at cellular and sub-cellular resolutions, and can do so in vast numbers throughout the neural tissue. A collaboration of laboratories at MIT, Harvard and Northwestern University, with contributions by affiliates of Halcyon Molecular, is preparing the development of such a tool, a Molecular Ticker-Tape (Kording, K.P., PloS Computational Biology, 2011). Functional events, such as the activation of voltage-dependent receptors, will be recorded on biological media, such as DNA. The recordings may then be retrieved from the cells in which they reside.

Explicitly designing processes and systems in biology, while avoiding undesired interactions and downstream-effects is still difficult. Finding the biophysical components for signal detection, achieving the incorporation of those channels, and introducing reliable strategies for molecular recording are exploratory and time-consumptive efforts. Resolution and scale of these biological tools are extremely promising, although an in-vivo method of read-out is a desirable addition.

If we combine the benefits of both approaches, then we operate at sub-cellular scales, while recording in-vivo, retaining only the nodes and not the physical edges of the Demux-Tree. An optimal implementation of that approach was conceived several decades ago by Dr. Eric Drexler, Dr. Ralph Merkle, Dr. Robert Freitas and others, in the form of nanoscopic robots. Nanotechnology is in its early stages and we are not even very good at building macroscopic robots. What we are good at is developing and implementing integrated circuit technology. Shortly, we will describe a project to develop such a solution, a Micro-Neuro-Interface of sorts.

In the brain, the functions of mind are carried out by a highly parallel network of mostly silent, low-power processors – the neurons. Emulation of those functions will be more efficient on a similar computing substrate. That is why the development of neuromorphic computing platforms is of great interest. Examples are the hardware developed in the DARPA SyNAPSE project, the vastly extensible microchip architectures by Dr. Guy Paillet, and results of the European CAVIAR and FACETS projects.

Putting together Whole Brain Emulation Tools

Clearly, there are beneficial ways to combine technologies developed in different projects. For example, the application of protein-based or microbial rhodopsin-based voltage indicators, as developed by the Cohen lab can be a way for Micro-Neuro-Interfaces to optically register voltage changes. Or, high resolution recordings on Molecular Ticker Tape may be delivered in-vivo through agents.
To combine function and structure measurements, co-registration can be achieved in a number of ways. We may use local agent-to-agent topologies together with samples of morphological mapping carried out in-vivo by agents. We may also leave the Micro-Neuro-Interfaces in place, then carry out a volume microscopy in which the sectioned agents will show up at their locations within the tissue.

All of these concrete projects that can solve the requirements for whole brain emulation are based on the combination of present-day technologies. We can plan phases of development and estimate resources.

Of course, there is more to achieving SIM than the emulation of mind functions. A crucial matter is that the mind, as in its original biological implementation, must have a full and rich experience within its surroundings. This is called embodiment. In a sense, we extend beyond our brains, beyond our bodies and into the universe that communicates with us through sensation and interaction. Those input and output transactions must also be provided, but that is a topic that goes beyond the core steps to SIM that are presented here.

In past years, I [Randal Koene] have made it my responsibility to seek out and bring together the pioneers, the investigators, and to identify the technologies. With carboncopies.org,

I [Randal Koene] put together, maintain and update road maps for WBE and SIM. An essential task has been to spot key pieces of the puzzle that require urgent attention. Now, we are directly involved with and provide objective oriented coordination and communication between projects, insuring that results will meet the requirements and will come together to achieve substrate-independent minds. That accomplishment will give our species the adaptability to handle and the ability to benefit directly from our technological advances, which we will need in order to thrive through impending new challenges.

Article by Brain Wang for Next Big Future

January 8, 2013

Mind-Controlled Artificial Limbs Fusing Man and Machine Coming Next Year

A postdoctoral student has developed a technique for implanting thought-controlled robotic arms and their electrodes directly to the bones and nerves of amputees, a move which he is calling “the future of artificial limbs”. The first volunteers will receive their new limbs early in 2013.

“The benefits have no precedent,” Max Ortiz Catalan, who carries out research in biomedicine and artificial intelligence at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, told Wired.co.uk. “They will be able to simultaneously control several joints and motions, as well as to receive direct neural feedback on their actions. These features are today not available for patients outside research labs. Our aim is to change that.”

Ordinary myoelectric prostheses work by placing electrodes over the skin to pick up nerve signals that would ordinarily be sent by the brain to the limb. An algorithm then translates these signals, and sends instructions to motors within the electronic limb. Since the electrodes are applied to the skin surface, however, they will undoubtedly encounter countless issues in maintaining the fluid transferal of information back and forth between the brain and the limb. By implanting those electrodes directly to the patient’s nerves, Catalan is hoping to get one step closer than anyone else to replicating natural movement.

“Our technology helps amputees to control an artificial limb, in much the same way as their own biological hand or arm, via the person’s own nerves and remaining muscles,” he said.

Using the Osseointegrated Prosthesis for the Rehabilitation of Amputees (OPRA) method developed by Rickard Brånemark at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Catalan and his team plan to forgo traditional sockets in place of bone-anchored prostheses attached via titanium screws. It was a method inspired by Brånemark’s father, who was the first to discover that titanium can fuse with bone tissue.
“The operation will consist of placing neural and muscular electrodes on the patient’s stumps, as well as placing the bidirectional interfaces into the human body.”

A titanium implant acts as the bidirectional interface, transmitting signals from the electrodes, placed on nerves and muscles, to the limb. It is a truer replication of how the arm was designed to work, with information from existing nerves being transferred to the limb and to the implant, where algorithms can translate thought-controlled instructions into movement. It is, Catalan told Wired.co.uk, a “closed loop control” that moves us “one step further to providing natural control of the artificial limb”. Add to this the fact that every finger is motorised and can be individually controlled, and Catalan’s bold statement might just be accurate.

The first surgeries, due to be carried out by Brånemark in January or February 2013, will all be on patients that had limbs amputated several years prior. Asked whether or not this will make success harder, Catalan said it was one question they are looking to answer.

“The possibilities are higher in recent amputation. Our first patients however, have been amputated for several years. This project aims to answer several very interesting scientific questions in neurorehabilitation.”

In preparation, for both the amputees’ learning and the algorithm’s, Catalan has been training his subjects in the lab using virtual reality simulations. “It provides real-time feedback to the patients on their performance executing different motions. It is definitely very important for them to re-learn some motions, and for us to quantitatively qualify our algorithms’ performance.”

The work echoes that of the Centre for Bionic Medicine in Chicago. In October Zac Vawter highlighted the centre’s work by climbing 103 flights of stairs using his bionic leg, attached following an amputation technique called targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR). This involves transferring amputated nerves to remaining muscle and skin so that they can provide additional signals the limb’s inbuilt microprocessor can process — it dramatically improves the reactivity of a robotic prosthetic. Catalan is in touch with the Centre and plans to collaborate and combine the two technologies to help create an “osseointegrated human-machine gateway”.

“We definitely see the combination of these technologies as the future of artificial limbs,” he told Wired.co.uk.

“They have done excellent work, a lot of very useful scientific research has come from Todd Kuiken’sgroup. We have complementing technologies, while targeted muscle TMR is useful to provide additional control signals in the muscles, it still needs surface electrodes.”

Ultimately, Catalan hopes the surgical trials will prove the potential for dramatic progress in prosthetics and secure the university more funding to take that progress from a clinical setting, to a real world one on a far larger scale.

“This technology can then become a reality for lots of people. We want to leave the lab and become part of the patients’ everyday life. If the first operations this winter are successful, we will be the first research group in the world to make ‘thought-controlled prostheses’ a reality for patients to use in their daily activities, and not only inside research labs.”

Source Wired Magazine

January 2, 2013

Top 10 Non-Fiction Transhuman Books

Being a supporter of Transhumanism myself  I definitely favor the strong AI perspective although I realize a realistic assessment of whats really happening is required.

1)Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind-In this compelling book, Hans Moravec predicts that machines will attain human levels of intelligence by the year 2040, and that by 2050, they will surpass us. But even though Moravec predicts the end of the domination by human beings, his is not a bleak vision. Far from railing against a future in which machines rule the world, Moravec embraces it, taking the startling view that intelligent robots will actually be our evolutionary heirs. "Intelligent machines, which will grow from us, learn our skills, and share our goals and values, can be viewed as children of our minds." And since they are our children, we will want them to outdistance us. In fact, in a bid for immortality, many of our descendants will choose to transform into "ex humans," as they upload themselves into advanced computers. This provocative new book, the highly anticipated follow-up to his bestselling volume Mind Children, charts the trajectory of robotics in breathtaking detail. A must read for artificial intelligence, technology, and computer enthusiasts, Moravec's freewheeling but informed speculations present a future far different than we ever dared imagine.
10 reviews on Amazon gave it a 3.6 of 5 stars
You can get "Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind" at Amazon now

2)The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence
-The first Ray kurzweil book I ever read. Kurzweil refers to a time in the near future when machines intelligence will surpass humans and when humans begin to merge with machines. He calls this event the Singulairty
156 reviews on Amazon gave it  4 of 5 stars
Buy "The Age of Spiritual Machines" at Amazon

3)Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime-By Aubrey De Grey-An inside look from today's leading researchers on anti aging research. He breaks down how our bodies break down by comparing us to vehicles with parts that need to be fixed.Nearly all scientists who study the biology of aging agree that we will someday be able to substantially slow down the aging process, extending our productive, youthful lives. Dr. Aubrey de Grey is perhaps the most bullish of all such researchers. As has been reported in media outlets ranging from 60 Minutes to The New York Times, Dr. de Grey believes that the key biomedical technology required to eliminate aging-derived debilitation and death entirely—technology that would not only slow but periodically reverse age-related physiological decay, leaving us biologically young into an indefinite future—is now within reach.
41 reviews on Amazon gave it a 4.3 of 5 stars
Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime

4)Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence-Another one by Hans Moravec. In this outing Hans Moravec still has many exciting ideas he wants to share which always add excitement. He maintains that robots will eventually surpass us on the evolutionary ladder and most liekly become freinds rather than foes. He talks of mind-uploading into robotic bodies. This is one of the first books I ever read in high school that excietd me abouth the sciences
5 reviews on Amazon gave it a 4.6 of 5 stars
You can get "Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence" at Amazon now

5.The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology-My second favorite Kurzweil book. Ray Kurzweil has been one of the most respected and provocative advocates of the role of technology in our
future. In his classic The Age of Spiritual Machines, he argued that computers would soon rival the full range of human intelligence at its best. Now he examines the next step in this inexorable evolutionary process: the union of human and machine, in which the knowledge and skills embedded in our brains will be combined with the vastly greater capacity, speed, and knowledge-sharing ability of our creations.
5 reviews on amazon gave it a 4.2 of 5 stars
You can get "The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology" at Amazon now
6)100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and-Humanity is on the cusp of an exciting longevity revolution. The first person to live to 150 years has probably already been born. What will your life look like when you live to be over 100? Will the world become overpopulated? How will living longer affect your finances, your family life, and your views on religion and the afterlife? In 100 Plus, futurist Sonia Arrison brings together over a decade of experience researching and writing about cutting-edge advances in science and technology to paint a vivid picture of a future that only recently seemed like science fiction, but is now very real. The first book to give readers a comprehensive understanding of how life-extending discoveries will change our social and economic worlds, 100 Plus is an illuminating and indispensable text that will help us navigate the thrilling journey oflife beyond 100 years.
2 reviews on Amazon gave it 5 of 5 stars
Buy " 100 Plus" at Amazon now

7)Beyond Human: Living with Robots and Cyborgs- A humour and yet serious look at current trends in AI and cybernetics and where they are going in the near future. This book has a good argument against strong AI which I did not agree with but yet respect since you need a honest look at the way things really are.an up-to-date, comprehensive overview of developments in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence, physicist Benford and biologist Malartre also address deeper questions about the relationship between the brain and the mind, as well as humankind's nervous relationship with increasingly sophisticated machines. Looking at robots' use in all areas, such as unskilled labor, precision work (like surgery), the home and the battlefield, Benford and Malartre take into account not just the latest research and developments, but the long popularity of robots and cyborgs in pop culture (citing movies like A.I. and The Day the Earth Stood Still). Their concluding argument, that consciousness and the intellectual power of the human mind emerge from the complexity of the brain, and thus cannot be reduced to the functioning of its individual components, leads them to doubt, convincingly, that robots (machines that mimic humans) and cyborgs (man-machine hybrids) will ever amount to more than sophisticated tools, enhancing human life but never replacing it. Throughout, the authors maintain a playful sense, an optimistic view of the future and a steady grip on this rapidly expanding field.
 Buy "Beyond Human: Living with Robots and Cyborgs" at Amazon now

8)Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- and What It Means to Be Human
Bestselling author Joel Garreau, a reporter and editor for the Washington Post, shows us that we are at an inflection point in history. As you read this, we are engineering the next stage of human evolution. Through advances in genetic, robotic, information and nanotechnologies, we are altering our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities, our progeny–and perhaps our very souls.

Taking us behind the scenes with today's foremost researchers and pioneers, Garreau reveals that the super powers of our comic-book heroes already exist, or are in development in hospitals, labs, and research facilities around the country -- from the revved up reflexes and speed of Spider-Man and Superman, to the enhanced mental acuity and memory capabilities of an advanced species.

Over the next fifteen years, Garreau makes clear, these enhancements will become part of our everyday lives. Where will they lead us? To heaven–where technology’s promise to make us smarter, vanquish illness and extend our lives is the answer to our prayers? Or will they lead us, as some argue, to hell — where unrestrained technology brings about the ultimate destruction of our entire species? With the help and insights of the gifted thinkers and scientists who are making what has previously been thought of as science fiction a reality, Garreau explores how these developments, in our lifetime, will affect everything from the way we date to the way we work, from how we think and act to how we fall in love. It is a book about what our world is becoming today, not fifty years out. As Garreau cautions, it is only by anticipating the future that we can hope to shape it.
Get it at Amazon now Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- and What It Means to Be Human

9)How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics
In this age of DNA computers and artificial intelligence, information is becoming disembodied even as the "bodies" that once carried it vanish into virtuality. While some marvel at these changes, envisioning consciousness downloaded into a computer or humans "beamed" Star Trek-style, others view them with horror, seeing monsters brooding in the machines. In How We Became Posthuman, N. Katherine Hayles separates hype from fact, investigating the fate of embodiment in an information age.

Hayles relates three interwoven stories: how information lost its body, that is, how it came to be conceptualized as an entity separate from the material forms that carry it; the cultural and technological construction of the cyborg; and the dismantling of the liberal humanist "subject" in cybernetic discourse, along with the emergence of the "posthuman."

Ranging widely across the history of technology, cultural studies, and literary criticism, Hayles shows what had to be erased, forgotten, and elided to conceive of information as a disembodied entity. Thus she moves from the post-World War II Macy Conferences on cybernetics to the 1952 novel Limbo by cybernetics aficionado Bernard Wolfe; from the concept of self-making to Philip K. Dick's literary explorations of hallucination and reality; and from artificial life to postmodern novels exploring the implications of seeing humans as cybernetic systems.

Although becoming posthuman can be nightmarish, Hayles shows how it can also be liberating. From the birth of cybernetics to artificial life, How We Became Posthuman provides an indispensable account of how we arrived in our virtual age, and of where we might go from here.
Get How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics at Amazon now

10)Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution
A decade after his now-famous pronouncement of “the end of history,” Francis Fukuyama argues that as a result of biomedical advances, we are facing the possibility of a future in which our humanity itself will be altered beyond recognition. Fukuyama sketches a brief history of man’s changing understanding of human nature: from Plato and Aristotle to the modernity’s utopians and dictators who sought to remake mankind for ideological ends. Fukuyama argues that the ability to manipulate the DNA of all of one person’s descendants will have profound, and potentially terrible, consequences for our political order, even if undertaken with the best of intentions. In Our Posthuman Future, one of our greatest social philosophers begins to describe the potential effects of genetic exploration on the foundation of liberal democracy: the belief that human beings are equal by nature.

This post by J5un for Emerging Tech Trends for Transhumanism