The Human Brain
What can I tell you about the human brain? Not much. It is a fairly complicated organ. I am doing my best to understand more about the brain, as it is central to future issues like privacy, transhumanism and The Singularity.
Here as some general facts about the brain:
Center of the human nervous system
Most complex organ on earth
Weighs on average about 3 lb (1.5 kg)
Consistency similar to jelly
Estimated 50–100 billion neurons
I find current philosophies of the mind to be as foggy as a morning hangover. How does the brain's processes generate the stream of consciousness we call the mind? I'm not sure that the science community can adequately answer this question. That may change, thanks to merging technologies like artificial intelligence, imaging, nanotechnology and supercomputers.
Future breakthroughs in neuroscience could have a great effect on society. What will the world be like when technology can tell us without a doubt that the accused is guilty of a crime, a spouse has cheated, or an employee would likely steal? How about uploading your memories for posterity or downloading the skills you need for that new job? Record your dreams for later viewing or control your computer (or any device), just by thinking about it. Many of these futuristic technologies are already in development.
Some of the most controversial issues to face society in the future will come from cognitive breakthroughs. In my mind it comes down to this, the more we understand about the human brain, the more we know about ourselves, and that can be a bit unnerving.
Powerful lie detection tools may someday surpass the accuracy of the polygraph and permanently change how suspects are convicted -- and freed.
Imagine, a suspect is read words related to a crime while their brain is being scanned. A computer analyzes the data and informs the examiner if the suspect's memory holds information about the crime that only the perpetrator could know. The guilty could be clearly identified and the innocent would be set free.
Brain machine interfaces (BMIs), allow for activity in the brain to be sent to, or received from, a computer.
Some BMIs use sensors mounted in a removable cap or MRI technology to read signals from the brain. Others connect directly to the surface of the brain, through tiny wires and an array of micro-electrodes. BMIs can also be entirely implanted in the brain.
Neuroscience is the field that is devoted to the scientific study of the nervous system. Neuroscience is at the frontier of investigation of the brain and mind. The study of the brain is becoming the cornerstone in understanding how we perceive and interact with the external world and, in particular, how human experience and human biology influence each other.
Researchers are studying ways to improve memory, learning and other mental abilities by using substances called cognitive enhancers or smart drugs.
Some experts predict that by the year 2050, computers will have the capacity to store all of the information contained in the human brain. For those that can afford immortality, their brains could be scanned and downloaded to machines, perhaps to be uploaded to a new brain.