“Brain Machines”

Imagine the technical device that you can download your brain into. Would you like this technology to think for you? Daniel Dennett refers to the brain running like the von Neumann machine. Technology is connecting to humans and will possibly perform some of the same tasks as humans do. In his article “The Empirical Theory of the Mind” he explains how the brain functions in relation to the von Neumann architecture.

“Your only access to what is going on in your brain comes in a sequential ‘format’ that is strikingly reminiscent of the von Neumann architecture-although putting it that way is historically backwards. There is a big difference, as we have seen, between a (standard) computer’s serial architecture and the parallel architecture of the brain” (160).

This notion argues against the ideas of Artificial Intelligence which tries to duplicate human intelligence. John McCarthy’s article “What is Artificial Intelligence” explains it as, “It is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence” (1). Dennett questions if we as humans can be imitated. He explains that for people it may be hard to keep up with what you need to properly imitate someone but the von Neumann machine was created to copy what is presented.

Certain machines can now perform surgeries without a person touching it. Bill Joy who wrote the article “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us” he explains his shock from hear Ray Kurzweil predict that robots would be intelligent.

“The rate of improvement of technology was going to accelerate and that we were going to become robots or fuse with robots” (47).

Like Kurzweil predicted robots are starting to become a part of the world. Joy was bothered by some of the information Kurzweil was presenting in his book The Age of Spiritual Machines. Joy didn’t agree “that machines might be permitted to make all of their own decisions without human oversight, or else human control over the machines might be retained” (48). Joy’s overall analysis is basically to not allow computers to take over.

The idea of computers and robots becoming mainstream is not a foreign idea in the world today. In the medical field technology has become a team player in assisting patients. Last year in 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge was wide spread campaign all over media. Social media was one of the most popular outlets used to spread the growth of this challenge. Alexandria Sifferlin wrote the article “Here’s How the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Actually Started” explains the origin of this campaign.

“The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has quickly gone from a fundraising campaign to a viral Internet sensation, raising 15.6 million so far for the ALS Association to research the Lou Gehrig’s disease.”

While many people supported this challenge they may not have full understood the disease itself. According to A Life Story Foundation, ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player is, “Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease that causes muscle weakness, paralysis, and ultimately, respiratory failure” (1). This disease attacks certain cells in the brain and the spinal cord making it hard for movement. Downloading the brain into technical devices can be helpful with those suffering from this disease or ones similar to it.

Betts Peters’ article the “FYI Brain-Computer Interface” states that it is “a system that allows a person to control a computer or other electronic device using only his or her brainwaves, with no movement required” (1). This interface is used for communication, and computer access. BCI also controls devices such as wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs. The idea is that anything controlled by computers can be controlled by BCI. According to Peters’ article BCI is being referred to as a rehabilitation device and is undergoing examination. BCI is associated with rebuilding people’s motor skills they have lost and they replace motor skills that were lost through the use of prosthetics.

With the BCI machines certain triggers in the brain cause it to be effective. Those using these machines recognize certain signals and their brains react to it. There are many types of BCI machines that help those with ALS. Typing letters with the BCI is slow. As stated in Peters’

article, “all BCI systems require conscious effort from the user to type message or move cursor.” It is not a mind reading device as some would think.

The future of BCI technology will grow as the improvement of the devices grow. The new software will allow users to do more. So connecting people’s brains to technology and devices are helpful especially in the medical field. This machine will become more effective as time goes. Giving those with ALS a chance to communication and function far better than they ever have before.

It is getting very close to where people will download their brains into their devices and technology. Though this does sound a little scary it may become something people will not hesitate to consider. When it actually comes into the front is there anyone that will turn it down? Your device will know your thoughts and will think for you. Brain machines for the future!

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