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Friday, September 04, 2015

Growing Psychic Mini-Brains

I was mildly distressed recently to find that our Ethiopian company iCog Labs -- recently written up nicely in Techonomy -- may not be the weirdest tech company in Addis Ababa.   

Scientific Revolution Earth, also in Addis, is centered around novel designs for Zero Point Energy -- which, in the spectrum of out-there science, may beat iCog's thrust toward Artificial General Intelligence, humanoid robotics and radical life extension...

Never one to be outdone, I started thinking about what way-out-there projects we could try at iCog to recapture the Ethiopian Mad Science crown!! ....

Probably many of you have seen recent news about biologists growing"mini-brains" in the lab....   This is really cool and would seem to open up all sorts of possibilities.   Among them, obviously: GROWING PSYCHIC MINI-BRAINS !!


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/10272066/Mini-brain-made-from-stem-cells.html

Last year Damien Broderick and I co-authored a book summarizing some of the empirical evidence for "paranormal" phenomena such as ESP, precognition, psychokinesis and so forth.    I won't re-tread that information about the evidence for psi here, you can look it up if you're curious!  I gave some other links on the topic here as well.

What I want to wonder about here is:  
Given that psi is presumably mediated by some neural process, I wonder if one could grow a mini-brain specifically to be a psychic (e.g. precognitive) hunk of
neural matter?


I mean: If particular (perhaps quantum) properties of neural structure/dynamics somehow play a key role in psi, it might be possible to create neural matter that leverages these properties better than the human brain does...


Suppose one could induce some sort of Hebbian reinforcement learning (long-term potentiation, etc.), perhaps one could guide the self-shaping of a biological neural network via rewarding it for correctly predicting the future....  Then one might be able to create a precognitive hunk of neurons, even without understanding exactly how the hunk of neurons organized itself to become precognitive (and then one could study it to see how it worked)

I bounced his idea off some psi-researcher friends and they were somewhat positive, but suspected it would work best if the mini-brain were attached to some sort of body.

Pumping blood thru the mini-brain via an artificial heart would add some extra rhythmicity, which is important according to some views of the underpinnings of psi.

More adventurously, one could put the mini-brain in a simple robot body with a low-fi camera eye and some wheels ... and a motivational system that rewards it based on some simple stimulus pattern, say finding the color red in its environment...


Then make the mini-brain experience a reward when it sees, say, the color red -- and put it in situations where seeing the color red is much more likely if it does a bit of precognition...


This weird cyborgic organism would have a strong selective pressure for psychic "first sight" -- just as James Carpenter suggests many animals do...

Yyyeaahhh -- Now that's weird science, folks!

Alas I don't currently have time to pursue this fascinating speculative direction, nor wealth to fund someone else to do it.   But it's interesting to think about!   

If you give it a try, let me know what you find ;-)




8 comments:

Stephen Paul King said...

Bell pairs can span time as well as space.

Stephen Paul King said...

Bell pairs can span time as well as space.

Anonymous said...

Oh benjiman what have you been smoking?

Oobulu Goobulu said...

I've been wanting to do this for sooo long…. but alas, lack of money

avturchin said...

Why not try with existing animals. I have read something about snails telepathy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasilalinic-sympathetic_compass

Bri notavailable said...

Hi Ben! I'm new to this format. As someone who has to deal with psychic phenomenon I tend to follow current thought. Contact Amara at KAI. I used to post there and she is very familiar with me. Tell her to share my email with you if your more interested after speaking to. From my experiences I can tell you that you guys are playing with matches like little children. Fortunately there is a degree of supervison.

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