NEWS: neurochip; LIT: Egan and uploading

Damien R. Sullivan (
Thu, 27 Nov 1997 15:37:34 -0800 (PST)

First, some Caltech people have created the first neurochip: 16 neurons
which can be linked together on a chip, so they're all connected to
electrodes as well.

Second: I've just finished Greg Egan's _Axiomatic_, and he is a cool
author. Extropian hard SF; what more can one ask for? (A copy of
_Diaspora_ is what.) But what struck me most was his Ndoli device, or
"jewel", which is an approach to uploading I don't think I've ever seen
before, but which seems obvious after the fact. It's a neural network
implanted in the brain in childhood. It receives the same input you do,
and it's output is corrected by a "teacher" to conform to the output of
your brain. It doesn't actually do anything: it's just a backup brain
inside your skull, but the identity isn't maintained by direct neural
mapping, but by bullying a neural network to conform. Later in life
your brain can be scraped out and the jewel given control.

I've only seen some form of scanning before, for uploading.
Nondestructive (super CAT-scan) or destructive (unravel the brain by
neurons, or the related in situ replacement of neurons.) Imitation is
new to me.

It's not clearly easier than the older alternatives: you not only need
to put a human in something much smaller than the meat-brain, but it
needs to run at much lower power (otherwise you boil our brain.) I also
wonder about measuring the output of our brain; much activity is
internal, and you can measure that, you might be able to do a direct
scan. Then again, if the jewel can be made to match your physical and
verbal output for 10 years, one might presume congruence internally.

I don't know if adult implantation could work -- Egan starts early --
and it's useless for cryonics patients. But it's still neat.

-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-)

Prowl, run, howl at the full moon
I can't do it right, don't know why I try.
Soon the moon will be rising
Oh woe is the life of a werewolf.