Re: >H soft incremental uploads

Anders Sandberg (
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 17:08:52 +0200 (MET DST)

On Mon, 12 Aug 1996, Eric Watt Forste wrote:

> At 8:44 AM 8/12/96, Eugene Leitl wrote:
> >I think economic pressure will merely tend to pronounce the patients to
> >be incurable... Already hitech medicine inflicts a heavy, soon likely to
> >grow intolerably high financial drain upon the populace/medical insurance
> >of leading industrial countries. As the age histo distribution grows
> >increasingly skewed & skeweder, medical costs are bound to explode (and
> >they do).
> I don't know about other countries, but I know that in the United States,
> over 50% of dollars paid to the medical industry are paid by the Federal
> government. I suspect this (and certain inefficient regulations) has a
> great deal to do with escalating costs.

Possibly. But there is a larger problem: we learn about methods to cure
rarer and rarer conditions. These cures are expensive, and since the
conditions are rare, their prices will not sink as fast as for cures
against (say) acne. I'm not 100% sure if this leads to a total increase
in cost, but it definitely seems so. Add to this other reasons for
increasing medical costs, and we have a nasty problem.

In _Tech Heaven_, Nagata mentions a move where some medical therapies are
deemed too expensive to subsidy, and hence become unavailable to most
people - in the name of giving at least everybody a chance to get *some*
decent medical help.

To get around this costs have to be lowered: either by drastic
improvements of technology (unlikely to work on these short spans) or
changes in the way medicine is financed. Interesting material for an
independent thread.

> Techniques for manufacturing new designs of computing hardware that can
> instantiate neural and fuzzy computational processes are developing *much*
> more rapidly than our understanding of the brain.

Let's see now: Moore's Law: processor power doubles every 18 months.
Medical knowledge doubles every 5 years. Yes, you seem to be right.
(although knowledge about the brain grows faster than most areas, thanks
to recent insights).

> >1) I doubt it will be neural nets, more likely we will see coupling of
> > brittle computer algebra packages (Mathematica, MatLab, etc.) first.
> > bioNN computational prowess is pretty awesome -- we'll need some time
> > to approach this order of magnitude. Complementary skills.
> But I suspect we'll need an understanding of the computational processes in
> the brain before we can start hooking any *new* functionality into it, and
> once we have that understanding, we'll probably use it to build some of the
> new functionality. Granted that this understanding is nowhere in sight at
> the moment.

If we can create some way to interface at all, we can start hook in
functionality. The interface will just be very messy and non-intuitive,
unless we can hook up signals to the normal I/O systems (sight, hearing,
touch) to run our brittle packages (I *want* matlab in my head - I'm
falling in love with this old, crusty and powerful package right now).

> >If this fine-grain incremental upload is infeasible, merely beckoning to
> >the surviving set of strange attractors constituting your personality
> >with virgin circuitry will depend on their evolution-shaped propensity to
> >cross over into new territory. Since this never happens in real life (though
> >lesion tolerance & recovery is based on semi-dormant, redundant circuitry
> >taking over the part of vanquished one), it is not likely to work.

There are some speculation that the attractors replicate as a part of
mental functioning. In this case adding more "cortex" would give us a
larger mental space. Let's hope its true! :-)

> >Alas, I have grown to distrust this Proteus guy (... you never know who he'll
> >be next ;). Most neuroscientists I know are highly sceptical about
> >unbound malleability of cerebral circuitry.
> Cognitive science is a highly interdisciplinary field, and most
> psychologists I know who understand anything about computation are firmly
> convinced of the plasticity of mind. I said nothing about "unbound". It's
> important to distinguish between computational processes and the
> instantiating hardware, even though this is devilishly difficult to do in
> the case of the human brain, just as it is with the genetic apparatus.

I think most of the brain is rather static in circuitry, but its meaning
can be very quickly redefined (remember the experiments with glasses
turning everything upside down - after a while vision worked as normal).
My guess is that parts of the cortex are undefined from the beginning,
and later used in various systems that emerge.

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y