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Visions ot the future 1of3 The Intelligence Revolution

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Three centuries ago, the great English scientist Sir Isaac Newton wrote: "I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore "whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. " Today, once again, we are like children playing on the sea shore, but the great ocean of truth is no longer undiscovered. We have unlocked the secrets of matter - the atom. We have unravelled the molecule of life - DNA. And we have created a form of artificial intelligence - the computer. The discovery of the fundamental laws of nature in the 20th century will open up unparalleled possibilities for the 21st. We are making the historic transition from the age of scientific discovery to the age of scientific mastery in which we will be able to manipulate and mould nature almost to our wishes. I will show you just how rapidly and radically science is transforming our lives. I believe this will confront us with profound challenges and choices, so profound that we have to start to address them today. In the coming decades, we'll see how we are becoming masters of intelligence, how science will allow us to create and manipulate intelligence almost at will. This mastery of intelligence will enable us to design new worlds, but this is just the first step. From mastering machine intelligence, we'll move to creating intelligent machines. Welcome, Dr Kaku. Glad to be here, Asimo. And, ultimately, we will redesign our own minds. Driving all this is the exponential growth of computing power. This is the old IBM 1401. Back in the 1960s, it was state of the art. It was an engineering marvel. It filled up an entire room, it weighed four tons, and in today's money it would cost about �1 million. The old 1401 could perform just over 4,000 calculations per second. This is a mobile phone of today. It costs about �50, it has a microchip the size of your fingernail, and it can do about one billion calculations per second. That's 300,000 times faster than the old 1401. The exponential growth of computer power will profoundly reshape all of human civilisation. By 2020, a chip with today's processing power will cost about a penny. That's the cost of scrap paper that we simply throw away. And children will wonder how could we possibly have lived in a world that was dumb? Our world is already much smarter than 10 years ago. And as computing power doubles every 18 months, it's propelling us toward a very different future. I'm sitting in this car, but I'm not steering. My foot is not on the accelerator, I'm not driving at all. The car is driving itself. This car uses GPS systems and laser sensors to find its way and avoid obstacles, completely autonomously. And all this achieved with the processing power of just eight desktop computers. Very soon, not just our cars, but our roads will also be smart. Built-in microchips will manage traffic and what once seemed a futuristic fantasy will soon become reality. The city of tomorrow! Vehicles, electronically paced, travel routes remarkably safe, swift and efficient. I believe that in the future the very words "traffic accident", "traffic jam", will be something that disappears from the English language. By 2020, intelligence will be everywhere. Not just in a car or the roads, but practically in every object. Scientists call it ubiquitous computing. What's ahead is pretty inevitable if you look at the last three decades. The '80s, the decade of the microprocessor, symbolised by the personal computer. That's when we built our computers. The '90s, the decade of networks and communications, symbolised by the World Wide Web, was when we connected our computers together. was when we connected our computers together. In this decade, it's computing that's everywhere, connected to everything, and embedded in everything. You'll know ubiquitous computing has arrived when you realise computers have become invisible. Already we have computers in our phones, TV sets, stereos, wristwatches and dishwashers, but in the future computers will move even deeper into the very fabric of our lives. In just a few years, basic microchips will be so cheap they could be built into every product we buy - an invisible, intelligent network hidden in our walls, our furniture, even our clothing. Wearable computers will continuously monitor our health. It's like having a personalised doctor on call, 24 hours a day. In case of an emergency, like a heart attack, your clothing will upload your entire medical history, locate your position and call for an ambulance, all while you are unconscious. We will be reliant on computers and networks to a degree we've never imagined. We'll all be a little like Blanche DuBois in Streetcar Named Desire, where she says, "I have always relied upon the kindness of strangers. " In this case, the strangers will be machines toiling away in complete anonymity. You won't even know they exist. You see this aspirin pill? Looks pretty ordinary. But, believe it or not, in the future, this could have the power of a PC and a video camera and it could photograph all your internal organs. It's sort of like swallowing an entire medical laboratory. So, in the future, computers could monitor your health from the outside and the inside. 'But perhaps the biggest impact will come when ubiquitous intelligence combines with another technology - 'the internet. ' In the future, the internet will be everywhere, including your sunglasses. It will be projected from the glasses into your retina. Or you will use the lens of your glasses as a movie screen. In other words, your eyeglasses could be your future home entertainment centre. Your glasses will provide you with a constant flow of information. They'll recognise people's faces and download their personal profiles. 500 years ago, the mass distribution of books set off an intellectual explosion with the coming of the Renaissance, but today, with the internet and ubiquitous computing, it's an even greater revolution. First, it's global. It's not just for the elites, it's for everyone. Second, it's interactive. Ideas get dissected. This is democracy in action. This revolution is just the first stage in our mastery of machine intelligence. 'And it's changing not just our ideas, but our relationships with each other. ' So here I am, dancing in a virtual world. My dancing partners are real, but they're located several hundred miles from here, so I'm dancing with a virtual three-dimensional image, transmitted to me in real time. Simultaneously, my image is being transmitted to them. 'This new technology is called tele-immersion. ' Three-dimensional technologies like tele-immersion have virtually limitless possibilities. They could be the evolutionary successor of the telephone and might even reduce air travel. Now, at the present time, the technology is in its early stages, but imagine in the future having an entire business conference in a virtual world. Imagine celebrating a virtual Christmas party with friends and relatives in a virtual living room, even if thousands of miles away. Imagine a virtual television programme, as if you are sitting right there in the audience or right there, running on the playing field of an exciting football game. 'And what makes this a credible scenario is the unprecedented growth we are already seeing 'in online communication. 'Facebook, MySpace and instant messaging are moving into the mainstream. 'And with virtual reality, it goes one step further. 'We can create virtual worlds and virtual selves - 'avatars who are not limited by real-world constraints. ' Online games like Second Life allow us to create worlds where everything and anything is possible. These are worlds of endless self-reinvention, where we can change our shape, our sex, and even our species. 'As for my avatar, 'I decided to lose a few years. 'This is not just escapist entertainment - people actually live in these worlds. 'They even fall in love. ' I chose a plot of land near a nice-looking build and it turned out it was his. Chris had built something very unconventional, very curvy, very futuristic. That appealed to me. It also happened to be in a lovely setting. A nice, green area with streams running through it. I'd scripted a brain to control the house, tint windows, lock the door, even make a swimming pool appear from underground when I wanted it. Elaine used to pop over on the pretence to say hi to Brain. The first time we ever went out, we did have a date, it was on a secluded, romantic island in Second Life. Yeah. We hung out and chatted and acted silly. Six months after their first meeting in the virtual world, Alayne Wartell and Chris Edwards got married. For real. Second Life has changed my life in a lot of ways. I live in England now instead of the United States, I met my husband, and I have a new career. Alayne earns real money selling virtual products in a virtual world. 'My main business is accessories. 'I make jewellery and shoes and handbags and things for avatars. 'How you look is a really important part of being there, 'so I do make a living. ' In fact, I make more than I ever did in my previous career. That's amazing to me, that it's come that far. It's really wonderful. 'I'm surprised how quickly I'm getting drawn into this world. 'In just four years, Second Life has grown from a few thousand enthusiasts to more than 5 million. 'By 2020, there will be an entire three-dimensional universe in cyberspace 'with virtual countries and governments, schools and universities, property and stocks 'and virtual families and friends. ' Virtual reality is going to become more and more like real reality, but have the advantage that I can share a virtual reality environment with someone else hundreds of miles apart. We can be other people and change environments quickly. It has a lot of advantages over real reality. I think in 10 years things like Second Life will be as prevalent as email is now. And virtual worlds will become a similar way for people to get together, collaborate. I can see in the future that it's going to be so much more capable than it is today. And I'm going to love it. When I was a child, we read about a fictional character called Walter Mitty. By daytime, he was a typical middle class boring individual, but at night he had very fierce fantasies living out wild dreams. In some sense, all of us are Walter Mittys, but with Second Life and virtual reality, we can live out our fantasies. And in the future, the lines between our virtual fantasies and the physical reality will increasingly blur. One notion is that virtual reality interfaces might be integrated into the human body. We can have a display built in to layers within the eye or into the optic tract somewhere or indeed into the brain itself. But these possibilities raise some rather disturbing questions. What happens if we assume so many different identities that we begin to lose our own sense of identity? What happens if we begin to prefer virtual social networks over our real social networks? And the family - will the family suffer if we spend more time with our virtual family than our real one? If you have more than one avatar, more than one personality, it could impact very much on how you see yourself. Human beings have always had multiple personalities. I'm different as a daughter to as a sister, to as a friend... We all adapt to the context of the time and the place that we are, with the group of people that we are. Different people bring out different things in you. But it may be in these avatar worlds it's magnified tenfold. What can I do for you? Already more than 30 million people worldwide spend an average of 20 hours per week in virtual worlds. Some, like Sarah Rogers, actually prefer virtual communication to socialising in the physical world. In real life, I'm quite a shy person, but if you asked any of my online friends if I was shy, they would say absolutely not. I am able to talk freely, just because I have the time to think about what I'm saying. It's quite liberating because I feel like I'm more myself when I'm not under social pressures. In real life, Sarah Rogers is a history student. In the multi-player online game World of Warcraft she is an undead priest. The online games do compete for my time. Some days it can be sort of six hours, eight hours. However, it's always more exciting to go and slay some monster than read about history. You can be a dragon slayer or the princess or whatever, but you don't have body language, you don't have pheromones, inner thoughts. It might be in the future we go, "Eugh! Real life conversation? "I couldn't do that! I'd much rather have this sanitised interaction. " It might be, in the end, a little bit like that that we become used to not having real conversations. There's some evidence of that. You don't see people face to face so you can tell them anything and you don't feel embarrassed. In a way, you actually get closer to people than you would in real life and you form stronger bonds. Just as the advent of language gave us an ability to conceive the world with a vast array of references and precision, the ability to create and share simulated content in virtual worlds is going to help people conceive of a multitude of aspects of reality that we just don't really consider today. Virtual reality and ubiquitous computing are only the first stage of our mastery of artificial intelligence. As we move further into the 21st century, artificial intelligence will revolutionise our lives even more radically It will result in an evolutionary leap that will profoundly challenge the human condition. In the latter half of the 21st century, we will enter a whole new realm of mastery. We will move from being creators of machine intelligence to being creators of intelligent machines, machines that begin to rival human intelligence or perhaps even exceed it. And this could mean that a long-held futuristic dream may eventually come true - machines that could fulfil our every whim. Already large parts of our lives, our society, our economy are run by machines with specialised artificial intelligence. There are already hundreds of examples of what I call narrow Al. Basically, programs that are operating at human levels, doing what humans used to do and doing them, generally, better, for specific task. Flying and landing aeroplanes, guiding weapons, making billions of dollars of financial decisions. I could give hundreds of examples. This used to require humans. Machines now do it faster, more accurately. And the narrowness is gradually getting less narrow. And, due to the explosion of computing power, more and more machines are now being designed to think for themselves. Like these modular robots, called superbots. Every module, if needed, can become a brain to control others. And they can detect where they are in the body. Basically, they use their infrared and they have six-way communication with their neighbours. They would say, "Do I have a neighbour on my right-hand side? On my left-hand side?" If it detects it's in the arm, it will perform like an arm. If it detects it's in the leg, it will perform as a leg. These are just prototypes. The next generation of superbots will be able to assess their environment independently and decide for themselves which shape would be best. It will change its shape to become a snake in order to go through a very narrow place, or change the shape to have legs to grab things and climb down certain things. Eventually they'll perform different tasks in different environments. That's our grand goal for this project. Up to now, robots' ability to think and act autonomously has been limited by two major hurdles. The first is pattern recognition. Robots can see - better than us - but they don't understand what they are seeing. They can't recognise objects very well. The second is more important. Robots can hear - much better than us - but they don't necessarily understand what they are hearing. Yet this may be about to change. 'Here at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, researchers have recently made a breakthrough. 'They have created a machine with object recognition skills, 'by combining computer science with neuroscience. ' Our work has been motivated mainly by trying to understand the neuroscience of the brain, how the brain works. If you understand the part of intelligence works, you can recreate it in machines. The MIT team designed a computer that emulates the way the brain processes visual information. The machine was then shown hundreds of sample images of common objects, like buildings, vehicles, animals or plants. Afterwards, the machine was shown images of street scenes that contained those objects. The question was whether it would recognise them. The results were astounding. The computer succeeded in finding 78% of the objects. It did surprisingly well, I should say. Much better than I would have thought. Intelligence is the ability to learn to recognise objects in difficult situations. I'm excited about this discovery. But how does the computer compare to human abilities? This computer program and I are going head-to-head in a contest. It's going to be man versus machine. Both of us are going to be flashed a picture so fast you can barely see it and we have to decide whether or not there's an animal in that picture - Immediate Object Recognition. Most computers do horribly at this. 'A picture is flashed up onscreen for just a fiftieth of a second. 'I then have to decide whether there is or isn't an animal present. The computer does the same. 'And then the picture is revealed, along with our answers. 'Let's see who comes out on top. 'I get the impression that the computer has got the better of me. 'And, in fact, it has. ' It's rather ingenious. This computer can mimic the way the human brain processes information. And look - it beat me. 'Research into artificial intelligence is at a turning point. 'In the coming decades, machines will gradually approach human level intelligence. 'What kind of relationship will we develop with intelligent machines? 'To find out, I've travelled to the country my family came from - Japan. ' My parents grew up in the Shinto and Buddhist tradition. In Shintoism, there are gods and spirits which inhabit all things, even inanimate things like machines and even robots. And in Buddhism, the emphasis is on harmony, not conflict, not domination, but living in harmony with the world. 'So the Japanese people conceive robots as friends, companions and even confidants. ' Welcome, Dr Kaku. Glad to meet you, Asimo. I'll show you to the table. My pleasure. 'It's no surprise that the most advanced humanoid robot, Asimo, has been developed here 'in Japan. ' Thank you for making time to visit us. No problem. I'll bring you something to drink. 'While Asimo can recognise obstacles and pre-registered faces, 'most of what it says and does is pre-programmed. ' Please take a seat. OK, I will. Please excuse me. 'And yet Asimo has one very important skill - it can walk and move like a human. ' I start walking. We take it for granted that we can walk. We don't even think about it. In fact, it's an extremely complex task. It took the engineers at Honda 20 years of research to achieve Asimo's human-like movements. Asimo is one of the most advanced robots in the world when it comes to walking, when it comes to running and mobility. Things that were once considered impossible, Asimo can do. So Asimo is an engineering marvel. Five or ten years ago, a robot that could walk with this sophistication was beyond reach. 'Because Asimo's looks and moves are so strikingly similar to a human, 'I don't see in it just a machine. ' I came for a delivery. Thank you. I brought you orange juice. 'I know Asimo is a machine... ' Thank you so much. '.. but I find myself relating to it as though it was a real person. 'We tend to anthropomorphise things closest to us. ' For example, recently my wife and I bought a Roomba, one of these robot vacuum cleaners that cleans your floor automatically. My wife's attitude toward the machine began to change with time. All of a sudden, she began to call it an affectionate name and say, "Don't work it so hard. "Let the poor thing rest. Give it a break," as if it were a real person, some kind of pet or even a baby. 'The more lifelike the machine, the more we develop an emotional bond. 'And the more we will tend to interact with it. 'Yet what will happen when, increasingly, the machines interact with us?' MUSIC: "Surfin' USA" 'These children are visiting the world's largest robot museum in the Japanese city of Nagoya. 'Some of the robots on display here are specially designed to foster an emotional bond with humans. ' This is the Sony Aibo. In other words, robo-pet. The Sony Aibo can register about six different emotions, like hunger, distress, pain. When you want to pet the dog, it registers pleasure. Pet its back, tickle its ears or its chin. And when it runs out of electricity, it shows that it's hungry. The children here clearly love toys like Aibo. Their reaction gives an insight into our future relationship with robots. I showed some Australian children of a robot called Curio, which means curiosity. This Curio is amazing. Not only can it walk up and down stairs, sit down, right itself and so on, but it can process conversations and respond as if it has emotions. When I asked the eight-year-old children, "Would you rather have your best friend "or have Curio as your best friend?" the best friend was dumped immediately in favour of Curio! APPLAUSE Some of your closest friends might not be humans at all. You may become emotionally attached to a pet robot or to an artificial intelligence out on the web. You'll know that it's not really intelligent, but you've gotten a habit of sharing your secrets to it and it listens so well and so much better than your friend that you'll be dependent on it. 'But what if these robots did not just act as though they had emotions? 'What if they did really feel pain and pleasure, sadness and joy?' Nice or nasty? Nasty. Because you were meant to register pain. I'm not going to hurt you. Nasty or nice? Nice. 'Traditionally, emotions have been seen as the antithesis of intelligence. 'But scientists are beginning to understand that emotions are critical for higher intelligence. ' Scientists have been hesitant to want to work on emotion. Scientists think of themselves as very rational, unemotional beings and yet what scientists often forget is that we are guided in what we choose to focus on by the mechanisms of emotion. So we came along about a decade ago and started saying, "This matters. " We have to understand how emotion influences intelligence so we may emulate it in machines. Don't you care?! Care? No, why should I care? 'Emotional intelligence is the cutting edge of human intelligence. ' You wouldn't care about someone in pain? We do not feel pain. Being jealous, expressing a loving sentiment, getting the joke. These are very complex behaviours, our most intelligent behaviour. Pardon me for breathing, which I never do anyway. Oh, God, I'm so depressed. Neuroscientists have found something absolutely essential about the human brain. In patients that suffer brain damage, the front part of the brain, the thinking part, cannot communicate well with the part that governs emotions. These people are paralysed by indecision. They can't evaluate what's important and what's not. In the future, we want robots to tell the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, important and not important, and for that emotions are the key. 'So, inevitably, for robots to be really useful to us 'they will have to be emotional beings. ' "Let's build robots with genuine people personalities," they said. So they tried it out with me. 'And these emotional, intelligent beings will learn and develop, 'becoming more and more independent of humans. ' I'm not getting you down, am I? The government here in Tokyo is considering the world's first set of laws to regulate and redefine the role of robots in society. This is going to be increasingly important as robots begin to assume more and more human characteristics. You can't predict what will happen because in a short time the machine might develop and learn and invent and test new ideas in such variety that the next day you wouldn't understand what it's doing. And it would be too busy to bother trying to explain it to you. 'As machines evolve both their intelligence and their ability to navigate our world, 'they may outgrow human control. ' I think there's a very good chance machines will be smarter than us. We're going to lose this brain race. There are two scenarios here - the optimistic scenario is that these new superhuman machines are very gentle and treat us like pets and the pessimistic scenario is that they're not very gentle and they treat us like food. Me, I hope for the first scenario. They're coming towards us. What... what is it? I don't know. 'Robots developing their own agenda and turning against humans is a staple of science fiction. ' Whenever Hollywood shows you humans coming in conflict with Als, sides are roughly evenly balanced. 'Hollywood can only show you movies 'where the good guys have a fighting chance. ' Goliath versus David is a story. Goliath versus a fruit fly is not. Without you, what could he do? There's no limit to what he could do. He could destroy the Earth. Some people think it's hopeless, it's only a matter of time before machines become smarter than us and put us in zoos behind bars. I don't think it's that clear at all. We'll be able to choose the level of advancement of the intelligence of our robots. Why don't you keep out? Don't talk to me like that. I created you. We do have a choice in how we create artificial intelligence. You've got to be very sure either that that mind is never going to want to self-improve or to want to do anything that destroys intelligent life. Treat that gun as if it's loaded. You can't beat us, Dr Fleming! Am I likely to get hurt? Yes! What we do with people is put them through lots of experiments and tests and challenges before they are promoted to the next level, to see if they are trustworthy and resilient and able to function. Similarly, as machines get very complex and less predictable, and harder to anticipate their behaviour, we will have to put them through many more tests and trials to prove that they are trustworthy in more complex situations. I believe it's ultimately up to us what kind of intelligent machines we'll create. We will decide what relationship we'll develop with them. And we'll have another even more critical choice. We'll be able to choose the level of our own intelligence. As machines become more intelligent, we'll be able to enhance our own cognitive and intellectual capabilities. Here's the irony - as machines become more like humans, humans might become more like machines. And that may represent the highest stage in a mastery of intelligence. Merging our minds with machines may sound like science fiction, but it's already happening. At the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, neurosurgeons implant electrodes into the brains of chronically depressed patients. The technique is called deep brain stimulation or DBS and it's normally used for Parkinson's patients. Deep brain stimulation or a "brain pacemaker" involves implanting a tiny electrical wire in different parts of the brain. This emits tiny electrical signals that regulate abnormal brain activity and rewires the brain to help these patients' quality of life. Diane is one of the first depression patients to be treated with a brain implant. I suffered from depression for 20 years. My world had sort of shrunk to my living room and my bedroom. It just felt like I was carrying a ton on my shoulders. And even the thought of having to do anything that took energy was so exhausting to me that I couldn't do it then. So... It was just sort of a very dark... shrunken world. Diane was desperate to find a cure for her condition. I tried very many medications - MAOl inhibitors, SSRI medications, anti-psychotics, anti-depressives, electro-convulsive therapy... And all of those things just made me withdraw more and more. See the nose? Rezai's team uses the latest in MRI scanning technology to locate specific areas of the brain for treatment. See here Diane's brain scan. These computerised systems allow you to navigate different parts of her brain to find the target area. Microscopic robots are used to guide the implants through the brain. These tiny micro-robots allow us to start from the top of the head to a point that is 8-10 centimetres deep in her brain. The operation would last five hours. After three hours, the electrodes were placed into position. They woke me up from the anaesthesia so I could respond. And they turned it on and all of a sudden it was like, "How are you feeling?" How are you feeling? I'm starting to smile. I feel happy. Suddenly I was just grinning from ear to ear, giggling a little bit and I said, "Yeah, I like this! This is OK." You know, it's how I used to feel when I would go to work and... you know, have good weekends and do things. But I just haven't felt like that for so long that... It's been how many years? Well, since... really '88. For me it was instantaneous to feel SO good. You just don't want it to stop. So let me show you the X-rays. You can see here these wires that are implanted in the mood parts of the brain to improve the mood and energy and anxiety. These tunnel from the top of the head down here, down the neck, to the chest and to the pacemaker battery. After her recovery, the process of fine-tuning the settings of Diane's brain pacemaker began. We'll start on the left side. OK. 'That's a real rollercoaster ride!' They switch it one way and almost instantaneously you're crying. I don't feel good. Things just seem darker and heavier. And then they, you know, turned that off and maybe switch it to another parameter and then you're feeling better. So I did that for four or five hours, three days in a row. Mm, I think I feel a little lighter, a little brighter. Feel better? It's definitely better? Yes. No doubt, huh? Yeah. Definitely lighter and brighter. Definitely? Yes. My face feels so relaxed. Does it? Yeah. 'On the fourth day, we found a setting that I just was... a whole new person. ' It's the difference between night and day. In my life. Brain implants have the potential to treat a wide range of conditions in the very near future. The use of brain pacemakers will be more and more common, for patients with severe epilepsy, for patients with Tourette's syndrome, and one of the next frontiers will be in the realm of patients with severe acquired brain injury, such as stroke, and patients with autism and Alzheimer's, down the line. It's going to affect many neurological and psychiatric conditions. 'But implants could do more than simply repair the brain. 'Soon microchips could begin to augment and improve it. ' Some scientists predict that in the future we'll have a memory chip. We'll be able to file away and store memories and vastly improve our memory. Maybe one day we'll have a vision chip which could help victims of strokes and accidents and some scientists predict that we could even have a thinking chip that could vastly enhance our cognitive and intellectual skills. When you go out to the late 2020s, almost everybody will have some amount of non-biological intelligence inside their brains. It will happen very gradually, and as it gradually becomes more sophisticated, you'll enter the 2040s and the non-biological machine portion of our intelligence could be vastly more powerful than the biological portion. Biological intelligence will be trivial then, and ultimately that is really where the action is. We, as a species, are starting to put our information-processing technology inside our bodies. And our technologies are becoming more biological. In next 50 years we'll see robots with more biological components and people with more electronic components. So where are the people going to be and where are the robots going to be in 50 or 100 years? It's an interesting question. We are at the dawn of a new era in which we might, literally, be able to change our mind with the push of a button. The proof of principle already exists. A team at the University of Southern California is working on an implant to replace the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is instrumental for storing memories. People whose hippocampus has been damaged in an accident may remember things from before the accident, but have trouble forming new memories. In a groundbreaking move, scientists hope to correct this by inserting computer chips directly linked to the nerves of the brain. I started 30 years ago. I was involved in early microprocessor development. I'm a physicist by training, and I never really anticipated becoming a neuroscientist or taking these and translating them into a biological system. First, the team recorded the electrical responses of the hippocampus of rats. Then they designed a computer chip which mimicked these responses. The chip was tested by interfacing it with the brains of rats. You can improve the response of the rats by about 50 or 70%, so we do see an improvement in the rats' performance. The next step will be to develop the chip for humans. By replacing the damaged hippocampus of a human, the scientists aim to treat Alzheimer's and epilepsy. It's very exciting work and it's very fulfilling if you think eventually you might impact people's lives. Currently, brain implants are only used to treat certain medical conditions. The very idea of having electrodes sticking out of our heads, well, that's repulsive to some people, even if they can enhance our memory and our intelligence. But in the future, we just might get used to it and this technology could become totally safe, reliable and unnoticeable. But this raises an even deeper question. Precisely how many of our natural body parts can we replace with artificial ones before we begin to lose our sense of being human? We'll replace ourselves by beings that are like us in some respect and not in others. They'll be able to learn a thousand times faster and live a thousand times longer and these little changes will make such large changes that it's hard to imagine what will happen. One of the biggest problems with the 21st century is how one deals with a world that is far from a level playing field and having some enhanced ability when others have no drinking water. Would that lead us into a world where the colonialism of the 19th century pales in significance to the speciation, the differentiation of people into techno-haves and techno-have nots. 'All revolutions have winners and losers. This one is no exception. 'But I would say the big losers are the people who say' they don't want to get involved. They're the ones who will discover that being a little bit out of touch will have unpleasant consequences. This is a revolution where it's not a good idea to be a bystander. In the past, we were just observers of intelligence. During the Agricultural Revolution, the best we could do was domesticate animals and use their intelligence to secure our food supply. During the Industrial Revolution, we could build adding machines and automated instruments, but that's about it. Now for the first time, in the Information Revolution, we can begin to become masters of intelligence. This mastery will offer us unparalleled freedom and opportunities. It has the potential to enrich our lives more than anything we've seen before. But it also forces us to confront key social issues, choices that we have to start to address today. Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2007

Video Details

Duration: 58 minutes and 31 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: BBC
Views: 7,484
Posted by: asianos on Dec 27, 2009


In the opening instalment, Kaku explains how artificial intelligence will revolutionise homes, workplaces and lifestyles, and how virtual worlds will become so realistic that they will rival the physical world. Robots with human-level intelligence may finally become a reality, and in the ultimate stage of mastery, we'll even be able to merge our minds with machine intelligence.

For the first time on television, see how a severely depressed patient can be turned into a happy person at the push of a button - all thanks to the cross-pollination of neuroscience and artificial intelligence.

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