Science wins Technology- Hands down

August 17, 2007 at 6:22 am | Posted in bong, work | 14 Comments

Technology and its daily nuances don’t affect me half as much as its elder brother- science usually does. That apart, the recent unveiling of the Audeo has had me quite enthralled.

The human body and the amazing engineering within comes to the obvious when we start to look at the body as an engineered genius. What is the heart but a pump, the limbs but joints, blood an intricate work of plumbing, and nerves but wires.

So what greatness is a device that can make people who can neither talk not move by their own now do both with ease to the common man bestowed with the powers of motion and speech? In my honest opinion- Zilch. As of now, the Audeo is the new baby technology that does its rounds to collect its fair share of awe and dough. But looking beyond the economic prosperity, let’s take a little trip in extrapolation, if only you would remove that skeptic’s hat and rationale behind.

The nervous system is a loose analogy to an electrical circuit. Only instead of a direct potential difference as in electricity, neurons (the wires here) do their job with the help of chemicals that create a similar potential (synapses). It is therefore only logical to try and tap this potential to draw the causal relationships that govern the human brain and perhaps try replicating it. In fact, contemporary electro encephalograms are based on plotting the neurotic wave pattern. To state it simply enough, the Audeo works by converting certain neuron pulses into electric ones and then act upon the latter.

Getting down to the extrapolation now, let us consider the possibility of the reverse (converting electric impulses to neuron ones) being possible (I see no reason why it shouldn’t). Imagine creating an electro-mechanical arm that moves and works just like a real one. People with severed limbs can just fit one to the stub of their joints. While prosthetics have been widely available for over a good half a century and perhaps more, imagine the possibility of an artificial limb that not only moves, shakes and wrings just as a normal hand would, but also feels. Amongst the sensory perceptions, it is without doubt that the sense of touch is given a lesser than least respect. But we often do not realize that the perfect equilibrium in holding an egg is only made possible because the hand realizes the opposing pressure acting on it. But for the pressure detectors in the form of intricate nerve endings on the fingers, the egg would be simply squashed.

Pressure sensors, heat sensors and converting these signals into any form we require is simpler today than writing this sentence. If it were possible to convert these into a form understandable by the nervous system (brain/ CNS), we can practically replicate sensory organs with cheaper and more widely available responsive prosthetics.

The high point of my imagination is when the eyes can be replaced by auto focus low power cameras, limbs with robotic prosthetics, smell with olfactory detectors, ears with minute microphones etc (not able to bypass taste though). A complete human requiring just a brain and a spine (for central nervous coordination)- the rest substituted by robotic components.

As a final blow, reality is merely the interpretation of our sensory perceptions (which is why we are calmed or irked by some kinds of lights, music, pictures, temperature, environ, smell etc). By replicating the sensory stimuli, we can ideally create a false reality- MATRIX style. To think about it, this might even eventually be required. To ensure that we do not continue littering about, we might simply be slipped into a virtual world which our senses convince us to be real. Perhaps we would simply live in a world of supposed reality just so as to ensure sustenance of our world. Maybe we voluntarily entered a make believe world where life, death, pain and joy are stimulated responses much like a computer game. May be we already are there and determine ourselves to assume otherwise.

Welcome to the MATRIX


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  1. sweetheart, Chemicals= neurotransmitters. If you want to continue with your form of analogies then synapses are more equivalent to electric posts where the reaction meets to take place…. HAHA sorry but neuro is my creme de la creme….

  2. oh thats perfectly ok with you correcting me because not a bio expert- you SHOULD be
    2. these facts don’t damage my hypothesis in anyway
    3. you look good and its against my dharma to contradict the few pretty faces i have left in my repository
    4. this does not damage my hypothesis
    5. i might be factually incorrect but MY LOGIC IS IMPECCABLE

  3. ye..the extrapolation’s gud..atleast wacky! Yes..ur not a bio-expert:) & from the physics point you’re alright but the human body is not just an ensembly of many parts..they’re intergratedly interdependently part of one being! The audeo-initialising various other ‘to-come’ revolutions in creating & replicating tissues & organs is fine..but well…it’s much much more complex..even neuro-transmitting is not just ‘chemical-locha’ but a result of probably many other proteins & complex bio-chemical & inter-dependent reactions?!

  4. hmmmm
    electric to neuron…
    just a few glitches –
    1)there is no source known to man that can produce enough energy consistently as a neuron can.
    2)there are 10 trillion to 100 trillion synapses – so you’d have to do quite a bit of programming to take care of all permutations bcoz each minuscule synapse in combination with other synapses and that thing called memory will decide on the action.
    3)the chemical transmission of a nerve impulse at the synapse will fire a new impulse – back to the 100 trillions programming.
    4)we have things like axons, somas, and receptors PER neuron.

    now, let’s take a common problem – u get ur gf alone finally and just when u are abt to, ahem, kiss her, ur motor battery’s dead and there u’ll stand – unable to move an inch until she runs along and plugs YOU in 😉 (no pun intended)

    check this article for the matrix part

  5. @arthy-> yes, im no bio expert. what im saying is- the entire process is possible. not that its a breeze, but with the speed of mapping and computation today, we sould be able to work it out!!

  6. @santosh-> dude im sure the process isn’t a random permutation. there defnly must be a one-to-one relationship between the stimulus (in the head) and the end result. and i believe mapping it isn’t just as difficult as we assume it to be…

    and lets take another example- u come home all tired and dead after a day’s work. all you can dream of is a quiet drink and some good sleep… and as fate would have it, the gf just happens to wipe off any traces of headache tonight! gotta be the good guy… jus stimulate her endings a bit and be off to sleep (no pun intended)

  7. @every skeptic-> the greatest block to progress is the subject matter experts who tend to trust in the superiority of their own fields that they greatly undermine the potential of a bridge with other domains.

    remove your ‘I AM A DOCTOR AND THEREFORE INDISPENSIBLE’ hat and you’ll see the heart is just a pump, the eyes are just simple lenses and the brain an enormous CPU. if u believe in darwin, everything got to be by a mixture of stimulus-response and lucky evolution. if it could happen by happen-chance, it can be done by well formed knowledge.

    if u choose to believe in God- he did it, right? so it IS something doable

  8. machi, if yer interested in a trek sometime around the last week of nov or dec, ping me on yahoo or gtalk (tk em from my blog or orkut profile)

  9. Dear Vikram,
    I “believe” in God (in quotes as I do not use the word believe as it is normally used)..but I wouldn’t think of Him as the engineer who put together all things bright and beautiful (yucky and weird as well)…I am not bothered about the biology stuff here…although I could,comment on these things..specifically because I am training to be a neuroscientist, and have seen some robotics in action…however, I choose to take your ‘impeccable logic’ apart on the last thing that iot seems to endorse…the notion of a Matrix…and your ‘final blow’ on ‘reality’…
    Reality is not what we perceive….do some Kantian metaphysics and tell me one good reason why you would dismiss Noumena…or do some Indian philosophy and see how anti-realists have been done to dust by the realists…
    All that apart…
    If we are in a Matrix world…given that all that you have said is possible…then it can be argued that the people who presumed to put us in the matrix were themselves part of another Matric which was presumably engineered by others who were put in their place by …so on ad infinitum…this leads to a common philosophical proble with anti-realistic arguments (call it Maya call it the Matrix)…that of infinite regress. There are other problems with the matrix idea that kill it before it can even take off.
    Anyway…sorry if I sound like one of the ‘experts’ who spoil all the fun…much as I love science fiction, I am wary of technology and what it promises…that’s why I don’t do anything remotely connected to biotech anymore…lol.

    Take care dude


  10. thanks anand.
    1- i wouldn’t completely agree or disagree with kantian metaphysics… primarily because i don’t know what it is, but more since the wiki on it is terribly boring

    2- that there must be infinite regressions to the matrix theory is a PROBABILITY rather than a fact. it is NOT necessary that the process must take infinite chains. as can be obviously seen from ur argument, it CAN be presumed so- not MUST be.

    anand, 3- u do sound like one of those experts who just states the conclusion, assumin g the world already sees the arguments the way u do. what i ve pondered on here is just a thought with what i KNOW and ASSIMILATE. there may be other parameters that u see, and I don’t. im hoping u’d justify ur position with those STRONGER facts.

    and just to close, what then is reality that we claim other than the collective perception of the crowds at large?

  11. Dear Vikram,
    to point (1) I have nothing to say..Kantian philosophy is not boring…a bit obvious but certainly not boring.
    To point 2, if my presumption is just that…why do you onsider the Matrix anything more than a fib…because it seems probable…not because you have infalliable knowledge that it is the case….therefore I would give greater weight to the argument from infinite regress

    to point (3)…oh I know for a fact that the world hardly sees anything the way I do…lol…which position of mine do you want me to justify..that against technology? or that which is in defense of realism, however naive?

    The collective perception of crowds can be termed consensual reality..but the reality I alluded to happens to be the much abused thing known as objkective reality…that which exists on it own, and existed before any life forms evolved. There are some nice arguments and bunch of books on the debate…I am running short of time on my project….so will get back to you on this in ten days.


  12. Lots of research and analysis, eh lad?
    Kash mujhe bhi techie-techie blogs
    likh sakthi….But I’ll just settle for reading them. 😉

  13. It is really whacky to think abt all these things… all these wud serve really well to physically challenged ppl… even down the year it might be proved that it is all feasible too…

  14. maple,
    tagged da

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