Ray Kurzweil: Your Thoughts Create Your Brain

The basic technologies to enable us to look inside the brain and see its functioning are growing exponentially. And they're at a point now where we can actually see individual interneural connections forming and firing.

Ray Kurzweil: We've already shown that we can connect computers to neurons and we have neural implants. They're actually pretty small. This Parkinson's implant is pea-sized. It's placed actually in the body and they connect it into the brain and you can download new software to that computer inside your body, connecting your brain from outside the patient.

That's today. Another one of the exponential trends is that we're shrinking technology. It's actually a rate of about 103 volumes per decade. So at that rate, it won't be pea-sized in 20 years. It'll be blood cell sized and we can send them in through the blood stream.

Ultimately, we can send these in without surgery, but even with surgery we can tackle more serious brain dysfunction, which is already starting to happen and the latest generation are programmable machines and the Parkinson's implant first was just connected to one spot and then two, then four, now they're going for like hundreds of connections into the neocortex. So we see the same kind of exponential ramp up.

But if you're really going to continue to make progress, you have to basically understand how the system works. It's very hard to fix a vacuum cleaner if you don't understand its method of operation.  The design of the human brain is contained in the genome. I show in the book there's only about 25 million bytes of design information in the genome pertaining to the brain. That's a complicated derivation, but there's not much data in the genome.

Well so how does 25 million bytes of design information create this entity with hundreds of trillions of connections through redundancy. There's a great deal of repetition. It's like saying, oh, a forest is much too complex a concept for us to understand because it's got, you know, trillions of branches, there's millions of trees, and every tree has lots of branches and every branch has lots of different twists and turns and how could we possibly understand that.

Well there's some principles about how a forest is organized that we can understand and we can do – it's actually easier to understand than the concept of a tree and I think the brain is easier to understand than the concept of a neuron.  The basic technologies to enable us to look inside the brain and see its functioning are growing exponentially. And they're at a point now where we can actually see individual interneural connections forming and firing.

We can see your brain creates your thoughts. We can see your thoughts create your brain 'cause that's key to the secret of its operation that we actually create the connections that constitute the hierarchy of the neocortex from our own thoughts.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd.

 

The basic technologies to enable us to look inside the brain and see its functioning are growing exponentially. And they're at a point now where we can actually see individual interneural connections forming and firing.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.