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Source: ScientificAmerican.com
Adam Piore
March 24, 2017

Excerpted from The Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered Human by Adam Piore. Copyright © 2017 Adam Piore. With permission of the publisher, HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

It’s a frigid February afternoon, and I’m sitting in a hospital room in downtown Albany, New York, as a team of white-jacketed technicians bustle about the bed of a 40-year-old single mother from Schenectady, named Cathy. And they are getting ready to push the outer bounds of computer-aided “mind reading.” They are attempting to decode “imagined speech.”

I have been led here by Gerwin Schalk, a gregarious, Austrian-born neuroscientist, who has promised to show me just how far he and other neurological codebreakers have travelled since that day decades ago when David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel made history by listening in—and decoding—the patterns of neurons firing in a cat’s visual cortex.

Cathy is epileptic and plans to undergo brain surgery to try to remove the portion of her brain that is the source of her seizures. Three days ago, doctors lifted off the top of Cathy’s skull, and placed 117 tiny electrodes directly onto the right surface of her naked cortex so they could monitor her brain activity and map the target area. While she waits, she has volunteered to participate in Schalk’s research.

Now, next to my chair, Cathy is propped up in a motorized bed. The top of Cathy’s head is swathed in a stiff, plaster-like, mold of bandages and surgical tape. And a thick jumble of mesh-covered wires protrudes from the opening at the top of her skull. It flops over the back of her hospital bed, drops down to the ground and snakes over to a cart holding $250,000 worth of boxes, amplifiers, splitters and computers.

An attendant gives a signal, and Cathy focuses on a monitor sitting on the table in front of her as a series of single words emanate in a female monotone from a pair of nearby speakers.

“Spoon…”

“Python…”

“Battlefield…”

After each word, a colored plus sign flashes on Cathy’s monitor–Cathy’s cue to repeat each word silently in her head. Cathy’s face is inscrutable. But as she imagines each word, the 117 electrodes sitting atop her cortex record the unique combination of electrical activity emanating from 100s of millions of individual neurons in an area of her brain called the temporal lobe. Those patterns shoot through the wires, into a box that amplifies them, and then into the computer, where they are represented in the peaks and valleys of stacked, horizontal lines scrolling across the screen in front of the technician. Buried somewhere in that mass of squiggly lines, so thick and impenetrable it resembles a handful of hair pulled taut with a brush, is a logical pattern, a code that can be read if one understands the mysterious language of the brain.

Later Schalk’s team at the Wadsworth Center, a public health laboratory of the New York State Department of Health, along with collaborators at UC Berkeley, will pore over the data. Each one of Cathy’s electrodes records the status of roughly 1 million neurons, roughly 10 times a second, creating a dizzying blizzard of numbers, and combinations and possible meanings.

Yet Schalk insists he and his team can solve the puzzle and, using modern computing power, extract from that mass of data the words that Cathy has imagined.

It’s an effort Schalk has been pursuing for more than last decade. As part of a project originally funded by the Army Research Office, Schalk and others found evidence that when we “imagine” speaking, the auditory cortex, perhaps as an error-correction reference, receives a copy of how every word we speak should sound. That holds true even when we simply imagine saying a word.

Since that discovery, Schalk and his collaborators have demonstrated they can sometimes tell the difference between imagined vowels and consonants about 45 percent of the time. Chance is 25 percent. Rather than attempt to push those numbers up towards 100 percent, Schalk has focused on showing he can differentiate between vowels and consonants embedded in words. Then individual phonemes. And that’s not all.

From Cathy’s bedside, I follow Schalk to his office. On a large screen, Schalk pulls up a mass of brain signals, squiggly lines and different kinds of charts. Then he flips on some speakers. Over the course of many months, Schalk explains, he carried speakers into hospital rooms and played the same segment of a Pink Floyd song for about a dozen brain surgery patients like Cathy. Then Schalk handed the file of their recorded brain activity over to the UC Berkeley lab of Robert Knight for processing, to see if they might decode it.

Schalk presses a button. A bass begins to thump urgently like the furious beating of a human heart from a nearby speaker. It’s slightly muffled, as though heard from underwater, but it’s clearly a bass. A plaintive guitar echoes through an effects pedal, its notes accelerating with each new phrase. I recognize the song immediately—it is the mesmerizing, and haunting tones from “another Brick in the Wall,” on Pink Floyd’s the Wall. Aside from the vague muffling, the song is identical to the song I used to listen to in High School. But this version comes from brainwaves, not music.

“Is it perfect?” Schalk asks. “No. But we not only know that he’s hearing music, you know the song. It used to be science fiction, but it’s not anymore.”

This feat is possible thanks to the discovery that different groups of neurons in the auditory cortex fire more robustly in response to specific tones, and amplitudes. Hit an individual neuron’s sweet spot in the auditory cortex by playing the right tone and it fires robustly. Move away from a neuron’s preferred tone, and the neuron’s firing rate will slow. By training pattern recognition algorithms, Schalk and his collaborators have taught computers to “translate” the neural firing patterns in the auditory cortex back into sound.

Schalk and his Berkeley collaborators are now attempting to discern whether patients are imagining reciting the Gettysburg Address, JFK’s Inaugural Address, or the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty just by looking at brain data—and attempting to reproduce it artificially using the same techniques. Eventually they hope to use it to decode the imagined speech of volunteers like Cathy—and eventually patients who are fully locked in and have lost the ability to speak.

Read More At: ScientificAmerican.com

How About Them Apples?

Source: GizaDeathStar.com
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.
March 24, 2017

Over the years of watching and reporting on the GMO issue on this website, one of the things that many brought to my attention by sharing various articles and studies, is the apparent linkage between CCD (colony collapse disorder), as the populations of honey bees colonies and other pollinators have dramatically declined since the introduction of GMO foods and the heavy pesticides they involve. As a result, I have also blogged about the latest gimmick to “repair” the damage: artificial drones as pollinators. It is, after all, “no big deal” if the world’s pollinator population declines or simply goes extinct, after all, they only keep most of the world’s plant life going, and most of its food supply going. No big deal, especially if one has artificial pollinators waiting in the wings. Indeed, as I’ve previously blogged, there were scientists actually seriously proposing this as a means to get around the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder.

Well, according to this article shared by Mr. T.M., it’s now actually been accomplished:

Researchers use drone to pollinate a flower

The opening paragraphs say it all:

Researchers in Japan have successfully used a tiny drone to pollinate an actual flower, a task usually accomplished by insects and animals.

The remote-controlled drone was equipped with horsehairs coated with a special gel, which the researchers say was crucial to the process.

“This is the world’s first demonstration of pollination by an artificial robotic pollinator,” said Eijiro Miyako of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, one of the authors of the study, which was published in the journal Chem.

And, lest the connection between pollinator population collapse and the artificial pollinator is missed, the article itself makes the connection:

But many pollinators are under threat, particularly insects like bees and butterflies. They belong to a group — invertebrate pollinators — in which 40 percent of species face extinction, according to the same report.

The drone is an attempt to address this problem: “The global pollination crisis is a critical issue for the natural environment and our lives,” the authors wrote in the study.
There is, however, a catch: it’s still a long way from insect pollinators, due not only to the size of the drone, but due to the lack of artificial intelligence and independent movement in the artificial pollinator itself:

The peculiarity of this project is that it focuses on the pollination process, rather than the construction of a robotic bee.

As the authors note, “practical pollination has not yet been demonstrated with the aerial robots currently available.”

However, pollination was achieved on a very large flower, and the drone was not autonomous: “I believe that some form of artificial intelligence and GPS would be very useful for the development of such automatic machines in future,” said Miyako.

Much work remains to be done before we can emulate the complex behavior of insects and animals: “There is little chance this can replace pollinators,” said Christina Grozinger, Director of the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State University.

Hidden text: “we urgently need artificial intelligence in order to construct more efficient artificial pollinators.”

And that of course, brings me to my high octane speculation of the day: suppose such artificial intelligence was constructed. And suppose, for a moment, all those artificial pollinators were under the controlled of a networked Artificial Intelligence, coordinating it all. Who is to say that said “intelligence” would even see the need for pollinator activity, or the human and animal populations that they ultimately aid in feeding? Waves of AI pollinators could conceivably become plagues of AI locusts. If this be the case, the “technological fix” could end up being an even worse nightmare.

Of course, one could always solve the problem by the simple fix of what appears to be the basis of the pollinator problem: get rid of GMOs, and let nature do what she was designed to do.

That, of course, would be far too simple, and not issue in enough research grants and profits.

Read More At: GizaDeathStar.com
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About Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.

Biological Nanobot Responds To DNA Signals: New Meaning To…

DNA3

Source: GizaDeathStar.com
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.
March 15, 2017

Nanotechnology has taken another significant step in the technology tree to becoming a reality for medicinal (and other) purposes, according to this article shared by Mr. V.K.:

Shape-shifting molecular robots respond to DNA signals

Note some intriguing things here, from the beginning of the article:

A research group at Tohoku University and Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has developed a molecular robot consisting of biomolecules, such as DNA and protein. The molecular robot was developed by integrating molecular machines into an artificial cell membrane. It can start and stop its shape-changing function in response to a specific DNA signal.

This is the first time that a molecular robotic system has been able to recognize signals and control its shape-changing function. What this means is that molecular robots could, in the near future, function in a way similar to living organisms.

According to the article, this little nano-bot is only one millionth of a meter in diameter. This may seem significant, until one recalls in his 1986 nanotechnology classic, Engines of Creation, Eric Drexler noted that IBM had been successful in spelling its name with 35 xenon atoms, and, even more breathtakingly, AT&T had constructed the first artificial atom. That was in 1986!

But to return to the article, why is a shape-changing nanobot significant? The answer:

The realization of a molecular robot whose components are designed at a molecular level and who can function in a small and complicated environment, such as the human body, is expected to significantly expand the possibilities of robotics engineering. The results of this study could lead to technological developments that could help solve important medical issues — such as a treatment robot for live culturing cells and a monitoring robot for checking environmental pollution.

“The paper by Nomura and coworkers represents a major step towards the development of autonomous soft microrobots,” says Dr. Friedrich Simmel, professor at the Technische Universität München. “Based on this achievement, in the future similar systems could be developed that display artificial phototaxis or chemotaxis, or similar ‘intelligent’ behavior.”

Indulging in a bit of high octane speculation, one can envision that such technologies could be made to change shape and latch onto various pathogens, which have their own peculiar shapes that some believe allows then to attack human cells; AIDS and cancer cells could thus, by the DNA signals that they give, attract such nanobots which could then attach themselves to the disease cells and literally attack them, injecting them with terminal drugs. In short, a major step in the technology tree has been taken, proven, and the door is open to modifications of the basic technology that would conceivably usher in a very new and very different kind of chemotherapy.

And of course, if one indulges high octane speculation a little further, this is the ultimate biological weapons possibility, for programmable nanobots could conceivably be designed to attack only certain kinds of genetic signatures. One might go so far as to envision such technologies that could be injected into a target population and activated at a later date by the introduction of chemical triggering agents or electromagnetic signaling, giving a new, literal, and terrifying meaning to the term “sleeper cells.”

And if we can think of it, one can rest assured “they” have as well. In this respect, it’s worth recalling once again what my co-author Scott deHart and I wrote in Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas, for we pointed out there that a key area of research for DARPA, the Defense Advance Projects Research Agency, or as we like to call it following a suggestion of Mr. J.B., the Diabolically Apocalyptic Research Projects Agency, is nanotechnology.

…and with enough black funds, and people, and time…

See you on the flip side…

Read More At: GizaDeathStar.com
________________________________________________

About Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.

Here’s One For The 3-D Printing Scrapbook

Source: GizaDeathStar.com
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.
March 11, 2017

It has been a while since I’ve updated the 3d-printing scrapbook on this site, but not for want of stories about it. In fact, as we will discover this week, there is big news on this front, beginning with today’s story, which several readers here noticed and shared. Now, you may be wondering why I’ve put this story under the category of the “transhumanist scrapbook,” but we’ll get to that in a moment, for it has to do with today’s high octane speculation. 3-d printed structures have already been built in China, so what’s the fuss here? Here’s one version of this story that appeared at Zero Hedge:

This House Was 3D-Printed In Under 24 Hours At A Cost Of Just $10,000

OK… the “house” is not exactly a nice looking modern American middle class brick home with faux Tudor turrets and windows, but then again, those homes now cost as much as three-or-four modern overpriced automobiles that can be remote controlled and sent into trees if you or your family step out of line.   Ahhh… progress!

This cozy little place was only a little over $10,000, and that means, considerably less money than a new car, and unlike other structures made from “additive manufacturing,” this one was not printed elsewhere and assembled on the spot, but printed right on the spot.  With a little extra money, I’m sure a basement could have been dug out and a basement printed as well for those requiring shelter during tornado season in Russia (remember,  they get them too).

But just allow your mind to wander a bit, and speculate on all the implications: suppose they perfect all this and can print your modern American middle class brick home with faux Tudor turrets and windows… at a fraction of the cost (that is to say, for the price of just one – not several – of the modern over-priced automobiles that can be remote controlled and sent into trees if you or your family step out of line). What’s brought down the cost? Once again, it’s labor productivity that has been drastically reduced.  Now let your imagination really go: imagine printing roads with the process. Indeed, why have humans driving the equipment that digs the roadbeds at all? This can be done with automatically controlled vehicles. Another robot printer can print the frames for the concrete pouring, and another can then pour the concrete. Few, or no, humans needed. Cost of making or even repairing and maintaining the road? Drastically reduced. Why? Labor productivity has once again declined, dramatically.

Speculate further: if it is simple houses today, why not high-rises? As the article states, apartment buildings have already been constructed in China using parts printed by 3-d printing. But now imagine doing it on the spot – as with this little house – and today’s erection cranes give way to tomorrow’s 3-d printing modules, and high rises could conceivably go up not in a matter of weeks, but possibly just days. And again, at a fraction of the cost. Why? Once again, because of the decline of the costs of labor productivity.

And of course, there is the application of the same technology for space purposes; already NASA and other space agencies are looking at the process not only for printing spare parts in space for simple repairs, but looking much farther ahead to the possibilities of using the process to construct permanent human habitation and working spaces off-world. And the black projects world has a wonderful new technology to play with in their underground bases and tunnels, a boon not only to the elimination of labor productivity and maintenance costs, but, as human labor production requirements fall, so do the security risks as fewer people are “in the know.” As I’ve stated before, I strongly suspect that additive manufacturing comes out of the black world, since the process has been around for a long time(decades, if one really digs into it), and it probably much more advanced in that black projects world than is evident in the public one. (And here’s a thought to ponder, why in the past few years has 3-d printing been being “driven” into the public consciousness by stories such as these?)

So why belabor all of this? Because again traditional economic models of analysis will have to be drastically revised. Typically, housing is one area that has been looked at as an indicator of the economy’s health and the employment market. When houses are built, people are spending, and people are employed building them. But with the progress and advances in the additive manufacturing process and the low cost of building a house manufactured on the spot, more people who cannot now build or afford a home will be able to do so. Thus, a housing market can expand, without the hitherto typical expansion of employment. Hence, for those making such models and emphasizing the need to shift back to a production economy, a problem is posed: how does one increase production when labor productivity is falling due to technological progress? What does one do with the decrease of jobs once filled by humans?

As I’ve argued before, there must be a dramatic increase in human productivity.

See you on the flip side…

Read More At: GizaDeathStar.com
________________________________________________

About Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.

Robots With Human Skin…And Oh, Look, A 3-D Printer That Can Do…

Source: GizaDeathStar.com
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.
March 12, 2017

Yesterday, you’ll recall, I blogged about a little house that was built in Russia, on the spot, using 3-d printing or “additive manufacturing,” for a little over $10,000. And in recent years we’ve also occasionally covered stories about the use of the technology to print various biological components: organs and so on.

Well, many readers of this website noticed a significant story that was reported just this past January, of the latest application of the technology to “print” human organs, in this case, skin:

Spanish scientists create 3D bioprinter which can print functional human skin

Now, there’s a disturbing passage here:

It may be the biggest human organ, but it’s about to become a lot less finite.

That’s because scientists in Spain have developed a prototype for a 3D bioprinter that is capable of producing totally functional human skin.

The skin can be used for research purposes, testing cosmetics and other chemical-based products, and for transplanting onto human patients.

“(It) can be transplanted to patients or used in business settings to test chemical products, cosmetics or pharmaceutical products in quantities and with timetables and prices that are compatible with these uses,” said José Luis Jorcano, one of the researchers behind the project. (Emphasis added)

Note the now-familiar tactic whenever such technologies are being advanced and “sold” to the public, the good old  “think of the health benefits” argument. Well, true enough, such skin would be a convenient test bed for testing pharmaceutical products and cosmetics, and this is sure to have the animal rights’ advocacy community’s attention, for currently, as is well known, animals are use as test subjects for cosmetic products and so on, and as a result, suffer. Getting rid of that would be good. However, it does not take a great leap of the imagination nor much “high octane speculation” to realize that such printed organs could also be convenient test beds for other purposes, such as the testing of skin-absorbed bio-weapons, and so on.

However, my real concern today is the connection between this story and the following story that many people also shared:

Get ready for robots with human flesh

And in case you missed that important paragraph, here it is:

Two University of Oxford biomedical researchers are calling for robots to be built with real human tissue, and they say the technology is there if we only choose to develop it. Writing in Science Robotics, Pierre-Alexis Mouthuy and Andrew Carr argue that humanoid robots could be the exact tool we need to create muscle and tendon grafts that actually work.(Italicized emphasis added).

Now ponder that statement in connection with the first article, for if it is now possible to 3-d print human skin, then the possibility of 3-d printing specific human musculature is not far behind, and with that, the “human looking robot.” Forget about the humanoid robots of I, Robot of Isaac Asimov’s celebrated sci-fi classic or the movie with Will Smith, or C3PO of the Star Wars series with its definitely mechanical robots and “droids”. In effect, the robots would increasingly look human, more like the “androids” of the Alien series of movies.

And since we were talking yesterday about the decline of labor productivity, why even bother hiring expensive actors (like Will Smith) at all, when one could design a robot with a certain “look”? Why hire expensive performers for a rock band or symphony orchestra when one could simply create a whole orchestra of robots, which, incidentally, wouldn’t make “mistakes”?

Asimov foresaw it all in I, Robot, and one can only hope that the same people who are pushing the “androidization” of human society will also be giving some thought to the three fundamental rules of robotics that Asimov also wrote about.

And it’s worth mentioning that things didn’t go so smoothly, in spite of the best of intentions and the three rules of robotics, in Asimov’s “fiction,” which, unfortunately, looks more like it is becoming science fact.

See you on the flip side…

Read More At: GizaDeathStar.com
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About Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.

That Metallic Hydrogen Has Disappeared: Catastrophic Failure Of…

cosmic war
Source: GizaDeathStar.com
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.
March 8, 2017

A few days ago I blogged about an important story involving the creation of the metallic form of hydrogen by scientists at Harvard for the first time in human history. It is, as the following article shared by Ms. C. states, a goal that scientists have been pursuing for over 80 years. But now, as the following article also states, the sample – just a few microns in size, has now disappeared. But what caught my eye was the manner of its disappearance, which as you might imagine, has fueled today’s high orbital speculation:

Scientific breakthrough lost? Unique metallic hydrogen sample disappears

Here’s the exact description of the catastrophic failure that led to the depressurization of the “diamond vice” that created the pressures to produce the metallic form of hydrogen:

However, Science Alert reports that the sample has disappeared, much to the dismay of experts. The sample was stored at temperatures around -316 degrees Fahrenheit, the report said, noting that the metallic hydrogen was kept at high pressure between two diamonds in a vice-like device.

Isaac Silvera, Harvard’s Thomas D. Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences, who led the research, told Fox News that scientists were preparing to transport the sample to Argonne National Laboratory to determine its structure by X-ray analysis. “Before transporting we decided to use our apparatus and remeasure the pressure to see if it had changed,” he explained, via email, adding that a very low power laser beam was shone onto the sample through the diamonds. “We heard a noise and the diamonds had catastrophically failed.”

When the scientists opened the diamond anvil cell they discovered that one diamond was badly cracked and the other was pulverized into a fine powder. “The gasket confining the sample of metallic hydrogen was damaged and we could not find any residual of the sample (which was very small, about 10 microns in diameter),” explained Silvera. “We did not determine if it is metastable; it might have survived the shock or it might have transformed to molecular hydrogen.”  (Emphasis added)

So we have:

1) Very cold temperatures (necessary, one can imagine, to maintain the conditions to create and sustain the metallic form of hydrogen);

2) the sample was stored between two diamonds which were in “a vice-like device”, i.e., under extreme pressure, and therefore, under extreme stress;

3) the diamonds were then further stressed by a low-power laser beam, resulting in

4) one diamond being cracked and

5) the other being reduced to a fine powder.

And, with the failure of the high-pressure “vice grip” on the hydrogen, it disappeared, and we may assume, as the article indicates, it may have transformed or resumed its molecular gaseous form (which in my view is likely, though it is just remotely conceivable that under these conditions it might have fused, in which case there would be minor trace elements from that reaction that could have been detected. Why? Because the hydrogen is already under high pressure stress in order to create its metallic form, which, under the further stress of the laser, might have initiated that reaction, releasing enormous amounts of energy from its tiny micron-sized sample, enough, in fact, to crack one, and pulverize another, diamond. In short, we could be looking at one of three possible things: (1) a reaction coming from the diamonds themselves under immense pressure stress and electromagnetic pulsing from the laser (perhaps thus a resonance effect), or (2) a possible fusion reaction from the metallic hydrogen itself under the laser pulse, or (3) some combination of both.

Of course, all of this is high octane speculation based on what information the article gives. But if any one of these three things is even remotely suspected, I suspect that scientists will be giving close – and highly classified – attention, and not simply for the importance of creating metallic hydrogen, but rather, because of this propitious accident (if accident it really was).

Why?

Recall that the former Naval Observatory Astronomer and Astrophysicist Dr. Tom van Flandern revived the 19th century theory that the asteroid belt was an exploded planet. In his book, which I reviewed in my book The Cosmic War, he proposed a number of methods that could account for the spontaneous explosion of a planet. One of them was a “containment mechanism” at the core of the planet that contained anti-matter. But now, shift the focus a bit and imagine enough metallic hydrogen contained under the immense pressures in the core of a planet, which, incidentally, is the same process scientists believe transforms ordinary carbon into diamonds. All one would have to do to explode the planet would, perhaps, be a sudden “catastrophic failure” of the containment mechanism. Simply stress the core containment mechanism to the point it cannot damp the stress, it fails, and… well… ka-boom.

It would be akin to pricking the surface of a balloon filled with air to maximum extent with a needle.

See you on the flip side…

Read More At: GizaDeathStar.com
________________________________________________

About Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.