Showing posts with label cognitive enhancement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cognitive enhancement. Show all posts

September 09, 2014

Genetic Basis of intelligence involves about twenty times the genes as the genes for height

Scientists looking for the genes underlying intelligence are in for a slog. One of the largest, most rigorous genetic studies of human cognition1 has turned up inconclusive findings, and experts concede that they will probably need to scour the genomes of more than 1 million people to confidently identify even a small genetic influence on intelligence and other behavioural traits. The results were published in the Journal Nature.

May 23, 2014

Training to rewire the brain to enable the coordination needed for Bruce Lees One inch Punch

Popular Mechanics looks at the physics of Bruce Lees One Inch Punch

Although Bruce Lee’s fist travels a tiny distance in mere milliseconds, the punch is an intricate full-body movement. According to Jessica Rose, a Stanford University biomechanical researcher, Lee’s lightning-quick jab actually starts with his legs.

"When watching the one-inch punch, you can see that his leading and trailing legs straighten with a rapid, explosive knee extension," Rose says. The sudden jerk of his legs increases the twisting speed of Lee’s hips—which, in turn, lurches the shoulder of his thrusting arm forward.

As Lee’s shoulder bolts ahead, his arm gets to work. The swift and simultaneous extension of his elbow drives his fist forward. For a final flourish, Rose says, "flicking his wrist just prior to impact may further increase the fist velocity." Once the punch lands on target, Lee pulls back almost immediately. Rose explains that this shortens the impact time of his blow, which compresses the force and makes it all the more powerful.

Lee has to synchronize each segment of the jab—his twisting hip, extending knees, and thrusting shoulder, elbow, and wrist—with incredible accuracy. Furthermore, each joint in Lee’s body has a single moment of peak acceleration, and to get maximum juice out of the move, Lee must layer his movements so that each period of peak acceleration follows the last one instantly.

So coordination is key.

The supplementary motor cortex handles the coordination between the muscles of the limbs, which close-range punches rely on. The altered white matter allows for more abundant or complex cell connections in that brain region. Training rewires the brain to enable the coordination.

May 08, 2014

KL-VS gene makes up six IQ points of cognitive difference and would be the most influential intelligence gene and elevated intelligence could come soon from a pill

Researchers have been studying the role in ageing of klotho, a protein encoded by a gene called KL. A particular version of this gene, KL-VS, promotes longevity. One way it does so is by reducing age-related heart disease. Dr Dubal and Dr Mucke wondered if it might have similar powers over age-related cognitive decline.

What they found was startling. KL-VS did not curb decline, but it did boost cognitive faculties regardless of a person’s age by the equivalent of about six IQ points. If this result, just published in Cell Reports, is confirmed, KL-VS will be the most important genetic agent of non-pathological variation in intelligence yet discovered.

April 22, 2014

There are already more widescale differences in intelligence, health and lifespan than moderate Transhuman scenarios

Gizmag has an interview with some professors who specialize in analysing possible Transhuman enhancement and in particular the ethics of it. They posit scenarios under the assumption that things are equal now in terms of intelligence and lifespan.

Kevin Warwick, Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, tells Gizmag that it will be important for people to consider what they are getting themselves into and what exactly they want to achieve.

Steve Fuller is the Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick.

Fuller agrees that such unintended consequences are the main consideration required when thinking about enhancement. "If, say, your memory is successfully enhanced, consider how else this might change your way of living and your relationship with people." Warwick reiterates this point by asking, "With superintelligence, what would the enhanced folk do with the stupid unenhanced?"

Currently many of the "superintelligent" are those without brain damage. Currently the environment and health make people stupider. Those without damage have enhanced intelligence by comparison

48% of children in India are stunted. Diseases can leave brain damage when they do not kill. This reduces IQ points by 11-20 on average across the country. This makes India more poor. Providing improved public health to prevent malaria and other diseases that cause brain damage and providing needed micronutrients. If this happens over the next 5-10 years then 50% of their children would not have the stunting and brain damage problems. This could be a 20 point (1.5 standard deviation boost) to half of 60% of the worlds children. So 20 point boost to 45 million every year.

However, 30-35% of the worlds population (in Africa and Asia, but also in lower percentages in South America) had stunting and other brain damage.

About 8.5 percent of U.S. non-incarcerated adults have a history of TBI, and about 2 percent of the greater population is currently suffering from some sort of disability because of their injury. In prisons, however, approximately 60 percent of adults have had at least one TBI—and even higher prevalence has been reported in some systems.

What do current smarter people do with stupid people ? Try to avoid the 7-10% of them who cause trouble with crime ? Pay more taxes for the higher rates of unemployment and other societal issues

Higher intelligence is correlated with better social outcomes

Shifting IQ by 20 points should drastically lower crime, poverty, unemployment and other social ills in the next generation

March 13, 2014

Older Tiger Moms and the lifting of the One Child Ban in China will drive early adoption of genetic intelligence enhancement

I gave a talk at Transhuman Visions a couple of weeks ago.

In my look at near term transhumanism, I see older Tiger Moms as being the driver of early adoption of genetic intelligence enhancement and the lifting of the One child policy in China.

China's One child policy is being lifted just as embryo selection based upon intelligence for invitro fertilized (IVF) babies becomes possible and we are on the cusp of genetic engineering. Women in China who are now older were banned from having babies but now will be allowed to have children. Many will not be able to conceive naturally and will use IVF. I see IVF going from 400,000 per year worldwide to 2-8 million per year over the next 10 years. IVF babies are more easily embryo selected and accessible for genetic modification. This would provide an economic boost to China in 20-30 years and the beginnings of a significant societal shift.

* Older women use IVF more than younger women.
* Societal shifts that cause more older women to use IVF to have children means more opportunity for embryo selection and genetic intelligence enhancement.
* Countries that permit embyro selection and genetic intelligence enhancement provide the opportunity for IVF to be used for enhancement
* Medical tourism to permissive countries is another means for older women to use IVF in combination with embryo selection or genetic enhancement.

In my talk I first summarized enhancement of human capabilities via products that we can buy. (Smartphones, Google Glass, Apple Siri, IBM Watson, forklifts, cars etc...) As those things get better, anyone can adopt them by buying the latest versions.

Steroids do enhance performance. They work. About 10 million people use them and it is primarily because of vanity. However, we do not live in the wild west or have to compete as Gladiators in Rome. The more powerful people in the world are the billionaires. In the real world the equivalent of Montgomery Burns from the Simpsons has more power than the equivalent of Captain America. Burns can hire his own police force or mercenaries. It is his lawyers and lobbyists who do his work.

100 years ago it was vaccines that began altering the physical attributes of people in a meaningful way. It extended lifespans and improved health. Health improvement boosted productivity and GDP.

February 28, 2014

Brian Wang will be speaking tomorrow at Transhuman Visions in Piedmont- Oakland

Max More and Natasha Vita-More are the Keynote Speakers of TRANSHUMAN VISIONS 2.0 - EAST BAY, plus there’s 15 other speakers: John Smart, Zoltan Istvan, Monica Anderson, Brian Wang, Linda MacDonald Glenn, Michael Annissimov, Grace Walcott, Hank Pellissier, Gray Scott, Dr. Egil Asprem, Kevin Russell, Brad Carmack, Abelard Lindsay, Andres Watson, Gennady Stolyarov II, Wendy Stolyarov, Andrez Gomez Emilsson, and the Terra Nova Robotics Club of Pacifica.

Tickets are still available.

It is at

401 Highland Ave
Piedmont, CA 94611

Saturday, March 1, 2014 from 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM (PST)

Brian Wang will speak at 2:30 - 3:15.

Near Term Transhumanism : Intelligence enhancement

June 22, 2013

Nexus and Crux - Nanotechnology, Transhuman, Posthuman fiction

Ramez Naam wrote a science fiction spy story centered around a nanotech drug called Nexus.

Although it is swallowed like a drug, Nexus is a nano-structure that creates an interface between the brain and computer software. It acts as a networking platform and an operating system. It creates the potential for one Nexus user to control another. Nexus is both a regulated drug and a prohibited technology. In short, it is illegal. Should it be?

Nexus can permanently alter the human brain. Nexus users can install addon applications to help enhance their capabilities. The Don Juan app, Bruce Lee app etc... This is somewhat like in the movie Matrix where Neo is jacked into a system and he learns "kung fu".

Nexus was recently optioned for a film by Paramount and Darren Aronofsky.

Paramount Pictures acquired screen rights to Nexus, the science fiction novel by Ramez Naam. The project will be produced by Mary Parent and Cale Boyter through their Disruption label and Darren Aronofsky and Scott Franklin through their Protozoa banner. Negotiations are underway for the book to be adapted by Ari Handel and Mark Heyman.

Ramez Naam was former CEO of Apex Nanotechnology and worked for 13 years at Microsoft. He previously wrote the nonfiction book More Than Human: Embracing The Promise Of Biological Enhancement. Nexus is his first novel, and it takes place in the near future in a battle for mind control. A young technologist becomes the first person to invent controllable nanotechnology software for the brain. He then becomes an unwilling pawn in an international battle to control the new technology, chased by mercenaries and government agents looking to make enhancements of their own.

The next book in the series is Crux.

May 11, 2013

Brain implants could enhance learning and mental capacity by detecting desired activity and enhancing information flows to and from the hippocampus

The abilities to learn, remember, evaluate, and decide are central to who we are and how we live. Damage to or dysfunction of the brain circuitry that supports these functions can be devastating, leading to Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, PTSD, or many other disorders. Current treatments, which are drug-based or behavioral, have limited efficacy in treating these problems. There is a pressing need for something more effective.

One promising approach is to build an interactive device to help the brain learn, remember, evaluate, and decide. One might, for example, construct a system that would identify patterns of brain activity tied to particular experiences and then, when called upon, impose those patterns on the brain. Ted Berger, Sam Deadwyler, Robert Hampsom, and colleagues have used this approach (see “Memory Implants”). They are able to identify and then impose, via electrical stimulation, specific patterns of brain activity that improve a rat’s performance in a memory task. They have also shown that in monkeys stimulation can help the animal perform a task where it must remember a particular item.

Their ability to improve performance is impressive. However, there are fundamental limitations to an approach where the desired neural pattern must be known and then imposed. The animals used in their studies were trained to do a single task for weeks or months and the stimulation was customized to produce the right outcome for that task. This is only feasible for a few well-learned experiences in a predictable and constrained environment.

The answer may be in an alternative approach based on enhancing flows of information through the brain. The importance of information flow can be appreciated when we consider how the brain makes and uses memories. During learning, information from the outside world drives brain activity and changes in the connections between neurons. This occurs most prominently in the hippocampus, a brain structure critical for laying down memories for the events of daily life. Thus, during learning, external information must flow to the hippocampus if memories are to be stored.

March 07, 2013

Weak technological superpowers now versus real superpowers later

I had several articles about the only enhancements that matter are ones for better health and business productivity.

- Enhancement of health and longevity
- increased lifespan
- reduced frailty
- increased healthspan
- improved immune system (disease immunity)
- regeneration and fast healig
- tissue engineering
- intelligence and economic productivity boosting

-radiation immunity and adaptations to make living and working in space have no health impacts.

Stronger muscles and bones for reduced frailty

Myostatin inhibition will happen for athletes (hundreds of thousands to millions. About 7-10 million steroid users for athlete performance but mainly for vanity looks. Guys want the muscles for the chicks.

The main benefit is for safely and boosting muscle for the elderly. Less frailty/ combat sarcopenia (muscle version of osteoporosis.

Bone density genetic treatment. Fight osteoporosis.

Wearable enhancement

There are all kinds of wearable tech for superhuman powers. But almost no one buys infrared goggles or constantly carries binoculars or microscopes. Although addons to iphones and android are making it easier to have microscope and lab analysis add-ons.

More "wearable powers" are coming with terahertz style vision to see through objects like the old x-ray vision powers.

Evidence from mice human hybrids shows that Glial support cells may enhance people’s thinking prowess

Transplanting human brain cells into mice makes the mice smarter, a new study shows.

But the smart-making brain cells are not the nerve cells most people think of as controlling thoughts. Instead, they are part of the supporting cast of brain cells known as glia (Greek for “glue”).

Scientists have long seen glia, including a subset known as astrocytes, as support cells that feed neurons, mop up excess neurotransmitters and generally help hold the brain together. The new study, published March 7 in Cell Stem Cell, shows that glial cells also influence memory formation and could change how scientists think the brain works, says R. Douglas Fields of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “It’s a paradigm-shifting paper,” says Fields, who was not involved in the work.

March 06, 2013

The US may lag behind Russia and China in Biomodification for Supersoldiers

Not long from now, the technology could exist to routinely enhance — and undermine — people’s minds and bodies using a wide range of chemical, neurological, genetic and behavioral techniques.

* Greater strength and endurance.
* Enhanced thinking.
* Better teamwork.
* New classes of genetic weaponry, able to subvert DNA.

According to the futurists at the U.S. National Intelligence Council, by 2030, “neuro-enhancements could provide superior memory recall or speed of thought. Brain-machine interfaces could provide ‘superhuman‘ abilities, enhancing strength and speed, as well as providing functions not previously available.”

Soldiers may be able to eat grass, communicate telepathically, resist stress, climb walls like a lizard, and much more. Impossible? We only need to look at nature for proofs of concept. For instance, dolphins don't sleep (or they'd drown); Alaskan sled-dogs can run for days without rest or food; bats navigate with echolocation; and goats will eat pretty much anything. Find out how they work, and maybe we can replicate that in humans.

Andrew Herr is a leading researcher into biomodification. Andrew Herr says, "The U.S. is still likely to move more slowly on biomods than say, China or Russia. “Other countries are probably much more likely to take advantage of these [technologies]. The question will be how they do it.”

NOTE - China has a large scale study of the genetic basis of super-intelligence.

Steve Rogers before becoming Captain America

Ivan Danko

February 27, 2013

4th Augmented Human Conference for augmented reality, smart environments, cognition enhancement and wearable devices

The Fourth Augmented Human conference will be held in Germany.

The conference looks at new work in augmented reality and having a more seamless and productive interaction with devices.

There are finger worn input devices.

Finger-worn interfaces remain a vastly unexplored space for user interfaces, despite the fact that our fingers and hands are naturally used for referencing and interacting with the environment. In this paper we present design guidelines and implementation of a finger-worn I/O device, the EyeRing, which leverages the universal and natural gesture of pointing. We present use cases of EyeRing for both visually impaired and sighted people. We discuss initial reactions from visually im- paired users which suggest that EyeRing may indeed offer a more seamless solution for dealing with their immediate surroundings than the solutions they currently use. We also re- port on a user study that demonstrates how EyeRing reduces effort and disruption to a sighted user. We conclude that this highly promising form factor offers both audiences enhanced, seamless interaction with information related to objects in the environment.

November 07, 2012

Human enhancement and the future of work

The Royal Society looks at Human enhancement and the future of work. The project explored potential enhancements arising from advances in science and engineering that are likely to impact on the future of work.

Here is the 72 page workshop report

What is meant by Human Enhancement (for this report)

The term ‘human enhancement’ encompasses a range of approaches that may be used to improve aspects of human function (e.g. memory, hearing, mobility). This may either be for the purpose of restoring an impaired function to previous or average levels, or to raise function to a level considered to be ‘beyond the norm’ for humans.
This is often achieved through technological means, with examples including the following:
• The use of cognitive enhancing drugs to improve memory and concentration.
• The use of hearing aids and retinal implants to improve sensory perception.
• The use of bionic limbs to restore mobility.

These examples demonstrate that new enhancement techniques arise from a range of disciplines including biotechnology, engineering, neuroscience and computing. The social, political, ethical, economic and regulatory issues raised by their use further highlight the interdisciplinary nature of this topic.

Key messages identified by participants at a workshop in March 2012 included:

* Enhancement technologies could change how people work. Work will evolve over the next decade, with enhancement technologies potentially making a significant contribution. Widespread use of enhancements might influence an individual’s ability to learn or perform tasks and perhaps even to enter a profession; influence motivation; enable people to work in more extreme conditions or into old age, reduce work-related illness; or facilitate earlier return to work after illness.

June 04, 2012

What Enhancements will Matter in a Transhumanist Future ?

Cognitive enhancement is a core aspect of Transhumanism. What has some limited benefit now is Nootropics. Nootropics are also referred to as smart drugs, memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers, are drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals, and functional foods that improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration.

There are Skills and Methods for Better Memory and Productivity

To attain the rank of grand master of memory, you must be able to perform three seemingly superhuman feats. You have to memorize 1,000 digits in under an hour, the precise order of 10 shuffled decks of playing cards in the same amount of time, and one shuffled deck in less than two minutes. There are 36 grand masters of memory in the world.

Though every competitor has his own unique method of memorization for each event, all mnemonic techniques are essentially based on the concept of elaborative encoding, which holds that the more meaningful something is, the easier it is to remember. The brain isn't built to remember abstract symbols like numbers and playing cards, but if one can translate those symbols into vivid visual images, even the dullest series of binary digits can be made as memorable as your own address. The key is to develop a system that allows quick encoding and easy recall.

Some memorizers arbitrarily associate each playing card with a familiar person or object, so that the king of clubs is represented by, say, Tony Danza. The grand masters associate each card with a person, an action, or an object so that every group of three cards can be converted into a sentence. The first card of the triplet is encoded as a person, the second as a verb, and the third as an object. For example, when Cooke sees a three of clubs, a nine of hearts, and a nine of spades, he immediately conjures up an image of Brazilian lingerie model Adriana Lima in a Biggles biplane shooting at his old public-school headmaster in a suit of armor. The more vivid the image, the more likely it is not to be forgotten.

There are other tips for improving your memory in general. These tips including getting enough sleep, working in ten minutes of meditation a day and maintaining cardiovascular fitness.

For day to day life, people who are organized and productive would have systems for handling and processing tasks so that they are not depending upon good memory.

The book "Getting Things Done" describes a task management system for staying on top of tasks.

David Allen developed a task-management methodology made popular in his best-selling book, Getting Things Done. Rather than organizing tasks in a rigid, hierarchical fashion, he developed a flexible system for organizing tasks according to the context in which they are done (e.g., while online, while at the office, while at home, errands, phone calls, etc.)

* Apply the "do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it" rule to get your in-box to empty
* Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations
* Plan projects as well as get them unstuck

The Wall Street Journal discussed soon to be popular implants for cognitive enhancement.

Direct Current Stimulation has been able to double visual memory performance.

There are methods for inducing the optimal brain states for optimal learning or other desired modes.

There would be minimal immediate impact on society from successful nootropics, implants and other means of marginal enhancement of mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration.

The effect of enhanced intelligence and learning would be felt over time with upgraded and wider adoption of useful skills, knowledge and capabilities.

Having enhancements that result in better test scores and some improved learning are trivial in the overall societal situation.

June 02, 2012

Wall Street Journal Considers Our Superabled Transhumanist Future

WSJ - High-tech implants will soon be commonplace enhancements under our skin and inside our skulls, making us stronger and smarter. Daniel H. Wilson on our 'superabled' future.

"Amped" author Daniel Wilson discusses the emergence, in the not-so-distant future, of a new class of people whose microchip-enhanced mental abilities may raise questions about what it means to be human. He speaks with WSJ's Gary Rosen.

Over 200,000 people have cochlear ear implants.

Neural implants are outpatient procedures with local anesthetic.

Technology will go to the people who need it the most first.

Over the next decade, new implantable technologies will fundamentally alter the social landscape. We are fast approaching a milestone in the eons-long relationship between human beings and their technology. Families once gathered around the radio like it was a warm fireplace. Then boom boxes leapt onto our shoulders. The Sony Walkman climbed into our pockets and sank its black foam tentacles into our ears. The newest tools are creeping still closer: They will soon come inside and make themselves at home under our skin—some already have.

May 24, 2012

Intensive Training and Other Methods to Boost IQ

NY Times -

PNAS - Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory

In the Jaeggi (2008) study, the researchers began by having participants complete a test of reasoning to measure their “fluid” intelligence — the ability to draw connections between things, solve novel problems and adapt to new situations. Then some of the participants received up to eight hours of training in a difficult cognitive task that required paying careful attention to two streams of information (a version of this task is now marketed by Lumosity); others were assigned to a control group and received no such training. Then all of the participants took a different version of the reasoning test.

The results were startling. The authors reported that the trained participants showed a larger gain in the reasoning test than the control group did, and despite the relatively brief period of training, this gain was large enough that it would be expected to substantially improve performance in everyday life.

A University of North Carolina study known as the Abecedarian Early Intervention Project, children received an intensive educational intervention from infancy to age 5 designed to increase intelligence. In follow-up tests, these children showed an advantage of six I.Q. points over a control group (and as adults, they were four times more likely to graduate from college). By contrast, the increase implied by the findings of the Jaeggi study was six I.Q. points after only six hours of training — an I.Q. point an hour.

March 10, 2012

Transcranial Direct Stimulation for Enhance Learning

Technology Review - The technique is called Transcranial Direct Stimulation, and while bioethicists are debating whether or not it's ethical to use it to enhance learning in children, hobbyists have figure out how to try it out at home. Think of it as the new Adderrall -- without, apparently, the side effects.

The long term effects of tCDS are unknown, and if you mess up and put orders of magnitude more current through your brain than is typically used in tCDS, obviously, you could kill yourself.

GoFlow is a startup planning to offer tDCS kits for as little as $99.

December 08, 2011

IEDM: cognitive science makes use of Phase Change Memory technology

EEtimes - researchers are finding phase-change memory (PCM) technology a good candidate for use as programmable artificial synapses in neuromorphic circuitry because of its great energy efficiency, scaling potential, endurance and reliability.

Researchers from a combination of several European labs led by CEA, Leti and Minatec will report on their search to reduce the high power consumption of large neuromorphic circuits which can be used for complex tasks such as pattern-recognition.

After investigating various phase-change memory devices for use as programmable synapses in an ultra-dense, large-scale neuromorphic system the researchers designed, modeled and simulated a neural network based on a two-PCM-device per synapse structure (four million PCMs in total)

October 18, 2011

Modafinil improves performance of mental tasks by sleep-deprived doctors

Researchers have carried out a preliminary study looking at the effects of the 'cognitive enhancement' drug modafinil on the performance of doctors who had been deprived of sleep for one night. (H/T Instapundit)

Modafinil, discovered in the 1970s, is currently prescribed in the UK for the treatment of sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, sleep apnoea, and shift work sleep disorder, a condition that affects people who frequently have to work at night.

In the new study of 39 people, published today in the Annals of Surgery by researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, modafinil improved performance in a series of mental tasks when compared with placebo, but had no effect on the performance of a surgical motor skills task. The doctors did not interact with any patients during the exercise.

This study set out to explore whether modafinil, a wakefulness-promoting drug, might help doctors to perform more effectively under conditions of fatigue when their performance might otherwise be compromised.

When the study's findings are confirmed, would it be malpractice for a doctor not to take modafinil on the second day of long shifts ?

Annals of Surgery - Effect of Pharmacological Enhancement on the Cognitive and Clinical Psychomotor Performance of Sleep-Deprived Doctors: A Randomized Controlled Trial

September 21, 2011

Will Cognitive enhancement increase or decrease dangers ?

Oxford University philosophers Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson worry that enabling people to become smarter via drugs, implants, and other biological (or genetic) interventions will speed up scientific and technological progress which in turn will increase the ability of smart evil people to make and deploy novel weapons of mass destruction.

The issue of advancing technology and the possibility of more powerful and dangerous weapons that can be developed and controlled by smaller groups of people has been discussed for decades.

The Oxford guys biggest fear is biological weapons.

They fear -
Genetic engineering of small pox could create a new strain which would wipe out all or most of humanity.

However, this is not a trend or technical development that would be greatly effected by near term cognitive enhancement.

Enhancement of intelligence with drugs or mind computer interfaces will have a limited impact on innovation and intellectual productivity.

Reason's Ronald Bailey makes the case that technological and economic progress has reduced murders and violent deaths