CHAPTER 10 – EEG | ESP | AI
The September 2010 article by Kathleen McAuliffe “If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?” in Discover magazine gives an interesting overview of anthropologist John Hawks’s findings about our shrinking brain. It is also worthwhile to look at the following study by two developmental psychologists, D. H. Bailey and D. C. Geary, which is referenced in the article: “Hominid Brain Evolution: Testing Climatic, Ecological, and Social Competition models,” Human Nature 20 (2009): 67–79.
Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson showed that the industrial revolution brought a twofold increase in wealth: “English Workers’ Living Standard During the Industrial Revolution: A New Look,” Economic History Review 36 (1983): 1–25. Various population sources show a fourfold increase in the world’s population, the effects of which are discussed by Erin McLamb, “The Ecological Impact of the Industrial Revolution,” Ecology, September 18, 2011.
For a brief but relevant summary of the scientific achievements of Hans Berger, see the National Institute of Health’s review entitled “Neurological Stamp.” Berger’s story has been retold by many, most notably in Dean Radin’s interesting book Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality (New York: Paraview, 2006) * , 21–24.
E. E. Fetz reported his findings in “Operant Conditioning of Cortical Unit Activity,” Science 163 (1969): 955–958. For a more in-depth look at brain computer interfaces in general, see Brain-Computer Interfaces: Applying Our Minds to Human-Computer Interaction (New York: Springer, 2010), edited by Desney S. Tan and Anton Nijholt.
The 60 Minutes segment featuring Jan Scheuermann is well worth watching as is the original BrainGate segment, both of which can be found on the CBS website. Alternatively, you can read a good description of the breakthrough in “Patient Shows New Dexterity with a Mind-Controlled Robot Arm” by Susan Young in the December 2012 MIT Technology Review.
For more information on any of the brainwave sensor companies mentioned in this section, see their websites or search for neurowear.
The full bibliographies for the two articles about Zeo’s headband are as follows: Scott Kirsner, “A Gentler Way to Start the Day,” Boston Globe, March 28, 2005; and David Pogue, “To Sleep, Perchance to Analyze,” New York Times, July 15, 2009.
Tesla’s story was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered in a piece entitled “Tesla’s Big Gamble: Can the Electric Car Go Mainstream?,” which aired September 24, 2012.
In Homer’s Iliad, Hephaestus was the god of artisans and blacksmiths. He was a smith who made gold statues to serve as his handmaidens, as well as three-legged wheeled cauldrons that traveled to and from the other gods at a nod from him.
Robots programmed for the workplace are particularly interesting. In addition to delivering mail and getting coffee, the HRP-4 can be programmed to recognize co-worker’s faces. The downside is that it costs $350,000. Not to be outdone, the slightly more expensive PR2 can also get you food from the refrigerator. The iRobot Roomba can be found for under $100. A fun overview was provided by Bloomberg Businessweek in “The Robot in the Next Cubicle,” on January 14, 2011.
Kevin Kelly wrote a great piece about robots for Wired Magazine on December 24, 2012: “Better Than Human: Why Robots Will—And Must—Take Our Jobs.” The figure that machines have taken all but 1 percent of agricultural jobs is from this article.
This section references Richard Dawkins’s The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W.W. Norton, 1987).
My previous book Wired for Thought: How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet (Boston: Harvard Business Press, 2009) provides a more detailed review of Gammonoid, Big Blue, and all the other intelligent, game-playing machines.
The 100 billion neurons theory is extremely well researched and notably quoted in The Scientific American Book of the Brain (New York: Scientific American, 1999). The following journal article does a good job outlining that research, as well as detailing new evidence about the 86 billion neuron theory: F. A. C. Azevedo, L. R. B Carvalho, L. T. Grinberg, J. M. Farfel, R. E. L. Ferretti, R. E. P Leite, W. J. Filho, R. Lent, and S. Herculano-Houzel,, “Equal Numbers of Neuronal and Nonneuronal Cells Make the Human Brain an Isometrically Scaled-up Primate Brain,” Journal of Computational Neurology 513 (2009): 532–541. Alternatively, The World Book 2001 (Chicago: World Book Inc., 2001: 551) quoted a number between 10 billion and 100 billion. The only safer estimate would have been to estimate the number at between zero and 1 trillion.
The Dan Dennett quote about reverse engineering comes from an interview at Edge titled “The Normal Well-Tempered Mind” on January 8, 2013.
John von Neumann was a brilliant mind by any definition. He was a mathematician but made contributions to fields as diverse as computer science, the humanities, physics, economics, and statistics. He also worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the first nuclear bomb and was appointed to the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton alongside Albert Einstein. Much of his writing about computers focused on biological similarities and analogies. He wrote a book called The Computer and the Brain (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1958) in which he first mentioned the concept of a singularity. The first use of the word, however, came prior to von Neumann, from science fiction writer Vernor Vinge.
This section references Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (New York: Viking, 2005).