Doctors. AI. Dead people.

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Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels

Could machines using artificial intelligence make doctors obsolete?

Artificial intelligence systems simulate human intelligence by learning, reasoning, and self-correction. This technology has the potential to be more accurate than doctors at making diagnoses and performing surgical interventions, says Jörg Goldhahn, MD, MAS, deputy head of the Institute for Translational Medicine at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

It has a “near unlimited capacity” for data processing and subsequent learning, and can do this at a speed that humans cannot match.

Increasing amounts of health data, from apps, personal monitoring devices, electronic medical records, and social media platforms are being brought together to give machines as much information as possible about people and their diseases. At the same time machines are “reading” and taking account of the rapidly expanding scientific literature. (1)

We believe computers can replace doctors.

But doctors are not here to keep us alive.

They are here to discuss with the dead.

No matter how much data you analyze, you will always miss the point.

That our life is not our own.

And that we are not here to avoid death.

But to embrace it.

A computer cannot help you live.

Simply because it can never die…

Itching brain. Gods becoming mice.

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Itching is a highly contagious behavior. When we see someone scratch, we’re likely to feel itchy, too. A research shows contagious itching is hardwired in the brain.

For this study, Chen’s team put a mouse in an enclosure with a computer screen. The researchers then played a video that showed another mouse scratching.

“Within a few seconds, the mouse in the enclosure would start scratching, too,” Chen said. “This was very surprising because mice are known for their poor vision. They use smell and touch to explore areas, so we didn’t know whether a mouse would notice a video. Not only did it see the video, it could tell that the mouse in the video was scratching”.

Next, the researchers identified a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a brain region that controls when animals fall asleep or wake up. The SCN was highly active after the mouse watched the video of the scratching mouse. When the mouse saw other mice scratching – in the video and when placed near scratching littermates – the brain’s SCN would release a chemical substance called GRP (gastrin-releasing peptide). In 2007, Chen’s team identified GRP as a key transmitter of itch signals between the skin and the spinal cord.

“The mouse doesn’t see another mouse scratching and then think it might need to scratch, too,” Chen said. “Instead, its brain begins sending out itch signals using GRP as a messenger”.

Chen’s team also used various methods to block GRP or the receptor it binds to on neurons, while maintaining the ability to scratch normally when exposed to itch-inducing substances. Chen believes the contagious itch behavior the mice engaged in is something the animals can’t control. “It’s an innate behavior and an instinct,” he said. “We’ve been able to show that a single chemical and a single receptor are all that’s necessary to mediate this particular behavior. The next time you scratch or yawn in response to someone else doing it, remember it’s really not a choice nor a psychological response; it’s hardwired into your brain. (1)

So “the brain” sent the signals. Without the mouse even “seeing” (how do we know?) or even “wanting” (how do we know?) to do anything. The brain “sees” (what?!?) the other mouse scratching and decides on its own.

Really?!

Are we so much loving the idea of the brain controlling what we do that we are ready to believe into a brain which does things on its own without even an optical stimulus? Are we so much intoxicated by the idea of us not having free will, of us being just slaves to matter, that we are ready to attribute abilities of conscious beings to lifeless substances?

We believe into an ever-seeing brain with a “free will” of its own.

And yet we despise the idea of an ever seeing free will spirit.

We are what we want to be.

We were gods.

And we have chosen to be mice.

Now starting to feel a bit itchy…

Knowing. Bacteria’s memory (x 100). Humans…

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Researchers have identified a mutation that prompts bacterial cells to acquire genetic memories 100 times more frequently than they do naturally. This discovery provides a powerful research tool and could bring scientists one step closer to developing DNA-based data storage devices. (1)

We insist on making the cosmos a big computer.

We want to make it ‘work’ better.

We imagine building machines.

And yet, go ask a wise man…

There is nothing to know.

There is nothing to make work.

Ask a wise man. He will tell you.

A bacterium already does and knows much more than he does…

🙂

Computers listening to humans. Humans becoming like computers…

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Speech recognition software isn’t perfect, but it is a little closer to human this week, as a Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research team reached a major milestone in speech-to-text development: The system reached a historically low word error rate of 5.9 percent, equal to the accuracy of a professional (human) transcriptionist. The system can discern words as clearly and accurately as two people having a conversation might understand one another. (1)

Computers listening to humans.

Computers understanding humans.

We finally did it.

But at what cost?

The computers managed to understand us and listen to us, only because we spent zero time and effort in trying to evolve our thought beyond its current level. Instead, we spent all of our effort and time to try to think like computers, thus making the phrase “The computers managed to understand us” more like a tautology or self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yes, the computers now understand us.

And we should not be happy about that…

Why things happen? [OR: The vanity of the mechanistic view]

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Forgetting.

When it comes to maintaining sanity, forgetting is at least as important as remembering. Without it, the constant stream of stimuli – faces on the street, words read, items glanced at – would quickly overwhelm the mind. But the neural basis underlying the act of forgetting isn’t well understood. A new study found that in roundworms, a protein called musashi is actively involved in forgetting.

In the study, published in the journal Cell, scientists found that roundworms that were genetically modified to lack the musashi protein did much better on a smell-based learning task, actively retaining memories 24 hours later that unmodified mice did not. This is one of the first studies to show that forgetting can be an active (as opposed to passive) process, the authors wrote.

Further analysis found that the protein impedes the production of molecules that stabilize synapses, which are connections between neurons involved in forming and holding onto memories. The study also showed that another protein called adducin stimulates the growth of synapses, helping to retain memory. The balance between these competing processes determines which memories are held onto. (1)

Antibiotic resistance.

A popular antibiotic called rifampicin, used to treat tuberculosis, leprosy, and Legionnaire’s disease, is becoming less effective as the bacteria that cause the diseases develop more resistance. One of the mechanisms leading to rifampicin’s resistance is the action of the enzyme Rifampicin monooxygenase.

Pablo Sobrado, a professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and his team used a special technique called X-ray crystallography to describe the structure of this enzyme. They also reported the biochemical studies that allow them to determine the mechanisms by which the enzyme deactivates this important antibiotic. The results were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and PLOS One, respectively. (2)

So?

We like to analyze why things happen by analyzing the process behind the events unfolding before our eyes. We see the result and all we care about is the process that made that thing “happen”. We like to think our selves and the cosmos as a giant machine or a computer, which simply does things based on the behavior of its components.

A point of view deeply theistic (based on the premise that everything has a reason and that everything has a cause) and yet deeply atheistic at the same time (the components are soulless and their behavior cannot be considered “behavior” in any way).

We like to analyze things happening from an objective mechanistic point of view. And yet there are “ghosts” making the world go around…

No, it is not the protein.

No, it is not the enzyme.

All these things happen in a world that is alive. Every cell, every atom, every molecule, they all obey rules and they all participate in events simply because the forest is not empty.

Stop paying attention to the protein and the world will become… you.