Category Archives: Neuroscience

2016 – The Year of AI

Well the long festive season is over and I’m back at my desk  after a well deserved break and contemplating this New Year with renewed energy, vigour and excitement. This is going to be a great year for ideas and making new connections and sharing common visions to discover your purpose. Which leads me onto my first topic of the season and one which is going to make a lot of ripples in knowledge based industries.

Microsoft has hailed 2016 the “Year of AI,” according to its annual trend list. Microsoft asked 16 members of its technology and research team to forecast the biggest breakthroughs for 2016, and AI was the area generating the most excitement. Virtual assistants, conversation assistants, AI-enabled user interfaces and customer service AIs were some of the user cases described.

The tech giants see this era as an important step to  focus on artificial intelligence, and they’re predicting major breakthroughs in 2016 — we shall see more evidence of this technology’s rapid advancement from deceptive to disruptive growth phases as the year progresses..

In 2015, artificial intelligence went mainstream. Major tech companies including Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter made huge in roads into AI, almost all of technology research company predictions included AI, and declared that AI-driven technologies were the next big disruptor to enterprise software.  This makes it likely that in 2016, new inventions will increasingly come to market from companies discovering new ways to apply this wonderful technology versus building it. With game changers now having access to cost effective quality AI platforms to create new products, we’ll also likely see an explosion in new startups using AI.

Smart machines will assist employees being more productive, not replace them. Analytics industry leader, Tom Davenport, predicted that “smart leaders will realize that augmentation—combining smart humans with smart machines—is a better strategy than automation.”

Business leaders will be given the choice to use these intelligent vehicles so that AI sourced information has the option to present solutions and explain how they arrive at their answers to common problems and allow better, more efficient decisions be made as part of a companies growth.

AI-powered applications will start to infiltrate companies other than technology firms. Employees, teams and entire departments will champion process re-engineering efforts with these intelligent systems whether they realize it or not. As each individual app eliminates a task, employees will automate many of the mundane parts of their jobs and assemble their own stack of AI-powered apps. Teammates eager to be  competitive will follow, along with team managers who are looking to execute on cost-cutting efforts.

With innovation progressing rapidly within large organizations in sectors such as retail, finance and pharmaceutical will focus even more efforts on remaining competitive and discovering the next big thing by forming innovation hubs. Innovation laboratories have existed for some time, but in 2016, we’ll begin to see more resources devoted to innovation  and more technologies discovered in these think tanks actually implemented across different company functions and business lines.

2016 will be a big year for AI. But what is even more significant, 2016 will bring about a major shift in the perception of AI. It will cease to be an intimidating, hypothetical set of notions and theories and will be better understood and accepted as more people realize the advantages of AI to supplement what we do to make our lives even more rewarding.

To your Success in 2016

Steve

100 Years of Age – Will be the new 60

As Technology has gathered pace this last 20 years ….Do you ever stop to consider that it’s kinda weird that we can now order a take away from our mobiles and yet no one can figure out how to stop (or at least reduce) the inevitable march towards death? Well, you’re not alone.

Science has been trying to figure out this whole ageing thing for a long time now, and a new development just could be one of those landmark moments in science history. According to recent reports, a new anti-ageing drug is going to be tested on human subjects starting next year. The potential result of this could mean that we, human beings, could extend our life spans to 120 years of age and be in good health to the very end.

The drug in question is a widely used diabetes pill called Metformin and costs mere pennies to make. Metformin helps to increase oxygen flow on a cellular level, thereby slowing the necessary cell divisions that keep our bodies both functioning correctly but ultimately lead to aging.

Belgian researchers have tested the drug on roundworms, and have had positive results so the next step is to do a human trial.

“I have been doing research into ageing for 25 years and the idea that we would be talking about a clinical trial in humans for an anti-ageing drug would have been thought inconceivable,” says ageing expert Professor Gordon Lithgow.

“But there is every reason to believe it’s possible. The future is taking the biology that we’ve now developed and applying it to humans.”

Imagine that… 100 will be truly the new 60 . Human longevity will be the new buzzword.

To your good health, living longer and immortal insight.

Steve

How to Fight Your Ageing Mind

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have taken skin cells from donors of different ages and transformed them into brain cells that reflect their donors’ ages. This is the first time researchers have been able to create ageing human brain cells from older people’s skin cells rather than from old brains.

The results will not only advance research into ageing, but could aid in the continued quest to create new cells to repair or replace damaged organs.

The new findings address a major problem in this field. There are several ways to force cells to switch from one type to another, but scientists haven’t been sure how the neurons made from a skin cell differ from the neurons that develop normally in people’s brains. The earliest method for reprogramming cells set the ageing clock back to zero, because the skin cells first had to be turned into a type of stem cell similar to those in early embryos. This newer technique, first developed at Stanford University, in which a series of biochemical tweaks switched skin cells directly into brain cells.

This age-specific brain cell testing holds the keys to understanding how human neurons age — and how we can reverse the effects of ageing and eradicate diseases like ALS , Alzheimer’s & Parkinsons. Expansions of this cell-transforming technique might enable us to produce organoids  which are even more realistic three-dimensional models of human organs.

Imagine being able to rejuvenate your mind regardless of age and stay as mentally sharp as your younger colleagues.

To you all keeping your marbles well into your twilight years.

Steve

Your Heads’ In The Clouds

This post will literally blow your mind …And I mean ….Literally!
It has been predicted recently that not far from now, our opportunity & capacity for learning and gaining knowledge will grow exponentially to stratospheric heights.

” In the 2030s,” said Ray Kurzweil( a brilliant scientist from Google), “we are going to send nano-robots into the brain (via capillaries) that will provide full immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system and will connect our neocortex to the cloud. Just like how we can wirelessly expand the power of our smartphones 10,000-fold in the cloud today, we’ll be able to expand our neocortex in the cloud.”
Having your head in the clouds” will no longer be a term used for ridiculing unrealistic thinking.

Just give a thought to it for a moment ……2030 is only 15 years away…
Directly plugging your brain into the internet? Upgrading your intelligence and memory capacity by orders of magnitude?
This post is about the staggering (and fascinating) consequences of that possible future.
The implications of a connected neocortex are quite literally unfathomable. As such, any list one can come up with will pale in contrast to reality… But here are a few suggested ideas to get the ball rolling.

Head-to-Head Communication
This will deliver a new level of human intimacy, where you can truly know what your lover, friend or child is feeling. Intimacy far beyond what we experience today by mere human verbal exchanges. Forget email, texting, phone calls, and so on – you’ll be able to send your thoughts to someone simply by thinking them.

Yahoo on the Brain – Instantaneous knowledge at the speed of thought!
You’ll have the ability to “know” anything you desire, at the moment you want to know it. You’ll have access to the world’s information at the tip of your neurons. You’ll be able to determine complecated maths formulae in seconds. You’ll be able to navigate the streets of any cities, naturally. You’ll be able to hop into a helicopter and fly it perfectly( no mean feat). You’ll be able to communicate in different languages effortlessly.

Scalable Intelligence
Just imagine that you’re in a bind and you need to solve a problem (rapidly). In the future world, you’ll be able to scale up the computational power of your brain on demand, 10x or 1,000x, 10,000X… in much the same way that algorithms today can spool up 1,000 processor cores on Web Servers.

Living in the Virtual World
If our brains can truly connect at high bandwidth, you will be able to circumvent our current sensory internal organs (eyes, ears, touch) to the point where brain’s sense of reality can be driven completely by a computer gaming engine – a multimedia world. Likewise, the connections would exist in the motor cortex of your brain as well. When you move your limbs, picture a corresponding set of virtual arms moving perfectly in the virtual world.

Extended Immune System
Ray goes onto suggest how we already have intelligent scientific devices, the size of blood cells that kill disease. They are called T-cells. They can recognize an adversary and attack it; In the future, nanorobots will be able to communicate wirelessly, download applications when new pathogens arrives, and attack cancer, cancer stem cells, bacteria, viruses, and all the disease agents. They can also work on metabolic illnesses like diabetes. They could also protect healthy levels of everything you need in the blood, including nutrients, and basically heal and fundamentally replace weakened organs.

Downloadable Expertise
The old derogatory saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Will be a thing of the past as we will become experts in everything – We’ll be able to do anything. Need to perform unexpected emergency surgery? Just download the ER doctor program. Need to learn a new foreign language? Download it. Want to repair your old car motor engine? Download the mechanic module. In fact, you probably won’t even need to download it (which takes up memory), you’ll probably just “stream” resources from the cloud.

Expanded and Searchable Memories
We’ll be able to always remember everything that ever happened to us (because we’ll store our memories in the cloud), and we’ll be able to search that memory database for useful information. When our memories will become searchable, we’ll also be able to make them contextual by cross-referencing our diaries, journeys, mediacal info, current news, weather conditions, and anything else that might be relevant to that particular moment in time.

A Higher-Order Existence
Ray talks about how a connected neocortex will bring humanity to a higher order of existence and complexity – expanding our palate for sensation, culture, humour, creativity, expression, and individuality. He says, “We’re going to be funnier. We’re going to be sexier. We’re going to be better at expressing loving sentiment. We’re going to add more levels to the hierarchy of brain modules and create deeper levels of expression. People will be able to explore very deeply some particular type of music in far greater degree than we can today. It’ll lead to far greater originality, not less.”

While this future may sound imaginary to many, let’s remember that exponential technologies are initially deceptive, before they become disruptive.
And today, there are many labs around the world working on molecular machinery, that allow us to edit our own genome, and brain-computer interfaces (through cortical implants and in the field of optogenetics).
So what if these fields of technological progress double every 18 months? In 15 years (2015 – 2030), we will have a 1,000-fold improvement over today. What does a future one thousand times better look like? Perhaps it’s what Ray predicts…
If this future becomes reality, connected humans are going to change everything…You’ll be able to fulfil your potential in every area of your life!
We need to discuss the consequences in order to make the right decisions now so that we are prepared for the long-term.
This is the sort of conversation that really lights my fire and one I’d like to explore further within a mastermind group. So come and join me.

To you all “slipping the surly bonds of earth” and soaring amongst the clouds

Steve