Could Artificial Intelligence Ever Become Conscious?

Could Artificial Intelligence Ever Become ConsciousWhen we look around at the world today, we are seeing several modest advances in artificial intelligence, such as being on the doorstep to seeing cars drive themselves. And now we could be on the verge of yet another amazing development: machines that are aware of their own existence and their surroundings. Now only that, such machines could have the ability to absorb massive quantities of real time data. They could go out dangerous missions, into either combat or space. Besides perhaps driving folks around, they could be able to cook for us, clean our homes, and even do our laundry.  They could also us company when there are no other people around.

Replacing Humans Altogether?

An advanced group of these machines could totally replace us at most all jobs. That could save mankind from drudgery of daily work, but it will probably disturb several societal foundations. Lives with all play and no work could become a dystopia.

Conscious machines will most likely bring up some disturbing ethical and legal problems as well. How about the liability behind a conscious AI machine if it were to hurt someone? Or to go a step further, perhaps these machines would come together and rebel against human society – just like in the science fiction movies. Many experts consider these machines to be a bit of an societal evolution.

Many scientists and engineers are somewhat divided as to whether these conscious machines will ever exist. In addition to that, they are also debating as to whether these machines would ever be called “conscious” in the same way that we think of a human being conscious – or even the way that some animals are conscious. Some of these great questions pertain to technology; while other questions ask about the definition of consciousness itself.

Is awareness enough?

Many computer scientists believe that consciousness is will the result as technology advances. Some of these experts feel that consciousness means being able to accept new information, retrieving and storing old information and then applying some cognitive processing of this data which results into actions and perceptions.

If this is true, then perhaps there will be a day when these machines become conscious. They will be able to collect much more data than a human ever could, and store enough of it to fill countless libraries, have access to massive databases within only milliseconds, and then compute all of this into decisions that are more complex than any human could ever dream of.

However, there are philosophers and physicists who claim there are more to humans than could ever be computed by a computer. Creativity, for instance, and the feeling of freedom are states of mind that humans have which are not derived from calculations or logic.

But these aren’t the only viewpoints of what consciousness is all about, or even if machines could ever get there.

Quantum viewpoints

Yet another view of consciousness comes from the popular quantum theory, which comes from the field of physics. The orthodox Copenhagen Interpretation claims that the physical world and consciousness are complementary factors of the very same reality we see. Whenever someone observes, or conducts an experiment on, a certain part of our physical world, their individual conscious interaction will cause changes in what they are testing.

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Those Who Think Further into the Future Less Likely to Take Risks

Those Who Think Further into the Future Less Likely to Take RisksThe folks that think further in the future may be more likely to avoid risks, accord to a brand new study. Scientists have referred to some very big data sources in order to analyze the texts from almost 40,000 people on Twitter. And they also ran online experiments to assess their overall behavior.

These researchers also discovered a correlation between those who have longer future-sightedness and those who less apt to make risky decisions, according to the study.

“Twitter is like a microscope for psychologists,” said Phillip Wolff, who is an associate professor of psychology from Emory University and also one of the coauthors for a report that recently appeared in the publication, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Naturalistic data mined from tweets appears to give insights not just into tweeters’ thoughts at a particular time, but into a relatively stable cognitive process. Using social media and big-data analytical tools opens up a new paradigm in the way we study human behavior.”

Revealing ourselves on social media

The other coauthor Robert Thorstad, who is also a PhD candidate from Wolff’s lab, created the idea for this research, and he also created its design and analyses, and even implemented the experiments.

“I’m fascinated by how people’s everyday behavior can give away a lot of information about their psychology,” Thorstad claimed. “Much of our work was automated, so we were able to analyze millions of tweets from thousands of individuals’ day-to-day lives.”

Those who view further into the future tends to have fewer and shorter tweets, usually just a few after only a couple of days, which is far different than previous research which indicated future-sightedness on the order of years.

“One possible interpretation is that the difference is due to a feature of social media,” Wolff says. Another potential reason was that previous studies explicitly asked folks exactly how far they were thinking into the future while this research used implicit measures for previous tweets.

While this interesting relationship between decision-making and future-sightedness may appear obvious, prior findings on this subject haven’t been that consistent. Those inconsistencies could be because of factors like observer bias in laboratory settings or small sample sizes.

These researchers employed an array of methods (like the Stanford CoreNLP which is a natural language processing system and also SUTime, which is a rule-based temporal tagger that is built on regular expression patterns) to automatically assess Twitter text trails that were left by individual topics.

They collected this experimental data through the use of Amazon’s crowdsourcing tool called Mechanical Turk, which is actually a website where people can perform a variety of internet-based tasks. Scientists asked the participants in these Mechanical Turk experiments to furnish their Twitter screen names.

In one particular experiment, the Mechanical Turk participants were required to answer delay discounting questions, like: Would you rather have $60 today or $100 six months from now? The researchers then analyzed the tweets of these participants. They assessed future orientation by their tendency to tweet about topics related to the future as compared to the past. Their future-sightedness was based on how frequently their tweets talked about the future, and how far they looked in the future.

The data indicated that future orientation was not related to investment behavior, but those people who looked further into the future were most likely to opt for waiting for bigger rewards in the future than those who didn’t look as far in the future. This revealed the link between investment behavior and how far people look into the future.

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Why Does Your Brain Keep False Beliefs?

Why Does Your Brain Keep False BeliefsThe methods that our brains use to form our beliefs have been influenced by an evolutionary push to be more efficient instead of accurate. Abstract belief creation, which is those beliefs that are conveyed through language and not by our experiences, is most likely one of the truly few things that make us uniquely human, and this makes it fairly new within the span of evolutionary time.

History of Belief Formation

Prior to language, our ancestors would create form a new belief only through the things that they experienced directly within the physical world that existed around them. And for these perceptual beliefs that come straight from our direct sensory experiences, so this makes it reasonable to assume that our senses would not lie to us. After all, seeing is indeed believing. Because in those early days, if you questioned what you saw or heard could have gotten you eaten. And for our ancestors, it was always much better to be safe rather than sorry – particularly if the decisions is whether or not a lion is sitting in the nearby grass.

This is why we humans did not exercise very much skepticism whenever our beliefs pertained to those things that we experienced directly – particularly whenever our life is on the line. Then as our language began to form, we gradually became able to begin forming beliefs about issues and things that we had not experienced directly for ourselves. And many of them we began to believe very strongly.

Our Brains Don’t Update Beliefs that are False – But We Do

The fact is many of our beliefs are probably harmless. Lots of them were most likely picked up in the environment that we grew up in. The problems come from the risk of not keeping these beliefs current. We tend to hold onto beliefs even though the basis for those beliefs might have changed. And on top of this, we still keep forming beliefs without performing any due diligence on any of them, and sometimes we even keep them after getting corrective information that directly contradicts our chosen beliefs.

In the year 1994, scientists and researchers Colleen Seifert and Hollyn Johnson requested that their study subjects to examine and read messages regarding a warehouse fire. Some of those messages claimed that this fire began close to a closet that contained paint cans and gas cylinders, and it encouraged them to make a connection. And then, after receiving five additional messages, these same subjects get a correction which explained that this closet had actually been empty, the subjects still responded to questions regarding the fire by placing blame on burning paint and referred to neglect of having flammable objects stored close by. So it seems that seeking the real truth – the desire in knowing the actual truth even though it may not align with our current beliefs – actually opposes the way our brains process data.

So we may need to step up and give some assistance to our brains occasionally. Whenever you have an argument with someone about a topic you passionately believe in, it might be a good idea to determine why you believe in it and why. Sometimes, a little skepticism goes a long way.

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Scientists Create a Brain Implant that Improves Memory

Scientists Create a Brain Implant that Improves MemoryDo you struggle with your memory on occasion? You may be in luck as scientists have created a brain implant that boosts memory – at least that was the case in its very first test run. Experts are encouraged by this because of the promise it offers in possibly treating dementia, brain injuries and other ailments that could damage memory.

Brain Implant Inner Workings

This implant works a lot a pacemaker as it sends electrical pulses to help the brain whenever it struggles in storing new data, but stays quiet if it senses the brain is performing as it should.

During this test, as recently reported in the publication Nature Communications, the device appeared to improve word recall by 15% — which is about the amount that is stolen by Alzheimer’s disease over a span of two and half years.

We must stress that this implant is still in its experimental stages. However, Researchers are already discussing options in commercializing this technology. But the girth of its applicability is still unknown, having only been used so far only on people that have epilepsy.

Experts are cautioning that the risk for misuse of a “memory booster” could be enormous — A.D.H.D. drugs are currently being used as study aids. They also emphasized that a 15% improvement is pretty modest at this point.

New Type of Device

However, this research is actually ushering in brand new type of device. This is a device that serves as an automatic aid which will enhance normal cognitive functionality. Physicians have already used implants that are similar for years in order to block certain abnormal brain activity bursts. One of the most common uses for them has been in people who are afflicted with Parkinson’s disease and also epilepsy.

“The exciting thing about this is that, if it can be replicated and extended, then we can use the same method to figure out what features of brain activity predict good performance,” stated Bradley Voytek, who is an assistant professor for cognitive and data science, from the University of California, located in San Diego.

This implant is actually based on years of decoding various brain signals, and has received support from the Department of Defense with over $70 million in funding. They are seeking more effective treatments for traumatic brain injuries, which are the signature injuries for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

This research team, who were led by researchers from both the University of Pennsylvania and also Thomas Jefferson University, previously stated that electrical pulses from various implanted electrodes will aid recall reliably.

“It’s one thing to go back through your data, and find that the stimulation works. It’s another to have the program run on its own and watch it work in real time,” stated Michael Kahana, who is a professor of psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and also the senior author for this brand new study.

“Now that the technology is out of the box, all sorts of neuro-modulation algorithms could be used in this way,” he further stated.

Dr. Edward Chang, who is a professor of neurosurgery from the University of California, located in San Francisco, added, “Very similar approaches might be relevant for other applications, such as treating symptoms of depression or anxiety,” even though brain targets would probably be different.

The research group tested this memory aid on 25 different people with epilepsy who had been evaluated for operations.

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3 Major Steps to Become a Thought Leader

3 Major Steps to Become a Thought LeaderThe world has never witnessed the amount of information that we are seeing now on a daily basis. In spite of that, there are still just as many people seeking valuable information as there had even been. In fact, it is actually needed more than ever because of the record levels of competition in many industries.

If you desire to be a person of influence whose ideas are sought after, then you must possess the traits that are needed and required to become a thought leader. The good news is that very few thought leaders are born; anyone can become one with dedication and the right mindset. The first obstacle is getting your message heard above the noise.

Thought Leaders follow this 3 Steps

1) Have a Mission – Your mission is your rock. This is what you cling to at all cost. As a thought leader, you must have your goal in front of you at all times, as this is where you will be influencing and leading people.

When you have a clear mission, people understand what you represent and what to expect from you. This makes you easier to trust because you have credibility. It is much harder to trust people whose focus shifts from one day to another.

 “Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.” – Zig Ziglar

2) Craft a Solid Supporting Message – After you have determined a clear mission, you now need a message that will get the attention of others. This is a big challenge today because of the constant background noise that all of us are subjected to each day.

Your message needs to be a rallying cry in order to attract the people that you have targeted. It needs to include your main core premise, which is that single idea that you sincerely believe others needs to know.

That message should be compelling and thought provoking – which makes them want to find out more. As a thought leader, it is critical that give them a brand new perspective that they have never heard before. Also, keep in mind that a more focused message usually attracts fewer people, but those people will also be more focused and more passionate.

 “I have a message to give to the world, and I shall not be thwarted.” – Elizabeth Kenny

3) Create your Method – A method is simply the system that you plan to use for helping people understand and more importantly, implement your message. Methods need not be complicated or even lengthy. In fact, the very best methods are generally very simple and memorable. The ideal method typically has no more than 3 to 7 action steps.


There is a general process that all thought leaders use to persuade interested people in joining their mission. They first remind the people how things have always been and point out how unhappy they have been with those results. Then they show them a new way to do things and convince them how powerful this new approach can be – by showing them proven results.

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Science Says Switching to Shorter Store Lines Rarely Ever Works

Science Says Switching to Shorter Store Lines Rarely Ever WorksWe have all done it when standing in line at our grocery stores. When it seems that the store line we are standing in is going nowhere we make the jump. But now science is now telling us that switching to shorter store lines rarely works, and that we shouldn’t bother making that switch to another queue. So unless a cashier comes and opens up a new register right next to you and there is no waiting, researchers claim that skipping from the line you are in over to another one is usually counterproductive on average.

Say No to Switching Lines

Scientists from the prestigious Harvard Business School have discovered recently that whenever a person discovers that they are at the very back of a line, they are much more prone to making decisions that will backfire on them. The overall issue is due to the notion that no person wants to be “last,” as reported in The Guardian.

When you find yourself standing in a line and there is no one behind you, then you are about 4 times more likely to determine that a nearby line next to you would be a much better option and make the jump. But the chances are about equal for those people who have waited longer for service than if they would’ve just stayed where they were.

Really a Perception Issue

This notion is very interesting since the amount of time that you wait in a store line actually has absolutely nothing at all to do with the quantity of people who are waiting in line behind you, but it will strongly affect the way you perceive this situation.

When there are no other people behind them and they perceive another line next to them moving much faster than their line, they will usually choose to switch lines without considering other important factors.  For example, the line beside them could have moved faster for that one instance because some lady only had 2 items, but the very next customer could be some dude with 90 items and 45 coupons, and then they will not be moving at all for a while.

Yes, there will be times that your line jumping may work to your advantage, but odds are that it will not work in the long run, and if there are people standing behind you then you are a lot less apt to make the jump.

So unless you get that occasional golden ticket when a person free new line suddenly opens up, most of the time you will be much better off to remain in the very first line you choose to stand in. Even though you may start at the very back in the beginning of your wait, there will eventually be some poor sap that will stand right behind you.

So be happy with this choice because you now know that science says switching to shorter store lines rarely ever works.


10 Ways to Make Your Brain Sharper

10 Ways to Make Your Brain SharperHow would you like to learn 10 ways to make your brain sharper? This would be especially nice for older Americans. Fortunately, the field of science provides a lot of assistance regarding this topic. Let us examine several things that can be done right now.

10 Ways to Make your Brain Stronger

  1. Quit multi-tasking – In spite of a lot of popular beliefs, it is virtually impossible for the human brain to multitask fully – this is supported by several studies. If you do several things simultaneously, your brain is not able to devote full attention to any of them. What happens is that you end up paying a little attention to the first thing before moving on, and then paying a little attention to the second thing before moving on, and so forth. Instead, try focusing only on one single thing at a time before proceeding to another thing.
  2. Read a book – This is actually a no-brainer to those who study brain functions. Reading will increase both your emotional and fluid intelligence. And scientists have also discovered that reading will produce brand new white matter in our brains, which will help with our communication ability and even aid our brains in the processing of information in a more efficient manner.
  3. Meditate– Very recent research has demonstrated that the practice of meditation will not only reduce stress but it will actually change our brains as well. The types of brain changes your experience depends of the type of meditation you will practice.
  4. DoWeightlifting – Research has indicated that going out and pumping some iron twice a week at the very least will make our brains operate better and it will even help ward off dementia, particularly if you are elderly.
  5. Begin to Learninganother Language – Scientists have discovered that people who are bilingual enjoy a certain “advantage” because they tend to use less brain power to achieve tasks, and it helps their brain age better. A study from Canada revealed that those who speak two or more languages process information much more economically and use up less brain power.
  6. PlayChess– Studies indicate that those who play chess have much better pattern recognition, and tend to use both sides of their brain in making decisions. Chess is also great for improving memory skills and the game will force people to mentally exercise lots of variables and possibilities at all times.
  7. Eat with Chopsticks– if you do no use them already, switching utensils will actually grow new branches of nerve cells. This will actually improve communication among your brain cells.
  8. Think Positively– When people learn to think in a positive way, this will literally rewire their brains. Scientists have proved that when you consciously change thought processes via practices like mindfulness, this will cause your brain to move from right-side thinking to the left. This can also make people much less anxious, enjoy much more energy and have a happier mindset.
  9. Go Out Dancing– Studies have shown that dancing can actually boost and speed up the processing speed of the brain because of its unique combo of physical, cognitive, and the social activity. This can also slow down aging effects and even create new white matter much more than walking does.
  10. Get Plenty of Sleep – Several studies have shown that the lack of sleep could result to several ailments such as diabetes, heart disease, depressions, and actually trigger seizures. This will have a negative effect on both your thinking and your memory.

Try out some of the ways to make your brain sharper!