A Healthy Brain is a Joy Forever

A Healthy Brain is a Joy Forever

A Healthy Brain is a Joy Forever

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Hippocrates

Men ought to know that from the brain, and from the brain only, arise our pleasures, joys, laughter and jests, as well as our sorrows, pains, griefs and tears. […]
And by the same organ we become mad and delirious, and fears and terrors assail us […]

All these things we endure from the brain, when it is not healthy

(c. 460 B.C. – c. 370 B.C.)

Introduction

Long before we knew what it was for, we already knew things could be wrong in the brain. We have archeological evidence of brain surgery performed “since prehistoric times“: people had holes drilled in their skull and survived. The skulls not only have large holes in them with signs of having been made by tools, there is also evidence of healing and regrowth of the bone. While some of the trepanations might have been made for “ritual purposes“, this still requires the development of anatomical knowledge and surgical tools.

We even found evidence of trepanning on a “prehistoric cow“, which might be one of the earliest examples of experimentation on animals. So, even without knowing exactly what the function of the brain was, prehistoric humans already understood that something could be wrong with it and that something could be done about that.

This was a widespread practice, both medical as well as spiritual. We found skulls in south America and in Asia with clear evidence of ritual trepanning as well as evidence of cranial surgery and neurosurgery several centuries BCE in Egypt, China, India, “Greece“, etc.

And so on ….

How does the brain work?

What is meant by a malfunctioning brain ?

If something is wrong with the brain can we try to heal it?

We have extensive evidence of Arabic surgeons, such as “Avicenna” and “Abulcasis” conducting brain surgery on tumors, aneurysms, hydrocephalus, etc. as well as detailed descriptions and illustrations of tools and procedures.

Still, while ancient and medieval authors were able to describe in detail the location of various nerves and even able to determine their function through”trial and error“, they still did have no idea as to how these nerves or the brain worked exactly.

From Galen, through Avicenna, and up to Descartes, nerves were generally considered as hollow conduits, like blood vessels, not for fluids, but for “animal spirits“.

It was only after early experiments with electricity in the 18th century (by Luigi “Galvani“) and the observation and description of neurons in the 19th century (by “Purkinje” ,”Golgi“, and “ Cajal “) that we started understanding how something wrong in the brain might be connected to something wrong in the body. Step by step we started localizing bodily functions in the brain (after i.a. Flourens, Broca, Ferrier): sensation, movement, speech, etc. and coming up with ways to address the problems in increasingly sophisticated ways. While we still do not fully understand how the brain makes us conscious, we’ve always somehow known that the brain is something special, and that if something is wrong with it we can try to heal it.

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Robots in Disguise

Robots in Disguise

Robots in Disguise

 When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck…

I call that bird a duck.

James Whitcomb Riley

Manuel and Sam are talking about the following article:
Can a computer fool you into thinking it is human?

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

Sam

Did you know that one of the first attempts to make an AI started out as an artificial therapist? 😊

Today 11:37

Manuel

I heard about that …. that was ELIZA, right?

Today 11:38   

Sam

Right, so as a receptionist at a hotel a robot doesn’t need to know everything, we can predict most of the questions that come up

Today 11:39  

Manuel

How so? 🤔

Today 11:39  

Sam

If you can simulate it convincingly in a couple a hundred lines of code, it must be quite simple, no?

Today 11:40  

Manuel

I’m not a programmer, but that sounds like very little code …?

Today 11:41   

Sam

It is. Basically ELIZA parroted statements back as questions to keep the conversation going.

Today 11:42   

Manuel

OK, that does seems simple. 😊

Today 11:44   

Sam

Then why did it work so well?                                                    

Today 11:45

Manuel

You’ve got me there … I’m not a psychologist either 😁

Today 11:46  

Sam

It worked because people relate to something that is similar to them, then they can empathise with it       

Today 11:46  

Manuel

Aha, and what is more familiar and relatable than your own words … right! 😁 😁

A cheap trick, but it fools a lot of people a lot of the time, like you said

Today 11:47   

Sam

Bingo! 🥳

Now: what if we can extend that to more than just words?

Today 11:48   

Manuel

Ooh, I think I see where you are going with this … mirroring behavior more generally?

Today 11:48  

Sam

Yep, copy and reply with the same body language and expressions, fluidly and harmoniously!          

Today 11:49   

Manuel

Wow, that would really make for a relatable robot 😯

Today 11:50   

Sam

I guess that would address the empathy thing you brought up.                          

Today 11:50   

Manuel

Brilliant! I’m going to write an article on this and will get back to you ASAP for approval! 😊

Today 11:51   

Sam

Great! Speak to you soon!  😊😊                                                       

Today 11:51   

… The end

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Robot See, Robot Do

Robot See, Robot Do

I do think that robots deserve rights and there are research projects being carried out today that are looking at robot laws. African-American slaves were given rights when slavery was abolished and they became part of society. Think of animals too – none of them had rights in the beginning but now animal rights are the norm. So if robots can interact with humans, they too should be given rights.

read more
Coppélia 2.0

Coppélia 2.0

He clasped the beautiful Olympia, and with her flew through the dance…
He thought that his dancing was usually correct as to time, but the peculiarly steady rhythm with which Olympia moved, and which often put him completely out, soon showed him that his time was most defective

read more

Robot See, Robot Do

Robot See, Robot Do

Robot See, Robot Do

 I do think that robots deserve rights and there are research projects being carried out today that are looking at robot laws.

African-American slaves were given rights when slavery was abolished and they became part of society.

Think of animals too – none of them had rights in the beginning but now animal rights are the norm. So if robots can interact with humans, they too should be given rights

Hiroshi Ishiguro

Manuel and Sam are talking about the following article:
Reality is catching up to science fiction

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

Manuel

So the AI can fool a lot of people … in the sense that it can pass for human often enough? 😊

Today 11:36  

Sam

Something like that. For specific purposes we don’t need AGI                                            

Today 11:37

Manuel

OK, so the robot can react appropriately when it knows enough of the topic

Today 11:38   

Sam

Right, so as a receptionist at a hotel a robot doesn’t need to know everything, we can predict most of the questions that come up

Today 11:39  

Manuel

When is breakfast, where is my room, can you order a taxi, etc.

Today 11:39  

Sam

Exactly! So a robot that can move convincingly, speak convincingly, and then look really human  

Today 11:40  

Manuel

“look really human”, con you specify that? 🤗

Today 11:43   

Sam

Smile, nod, move their eyes around, gesticulate, have non-plasticky skin, no gaps, hinges, wires, etc.

Today 11:45   

Manuel

That’s a daunting list of do’s and don’ts, and I guess there is a lot more 🧐

Today 11:45   

Sam

Yep. But if we can do that, we can climb out of uncanny valley                             

Today 11:46

Manuel

So how do we do that? 🤔

Today 11:46  

Sam

Well, we did manage to tackle a large part of speech recognition and production …             

Today 11:46  

Manuel

… sure, fair enough, Siri and Alexa do work pretty well 😊

Today 11:47   

Sam

And we did that mostly by just studying humans and copying them 😊

Today 11:48   

Manuel

Right, to pass the Turing test, imitate a human, fool the judge

Today 11:48  

Sam

Correct. So now we need to do the same thing with the rest, both body and behavior            

Today 11:49   

Manuel

That would be a huge deal! 😁

Today 11:50   

Sam

Absolutely. And this is really necessary for empathy.                              

Today 11:50   

Sam

Tell me more!  😁                                                                          

Today 11:51   

… Continue to read the conversation between Manuel and Sam 
on Saturday 24th April…

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Coppélia 2.0

Coppélia 2.0

Coppélia 2.0

 He clasped the beautiful Olympia, and with her flew through the dance…

He thought that his dancing was usually correct as to time, but the peculiarly steady rhythm with which Olympia moved, and which often put him completely out, soon showed him that his time was most defective.
E.T.A. Hoffmann The Sandman, 1817

Manuel and Sam are talking about Boston Dynamics video

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

Sam

I’ve read the post and I get why you came to me                                 

Today 11:35  

Manuel

Good! 😄

Today 11:36  

Sam

This is exactly the issue I would like to address, because it would make so many tasks easier                                              

Today 11:37

Manuel

Tasks, like …? 🤔

Today 11:38   

Sam

Let me start at the beginning! 😊

Humans have toyed with the idea of artificial humans as helpers since forever  

Today 11:39  

Manuel

OK  👌🏻

Today 11:39  

Sam

Finally we are really getting there, it’s not a myth or science fiction anymore                                         

Today 11:40  

Manuel

Fair enough, I’ve seen some pretty radical things coming from Japan lately

Today 11:43   

Sam

Indeed, and we can now build machines that can move almost like an animal or a human 🦾 🐕

Today 11:45   

Manuel

Oh, like the robots from Boston Dynamics! I saw them dancing, that was so cool! 😁

Weird, but cool!

Today 11:45   

Sam

“Weird” is the feeling a lot of people have, but robots can also be cute, like Wall-E or Pepper 😁                                  

Today 11:46

Manuel

That’s right, even when they are not humanoid at all, we can still relate to them

Today 11:46  

Sam

But when they look like a human, we dip into uncanny valley really fast                 

Today 11:46  

Manuel

So what is your take on this? 🤔

Today 11:47   

Sam

We need a robot that can move like human, fluidly, harmoniously …

Today 11:48   

Manuel

and we’re getting there, right?

Today 11:48  

Sam

Right, but also speak like a human, fluidly, harmoniously …              

Today 11:49   

Manuel

… harmoniously …?

Today 11:50   

Sam

I mean, in a way that fits naturally in a dialog                                      

Today 11:50   

Manuel

that seems pretty hard … wouldn’t that presuppose AGI?

Today 11:51   

Sam

Maybe we don’t need that if it can fool a lot of people a lot of the time …

Today 11:51   

… Continue to read the conversation between Manuel and Sam 
on Saturday 17th April…

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Handy Robots

Handy Robots

Handy Robots

If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?…
Milton Berle

Manuel and Sam are talking about  ABB’s Collaborative YuMi Robot 

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

Manuel

So we want a robot that is able to work in a human environment

Today 11:34   

Sam

Yes, it is hard to design a living or working space for both humans and robots 😅😅         

Today 11:35  

Manuel

So if the robots can just use the same stuff humans use, that’s easier 😉

Today 11:36  

Sam

Indeed, it is like you can “retrofit” automation into any workplace                                                         

Today 11:37

Manuel

But when you work side by side with a robot every day … 🧔🏻🤖

Today 11:37  

Sam

… you certainly want to avoid uncanny valley!                           

Today 11:38

Manuel

And there is more?

Today 11:38   

Sam

Imagine having a virtual assistant with a real robot body …    

Today 11:39  

Manuel

That would be nice! 😏

Today 11:39  

Sam

So you talk to them, they talk back, and do things, like hand you something                                              

Today 11:40  

Manuel

I see what you’re getting at …

Today 11:43   

Sam

If the person at the desk falls in the deep end of uncanny valley that is so much worse!

Today 11:45   

Manuel

So for face-to-face interaction, you want a humanoid robot, but it needs to be really really good. 😊

Today 11:45   

Sam

Precisely, and that is really really hard.                                       

Today 11:46

Manuel

So the article was right: the problem really is interaction and empathy

Today 11:46  

Sam

I think I need to go read this blogpost now … 🤔                        

Today 11:46  

Manuel

Good idea, but I really want to hear about the robot you are designing too! 🤗

Today 11:46   

Sam

Absolutely, all in good time. 👍                                                      

Today 11:46   

… Continue to read the conversation between Manuel and Sam 
on Saturday 10th April…

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