Scientists Create Artificial Brain With 12-Second Memory

Petri-dish-brain-650The saddest thought ever: if you say ‘I love you’ to the tiny Cheerio-shaped brain in a petri dish, twelve seconds later it won’t remember. PopSci reports:

The technicolor ring is an artificial microbrain, derived from rat brain cells–just 40 to 60 neurons in total–that is capable of about 12 seconds of short-term memory.

Developed by a team at the University of Pittsburgh, the brain was created in an attempt to artificially nurture a working brain into existence so that researchers could study neural networks and how our brains transmit electrical signals and store data so efficiently. The did so by attaching a layer of proteins to a silicon disk and adding brain cells from embryonic rats that attached themselves to the proteins and grew to connect with one another in the ring.

But as if the growing of a tiny, functioning, donut-shaped brain in a petri dish wasn’t enough, the team found that when they stimulate the neurons with electricity, the pulse would circulate the microbrain for a full 12 seconds. That’s roughly 12 seconds longer than they thought it would (they expected the pulse to live for about a quarter of a second).

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  • Anonymous

    I’m pro-science. I’m pro-stem-cell-research, and all that. I’m all for research that will let us grow new brain tissue that can be used to help those with brain damage or alzheimer’s to regrow the damaged parts of their brain.

    But this… bothers me. How big does that brain have to be before it counts as an entity? Regardless of where you draw the line for where a baby is a baby and not just a growth of cells, for the most part people agree that by the time there’s an actual brain it’s a life in its own right, specifically because it’s developed a functioning brain… and if that’s the criteria, how can we not apply that here too? How developed does it have to be before we consider it capable of thought, even if it’s not human-level thought? Maybe 40-60 neurons is still well below that threshold, I don’t know. It probably is. But this brings up a lot of troubling ethical questions to me.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pro-science. I’m pro-stem-cell-research, and all that. I’m all for research that will let us grow new brain tissue that can be used to help those with brain damage or alzheimer’s to regrow the damaged parts of their brain.

    But this… bothers me. How big does that brain have to be before it counts as an entity? Regardless of where you draw the line for where a baby is a baby and not just a growth of cells, for the most part people agree that by the time there’s an actual brain it’s a life in its own right, specifically because it’s developed a functioning brain… and if that’s the criteria, how can we not apply that here too? How developed does it have to be before we consider it capable of thought, even if it’s not human-level thought? Maybe 40-60 neurons is still well below that threshold, I don’t know. It probably is. But this brings up a lot of troubling ethical questions to me.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pro-science. I’m pro-stem-cell-research, and all that. I’m all for research that will let us grow new brain tissue that can be used to help those with brain damage or alzheimer’s to regrow the damaged parts of their brain.

    But this… bothers me. How big does that brain have to be before it counts as an entity? Regardless of where you draw the line for where a baby is a baby and not just a growth of cells, for the most part people agree that by the time there’s an actual brain it’s a life in its own right, specifically because it’s developed a functioning brain… and if that’s the criteria, how can we not apply that here too? How developed does it have to be before we consider it capable of thought, even if it’s not human-level thought? Maybe 40-60 neurons is still well below that threshold, I don’t know. It probably is. But this brings up a lot of troubling ethical questions to me.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pro-science. I’m pro-stem-cell-research, and all that. I’m all for research that will let us grow new brain tissue that can be used to help those with brain damage or alzheimer’s to regrow the damaged parts of their brain.

    But this… bothers me. How big does that brain have to be before it counts as an entity? Regardless of where you draw the line for where a baby is a baby and not just a growth of cells, for the most part people agree that by the time there’s an actual brain it’s a life in its own right, specifically because it’s developed a functioning brain… and if that’s the criteria, how can we not apply that here too? How developed does it have to be before we consider it capable of thought, even if it’s not human-level thought? Maybe 40-60 neurons is still well below that threshold, I don’t know. It probably is. But this brings up a lot of troubling ethical questions to me.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pro-science. I’m pro-stem-cell-research, and all that. I’m all for research that will let us grow new brain tissue that can be used to help those with brain damage or alzheimer’s to regrow the damaged parts of their brain.

    But this… bothers me. How big does that brain have to be before it counts as an entity? Regardless of where you draw the line for where a baby is a baby and not just a growth of cells, for the most part people agree that by the time there’s an actual brain it’s a life in its own right, specifically because it’s developed a functioning brain… and if that’s the criteria, how can we not apply that here too? How developed does it have to be before we consider it capable of thought, even if it’s not human-level thought? Maybe 40-60 neurons is still well below that threshold, I don’t know. It probably is. But this brings up a lot of troubling ethical questions to me.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pro-science. I’m pro-stem-cell-research, and all that. I’m all for research that will let us grow new brain tissue that can be used to help those with brain damage or alzheimer’s to regrow the damaged parts of their brain.

    But this… bothers me. How big does that brain have to be before it counts as an entity? Regardless of where you draw the line for where a baby is a baby and not just a growth of cells, for the most part people agree that by the time there’s an actual brain it’s a life in its own right, specifically because it’s developed a functioning brain… and if that’s the criteria, how can we not apply that here too? How developed does it have to be before we consider it capable of thought, even if it’s not human-level thought? Maybe 40-60 neurons is still well below that threshold, I don’t know. It probably is. But this brings up a lot of troubling ethical questions to me.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pro-science. I’m pro-stem-cell-research, and all that. I’m all for research that will let us grow new brain tissue that can be used to help those with brain damage or alzheimer’s to regrow the damaged parts of their brain.

    But this… bothers me. How big does that brain have to be before it counts as an entity? Regardless of where you draw the line for where a baby is a baby and not just a growth of cells, for the most part people agree that by the time there’s an actual brain it’s a life in its own right, specifically because it’s developed a functioning brain… and if that’s the criteria, how can we not apply that here too? How developed does it have to be before we consider it capable of thought, even if it’s not human-level thought? Maybe 40-60 neurons is still well below that threshold, I don’t know. It probably is. But this brings up a lot of troubling ethical questions to me.

  • quartz99

    I’m pro-science. I’m pro-stem-cell-research, and all that. I’m all for research that will let us grow new brain tissue that can be used to help those with brain damage or alzheimer’s to regrow the damaged parts of their brain.

    But this… bothers me. How big does that brain have to be before it counts as an entity? Regardless of where you draw the line for where a baby is a baby and not just a growth of cells, for the most part people agree that by the time there’s an actual brain it’s a life in its own right, specifically because it’s developed a functioning brain… and if that’s the criteria, how can we not apply that here too? How developed does it have to be before we consider it capable of thought, even if it’s not human-level thought? Maybe 40-60 neurons is still well below that threshold, I don’t know. It probably is. But this brings up a lot of troubling ethical questions to me.

    • chinagreenelvis

      Consensus does not resolve ethical dilemmas.

      • quartz99

        I never said it did. In fact, it’s the fact that there’s more or less a consensus on brains and development level of brains kind of being a marker of distinction between life we should be concerned about and life that we don’t really need to be too concerned about that points up the fact that there is an ethical dilemma at all. Pointing out the problem isn’t in any sense a resolution of it (though you must recognize there’s a problem before you can solve it, so it is perhaps a necessary precursor).

        • ted

          Don’t worry, the ethical analysis of experiments are always run through by a whole team of experts for many, many weeks before anything like this can go ahead, and research neuroscientists (which I am one of) have to learn the ethical cost benefit analyses to a much greater depth than regular people realise ethics can even get to before they’re allowed anywhere near a lab…

          • quartz99

            I know it is. Like I said, I doubt the amount of neurons here amounts to anything. I do think ethical questions in science should be the purview of everyone though, not just a panel of experts. The tendency to hide the debate between scientists that informs the ethical consensus contributes to the lack of understanding of just what science is or how it works among the general populace.

            And considering we don’t really understand the mechanisms that cause consciousness, I doubt a few weeks of debate on it can really answer the question of what point of development we can say definitively does not have any consciousness, or at what point we can go up to before we have to think about our responsibility to what we’ve created. This amount is probably below that threshold but can we really say we know where the threshold is? Do we know what we’re going to do when we cross it? How would you even test for that if it’s just the neurons and the neurons aren’t connected to anything they can manipulate to show independent behavior?

    • SF2K01

      I think we’re a long way from self awareness. Without that, there’s really nothing to talk about.

      • quartz99

        Maybe. But since we really don’t understand what causes self-awareness and have no good way to quantify it, you really can’t definitively state that we can be 100% certain we’re not already into self-awareness territory (though I also find it unlikely yet — or maybe I just hope it’s unlikely yet at that small a complexity), nor can we say at what point or by what measure we will know we’ve crossed into it when we get there. And once we do get there, what is our responsibility to our creation? …which was my original question.

        • POOPY

          Hey man, neurons don’t have pain receptors. Unless we make a brain complex enough to get depressed, OR if we start giving it pain-like sensory input, just creating loads of neurons won’t hurt it.

          • quartz99

            Yes, and with no ethical guidelines in place and no inquiry into where that threshold is, it’s highly likely that either of those things could eventually happen. In fact, there’s a whole line of research waiting right there in studying how the brain transmits pain, where researchers would be delivering pain-like input intentionally. I can see a lot of applications that have potential to benefit people with arthritis or fibromyalgia or perhaps finding more efficient ways of disrupting the pain signals for operations. But in order to really get to the application side, you have to make the tissue more and more complex to simulate conditions in the human brain. My question is at what point does that increasing complexity cross the line into something we should be concerned about.

    • NotSkeptical

      they didnt make them out of human cells, and they probably never would. They are studying the flow of something in the brain. not attempting to create human beings. We kill rats all the time, are you worried about the rat-brain dying?

      If a human brain were created, it would not be capable of living on its own, so letting it die off is not the same as killing a human… It would also not be thinking in the concept of you or me thinking.

      • quartz99

        Who cares if it’s made of humans or rats? I’m less worried about it dying. I’m more concerned with not being cruel to something capable of feeling the effects of it, and of what responsibility we have to any new consciousness we create from other parts — a differently wired set of brain tissue in the absence of the body it’s genetically expecting… would it even be considered rat or human or snake or whatever? Or is that something new? We don’t know at what level of complexity self-awareness forms. We can’t even quantify consciousness. In fact, the only thing we can really say about it is that we must have it in order to even ask the question so it must at least exist.

        • Guest

          So you’re concerned about cruelty to the 60 neurons, but not the rats from which they were taken. I just find this to be an amusing point.

          • quartz99

            No. There are ethical and humane ways to gather cells to clone. I said it didn’t matter to me if the original cells were rat or human. Not the same thing.

    • Blur

      please… it doesn’t have a conscience or a soul… it is wiring… 

      • quartz99

        Who said anything about souls? I don’t care about fictions. I don’t care about conscience either, that seems to be a high-level function and is unlikely to develop without some kind of socialized environment. Consciousness is a different matter entirely.

        And it is just wiring. So is your brain. So is the brain of a dog. So is the brain of an iguana. So is the brain of a roach. It’s all just wiring. But at some point that wiring becomes complex enough to gain at least the semblance of being self-aware. My question is: where is that point of complexity?

        • Derp

          We’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it. I squatted a fly last week, so I’ll wait until this brain reaches the complexity of a fly before I give a damn.

          • https://openid.claimid.com/fredfnord Fred Fnord

            > I squatted a fly last week

            That sounds really dirty.

          • quartz99

            General practice is to consider ethical questions you know you will eventually need the answers to well before you need those answers. Kind of the point of asking them. Just like getting directions to a place you’re going to before you leave so you don’t get halfway there and realize you have no idea where you’re going.

          • Malfeasant

            road trips- you’re doing it wrong :D

            half the fun is getting lost & ending up somewhere you would never have thought to look for.

          • quartz99

            :D fair enough

            Though I prefer to have at least a pretty good grasp on where I’m going if it involves any sentient life other than my own.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shane-Simmons/100000053744641 Shane Simmons

            You have an apt nickname.  Do you consider Asimov and Clarke to be fools for considering the moral implications of regarding androids as machinery and wiring?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shane-Simmons/100000053744641 Shane Simmons

        OK, Dr. Pulaski…

    • Goddam

      “4 creationists liked this”

      There’s one hundred thousand brain cells in a fruit fly.
      You can swat a three-week old human embryo with as much guilt!

      If you don’t stop anthropomorphizing inanimate matter,
      people will start to think christianity is an animist religion!

      • quartz99

        perhaps you should spend more time reading what I actually wrote and less time reading things into it. Creationists? where? Christianity? Who cares what they think or what they think their sky fairy thinks? How does wondering what point things become conscious of themselves or capable of rudimentary thought, and what our responsibility is to that entity once it reaches that point if we’ve created it, have anything to do with christianity or with anthropomorphizing anything? Even fruit flies, your example, have a basic understanding of there being an environment around them and will react to, for instance, stimuli that can harm them.

        • Goddam

          My comment was explicitly directed to those 4 people who found extracting such moral considerations from this experiment merits applause.
          The philosophical observations you made about the origin of Conscience and Life are very valid and troubling ones i happen to share.
          What i critique is your choice of forum and starting point. I believe it to be an unfounded disproportionate comment on the theme at hand.
          Even if there is (wich i highly doubt) any semblance of consciousness in the amalgam of cells used in this study, why should it bother you, when almost every mundane action we take in this world has a deeper impact on nature and sentient life?
          Walking on grass must sound barbaric to you!

          • tokamak

            If anyone doesn’t care about concious experience it are the creationists. They care about life itself, concious or not. They also wouldn’t care about a fully concious brain if it wasn’t human. 

            Questions like these are secular humanistic in nature. It’s a concern for sentient life and it’s one that needs to be asked.

          • https://openid.claimid.com/fredfnord Fred Fnord

            >They care about life itself, concious or not. 

            Umm… no. They care about *human* life.

            I have known a lot of people who are concerned about animal cruelty, especially in product testing. I have also known a lot of people who are Christian creationists. There was literally no overlap whatsoever.

          • tokamak

            I kind of meant that in the line that came right after that. But yeah you’re right, we’re on the same page.

          • Joe Fitzroy

            IN fact, most of them talk about respect for human life, except that they don’t actually care about anyone excpt those like themselves, same skin colour, same financial ‘class’. They show no sign of caring about the poor, or of anyone in foreign countries, or of other religions.

            Thy have a very narrow (and hypocritical) view of “care for human life”.

          • quartz99

            If you agree with my philosophical observations then what’s the problem here? All I wonder is where the line is. As I have said repeatedly in these comments, it’s probably not at 60 neurons. But where is it? What’s the threshold where we DO need to be concerned? How is asking that at the outset somehow worth ridicule? I’m just asking where we draw the damn line. Is it 10,000? 100,000? 10 million?

            Grass doesn’t have sentience. Walking on grass is not barbaric. Don’t be stupid. Walking on rats (which is a more apt comparison as they can think), that would sound barbaric. And yes, I do go out of my way not to step on very small animals or insects if I can help it. Sorry to hear that seems so outlandish to you.

            And as tokamak said, creationists don’t give a damn about sentience or anything that’s not pre-human life (because they sure don’t give a damn about people once they’ve been born). Comparing me to them or suggesting that my asking the question of where we draw the line somehow conflates me with them is a real insult, not to mention very inaccurate of their beliefs.

          • anon

            Grass is a biome filled with sentience. Walking in grass=crushing millions and millions of sentient neurons. That is the point. Until you feel that every life is sacred, every teeny, tiny little bug that’s ever accidently made it into your food, or every caterpillar the bus you ride in drove over, then stop worrying about the sentience of some brain cells in a petri dish. This is biology, and you don’t further your research without work like this.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shane-Simmons/100000053744641 Shane Simmons

            6 people read as much into this thread as you did.

    • https://openid.claimid.com/fredfnord Fred Fnord

      Does it?

      So are you against animal testing? Because the animals in question have much (much much much) larger brains than this. Or is this somehow more ethically questionable because we grew it outside of an animal’s body, instead of growing it inside one and then cutting it out while it’s still alive?

      • quartz99

        I am against certain kinds of animal testing. Some amount of it is unavoidable but that doesn’t mean the animals need to be mistreated along the way. Same thing with animals raised for food. I only buy from farmers who have treated their animals humanely, who don’t send them through factory slaughterhouses. I’m not against all testing, just against senseless cruelty. I don’t think it’s more questionable for being outside a body, but I do think it raises questions we haven’t asked ourselves yet, where the animal testing debate has been going on for decades.

    • Max

      This isn’t a brain.  It’s just a clump of neurons.  Calling this a brain is like calling 60 random wires stuck together a computer.

      You needn’t worry.  Scientists will never create anything capable of sentient thought in your lifetime.

      • quartz99

        I wouldn’t bet on that. It’s not such a leap from 60 to 600, 600 to 6,000, etc. Unless all the funding for it gets revoked. Think how fast technology has progressed in just the last twenty years, even just bio-tech. I think it’s entirely possible this could find applications in the next twenty or thirty years that would lead to enough complexity for there to be question about where the threshold for sentience is.

        • oeden

          Revoked here in the states won’t stop this type of research in China.  No telling what they have accomplished thus far.  Excellent thread btw from both sides.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1400152285 Kevin Grieco

      you are not pro science if you think 40 neurons is capable of anything similar enough to a human consciousness to cause ethical questions…

      if we kill a trillion rats a year for research we can definitely kill an artificially constructed microfraction of one of their brains for massive advances in neuroscience

      • quartz99

        *sigh* Reading comprehension is such a lost art.

        I’m tired of repeating myself. I see this as the point where we start asking questions about future possibilities with it, and some of those questions are troubling to me. Why is that so difficult a concept? I have flat out said many many times in this thread: 60 neurons, probably nothing. But where do we draw the line at what’s “nothing” and what’s “maybe sentient”? I suppose you think it’s better to wait until it’s a million or whatever and _then_ decide “Oh, maybe we should have paid more attention at 100,000.”

        Or is the problem just the fact that I used words in there that are sometimes thrown about as political issues (mainly because I thought they are tangentially relevant or have parallel debates) so suddenly no one is capable of reading it without looking for some kind of all or nothing where having even one question means you’re suddenly anti-science?

        • http://drwho.virtadpt.net/ The Doctor

          I think a lot of people in these comment threads stopped reading your post about three sentences in and their own hardwired assumptions around this topic (including “soul” and “sapience”) kicked in and overrode their abilities to read the rest of the bloody entry.  You didn’t say a single damned thing about that test neural net having a soul, or anything else along those lines.  All you asked was “At what point in this research do we need to start asking the hard questions?”

          Those questions need to be asked.  Maybe not yet, but “not yet” is not equal to “never.”  Rest assured, the ethics review boards are going to be all over this like white on rice.

          For fuck’s sake, people, read all the way through before punching the “Post as /[A-Za-z]?*/” button…

          • quartz99

            Thank you. I was starting to think maybe I’d written something in some language that everyone else could read but I couldn’t that meant something entirely different from what I wrote.

            I’m sure the ethics committees will be all over it. I’m looking forward to reading some of the debates on it. But as people’s responses to what was just shy of a throw-away comment on my part show, this is going to get political as it creates a greater complexity of tissue and starts to find real-world applications, especially along the lines of questioning that parallel the abortion debate. That troubles me even more than the possible answers to some of the troubling questions I foresee, honestly. Science shouldn’t ever be political.

            Then again, maybe they can do some experiments on consciousness with this new method that specifically start at some point that we’re sure is short of it and start adding more complexity until they get to something they can demonstrate has a rudimentary self-awareness (I have no idea how they would do that but that’s what experiments are for, right? :D ) and we can use it to shut the abortion debate down (among rational people anyway), because then we’d be able to say definitively “Until the brain reaches this point, there is absolutely no possibility of awareness or thought.”

    • Cloak419

      It’s a petri dish with connected neurons, nothing more, and it may take 100 years before we adapt sensory capabilities to it if it even becomes possible it may be a functioning brain. For now it’s nothing more than a dish that holds some electrical capacity for about 5 minutes, it is not a “developing functioning brain” nor will it be without human scientific intervention and that intervention right there is the difference between an aware life form and one that is not; Starting some new “im against/for synthetic brains” is like bringing the whole abortion argument into the scientific community instead of talking about the good this can do and focusing on the more important topics. You are suggesting this experiment has some kind of living thing we’ve created on a dish and we’re poking and prodding it for no reason and it could “feel/think” it’s no different than creating an artificial heart or making a memory stick for a computer and running a current through them so the chemicals in them can “work” to do their job.

      • quartz99

        No.

        Having questions about the future of a thing is nothing remotely like being against it. Precisely where did I say anything remotely resembling being either for or against it? I didn’t (well, maybe saying elsethread that I can see applications for studying the way pain signals move through the tissue might count as “for”). I said that it raises the question of what level of complexity is the threshold where we have to start considering the possibility of sentience. We don’t know what that level of complexity is. We don’t even know what causes it, only that it seems to be related to the electrical impulses in brain tissue (you know, that thing they’re experimenting with in the article). I am suggesting that while _this_ experiment may not be “some kind of living thing we’ve created on a dish and we’re poking and prodding it for no reason and it could ‘feel/think’,” that it IS the _beginning_ of a line of inquiries that can LEAD to that and that it’s better to ask these questions _before_ we get to that point than after.

    • lastdinosaur

      I understand your distress but I think we’re a long way off from being able to grow anything that’s capable of thought on a human level. 

      40-60 neurons is nothing compared to the 100 billion or so neurons that make up the human brain. Also, I’m not entirely sure a brain, in and of itself, would be able to generate thought, or any other experiential construct, without the presence of sensory organs (ears to generate a language, skin to feel pain, etc.). As for cloning entire beings, that is a much different story. 

      • quartz99

        I’m not sure it is either. But I’m also not sure it can’t. That’s why I can see troubling questions in the future of this research.

    • Kaboom

       I think ethics need to be rethought.  If we constrain ourselves with ethics too much, we’ll inevitably cause too much harm to our environments and societies and end up lacking the advanced technologies needed to fix those problems.  If we had less ethical thinking in medical science, we probably could have cured aids and cancer by using more human test subjects and experimental drugs and embryonic stem cell research, or at least come closer, but, ethics is always in the way. 

    • NimRod64

      This was a culture of brain cells from rat embryos — not human.

      Though I do see your point, a little…

  • chinagreenelvis

    Consensus does not resolve ethical dilemmas.

  • Anonymous

    I never said it did. In fact, it’s the fact that there’s more or less a consensus on brains and development level of brains kind of being a marker of distinction between life we should be concerned about and life that we don’t really need to be too concerned about that points up the fact that there is an ethical dilemma at all. Pointing out the problem isn’t in any sense a resolution of it (though you must recognize there’s a problem before you can solve it, so it is perhaps a necessary precursor).

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    It may be troubling in the possibilities it will bring to the table later…but for right now…UNSPEAKABLY EFFING COOL!! 

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    It may be troubling in the possibilities it will bring to the table later…but for right now…UNSPEAKABLY EFFING COOL!! 

  • http://twitter.com/BanjoLawson Banjo Lawson

    Cue nightmare scenarios.

    At least we will have the equivalent of “True Blood” for zombies.

    • http://drwho.virtadpt.net/ The Doctor

      I was thinking more along the lines of the “head cheese” servers from Watts’ _Rifters_ trilogy.

  • http://twitter.com/BanjoLawson H.B Llawson-Paterson

    Cue nightmare scenarios.

    At least we will have the equivalent of “True Blood” for zombies.

  • Poon

    i just shit my pants

  • Poon

    i just shit my pants

  • ted

    Don’t worry, the ethical analysis of experiments are always run through by a whole team of experts for many, many weeks before anything like this can go ahead, and research neuroscientists (which I am one of) have to learn the ethical cost benefit analyses to a much greater depth than regular people realise ethics can even get to before they’re allowed anywhere near a lab…

  • Pinguisavis

    12/(1/4)=48, not 12!

    • sam

      lol… idiot. 1/4+12 approximately equals 12.

      • rjc34

        The article says they predicted it would last for 1/4 of a second, and it actually lasted for 12 seconds. Thus both of you are wrong.

  • Pinguisavis

    12/(1/4)=48, not 12!

  • sam

    lol… idiot. 1/4+12 approximately equals 12.

  • SF2K01

    It’s called a computer and we’ve had them for years. Or did you mean Scientists create an organic brain that can hold a 12 second memory? And can it really be said that they created it if it was already derived from rat brain material?

  • Anonymous

    It’s called a computer and we’ve had them for years. Or did you mean Scientists create an organic brain that can hold a 12 second memory? And can it really be said that they created it if it was already derived from rat brain material?

  • Anonymous

    I think we’re a long way from self awareness. Without that, there’s really nothing to talk about.

  • NotSkeptical

    they didnt make them out of human cells, and they probably never would. They are studying the flow of something in the brain. not attempting to create human beings. We kill rats all the time, are you worried about the rat-brain dying?

    If a human brain were created, it would not be capable of living on its own, so letting it die off is not the same as killing a human… It would also not be thinking in the concept of you or me thinking.

  • KxBk6U

    12 seconds is better than most of the people I work with

  • KxBk6U

    12 seconds is better than most of the people I work with

  • Blur

    please… it doesn’t have a conscience or a soul… it is wiring… 

  • Nishant Aggarwal

    Whoa! This is AMAZING

  • Nishant Aggarwal

    Whoa! This is AMAZING

  • Goddam

    “4 creationists liked this”

    There’s one hundred thousand brain cells in a fruit fly.
    You can swat a three-week old human embryo with as much guilt!

    If you don’t stop anthropomorphizing inanimate matter,
    people will start to think christianity is an animist religion!

  • Anonymous

    perhaps you should spend more time reading what I actually wrote and less time reading things into it. Creationists? where? Christianity? Who cares what they think or what they think their sky fairy thinks? How does wondering what point things become conscious of themselves or capable of rudimentary thought, and what our responsibility is to that entity once it reaches that point if we’ve created it, have anything to do with christianity or with anthropomorphizing anything? Even fruit flies, your example, have a basic understanding of there being an environment around them and will react to, for instance, stimuli that can harm them.

  • Anonymous

    I know it is. Like I said, I doubt the amount of neurons here amounts to anything. I do think ethical questions in science should be the purview of everyone though, not just a panel of experts. The tendency to hide the debate between scientists that informs the ethical consensus contributes to the lack of understanding of just what science is or how it works among the general populace.

    And considering we don’t really understand the mechanisms that cause consciousness, I doubt a few weeks of debate on it can really answer the question of what point of development we can say definitively does not have any consciousness, or at what point we can go up to before we have to think about our responsibility to what we’ve created. This amount is probably below that threshold but can we really say we know where the threshold is? Do we know what we’re going to do when we cross it? How would you even test for that if it’s just the neurons and the neurons aren’t connected to anything they can manipulate to show independent behavior?

  • Anonymous

    I know it is. Like I said, I doubt the amount of neurons here amounts to anything. I do think ethical questions in science should be the purview of everyone though, not just a panel of experts. The tendency to hide the debate between scientists that informs the ethical consensus contributes to the lack of understanding of just what science is or how it works among the general populace.

    And considering we don’t really understand the mechanisms that cause consciousness, I doubt a few weeks of debate on it can really answer the question of what point of development we can say definitively does not have any consciousness, or at what point we can go up to before we have to think about our responsibility to what we’ve created. This amount is probably below that threshold but can we really say we know where the threshold is? Do we know what we’re going to do when we cross it? How would you even test for that if it’s just the neurons and the neurons aren’t connected to anything they can manipulate to show independent behavior?

  • Anonymous

    I know it is. Like I said, I doubt the amount of neurons here amounts to anything. I do think ethical questions in science should be the purview of everyone though, not just a panel of experts. The tendency to hide the debate between scientists that informs the ethical consensus contributes to the lack of understanding of just what science is or how it works among the general populace.

    And considering we don’t really understand the mechanisms that cause consciousness, I doubt a few weeks of debate on it can really answer the question of what point of development we can say definitively does not have any consciousness, or at what point we can go up to before we have to think about our responsibility to what we’ve created. This amount is probably below that threshold but can we really say we know where the threshold is? Do we know what we’re going to do when we cross it? How would you even test for that if it’s just the neurons and the neurons aren’t connected to anything they can manipulate to show independent behavior?

  • Anonymous

    Who said anything about souls? I don’t care about fictions. I don’t care about conscience either, that seems to be a high-level function and is unlikely to develop without some kind of socialized environment. Consciousness is a different matter entirely.

    And it is just wiring. So is your brain. So is the brain of a dog. So is the brain of an iguana. So is the brain of a roach. It’s all just wiring. But at some point that wiring becomes complex enough to gain at least the semblance of being self-aware. My question is: where is that point of complexity?

  • Anonymous

    Who cares if it’s made of humans or rats? I’m less worried about it dying. I’m more concerned with not being cruel to something capable of feeling the effects of it, and of what responsibility we have to any new consciousness we create from other parts — a differently wired set of brain tissue in the absence of the body it’s genetically expecting… would it even be considered rat or human or snake or whatever? Or is that something new? We don’t know at what level of complexity self-awareness forms. We can’t even quantify consciousness. In fact, the only thing we can really say about it is that we must have it in order to even ask the question so it must at least exist.

  • Anonymous

    Who cares if it’s made of humans or rats? I’m less worried about it dying. I’m more concerned with not being cruel to something capable of feeling the effects of it, and of what responsibility we have to any new consciousness we create from other parts — a differently wired set of brain tissue in the absence of the body it’s genetically expecting… would it even be considered rat or human or snake or whatever? Or is that something new? We don’t know at what level of complexity self-awareness forms. We can’t even quantify consciousness. In fact, the only thing we can really say about it is that we must have it in order to even ask the question so it must at least exist.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe. But since we really don’t understand what causes self-awareness and have no good way to quantify it, you really can’t definitively state that we can be 100% certain we’re not already into self-awareness territory (though I also find it unlikely yet — or maybe I just hope it’s unlikely yet at that small a complexity), nor can we say at what point or by what measure we will know we’ve crossed into it when we get there. And once we do get there, what is our responsibility to our creation? …which was my original question.

  • Goddam

    My comment was explicitly directed to those 4 people who found extracting such moral considerations from this experiment merits applause.
    The philosophical observations you made about the origin of Conscience and Life are very valid and troubling ones i happen to share.
    What i critique is your choice of forum and starting point. I believe it to be an unfounded disproportionate comment on the theme at hand.
    Even if there is (wich i highly doubt) any semblance of consciousness in the amalgam of cells used in this study, why should it bother you, when almost every mundane action we take in this world has a deeper impact on nature and sentient life?
    Walking on grass must sound barbaric to you!

  • Goddam

    My comment was explicitly directed to those 4 people who found extracting such moral considerations from this experiment merits applause.
    The philosophical observations you made about the origin of Conscience and Life are very valid and troubling ones i happen to share.
    What i critique is your choice of forum and starting point. I believe it to be an unfounded disproportionate comment on the theme at hand.
    Even if there is (wich i highly doubt) any semblance of consciousness in the amalgam of cells used in this study, why should it bother you, when almost every mundane action we take in this world has a deeper impact on nature and sentient life?
    Walking on grass must sound barbaric to you!

  • Anonymous

    The brain is an organic computer. Does a computer have consciousness? No. It is a machine with physical properties that enable consciousness to operate in the physical world. When consciousness leaves the body, what is left but an empty shell? A rotting husk like a junk car that the driver abandoned. To further the analogy, you can repair the car, replace the computer and polish its chrome, but without a driver, it is completely useless and inanimate.
    Consciousness is so powerful, that If you believe that all you are is a machine, you will behave like one.
    It creates a mental loop that believes in the illusion that it forgot it created. 
    This process devalues us and puts our lives on par with machines, which in comparison to consciousness have no real value other than being tools of the mind.
    This is why we have things like war, because too many people view others as things rather than the powerful beings we truly are. 

    This artificial brain is nothing to fear unless some consciousness decides to enter it. Perhaps when they can make a brain with sufficient complexity for consciousness to inhabit, then we may have something to fear.

  • GoodDoktorBad

    The brain is an organic computer. Does a computer have consciousness? No. It is a machine with physical properties that enable consciousness to operate in the physical world. When consciousness leaves the body, what is left but an empty shell? A rotting husk like a junk car that the driver abandoned. To further the analogy, you can repair the car, replace the computer and polish its chrome, but without a driver, it is completely useless and inanimate.
    Consciousness is so powerful, that If you believe that all you are is a machine, you will behave like one.
    It creates a mental loop that believes in the illusion that it forgot it created. 
    This process devalues us and puts our lives on par with machines, which in comparison to consciousness have no real value other than being tools of the mind.
    This is why we have things like war, because too many people view others as things rather than the powerful beings we truly are. 

    This artificial brain is nothing to fear unless some consciousness decides to enter it. Perhaps when they can make a brain with sufficient complexity for consciousness to inhabit, then we may have something to fear.

    • Vic Bramble

      All those studies on consciousness sure seems to legitimize your position. Oh wait… they don’t. You are making unwarranted assumptions.

      • GoodDoktorBad

        There are as many studies out there as there are people on the planet. Every life is a study in itself.
        Are you waiting for science to explain your significance? You’ll be waiting a long -long time.

        No, my assumptions don’t come with a warrantee or guarantee…do those studies you speak of?
        Oh, wait you didn’t mention any other theories did you? Can I ask you where your eyes are located on your body or do we have to do an “official” study? Someone else can tell us right? 

        Talk about “unwarranted assumptions” -Vic….

  • thedudelives

    Memory? I would say the neurons functioned. 

  • thedudelives

    Memory? I would say the neurons functioned. 

  • keista

    i want ti fuck whoever creaed this page

  • Vic Bramble

    All those studies on consciousness sure seems to legitimize your position. Oh wait… they don’t. You are making unwarranted assumptions.

  • Derp

    We’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it. I squatted a fly last week, so I’ll wait until this brain reaches the complexity of a fly before I give a damn.

  • POOPY

    Hey man, neurons don’t have pain receptors. Unless we make a brain complex enough to get depressed, OR if we start giving it pain-like sensory input, just creating loads of neurons won’t hurt it.

  • tokamak

    If anyone doesn’t care about concious experience it are the creationists. They care about life itself, concious or not. They also wouldn’t care about a fully concious brain if it wasn’t human. 

    Questions like these are secular humanistic in nature. It’s a concern for sentient life and it’s one that needs to be asked.

  • https://openid.claimid.com/fredfnord Fred Fnord

    >They care about life itself, concious or not. 

    Umm… no. They care about *human* life.

    I have known a lot of people who are concerned about animal cruelty, especially in product testing. I have also known a lot of people who are Christian creationists. There was literally no overlap whatsoever.

  • https://openid.claimid.com/fredfnord Fred Fnord

    Does it?

    So are you against animal testing? Because the animals in question have much (much much much) larger brains than this. Or is this somehow more ethically questionable because we grew it outside of an animal’s body, instead of growing it inside one and then cutting it out while it’s still alive?

  • https://openid.claimid.com/fredfnord Fred Fnord

    > I squatted a fly last week

    That sounds really dirty.

  • Anonymous

    The article says they predicted it would last for 1/4 of a second, and it actually lasted for 12 seconds. Thus both of you are wrong.

  • Max

    This isn’t a brain.  It’s just a clump of neurons.  Calling this a brain is like calling 60 random wires stuck together a computer.

    You needn’t worry.  Scientists will never create anything capable of sentient thought in your lifetime.

  • tokamak

    I kind of meant that in the line that came right after that. But yeah you’re right, we’re on the same page.

  • Guest

    So you’re concerned about cruelty to the 60 neurons, but not the rats from which they were taken. I just find this to be an amusing point.

  • http://blog.clayburngriffin.com/ Clayburn Griffin

    Cool beans.  I can’t wait to buy one.

  • http://blog.clayburngriffin.com/ Clayburn Griffin

    Cool beans.  I can’t wait to buy one.

  • Anonymous

    If you agree with my philosophical observations then what’s the problem here? All I wonder is where the line is. As I have said repeatedly in these comments, it’s probably not at 60 neurons. But where is it? What’s the threshold where we DO need to be concerned? How is asking that at the outset somehow worth ridicule? I’m just asking where we draw the damn line. Is it 10,000? 100,000? 10 million?

    Grass doesn’t have sentience. Walking on grass is not barbaric. Don’t be stupid. Walking on rats (which is a more apt comparison as they can think), that would sound barbaric. And yes, I do go out of my way not to step on very small animals or insects if I can help it. Sorry to hear that seems so outlandish to you.

    And as tokamak said, creationists don’t give a damn about sentience or anything that’s not pre-human life (because they sure don’t give a damn about people once they’ve been born). Comparing me to them or suggesting that my asking the question of where we draw the line somehow conflates me with them is a real insult, not to mention very inaccurate of their beliefs.

  • Anonymous

    General practice is to consider ethical questions you know you will eventually need the answers to well before you need those answers. Kind of the point of asking them. Just like getting directions to a place you’re going to before you leave so you don’t get halfway there and realize you have no idea how where you’re going.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t bet on that. It’s not such a leap from 60 to 600, 600 to 6,000, etc. Unless all the funding for it gets revoked. Think how fast technology has progressed in just the last twenty years, even just bio-tech. I think it’s entirely possible this could find applications in the next twenty or thirty years that would lead to enough complexity for there to be question about where the threshold for sentience is.

  • Anonymous

    I am against certain kinds of animal testing. Some amount of it is unavoidable but that doesn’t mean the animals need to be mistreated along the way. Same thing with animals raised for food. I only buy from farmers who have treated their animals humanely, who don’t send them through factory slaughterhouses. I’m not against all testing, just against senseless cruelty. I don’t think it’s more questionable for being outside a body, but I do think it raises questions we haven’t asked ourselves yet, where the animal testing debate has been going on for decades.

  • Anonymous

    No. There are ethical and humane ways to gather cells to clone. I said it didn’t matter to me if the original cells were rat or human. Not the same thing.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, and with no ethical guidelines in place and no inquiry into where that threshold is, it’s highly likely that either of those things could eventually happen. In fact, there’s a whole line of research waiting right there in studying how the brain transmits pain, where researchers would be delivering pain-like input intentionally. I can see a lot of applications that have potential to benefit people with arthritis or fibromyalgia or perhaps finding more efficient ways of disrupting the pain signals for operations. But in order to really get to the application side, you have to make the tissue more and more complex to simulate conditions in the human brain. My question is at what point does that increasing complexity cross the line into something we should be concerned about.

  • Joe Fitzroy

    IN fact, most of them talk about respect for human life, except that they don’t actually care about anyone excpt those like themselves, same skin colour, same financial ‘class’. They show no sign of caring about the poor, or of anyone in foreign countries, or of other religions.

    Thy have a very narrow (and hypocritical) view of “care for human life”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1400152285 Kevin Grieco

    you are not pro science if you think 40 neurons is capable of anything similar enough to a human consciousness to cause ethical questions…

    if we kill a trillion rats a year for research we can definitely kill an artificially constructed microfraction of one of their brains for massive advances in neuroscience

  • Malfeasant

    road trips- you’re doing it wrong :D

    half the fun is getting lost & ending up somewhere you would never have thought to look for.

  • Cloak419

    It’s a petri dish with connected neurons, nothing more, and it may take 100 years before we adapt sensory capabilities to it if it even becomes possible it may be a functioning brain. For now it’s nothing more than a dish that holds some electrical capacity for about 5 minutes, it is not a “developing functioning brain” nor will it be without human scientific intervention and that intervention right there is the difference between an aware life form and one that is not; Starting some new “im against/for synthetic brains” is like bringing the whole abortion argument into the scientific community instead of talking about the good this can do and focusing on the more important topics. You are suggesting this experiment has some kind of living thing we’ve created on a dish and we’re poking and prodding it for no reason and it could “feel/think” it’s no different than creating an artificial heart or making a memory stick for a computer and running a current through them so the chemicals in them can “work” to do their job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shane-Simmons/100000053744641 Shane Simmons

    6 people read as much into this thread as you did.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shane-Simmons/100000053744641 Shane Simmons

    OK, Dr. Pulaski…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shane-Simmons/100000053744641 Shane Simmons

    You have an apt nickname.  Do you consider Asimov and Clarke to be fools for considering the moral implications of regarding androids as machinery and wiring?

  • Anonymous

    *sigh* Reading comprehension is such a lost art.

    I’m tired of repeating myself. I see this as the point where we start asking questions about future possibilities with it, and some of those questions are troubling to me. Why is that so difficult a concept? I have flat out said many many times in this thread: 60 neurons, probably nothing. But where do we draw the line at what’s “nothing” and what’s “maybe sentient”? I suppose you think it’s better to wait until it’s a million or whatever and _then_ decide “Oh, maybe we should have paid more attention at 100,000.”

    Or is the problem just the fact that I used words in there that are sometimes thrown about as political issues (mainly because I thought they are tangentially relevant or have parallel debates) so suddenly no one is capable of reading it without looking for some kind of all or nothing where having even one question means you’re suddenly anti-science?

  • Anonymous

    No.

    Having questions about the future of a thing is nothing remotely like being against it. Precisely where did I say anything remotely resembling being either for or against it? I didn’t (well, maybe saying elsethread that I can see applications for studying the way pain signals move through the tissue might count as “for”). I said that it raises the question of what level of complexity is the threshold where we have to start considering the possibility of sentience. We don’t know what that level of complexity is. We don’t even know what causes it, only that it seems to be related to the electrical impulses in brain tissue (you know, that thing they’re experimenting with in the article). I am suggesting that while _this_ experiment may not be “some kind of living thing we’ve created on a dish and we’re poking and prodding it for no reason and it could ‘feel/think’,” that it IS the _beginning_ of a line of inquiries that can LEAD to that and that it’s better to ask these questions _before_ we get to that point than after.

  • Anonymous

    :D fair enough

    Though I prefer to have at least a pretty good grasp on where I’m going if it involves any sentient life other than my own.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peacfulrage Shaun Cochran

    Nothing was created here…it was simply an experiment to mimic the right conditions in which brain cells are able to function outside of a rats body. They just took cells and tried to grow them artificially rather than naturally. There are no ethical questions in this and there never will be. The cells would grow naturally inside of the rats cavities and once mature enough be able to do what is necessary for the rat to function. Growing a brain outside of a rats cavity would not permit anything to function, therefor there would be no use for it. This is an experiment to find out if they can reproduce the conditions at which brain cells grow and mature. If this is possible, which it is, they can then produce brain cells that may be able to repair damaged brains. Theyre not trying to grow a brain here, folks. A brain needs a body in able to function just as a body needs a brain to function. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/peacfulrage Shaun Cochran

    Nothing was created here…it was simply an experiment to mimic the right conditions in which brain cells are able to function outside of a rats body. They just took cells and tried to grow them artificially rather than naturally. There are no ethical questions in this and there never will be. The cells would grow naturally inside of the rats cavities and once mature enough be able to do what is necessary for the rat to function. Growing a brain outside of a rats cavity would not permit anything to function, therefor there would be no use for it. This is an experiment to find out if they can reproduce the conditions at which brain cells grow and mature. If this is possible, which it is, they can then produce brain cells that may be able to repair damaged brains. Theyre not trying to grow a brain here, folks. A brain needs a body in able to function just as a body needs a brain to function. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/peacfulrage Shaun Cochran

    @Quartz99:disqus  The problem is just as I stated in my last post, a brain cannot function for long without an ample supply of fresh blood which is pumped from the heart. Just as a heart cannot function long without a brain regulating the amount of blood it pumps. Therefor, simply creating a brain would not give that brain any kind of input that would allow it to “feel.” If there is no body to monitor and recieve feedback from, then there could be no real “consciousness”, right?

    @e9271dcd511656dc333d1a9675dac7af:disqus Memory is not what you are thinking it is in this case. Memory in this case is how long something, be it metal & plastics or organic materials can keep a specific current flowing. If you think about it as remembering something in your brain, that memory is actually a specific current which is kept going and going for as long as you live. In non-organic formed materials such as a hard drives disc it is simply a code that a laser reads and then produces a certain current from that code which gives the motherboard the information it needs to then reproduce it in a way that you can process it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peacfulrage Shaun Cochran

    @Quartz99:disqus  The problem is just as I stated in my last post, a brain cannot function for long without an ample supply of fresh blood which is pumped from the heart. Just as a heart cannot function long without a brain regulating the amount of blood it pumps. Therefor, simply creating a brain would not give that brain any kind of input that would allow it to “feel.” If there is no body to monitor and recieve feedback from, then there could be no real “consciousness”, right?

    @e9271dcd511656dc333d1a9675dac7af:disqus Memory is not what you are thinking it is in this case. Memory in this case is how long something, be it metal & plastics or organic materials can keep a specific current flowing. If you think about it as remembering something in your brain, that memory is actually a specific current which is kept going and going for as long as you live. In non-organic formed materials such as a hard drives disc it is simply a code that a laser reads and then produces a certain current from that code which gives the motherboard the information it needs to then reproduce it in a way that you can process it.

    • quartz99

      Not necessarily. Otherwise you’re making the argument that people who have injuries or nervous disorders that make them unable to use or sense their bodies automatically have no sentience either. I would argue the opposite of what you said, that the body needs the brain, not the other way around, so long as there’s something keeping the brain tissue alive. Esp. tissue that’s not being grown in the traditional in-body way and therefore doesn’t need to develop the controls for autonomous functions of a body. It would be a very introspective kind of sentience, because it wouldn’t have an external experience, but that alone is an interesting question — if you could think but had no experience of the outside world, what would you think? People who are entirely cut off go insane, but that’s because we’re hardwired for experiencing the world. What would happen if it didn’t start out hardwired for external experience? And how would we ever be able to detect that or find out?

      • lastdinosaur

        First off, I think it’s a little of both. The brain needs the body in the same way the body needs the brain. Lacking either will not yield the “complete product”, if you will. Without a body, the brain has no information to process. Without a brain, the body has nothing to control it. 

        I still can’t help but disagree with you, though… Given that it would be possible to grow a brain in vitro, I do not believe that it would be possible to qualify it as fully sentient. Sentience, from the Latin sentire (to feel, to perceive) requires the tools by which we, as humans, are able to feel (let us call that tool the body, for simplicity’s sake). 

        The brain, all by itself has the potential for sentience, but without any information for it to process… it cannot do, feel, or perceive anything. It has no ability to process scents, sights, sounds, or tactile feelings and ULTIMATELY because of this it has no ability to store memories, ideas, thoughts, or anything of the sort. Organs, specifically sensory organs, are absolutely required for these concepts to become valid. 

        For instance from the article, the rudimentary rat brain construct of 40-60 neurons was not able to, in and of itself, generate the electrical pulse that it was able to remember for 12 seconds. The scientists needed to apply that current TO the brain. It was NOT generated by the brain construct. This is the key difference between conscience and non-conscience, conscience is self generated. This idea holds true for more complex networks of neurons… If an adult sized human brain was grown and then electrical stimuli were applied to it by an outside party (be they scientists, or artificially grown sensory organs capable of converting external stimuli into electrical pulses) THEN we have the possibility of sentience, but ONLY THEN.  

        Otherwise the brain would be a wonderfully complex organic data processor with no data to process. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/peacfulrage Shaun Cochran

        A brain needs oxygen and fresh blood in order to function in the first place. How do you propose it recieves these without a body? Just because a person is suffering from a neurological injury and is unable to sense or move their bodies doesnt mean that the brain isnt still participating in these parts of the body. If it were not then they would shrivel up and be no more. The brain still controls these areas in such a way that they do not. The ability of the body to function properly in these areas due to blockage or malfunction is what is preventing normal useage.

        They did not grow a BRAIN, they grew brain CELLS.

  • MEMORY>12 SECONDS

    ABSOLUTELY NOTHIN 2 B PROUD OF WOW 12 SECS AMAZINGGGGGGGGGGGGG WOWWWWWWWWWWW GET OVER URSELVS U POMPIS SCIENTISTS U NO WUTS IRONIC IT TOOK MOR DEN 12 SECINDS 4 ME TO RITE THIS  THAT DUMASS THING WUOLDNT EVEN B ABLE TO RITE THIS BCUZ IT WOULD LOSE ITS TRAIN OF THOUGHT BCUZ ITS SO STUPED LMAO!!!!!!!! THIS BRAIN WILL NEVER B AS SMART AS ME SO DISINFO.COM NEXT TIME ONLY POST STUFF THAT IS AKCHULY NEWS WERTHY!!!!! 12 SECONDS LMFAO!

  • MEMORY>12 SECONDS

    ABSOLUTELY NOTHIN 2 B PROUD OF WOW 12 SECS AMAZINGGGGGGGGGGGGG WOWWWWWWWWWWW GET OVER URSELVS U POMPIS SCIENTISTS U NO WUTS IRONIC IT TOOK MOR DEN 12 SECINDS 4 ME TO RITE THIS  THAT DUMASS THING WUOLDNT EVEN B ABLE TO RITE THIS BCUZ IT WOULD LOSE ITS TRAIN OF THOUGHT BCUZ ITS SO STUPED LMAO!!!!!!!! THIS BRAIN WILL NEVER B AS SMART AS ME SO DISINFO.COM NEXT TIME ONLY POST STUFF THAT IS AKCHULY NEWS WERTHY!!!!! 12 SECONDS LMFAO!

    • http://www.facebook.com/Todles Todd Marshall

      troollllll

    • Deviate

      On the upside, it could probably spell check. A concept lost on you.

    • http://drwho.virtadpt.net/ The Doctor

      Maybe they hooked that micro-brain up to an Ethernet connection, and this reply is the best it can manage right now.

    • Kelly Eire

      this is a massive achievement if you knew anything about the brain you idiot. rome wasnt built in a day as they say, this shows that more is possible. learn to spell.

    • Asshat

      im not entirly sure that made any sense… i think you where trying to insult someone… maybe it was supposed to be me… fuck you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/peacfulrage Shaun Cochran

      If any brain be it artificial or natural were unable to achive a higher intelligence than that of yours, this world would be lost! heheheheheheh

    • Calvin_cockell

       Are you retarded?

    • Me

      Pretty obvious that 12 seconds would seem like a lifetime to you if you could remember how to write and spell, which you obviously don’t.
      Retards like you think it’s cool to be able to type rubbish like that – maybe we should be grateful that you can type at all, because you certainly can’t reason, write or spell.

  • anon

    Grass is a biome filled with sentience. Walking in grass=crushing millions and millions of sentient neurons. That is the point. Until you feel that every life is sacred, every teeny, tiny little bug that’s ever accidently made it into your food, or every caterpillar the bus you ride in drove over, then stop worrying about the sentience of some brain cells in a petri dish. This is biology, and you don’t further your research without work like this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Todles Todd Marshall

    troollllll

  • http://www.facebook.com/Todles Todd Marshall

    troollllll

  • lastdinosaur

    I understand your distress but I think we’re a long way off from being able to grow anything that’s capable of thought on a human level. 

    40-60 neurons is nothing compared to the 100 billion or so neurons that make up the human brain. Also, I’m not entirely sure a brain, in and of itself, would be able to generate thought, or any other experiential construct, without the presence of sensory organs (ears to generate a language, skin to feel pain, etc.). As for cloning entire beings, that is a much different story. 

  • Deviate

    On the upside, it could probably spell check. A concept lost on you.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe they hooked that micro-brain up to an Ethernet connection, and this reply is the best it can manage right now.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe they hooked that micro-brain up to an Ethernet connection, and this reply is the best it can manage right now.

  • Anonymous

    I think a lot of people in these comment threads stopped reading your post about three sentences in and their own hardwired assumptions around this topic (including “soul” and “sapience”) kicked in and overrode their abilities to read the rest of the bloody entry.  You didn’t say a single damned thing about that test neural net having a soul, or anything else along those lines.  All you asked was “At what point in this research do we need to start asking the hard questions?”

    Those questions need to be asked.  Maybe not yet, but “not yet” is not equal to “never.”  Rest assured, the ethics review boards are going to be all over this like white on rice.

    For fuck’s sake, people, read all the way through before punching the “Post as /[A-Za-z]?*/” button…

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking more along the lines of the “head cheese” servers from Watts’ _Rifters_ trilogy.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure it is either. But I’m also not sure it can’t. That’s why I can see troubling questions in the future of this research.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you. I was starting to think maybe I’d written something in some language that everyone else could read but I couldn’t that meant something entirely different from what I wrote.

    I’m sure the ethics committees will be all over it. I’m looking forward to reading some of the debates on it. But as people’s responses to what was just shy of a throw-away comment on my part show, this is going to get political as it creates a greater complexity of tissue and starts to find real-world applications, especially along the lines of questioning that parallel the abortion debate. That troubles me even more than the possible answers to some of the troubling questions I foresee, honestly. Science shouldn’t ever be political.

    Then again, maybe they can do some experiments on consciousness with this new method that specifically start at some point that we’re sure is short of it and start adding more complexity until they get to something they can demonstrate has a rudimentary self-awareness (I have no idea how they would do that but that’s what experiments are for, right? :D ) and we can use it to shut the abortion debate down (among rational people anyway), because then we’d be able to say definitively “Until the brain reaches this point, there is absolutely no possibility of awareness or thought.”

  • Anonymous

    Not necessarily. Otherwise you’re making the argument that people who have injuries or nervous disorders that make them unable to use or sense their bodies automatically have no sentience either. I would argue the opposite of what you said, that the body needs the brain, not the other way around, so long as there’s something keeping the brain tissue alive. Esp. tissue that’s not being grown in the traditional in-body way and therefore doesn’t need to develop the controls for autonomous functions of a body. It would be a very introspective kind of sentience, because it wouldn’t have an external experience, but that alone is an interesting question — if you could think but had no experience of the outside world, what would you think? People who are entirely cut off go insane, but that’s because we’re hardwired for experiencing the world. What would happen if it didn’t start out hardwired for external experience? And how would we ever be able to detect that or find out?

  • Anonymous

    There are as many studies out there as there are people on the planet. Every life is a study in itself.
    Are you waiting for science to explain your significance? You’ll be waiting a long -long time.

    No, my assumptions don’t come with a warrantee or guarantee…do those studies you speak of?
    Oh, wait you didn’t mention any other theories did you? Can I ask you where your eyes are located on your body or do we have to do an “official” study? Someone else can tell us right? 

    Talk about “unwarranted assumptions” -Vic….

  • lastdinosaur

    First off, I think it’s a little of both. The brain needs the body in the same way the body needs the brain. Lacking either will not yield the “complete product”, if you will. Without a body, the brain has no information to process. Without a brain, the body has nothing to control it. 

    I still can’t help but disagree with you, though… Given that it would be possible to grow a brain in vitro, I do not believe that it would be possible to qualify it as fully sentient. Sentience, from the Latin sentire (to feel, to perceive) requires the tools by which we, as humans, are able to feel (let us call that tool the body, for simplicity’s sake). 

    The brain, all by itself has the potential for sentience, but without any information for it to process… it cannot do, feel, or perceive anything. It has no ability to process scents, sights, sounds, or tactile feelings and ULTIMATELY because of this it has no ability to store memories, ideas, thoughts, or anything of the sort. Organs, specifically sensory organs, are absolutely required for these concepts to become valid. 

    For instance from the article, the rudimentary rat brain construct of 40-60 neurons was not able to, in and of itself, generate the electrical pulse that it was able to remember for 12 seconds. The scientists needed to apply that current TO the brain. It was NOT generated by the brain construct. This is the key difference between conscience and non-conscience, conscience is self generated. This idea holds true for more complex networks of neurons… If an adult sized human brain was grown and then electrical stimuli were applied to it by an outside party (be they scientists, or artificially grown sensory organs capable of converting external stimuli into electrical pulses) THEN we have the possibility of sentience, but ONLY THEN.  

    Otherwise the brain would be a wonderfully complex organic data processor with no data to process. 

  • Kelly Eire

    this is a massive achievement if you knew anything about the brain you idiot. rome wasnt built in a day as they say, this shows that more is possible. learn to spell.

  • Asshat

    im not entirly sure that made any sense… i think you where trying to insult someone… maybe it was supposed to be me… fuck you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peacfulrage Shaun Cochran

    A brain needs oxygen and fresh blood in order to function in the first place. How do you propose it recieves this without a body? Just because a person suffering from a neurological injury that is unable to sense or move their bodies doesnt mean that the brain isnt still controlling these. If it were not then they would shrivel up and be no more. The brain still controls these areas in such a way that they do not. The ability of the body to function properly in these areas is what is preventing normal useage.

    They did not grow a BRAIN, they grew brain CELLS.

  • Random

    Sickening. So the brain can probably understand things and feel emotions, yet is stuck unable to do anything or say anything. Absolutely disgusting to do that to someone.

  • Random

    Sickening. So the brain can probably understand things and feel emotions, yet is stuck unable to do anything or say anything. Absolutely disgusting to do that to someone.

  • Random

    Sickening. So the brain can probably understand things and feel emotions, yet is stuck unable to do anything or say anything. Absolutely disgusting to do that to someone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/peacfulrage Shaun Cochran

      Read before you speak.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peacfulrage Shaun Cochran

    Read before you speak.

  • http://www.facebook.com/peacfulrage Shaun Cochran

    If any brain be it artificial or natural were unable to achive a higher intelligence than that of yours, this world would be lost! heheheheheheh

  • Calvin_cockell

     Are you retarded?

  • http://www.musrara.co.il/%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%9E%D7%95%D7%93%D7%99-%D7%A6%D7%99%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%9D קורס צילום

    i don’t know if it’s cool or scary.. 

  • http://www.musrara.co.il/%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%9E%D7%95%D7%93%D7%99-%D7%A6%D7%99%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%9D קורס צילום

    i don’t know if it’s cool or scary.. 

  • Anonymous

    Revoked here in the states won’t stop this type of research in China.  No telling what they have accomplished thus far.  Excellent thread btw from both sides.

  • Me

    Pretty obvious that 12 seconds would seem like a lifetime to you if you could remember how to write and spell, which you obviously don’t.
    Retards like you think it’s cool to be able to type rubbish like that – maybe we should be grateful that you can type at all, because you certainly can’t reason, write or spell.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6TF3HJDO67QPMGIRDEG22W5EQ kls525

    People have been creating REAL brains with 12 second memories – in teenagers.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6TF3HJDO67QPMGIRDEG22W5EQ kls525

    People have been creating REAL brains with 12 second memories – in teenagers.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6TF3HJDO67QPMGIRDEG22W5EQ kls525

    People have been creating REAL brains with 12 second memories – in teenagers.

  • Kaboom

     I think ethics need to be rethought.  If we constrain ourselves with ethics too much, we’ll inevitably cause too much harm to our environments and societies and end up lacking the advanced technologies needed to fix those problems.  If we had less ethical thinking in medical science, we probably could have cured aids and cancer by using more human test subjects and experimental drugs and embryonic stem cell research, or at least come closer, but, ethics is always in the way. 

  • I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!

    Uhhhhh…….

    12(1/4)=3  NOT 48 and NOT 12

    But as it was stated in the original artical the pulse actually did in fact circulate the microbrain for a FULL 12 SECONDS.  Thats 12 or 2(6) if your doing your math.

  • I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!

    Uhhhhh…….

    12(1/4)=3  NOT 48 and NOT 12

    But as it was stated in the original artical the pulse actually did in fact circulate the microbrain for a FULL 12 SECONDS.  Thats 12 or 2(6) if your doing your math.

  • I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!

    Since as of yet a term to quintessentially define a state of “consciousness” has not been met, I would have to agree with quartz99 in that, if scientific research of this nature were to persist and permeate throughout the world, that a question could be posed today as to whether this could eventually cross ethical or moral boundries(in what I would say the not so distant future).  As far as 40-60 neurons having what it takes, with or without secondary stimuli(natural or otherwise), to constitute sentient life, that I dont know.  I do know we should start asking ourselves these questions, and if not now then when.  If theres one thing history has taught us its that ambivalence gets us nowhere.

  • I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!

    Since as of yet a term to quintessentially define a state of “consciousness” has not been met, I would have to agree with quartz99 in that, if scientific research of this nature were to persist and permeate throughout the world, that a question could be posed today as to whether this could eventually cross ethical or moral boundries(in what I would say the not so distant future).  As far as 40-60 neurons having what it takes, with or without secondary stimuli(natural or otherwise), to constitute sentient life, that I dont know.  I do know we should start asking ourselves these questions, and if not now then when.  If theres one thing history has taught us its that ambivalence gets us nowhere.

  • http://twitter.com/DanSpeers Dan Speers

    Given all of the philosophical and moral implications read into this laboratory exercise consisting of a few structured cells on a petri dish, I can hardly wait until scientists develop a rudimentary penis. Will it be benevolent or malovent? Will it be monogamous or go a rampage, assaulting innocent stem cells and creating a race of . . .. Oh, wait. Somehow, I seem to have devolved into writing science fiction.

  • http://twitter.com/DanSpeers Dan Speers

    Given all of the philosophical and moral implications read into this laboratory exercise consisting of a few structured cells on a petri dish, I can hardly wait until scientists develop a rudimentary penis. Will it be benevolent or malovent? Will it be monogamous or go a rampage, assaulting innocent stem cells and creating a race of . . .. Oh, wait. Somehow, I seem to have devolved into writing science fiction.

  • http://www.citizenpoet.com DanSpeers

    Given all of the philosophical and moral implications read into this laboratory exercise consisting of a few structured cells on a petri dish, I can hardly wait until scientists develop a rudimentary penis. Will it be benevolent or malovent? Will it be monogamous or go a rampage, assaulting innocent stem cells and creating a race of . . .. Oh, wait. Somehow, I seem to have devolved into writing science fiction.

  • NimRod64

    This was a culture of brain cells from rat embryos — not human.

    Though I do see your point, a little…

  • bedleysmutler

    Which is about 5 seconds more than my brain can muster

  • bedleysmutler

    Which is about 5 seconds more than my brain can muster

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