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Thread: Technological advancement and the human brain

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    International 12th Man Shaggy Alfresco's Avatar
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    Technological advancement and the human brain

    I've been thinking about the rapid advancement of human knowledge and technology, and have wondered with the complicated stuff quantum theory is getting into, how far away are we from the point where the workings of the universe become literally incomprehensible to the human brain? Will this ever happen? If so, when (if?), and what would we do about it?

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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    One of the most puzzling things about the universe is that it is so comprehensible. There is no logical reason why a chimpanzee with an opposable thumb should be able to comprehend and develop theories that describe the laws of nature at the atmoic level.

    Will there be a point where human intellect simply cannot explain the universe, and we can go no further in science? Perhaps, but I do not think that point is anywhere near there. In physics, there are mysteries galore. In Biology, we really barely know anything.

    Plus, now the labs are starting to create nanomachines, and gene therapy and other methods of genetic engineering are emerging, so I don't think its a stretch to say that in 50-60 years, at this rate of advancement, we'll be engineering our kids to be smarter, and healthier than we are. We already are starting to find genes that correlate with intelligence, and we know a whole bunch of genes that relate to disease. It's not too far off. But even with that, is there a limit beyond which we cannot know no matter how smart we get? I'm not sure. But the further we get, it seems the universe works on fairly simple basic laws and principles, and its the principles that interact to create the unbelievably complex phenomena that govern the universe. At some point, we can know ALL the laws, but the predictions may be impossible if it is completely govered by chance. My personal opinion is that humanity will (if we survive and advance) uncover all the basic laws of the universe. Whether we are smart enough to use them to decode all the phenomena in nature, or to manipulate them to the full extent possible, is something I don't even know how to guess on.

    Even with the complicated things that we seem to be getting into, human advancement is increasing at a breathtaking pace. We are advancing in a year, what used to take decades, and at one time took a millennium. If anything, the modern methodologies and tools (and funding obviously) have allowed us to make the investigation of nature easier.
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    Request Your Custom Title Now! Flem274*'s Avatar
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    What SS said.

    On a sidenote to SS's chimp thing, i'll be interested to see how other animals intelligence develop. Some can do all sorts of stuff we can't, plus we breed lots of animals for their ability to learn, would be cool to see how they go.

    Also I watched on The Universe program (gunnnnn) that in other universes the laws of physics are completely different, aactualy was it universes or time/space....oh God I'll shut up.

    Love space, but could never work out all the mad sums. Would love to go to other places in the universe though.

    humans are pretty gun too, I'm sure we'll just keep on learning, all species do it (well, physically and mentally adapt to new situations, but close enough )
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    International Coach G.I.Joe's Avatar
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    While it is certainly conceivable that humans might one day, a long long time away, decipher all the laws of the universe, it is doubtful whether we'll know why they exist. I don't think we'll ever know the answer to the Why is there something instead of nothing? question.


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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flem274* View Post
    What SS said.

    On a sidenote to SS's chimp thing, i'll be interested to see how other animals intelligence develop. Some can do all sorts of stuff we can't, plus we breed lots of animals for their ability to learn, would be cool to see how they go.
    I think, obviously, it depends on one's definition of intelligence. You can teach most animals some things, if that's the basic criteria. You'd probably want a more exclusive definition than that though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Flem274* View Post
    Also I watched on The Universe program (gunnnnn) that in other universes the laws of physics are completely different, aactualy was it universes or time/space....oh God I'll shut up.
    Yea, there several hypothesis regarding that. There are a handful of fundamental universal constants that are the way they are, and we aren't sure why. If they were even sligthly different, the universe would be extremely different. For example, the gravitational constant. Why is it 6.67x10^-11, and not 667x10^-11. Too big and suns and stars would collapse, too small and they may never form (but obviously other phenomena would form in their place). One hypothesis is that during the big bang, multiple universes were created where these constants were different - e.g, one would have a gravitational constant of 7x10^-11 or something like that. Problem is, we'd never be able to visit those universes, unless we're the Xeelee (if you get that reference, you're my soul mate).

    BTW, you can do some serious astronomy with relatively light math. Nothing beyond your general calculus, and some linear algebra/diff. eq. Obviously, stargazing and things like that doesn't require any.

    Quote Originally Posted by G.I.Joe View Post
    While it is certainly conceivable that humans might one day, a long long time away, decipher all the laws of the universe, it is doubtful whether we'll know why they exist. I don't think we'll ever know the answer to the Why is there something instead of nothing? question.
    I'm not sure if that's a meaningful question, at least not to me. I don't think the universe has to conform to our sense of wonder. However, you are right, in that it's something we may never know - though I don't necessarily think that type of question is impossible in and of itself to answer. But highly improbable most certainly.

    Incidentally, the question 'what came before the big bang' may also not be a meaningful question, but the reason for that is pure science.
    Last edited by silentstriker; 19-02-2009 at 04:06 AM.

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    Cricketer Of The Year Manee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G.I.Joe View Post
    While it is certainly conceivable that humans might one day, a long long time away, decipher all the laws of the universe, it is doubtful whether we'll know why they exist. I don't think we'll ever know the answer to the Why is there something instead of nothing? question.
    Hawking once allegedly said that he thinks he will be able to print the laws of the universe on a T-shirt within his lifetime - take from that what you will.

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    International Vice-Captain Redbacks's Avatar
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    Science involves the discovery of the cause and effect behind all phenomena. If we were to find the unifying cause of all effects in the universe this itself would be indivisible and therefore can we explain the why behind it? Materialism is an issue. In order to discover these causes and effects we require assuming the object first. Therefore this process can never lead to and end which will satisfy the why/how/when.

    According to Kant, time is given by succession and therefore, given the knowledge of his era, without a subject to perceive succession: time is a meaningless concept. We now know that this isn't the case as amazingly the whole of the universe went through billions of years of transformation before any eye was able to perceive it and this occured not mearly for the purpose of being perceived. We are able to perceive the world through time, space and causation. Therefore if nothing existed prior to the big bang time as we understand it mustn't have existed.

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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manee View Post
    Hawking once allegedly said that he thinks he will be able to print the laws of the universe on a T-shirt within his lifetime - take from that what you will.
    Well, you can print the laws of the universe on a t-shirt now. Of course, no one said anything about them being complete......

    In fact, you can just say dS=dq/T, and that'll cover just about 99% of it.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Redbacks View Post
    We are able to perceive the world through time, space and causation. Therefore if nothing existed prior to the big bang time as we understand it mustn't have existed.
    I know you are coming from a philosophical point of view, but according to the current big bang model, that is preciely true. Many people with little background in science see time as a constant that exists independant of the laws of nature or at least being eternal and not capable of being disturbed. However, been scientifically proven (Thanks Einstein) that time slows down when you're going really fast, or in a very dense gravitational field (most people don't realize this, but we can do an experiment fairly easily to prove it). In any case, as you roll back the clock on the universe, it gets progressively denser until the point of 'singularity', at which point 'time' ceases to exist (or more precicely, it moves infinitely slowly). That's why, if the current model is true, what came 'before' the big bang may not be a relevant question. We'll see though, the only way to know for sure is to keep asking that question and trying to find out the answers!
    Last edited by silentstriker; 19-02-2009 at 06:04 AM.

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    Global Moderator Matt79's Avatar
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    International Vice-Captain Redbacks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentstriker View Post
    I know you are coming from a philosophical point of view, but according to the current big bang model, that is precisely true.
    It's quite interesting that this theory about time was later backed up as you mention by the current big bang model. As Kant himself mentions about synthetic a posteriori judgements:

    First, it must be possible in principle to arrange and organise the chaos of our many individual sensory images by tracing the connections that hold among them. This Kant called the synthetic unity of the sensory manifold.
    Second, it must be possible in principle for a single subject to perform this organisation by discovering the connections among perceived images. This is satisfied by what Kant called the transcendental unity of apperception.
    Experiential knowledge is thinkable only if there is some regularity in what is known and there is some knower in whom that regularity can be represented. Since we do actually have knowledge of the world as we experience it, Kant held, both of these conditions must in fact obtain.
    I will require more reading to be able to discuss the principles behind the current big bang model. I am interested in people's opinions of the free will/determinism problem, was my post already inevitable at the big bang? I think I read somewhere that this concept is also discussed in Einstein's theorem?

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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    We don't know how much effect random chance has on macro systems, though we can predict outcomes for large systems pretty well. I don't see how free will can exist if you accept that the human brain is a chemical machine. You have stimuli, and if you were to 'copy' that state and then apply the same stimuli, you would respond the same way 100% of the time. Of course, the problem of storing quantum states still exists, and at that level, things cannot be predicted (e.g, they are not deterministic). So what effect do those things have at the macro level in terms of our brain? I've no idea, but I would suspect quite a lot less of an influence than we'd like to believe. We'll soon be able to biological engineer life from scratch - after that it's just added complexity, nothing more.

    To answer your practical question, I would guess that it wasn't. Or perhaps, it was inevitable as one of a close to infinite possibilities, all of which happen simultaneously as the universe splits off every time a particle decides to go this way vs. that.

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    Cricketer Of The Year Anil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt79 View Post
    Yeah, but where's my flying car?
    yeah according to all the best sci-fi movies, flying cars should have been the norm by now...seriously disappointing...
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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    Yea, a mechanical problem at 5000 feet would not be pretty.....

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    Cricketer Of The Year ripper868's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentstriker View Post
    Yea, a mechanical problem at 5000 feet would not be pretty.....
    Just pop the hood and pull out the hover board, whats so bad about that?
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentstriker View Post
    One of the most puzzling things about the universe is that it is so comprehensible.
    Facepalm.jpg

    Unless you've suddenly jumped across two oceans and landed on SS Creationism.

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