Tag Archives: health

Strange Brains, Alien Minds

It’s been a very busy few months, you just need to look at my events page to see what I mean. Guess what? Every time I’ve set aside some time to sit down and write a few words about my experiences something else crops up and the chance slip by.

Although it’s a bit late, here’s a very short reflection on my ongoing collaboration with King’s College London and the Human Brain Project. It’s called ‘Transforming Future Science through Science Fiction.’ Continue reading

The Human Black Box

“What do machine learning, deep machine learning and artificial intelligence have in common?”

“We believe them more than we believe our fellow humans.”

Is that true? 

When a doctor makes a diagnosis do we simply take it for granted they’ve got it right? Probably not. At the very least we’ll search all of our available sources of knowledge. That might mean asking our friends or friends of friends with similar experience or using Google to show us what it believes are the top relevant articles, which of course aren’t necessarily the wisest.

There’s a very high probability that we’ll gather information from a variety of sources and decide what to believe and what to discard. That is until we use the magic of machine learning where it all happens inside the algorithmic ‘black box’ and we simply have to believe.

This article in the New York Times suggests that humans are black boxes too; we don’t really understand how decisions are being made. This seems like a reasonable argument, but maybe what it tells us is that we shouldn’t trust algorithms any more than we should trust humans – ultimately we should decide for ourselves who and what to believe.

Or, does that simply lead to not trusting the experts?

A conundrum for sure, but not a new one.


photo credit: jaci XIII Psyche via photopin (license)

The Age of the Ageless

Recently I was thinking about writing a story set in a world where you never die.

Now, that’s not an original idea I grant you, but nonetheless it is a fascinating idea that can be used to illuminate a lot about the human condition. I guess that’s why it’s been used so often.

We often think of health when we think about living for ever, but what about experience, knowledge, and good judgement – let’s call it wisdom.

And, that’s the twist in this particular tale – you have to choose the age you’re going to stay at. This then determines not only your health but also how wise you are, for ever. In other words, you keep maturing until the age you choose and then you stop and your health can’t get better or worse and you can’t gain any more wisdom.

I wanted to understand what age people would choose so I asked my mailing list if they wanted to help me, anonymously of course, and luckily they did.

Responses are coming in; their creative juices are flowing and enlightening me. Almost half of the survey respondents have chosen a similar age to their present age and the remainder are split 50:50 between choosing to be younger or older.

Of course, the explanations are the most fascinating and that’s where the real ‘flavour’ of the story will come from.

I wonder if you can you guess what age this respondent chose? “It was my last hurrah. I had tasted it all, learned my knowledge and experienced the ups and downs of love, life, friendship and work. Children yet to come, dreams still alive and ambition still believable.”

The survey will run for a little while longer and then I’ll write The Age of the Ageless. I reckon it’s going to be interesting to write and hopefully it’ll be a good read.

If you’re not on the mailing list and would like to contribute feel free to leave a comment at the foot of this post.

 


photo credit: byronv2 Carnival 2017 073 via photopin (license)