In essence, the Universe triggers a real-time novelty-seeking algorithm. What we perceive on the event horizon is a simulation, a necessary illusion created by the brain to facilitate survival in an exaggerated world of its own. A simulation of some kind of virtual reality acts as a platform for evolution, whose sole purpose is to create something new. If it is accepted as truth that the Universe is, in fact, a hologram, then a reference beam is needed to recreate it. Surprisingly, our nervous system provides just such a beam of light, and the human brain acts as an adjuster of holograms.
The more adapted an organism is to its environment – the better it senses and responds to it – the higher its chances of survival. This is how the conductors of the impulses of our existence, the drivers of evolution, and the mind, i.e., nerves, were born. By analogy, representing the human body as a robot, the nervous system is the electrical wiring of a set of peripheral sensors and executive mechanisms controlled by a computer or central processor. Continuing along with the central nervous system, we reach the brainstem, which plays a key role in maintaining consciousness. There is also the cerebellum, a structure that usually contains about half of the brain’s neurons and is responsible for motor learning, adaptation, and fine-tuning of its motor programs by trial and error. The function of the cerebellum is best understood in terms of the neural calculations it performs. Since the nervous system requires a fast and precise response to an input signal, the cerebellum, with its directional energy design, can significantly reduce noise by eliminating the possibility of feedback created by repetitive neural connections. And for a real-time biological computer, this is a big performance advantage. The cerebellum really has just one job: It takes clumsy actions or functions and makes them more refined. It doesn’t make things. It makes things better.
Now let’s look at the relay of sensory and motor data between the body and the brain, in the role of which is an area called the interbrain. The thalamus, the gatekeeper of cognition, is located there, pre-processing the data, transforming and integrating them, and then sending them to the corresponding cortical areas for further calculations. It is possible to consider the thalamus as a kind of center of reality modulation and gaining control. Data transfer between the thalamus and the neocortex for cognition passes through a special so-called limbic system, which provides a learning algorithm with emotional reinforcement for modeling. It is a mental map of the world with a feedback loop for our actions, through the senses coloring the memories we store and retrieve. It is a means of remembering the hologram and navigating it, and emotion is the key. There, the hippocampus is responsible for memory consolidation, generating a theta rhythm when holding attention and transferring content from short-term and working memory to long-term storage. It also performs the function of spatial memory necessary for navigation. The neocortex, or place of rational thought is the most recent addition to our evolutionary arsenal in search of intelligence, is responsible for higher-order brain functions, including sensory perception, cognition, motor command generation, spatial thinking, and language.
The human brain has an image processing center where our perception of three-dimensional space is created. There is also an area that serves as the Entrance, the Place of Action, and the Output. There is also a personality control panel and our ability to communicate, organizing thoughts and actions according to internal goals, often considered the center of self-awareness. Physical objects in the form of the brain, cerebral cortex, and central nervous system are the matter to form the human mind field. This field is a multi-layered mechanism for exchanging and transmitting information, data, energies, and impulses. The human brain is the most perfect product of evolution! And at the same time, the most vulnerable. We cannot imagine what a thought looks like, we do not feel it with any of our senses, but many researchers give it incredible power. For centuries, people have pieced together myths about those who could move objects with their thoughts or guess other people’s intentions. For a long time, these ideas were not recognized by science, mistaken for something mystical. Today, thought is an object of intense scientific attention. By studying thinking, scientists have come to a surprising conclusion. It turns out that as soon as we think of an action, we make our brain work and our muscles tense as if we were actually performing it. Our ancestors have known this secret since ancient times. So what is a thought? Thought is a process in the brain that occurs when there is a certain motivation, and we need to achieve some goal that is not unambiguous. A solution must be found when there is a choice, and these prerequisites are necessary for thinking to arise. Thinking is inextricably linked to freedom of choice. Where there is no choice, there is no thinking. Therefore, freedom is inseparable from thinking; it can be different, both in a very narrow range and ending with freedom in its broadest sense.
Let’s take a look at the specifications of the brain as a robot central processor, given that the brain processes 400 billion bits/second, but we are only aware of about 2000 bits that relate to our body, space and time.
Central processor: dual-core multimodal processor with integrated graphics processor and monitor
Neural network: 100 billion neurons with 100 trillion synapses
Memory: 250 million gigabytes
Display resolution: 576 megapixels, about 24K
Frame rate: ~150 fps
Clock rate: <1KHz
Power Consumption: ~ 10W
The main characteristic of spontaneous brain activity is coherent frequencies, covering a wide range of frequencies. The brain operates as a general-purpose computer with built-in redundancy, each part receiving information about everything and performing certain calculations on it – at all scales. Like many structures found in nature, the architecture of the brain is fractal. And perhaps it follows that consciousness is too. Both the brain and the Universe had similar problems during evolution. The Universe needed to create a mechanism, which became quantum mechanics, allowing the emergence of complex matter that realizes non-ordinary properties. The brain also needs to perceive and process the information generated by the surrounding world. And it turned out that principles similar to quantum mechanics, i.e., use of ambiguous notions and operation of meaning selection, comparable to the collapse of the wave function, endowed the brain with capabilities, many times superior to systems.
The main characteristic of spontaneous brain activity is coherent frequency. Through modern neurophysiology, we get a considerable number of clues regarding the real architecture of the brain. It turns out that not just many, but all basic principles, which are characteristic of the brain, are surprisingly similar to laws and principles, which the physical world around us obeys. Mainly all ideas, constituting quantum mechanics were realized in the brain. Quantum analogy is fundamentally important. It allows describing a quite different architecture of brain computation, which is much closer to quantum computers than to traditional ones.
The technological revolution that began in the second half of the 20th century never ceases to amaze us with new and more advanced achievements that just a short time ago seemed out of the realm of fiction. Thus, previously unheard-of pioneering ideas at the very beginning of the 21st century formed the basis for the research of brain-computer interface BCI using invasive electrocorticography, or intracranial electroencephalography, that is, electrophysiological monitoring, in which electrodes are surgically implanted into the brain and record the electrical activity of the cerebral cortex. Science ultimately wants to turn this into a non-invasive technology, which in biology, physiology, and medicine characterizes devices or research methods that do not involve damaging interventions and can be easily integrated. Speaking of which, non-invasive BCI had already made strides when a group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University developed the first-ever successful mind-controlled robotic arm a couple of years ago. Although the non-invasive method currently has lower efficacy, this is only the beginning. There’s no system more complicated in nature than the human brain. It’s incredibly difficult to create algorithms that can figure out intent without drilling into a human skull. Decoding the activity of individual motor neurons in order to control machines is the ultimate challenge. Everything else pales in complexity.
It is already becoming quite common to see paralyzed patients operate prostheses and wheelchairs or even exoskeletons with the help of neural interfaces. Experts are unanimous that this discipline will reach new areas in the coming decades. Neurointerfaces will help treat degenerative and mental diseases more effectively and improve brain function in healthy people. However, many are concerned that such inventions can be used to improve the world and for selfish purposes and to control people. How should the use of such developments be restricted, and should it be done? Mind-reading implants are still a long way from being commercially available, but research in this area is progressing much faster than most people think.
There is no doubt that mind-reading technology poses privacy concerns. In the age of cyber technology, it is possible to say that one’s brain is the only safe place for freedom of thought, self-discovery, and fantasy. And in this case, we are approaching the point where we cross the final frontier of privacy in the absence of any protection. And the first beneficiaries of this technology are already well known to all. Neuromarketing involves the direct use of brain imaging, scanning, or other brain activity measurement technologies to measure a subject’s reaction to specific products, packaging, advertising, or other marketing elements. Neurogaming is very interesting because it opens up new, exciting and unrealized possibilities for the user until this point. The user gets the opportunity to control the game environment, its elements, and game characters with the help of brain signals, in the case of computer games. Its emergence is precisely due to advances in the study of the human brain, miniaturization, and the reduction of the cost of consumer interfaces that receive brain signals.
People have ample evidence that any new technology always has its advantages and disadvantages. The benefits of BCI are enormous, and its use can be controlled by proactive regulation and the involvement of neuroethics. But even today, privacy laws either do not exist or are not enforced to a satisfactory level. Technology can interfere with rights that are so basic that we may not even think of them as rights, such as our ability to determine where our essence ends and machines begin. Our current laws are not equipped to deal with this problem. For this reason, associate professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Zurich Roberto Andorno and ethical engineer Marcello Ienca from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich expressed their concern and proposed an ethical law on the right to privacy, which can be subject to unauthorized intrusions. It was openly stated that current human rights are insufficient to prevent the unintended consequences of neurotechnologies, and several new neural rights were proposed. These include the right to cognitive freedom and mental activity, the right to mental health and privacy, followed by the right to mental integrity, and the right to psychological continuity.
Should citizens be allowed to improve their cognitive abilities with new developments? Scientists are also divided on this issue, but Marcello Ienca is sure that it will not do any good if we prohibit neurotechnology. And some experts believe that future problems associated with technology can be solved within the framework of the former human rights without any actualization of the list; otherwise, it can turn into an over-regulation by the states. And that the best solution lies in close cooperation between ethicists and innovative entrepreneurs. Such an approach would help guarantee universal access to medical care based on neurotechnology, regardless of patients’ place of residence, social status, and cultural specifics. Some scientists are also concerned about the gap that exists between different scientific disciplines and society. Their plans for the future are how to bring astrophysicists, chemists, and biologists together to work on new projects and translate new knowledge into ready-made solutions, taking into account citizens’ opinions.
Neuroscience is not directly mentioned in international human rights laws, but advances in biomedicine are intertwined with laws concerning, for example, human genetic data. Similar to the historical trajectory of the genetic revolution, it is likely that the current neuro revolution obliges us to review and even create new human rights laws related to global bioethics, human dignity, and human rights. Civic responsibility and awareness of this new sphere of impact on everyone are maybe necessary. Otherwise, due to the power and vulnerability of our thoughts, soon enough and gradually enough, people may have no choice but to narrow their privacy boundaries in exchange for the improvements in life that this technology offers.