u25b3 Chen Tianqiao at the scene of Gaoshan night talk in Gaoshan University
Chen Tianqiao: founder of Shanda network. He started from scratch at the age of 26, founded Shanda, and went public at the age of 31, becoming the youngest richest man in China. Now we focus on the public welfare of brain science research. At the end of 2016, Chen Tianqiao luoqianqian Brain Science Research Institute was established.
Article source and alpine University ID (gasadaxue)
Why do we have to understand the brain?
What is the fundamental driving force for social development? We Chinese all know that it is the increasing material and cultural needs of the people. But have we considered that the material and cultural needs are growing, not weakening?
Historically, this desire or fear of loss, if handled properly, can make good people commit crimes, let countries wage wars, let animals die out, let glaciers melt, and make people want to escape from the earth.
The so-called reason does not seem to be the Lord in the long history.
Why is that?
Because desire and fear of loss come from our brain. We have never opened the black box of brain to study where the desire and fear come from.
In other words, we never understand the real workings of the brain.
u25b3 we may not know anything about the brain
What we can do is to constantly adjust the input signals of the brain (through our senses) to seek control over the output (behavior and decision-making). The consequences of these behaviors and decisions are fed back to the brain through the senses, forming a cycle. From a certain point of view, the development of history is the result of countless cycles.
In the past few thousand years, our science and technology are not enough to let us know how the brain works from input information to output decision-making? How do our memories get involved? How can our knowledge participate? How do our emotions get involved? Whats the role of our change of focus? Of course, there is the biggest difference between human beings and animals. Do some people call it consciousness or freewill? If so, how to participate?
We are full of speculation, but we dont know anything! So although cybernetics was only put forward in 1945, human beings have long been a good hand in practicing cybernetics, constantly testing and adjusting, and carefully pleasing the precise machine of brain.
When this trial and error type of flattery accumulates to a certain stage, more and more disadvantages are accumulated and cannot be eliminated. Now in the 21st century, we cant avoid the question: is there any limitation of cognitive ability in the brain, and where? Will exponential growth of information flow into our brain to reach and break through the boundary of cognitive ability?
u25b3 global depression incidence, gender and age distribution in 2015
In fact, we have seen an unprecedented incidence of mental illness. Depression and anxiety can be seen everywhere. The suicide rate is high. Depression has even surpassed cancer and cardiovascular disease as the first killer of human beings. We also see a large number of elderly people with dementia. Are these related to the limited cognitive processing ability of the brain?
We have spent 90% of our energy to cure the problems below the eyebrows. Even cancer may be controlled in the scope of chronic diseases. Why is there no substantive breakthrough in the problem of brain aging?
If people live longer and we dont understand the mechanism of brain aging, we will face unprecedented challenges of aging. The fundamental question is: we dont know how a normal brain works, how do we understand the cost of repair?
Similarly, the extensive way of trying to please the brain through trial and error has also developed to the bottleneck. The cost of this trial and error is that the efficiency of external environment and resource utilization is very low. Global warming is just one example, and its all over history.
When we finally realize that its not sustainable to use trial and error as an extensive way to meet our growing needs, we want to make our environment more intelligent.
We try to achieve this ability through AI, so that the world around us not only has eyes, ears, but also brain. Just like a car, it can run much faster than human beings more than 100 years ago, but it cant alleviate traffic accidents, traffic jams, environmental pollution and other problems. In the new century, people began to study driverless, hoping to give the same intelligence to drivers.
But if we dont understand our brains, how can we empower them? Many people think that AI will drive the fourth industrial revolution, but the breakthrough of AI also needs to understand our brain. Only in this way, the fourth industrial revolution is not only limited to leapfrog growth, but also sustainable growth.
So whether its the problems that need to be solved in our society or the development that needs to be broken through in the future, we need to look inward and find out the secrets of the brain. But this kind of inward seeking is not philosophy or metaphysics, but science, so I decided to move to Silicon Valley.
My superficial understanding and hypothesis of brain
Two years after I arrived in Silicon Valley, I met nearly 300 professors, hoping to learn the latest cognition of brain from them. Of course, there are many exciting achievements and many different opinions. But what Im shocked about is that the understanding of brain is still so weak, and even a large number of neuroscientists hypothesis theories, even accepted theories, are used in textbooks In fact, it also needs to be proved.
If someone asks me what is my biggest gain, or what is my biggest cognition? I would say that all the functions of the brain, no matter how mysterious they seem, have their biological basis. The so-called wisdom, consciousness and free will all come from the basic biological basis.
In the past few thousand years, philosophy and religion have been discussing the above problems, but in recent decades, with the development of neuroscience, more and more brain has been deconstructed from the cellular and molecular level, especially the development of optogenetics. Neuroscientists can confirm the various functions of the brain in the same neuron group in turn, greatly accelerating our brain In depth understanding.
Among them, we will find that many experiments have proved that various functions of human free will, including emotion (such as happiness and hatred), political tendency, moral sense and even religious sense, seem to be able to get the latest confirmation on the basis of biology.
For example, Chen Institute, a professor at Caltech, used the above optogenetic technology to find a group of neurons that control aggression in mice. They use technology to start and shut down these neurons, and the rats will become grumpy and calm accordingly. This video looks very interesting Its dramatic.
For another example, in one experiment, we showed a picture of a person with a mouth full of creeping insects. Then we checked the difference of activity level in the whole brain area of the experimental object, and found that the activity level of the conservative people was much higher than that of the so-called liberals. A picture can distinguish the Conservatives and liberals, with an accuracy of about 83%.
Its hard to do experiments on people with moral sense, so people choose prairie voles and mountain voles to do experiments, because prairie voles meet and mate with each other, and then stay together for life, while mountain voles do not. Assuming thats what we call morality, neuroscientists will study how their brains are different.
Finally, we found a special neurochemical substance called oxytocin, which is generally absorbed by neurons through special receptors. This oxytocin is a very important material basis for feeling the connection, and the connection is also the basis for generating feelings and dependence. Scientists found that in the brain reward system of prairie voles, the oxytocin receptor density is much higher than that of mountain voles.
Of course, we can also find examples of religious feelings. In fact, as early as 1980, a man named Michael Persinger did a similar experiment. He tried to stimulate the middle temporal lobe of the brain with a magnetic field. As a result, 80% of the people had religious experience. In the room of only one person, they felt another person, or saw light. Some even dreamed of giving birth to saints. Their equipment was very good To be known as the helmet of God.
From the above examples, we can at least prove that the expression of free will, which is the most proud of human beings, is not entirely from the mysterious power of the non biological basis. Of course, I prefer to believe that all these free will are from the material basis.
Nevertheless, some people continue to deify this kind of free will. For example, the whole plot of the TV play the western world is constantly unfolding around whether robots can have the suspense of consciousness and free will. After watching several episodes, I ask my friends, these robots in the Park have their own action, family and love Love, know fear, know hate, even have the pursuit of distance, have the desire for the unknown, this can not be considered conscious?
u25b3 stills of the western world
If they finally find out that they are a robot as a judgment of self-awareness and awakening, then how can we know that we are not a robot, or just not found?
The little mouse that I mentioned just now, whose neurons are turned on and off, must think that its grumpiness and calmness come from the judgment of its own brain, and never realize that the chemical transport of these neurons has been turned on and off artificially. So Ive been thinking, is there something called consciousness thats on top? And then, is there me?
A few days ago, I saw a post on Zhihu. A person dreamed that her mother was seriously ill. She was exhausted but unable to return to the sky, so she cried and woke up. In the dream, we also had a sense of love for her mother and didnt want to lose her. This is the most basic feeling of human beings.
When she woke up, she found it was a dream, so she was relieved. At this time, the second stage of consciousness prevails, just like a robot finally realizes that it is just a machine and returns to the real world.
However, the story is not over yet. After she was relieved, she suddenly realized that her mother had passed away for more than a year. She had this dream because she missed too much.
Which of the above is consciousness or free will?
Is the so-called consciousness, like every thought in your daily life, just a judgment and a reaction? It must be much more complicated than animals, but in essence, there seems to be no difference, that is, chemical transmission after a set of electrical signals.
It is said that a person has 60000 various thoughts a day, some of which occupy the current focus. We call it consciousness, or free will, or self-consciousness. In fact, it may be like a blockchain. Its just a triumph of one computing power over another.
Id like to introduce you to this book. The title is in search of memory. The author is Eric R. Kandel, a Nobel laureate from Columbia University. I remember a very interesting passage in the book, to the effect that in the circle of neuroscience, the idea that the brain is just a biochemical machine system has long been a consensus that has not been publicized.
Because I believe that all functions of the brain have material basis, which is very mysterious, but not divine, so my wife and I are confident that one day we will decrypt the brain. We will put a billion dollars to support the basic research of the brain. If there is no such basic judgment and confidence, the most correct way is to donate the money to temples and churches.
u25b3 design drawing of Chen Tianqiao and Luo Qianqian Brain Science Research Institute, expected to be completed in 2020
How to understand the brain and what can we do?
Of course, the above is just a saying. Its my personal hypothesis and one of the countless hypotheses in neuroscience at present. If you and I have different views, the good thing is that you dont need to worry about machines that will generate the same intelligence as humans and rule the world. Because human beings are not gods, they cannot build something that is non biological (physical) based to produce true consciousness or free will.
But if we all admit that the brain is a complex machine and that the so-called wisdom, awareness and free will are the same biological functions as your running and heart beating, its only a long time before machines surpass the present human beings and generate their own consciousness, just like cars can run and airplanes can fly.
I especially emphasize that the reason for human beings nowadays is that for those who are unable to extricate themselves from the fear and anxiety of machines and robots, its better to change the perspective that the biological nature of brain function provides us with an opportunity, that is to say, our brain, as a machine, can also be transformed and evolved to lead the intelligence of machines.
Machines can make progress. Why cant human beings make progress? Whats more, human intelligence is so much ahead of machine intelligence. We still have time. The key is what we should do in this period of time and how we can fundamentally solve the challenges facing human society, achieve leaping and sustainable development, and finally realize the harmonious coexistence of human and machine.
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