1. Subscribersonhouse
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    26 Jan '12 22:36
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-01-ethics-brain-boosting.html

    Are there ethical issues? It only seems to work with healthy brains, persons with disabilities brain wise don't at least so far, get the same improvement in cognition, memory, learning, etc.

    Does that mean we will be creating a new mental divide? A new way to in effect make the rich richer and the poor poorer?
  2. Joined
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    31 Jan '12 21:03
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-01-ethics-brain-boosting.html

    Are there ethical issues? It only seems to work with healthy brains, persons with disabilities brain wise don't at least so far, get the same improvement in cognition, memory, learning, etc.

    Does that mean we will be creating a new mental divide? A new way to in effect make the rich richer and the poor poorer?
    As opposed to what, normal teaching? That only works to its full potential on healthy brains, as well.

    Not that I don't see any problems with this. I'd want quite a bit more assurances before I'd want to try it on myself, especially long-term. But that's mainly for technical reasons. The ethical reason you mention does not seem to me to be anything new for this application.

    Richard
  3. Subscribersonhouse
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    03 Feb '12 19:02
    Originally posted by Shallow Blue
    As opposed to what, normal teaching? That only works to its full potential on healthy brains, as well.

    Not that I don't see any problems with this. I'd want quite a bit more assurances before I'd want to try it on myself, especially long-term. But that's mainly for technical reasons. The ethical reason you mention does not seem to me to be anything new for this application.

    Richard
    Personally, if I could do it I would in a trice. If I could learn better, get up to 2200 rating in chess instead of 1700 I am now, be more creative on guitar and mandolin composing music, I would jump at it. The currents they are talking about are very small, a couple of milliamps, thousandths of an amp, you can't even feel that little amount of energy. The neurons get a tiny nudge, electrically speaking though.
  4. Standard memberfinnegan
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    01 Mar '12 21:312 edits
    Interesting to speculate what this actually will achieve. After all, it is hard to conceive of learning as a simply additive process - I learn twelve bits to your ten bits so I get better at chess? Arguably some skills are partly about quantity - learning the vocabulary for a new language is miserably hard work for example (I find). But how does this work out?

    I can learn a list of words which is handy. But I do not know that my brain stores data tables like a computer. I need to practice using words and hearing them used in context to notice their shades of meaning. There may be four or five synonyms, say, but they are not usually chosen at random when speaking fluently and the wrong choice sounds odd despite fitting the definition I intend. Lots of non-native speakers of a language sound hilarious despite being very well qualified.

    You may not accept that example until you consider that often what we learn is wrong! If we absorb and solidify too much new material without testing it out, there is a risk of learning errors that become very hard to eradicate.

    A good example is a musical instrument. Many musicians reach a plateau and can only progress further by un-learning bad habits and starting to reconstruct technique from basics, which is simply a huge barrier to progress for many.

    I am not especially bright sadly, but was one of a number of colleagues who chose to take a Masters in Management. I chose distance learning with a very prestigious university business school. They thought that was crazily ambitious and went to a local college. But despite my medicrity, I had brilliant teachers and really helpful notes, whcih meant they had to turn to me before they could pass some of their exams (truly - most of their class failed), because their tutors were appalling, confusing, unhelpful and often plain wrong in what they were teaching.

    Or get back to chess. I have been learning the Slav and, by forgetting what response applies to White's move order, have so far managed to reach awful positions really quickly. Would it help to be able to remember the move orders? Maybe so. But consider - players who simply read off the moves while playing on the net probably get great positions but typically are then unable to play the position they reach when deviations arise. I know - I tried that when I started on this site and learned precisely nothing whatever. So now I rarely look up the moves until after the game. (Wish I could say never - only nearly never). What's more - my grade did not really change as a result. So being able to remember / look up move orders was not relevant to my performance. I suspect that comes with understanding, not with memory enhancement. And that comes from doing.

    A last example. Richard Feynman was invited to comment on the way Physics was taught in Brazil and pronounced (to great annoyance) that it was totally useless. He argued that physics was expertly taught as though it was a branch of literature, but nobody seemed to have the capacity to design the simplest experiment. They thought physics was something you know - he thought it was something you can do.

    I predict that these guys are designing a potentially flawed model of learning that will not produce learning in a form that is worth having.

    Of course, it may be great for training up factory workers and administrators which seems to be what some regard as the purpose of education. Provided you do not want people to think independently or ask difficult questions.
  5. Subscribersonhouse
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    01 Mar '12 21:391 edit
    Originally posted by finnegan
    Interesting to speculate what this actually will achieve. After all, it is hard to conceive of learning as a simply additive process - I learn twelve bits to your ten bits so I get better at chess? Arguably some skills are partly about quantity - learning the vocabulary for a new language is miserably hard work for example (I find). But how does this work f education. Provided you do not want people to think independently or ask difficult questions.
    I don't think they are after anything really deep, just being able to stuff factoids in a brain easier and faster than a person would on their own. At least it is a drug free method. I wonder if anything changed in Brazil as a result of Feynman's talk?
  6. Standard memberfinnegan
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    01 Mar '12 21:43
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    I don't think they are after anything really deep, just being able to stuff factoids in a brain easier and faster than a person would on their own. At least it is a drug free method. I wonder if anything changed in Brazil as a result of Feynman's talk?
    Apparently Feynman had a big impact and was invited to help redesign the way physics was taught. He famously always wanted to test any idea for himself - the solution to the space shuttle crash, for example, he reported to a Congressional Committee using a table top demonstration. Bang! Not hard for even them to understand. Very hard for the space industry bureaucrats to blag their way out of.
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    02 Mar '12 01:58
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-01-ethics-brain-boosting.html

    Are there ethical issues? It only seems to work with healthy brains, persons with disabilities brain wise don't at least so far, get the same improvement in cognition, memory, learning, etc.

    Does that mean we will be creating a new mental divide? A new way to in effect make the rich richer and the poor poorer?
    Only if you think poor people are poor because their brains are disabled in some way. Where it might widen the poverty gap and entrench life opportunity differences is by way of it's cost; i.e only the children of the wealthy would get access to the technology.

    BTW does anyone remember 'Joe 90'.
  8. Subscribersonhouse
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    02 Mar '12 02:511 edit
    Originally posted by kevcvs57
    Only if you think poor people are poor because their brains are disabled in some way. Where it might widen the poverty gap and entrench life opportunity differences is by way of it's cost; i.e only the children of the wealthy would get access to the technology.

    BTW does anyone remember 'Joe 90'.
    Had to google it but seems apropos.

    The kind of technology involved in this study I think would be relatively cheap, maybe even made in kit form.

    In 1973 I made a brain wave machine from a kit and it worked great, was able to train my brain to produce alpha's on demand.
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