Monday, July 27, 2015

THE POWER of THE BRAIN AND QUANTUM BIOLOGY

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Written by Dr. Caroline Leaf

From the pioneers of the development of the computer such as Alan Turin [1] to Hollywood films[2], artificial intelligence in medicine [3], contests between computers and humans [4] and the more recent singularity movement led by Ray Kurzweil [5], the notion that artificial intelligence would soon become more powerful than the human brain has captured the public imagination. Since Hal the computer in ‘2001, A Space Odyssey’ [6] we have imagined robots and computers as eventually becoming sentient beings- a logical conclusion of a materialist mindset that asserts that the mind (soul) only emerges from complicated brain computation [7]. In contrast the Bible states that the soul was created when God breathed His Spirit into a human formed from physical dust (Genesis 2:7). Interestingly, recent scientific research is pointing to the fact that a world taken over by super-intelligent sentient robot beings is actually a total fantasy - the brain is much more powerful than we once thought by many orders of magnitude [8].

The position of the status quo has been that information is processed by weighted connections (synapses) or nodes [9]. Therefore it seemed it was possible to reproduce brain function using computer simulation. A human brain was estimated to operate at 10^9 bits per second at the synaptic level, however there is now evidence of information processing taking place at the microtubular level inside the cell [8]. Microtubules were once thought to be just cell scaffolding - now it is clear they form the nervous system of the cell. After all, single-celled animals which do not have synapses have been shown to have intelligence [10]. Dendrites, which are the branches of single nerve cells (neurons), are now been compared to mini-computers rather than binary switches, as once thought [11]. Taken together, therefore, a whole human brain can conceivably operate at 10^27 bits per second [8]. That is more processing power than all the computers in the world put together [8][12]. Therefore it is inconceivable that attempts to simulate the Human Brian, like the epic Billion Euro Human Brain Project [13], a progression of Henry Markram’s Blue Brain Project [14], will ultimately succeed. However such projects will yield and has already yielded useful information about brain structure and function that can be applied to medical informatics [15] as well as computer technology [16].

Additionally there is also evidence that the brain is operating at the quantum level in the microtubules [17]. Interestingly biological processes such as photosynthesis, bird navigation and olfaction (odor detection) have been shown to take advantage of quantum effects such as superposition as proposed by as Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle [18]. It seems biological process are tapping into the ‘spooky’ (as described by Einstein [19] world of quantum entanglement, where information transfer is not limited time or location. A whole new discipline termed ‘Quantum Biology’ is emerging. It is therefore conceivable that more biological processes operate at a quantum level. The brain actually may be acting like a quantum computer at the microtubular level as proposed by Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose’s Orch-OR Theory [17]. In fact there is growing experimental evidence for this theory which is also implying that the brain is processing information using fractal resonance frequencies not just electrical action potentials- akin to songs within songs in an orchestral arrangement [20].

We are truly ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139:14). The above-mentioned research is showing that the brain is much more powerful, functioning at a more profound manner than was once thought. This surely points to the infinitely powerful and innovative Mind of The Creator, The God of the whole Universe described in the His Living Word, the Bible.

References 1. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2012 Jul 28;370(1971):3273-6. The foundations of computation, physics and mentality: the Turing legacy. Cooper SB, Abramsky S. 2. ‘Blade Runner’ (1982), ‘The Terminator’ (1984), ‘The Matrix’ (1999), 'I, Robot’ (2004), ‘The Machine’ (2013), ‘Chappie’ (2015). 3. Ramesh AN, Kambhampati C, Monson JRT, Drew PJ. Artificial intelligence in medicine. Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 2004;86(5):334-338. 4. Chess: Garry Kasparov vs Deep Blue (Computer) (1997), Jeopardy: Watson (Computer) vs Humans (2011) 5. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology- Sep 26, 2006 by Ray Kurzweil. 6. ‘2001, A Space Odyssey’ (1968) 7.The Emerging Mind: The BBC Reith Lectures 2003 – September 20, 2003 by Vilaynur Ramachandran 8. J Biol Phys. 2010 Jan;36(1):53-70. A critical assessment of the information processing capabilities of neuronal microtubules using coherent excitations. Craddock TJ, Tuszynski JA 9. Connectivism: Learning as Network-Creation, Learning Circuits, November 2005. 10. CELL INTELLIGENCE Guenter Albrecht-Buehler, Ph.D. Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago. Website-http://www.basic.northwestern.edu/g-buehler/FRAME.HTM 11. Spencer L. Smith, Ikuko T. Smith, Tiago Branco, Michael Häusser. Dendritic spikes enhance stimulus selectivity in cortical neurons in vivo. Nature, 2013 12. Ars Technica- World’s total CPU power: one human brain by John Timmer. http://arstechnica.com/science/2011/02/adding-up-the-worlds-storage-and-computation-capacities/ 13. The Human Brain Project- https://www.humanbrainproject.eu/ 14. The Blue Brain Project - http://bluebrain.epfl.ch/page-52063.html 15. Human Brain Project- Medical Informatics- https://www.humanbrainproject.eu/medical-informatics-platform 16. Human Brain Project- Neuromorphic Computing-https://www.humanbrainproject.eu/neuromorphic-computing-platform 17. Phys Life Rev. 2014 Mar;11(1):39-78. Consciousness in the universe: a review of the 'Orch OR' theory. Hameroff S, Penrose R. 18. Quantum Effects in Biology – September 22, 2014. by Masoud Mohseni ,Yasser Omar, Gregory S. Engel, Dr Martin B. Plenio. HFSP J. 2009 Dec;3(6):386-400. Quantum physics meets biology. Arndt M, Juffmann T, Vedral V. 19. Spooky Action at a Distance By Brian Greene 09.22.11 .NOVA http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/spooky-action-distance.html 20. Information 2014, 5(1), 28-100. Design and Construction of a Brain-Like Computer: A New Class of Frequency-Fractal Computing Using Wireless Communication in a Supramolecular Organic, Inorganic System. Subrata Ghosh, Krishna Aswani, Surabhi Singh, Satyajit Sahu, Daisuke Fujita and Anirban Bandyopadhyay

A Mideast Game of Thrones

By Patrick J. Buchanan, Creators Syndicate, July 21, 2015

As President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is compared to Richard Nixon’s opening to China, Bibi Netanyahu must know how Chiang Kai-shek felt as he watched his old friend Nixon toasting Mao in Peking.

The Iran nuclear deal is not on the same geostrategic level. Yet both moves, seen as betrayals by old U.S. allies, were born of a cold assessment in Washington of a need to shift policy to reflect new threats and new opportunities.

Several events contributed to the U.S. move toward Tehran.

First was the stunning victory in June 2013 of President Hassan Rouhani, who rode to power on the votes of the Green Revolution that had sought unsuccessfully to oust Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

Rouhani then won the Ayatollah’s authorization to negotiate a cutting and curtailing of Iran’s nuclear program, in return for a U.S.-U.N. lifting of sanctions. As preventing an Iranian bomb had long been a U.S. objective, the Americans could not spurn such an offer.

Came then the Islamic State’s seizure of Raqqa in Syria, and Mosul and Anbar in Iraq. Viciously anti-Shiite as well as anti-American, ISIS made the U.S. and Iran de facto allies in preventing the fall of Baghdad.

But as U.S. and Iranian interests converged, those of the U.S. and its old allies–Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey–were diverging.

Turkey, as it sees Bashar Assad’s alliance with Iran as the greater threat, and fears anti-ISIS Kurds in Syria will carve out a second Kurdistan, has been abetting ISIS.

Saudi Arabia sees Shiite Iran as a geostrategic rival in the Gulf, allied with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Assad in Damascus, the Shiite regime in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen. It also sees Iran as a subversive threat in Bahrain and the heavily Shiite oil fields of Saudi Arabia itself.

Indeed, Riyadh, with the Sunni challenge of ISIS rising, and the Shiite challenge of Iran growing, and its border states already on fire, does indeed face an existential threat. And, so, too, do the Gulf Arabs.

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown in the Middle East today.

The Israelis, too, see Iran as their great enemy and indispensable pillar of Hezbollah. For Bibi, any U.S.-Iran rapprochement is a diplomatic disaster.

Which brings us to a fundamental question of the Middle East.

Is the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal and our de facto alliance against ISIS a temporary collaboration? Or is it the beginning of a detente between these ideological enemies of 35 years?

Is an historic “reversal of alliances” in the Mideast at hand?

Clearly the United States and Iran have overlapping interests.

Neither wants all-out war with the other. For the Americans, such a war would set the Gulf ablaze, halt the flow of oil, and cause a recession in the West. For Iran, war with the USA could see their country smashed and splintered like Saddam’s Iraq, and the loss of an historic opportunity to achieve hegemony in the Gulf.

Also, both Iran and the United States would like to see ISIS not only degraded and defeated, but annihilated. Both thus have a vested interest in preventing a collapse of either the Shiite regime in Baghdad or Assad’s regime in Syria.

And, thus, Syria is probably where the next collision is going to come between the United States and its old allies.

For Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel all want the Assad regime brought down to break up Iran’s Shiite Crescent and inflict a strategic defeat on Tehran. But the United States believes the fall of Assad means the rise of ISIS and al-Qaida, a massacre of Christians, and the coming to power of a Sunni terrorist state implacably hostile to us.

Look for the Saudis and Israelis, their agents and lobbies, their think tanks and op-ed writers, to begin beating the drums for the United States to bring down Assad, who has been “killing his own people.”

The case will be made that this is the way for America to rejoin its old allies, removing the principal obstacle to our getting together and going after ISIS. Once Assad is gone, the line is already being moved, then we can all go after ISIS. But, first, Assad.

What is wrong with this scenario?

A U.S. no-fly zone, for example, to stop Assad’s barrel bombs, would entail attacks on Syrian airfields and antiaircraft missiles and guns. These would be acts of war, which would put us into a de facto alliance with the al-Qaida Nusra Front and ISIS, and invite retaliations against Americans by Hezbollah in Beirut, and the Shiite militia in Baghdad.

Any U.S.-Iran rapprochement would be dead, and we will have been sucked into a war to achieve the strategic goals of allies that are in conflict with the national interests of the United States. And our interests come first.