Corante

Brain Waves

Category Archives

January 31, 2005

NBIC 2005 - Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

As nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science advance, researchers are now discovering new ways to integrate their findings (see NBIC research grants) This convergence will bring new approaches to what are currently very diverse areas of research - converging technology platforms, physical and mental performance, human-machine interface, human cognition and communication, learning, work efficiency, and many others.

If you are interested in staying on the cutting edge of converging technologies then the NBIC 2005 conference being held on February 24th & 25th at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa, Kailua-Kona, HI is the place to be. (Click here for brief write-ups of several talks given at NBIC 2003 and NBIC 2004.)

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

March 03, 2004

Listen to Biotech Today with Roco, Canton & Montemagno Noon PST

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

If you missed the NBIC conference, don't miss Biotech Today's interviews with these speakers at 12pm PST today:

- Dr. Mike Roco, Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology, National Science Foundation
- Dr. Carlo Montemagno, Chairman of UCLA’s Department of Bioengineering
- Dr. James Canton, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of the Institute for Global Futures
- Dr. David Carroll, Director, The Center for Nanotechnology at Wake Forest University
- Mr. Richard Shanley, Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP
- Ms. Sonia Miller, Founder and President, Converging Technologies Bar Association

Also, check out this small times article "Melding of Nano, Bio, Info, and Cogno Opens New Legal Horizons" reviewing several of the NBIC talks, including mine.

Happy 3/3 J.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

March 02, 2004

NBIC 2004 - Services Science and Coevolution

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

IBM's Jim Spohrer insightfully called for the development of a new discipline, Services Science. While Jim has held many positions at IBM, most recently the CTO of the venture capital relations group, he is now completely focused on understanding the future of human services. His key points:

- Services Science: He noted the rise and fall of employment in agricultural, industrial and information services over the past 200 years. Today information services represents over 30% of employment in the US, but there is still nothing akin to "information science" which was created in the 1960s that focuses on services.

- The rise of managerial organization has been one of the most powerful social inventions in human history, making it possible for the division of labor to occur in way that could not have been envisioned hundreds of years previously.

- The Business of People: Healthy, wealthy, wise and the pursuit of happiness (Security, Freedom and Entertainment).
--Healthy: More healthy people to boost effective labor
--Wealthy: More capital assets per worker to boost effective labor
--Wise: Better investment decisions to boost efficiency of labor

- Humans as informavore's: Human activity has gone from the search for food to the search for new information. From maximizing energy over time to maximizing useful information over time.

- Spohrer's other great points:

- 100 billion people have lived on Earth throughout human history.
- Historically, 220 pharmaceutical targets have generated $3 Trillion of value.
- DNA to phenotype = 300 terabytes per person x 6 billion people = 1800 billion terabytes of data (sounds like storage will be continue to be growing sector)
- Outsourcing: Digging trenches could be done by robots that are controlled outside the country, yes outsourced plumbing may be only a few decades away.
- Technology of history
- One of the best background reading lists around. Although it is missing one very important book by Carlota Perez which would help refine IBM's strategy to the next level of specificity and predictability.
- Just as he did last year, Jim is still pushing for a new acronym for NBIC
- And a special thanks to Jim for inviting me down to IBM to share my thoughts on the neuroeconomy. I look forward to it.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

March 01, 2004

NBIC 2004 - Faster than Thought

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

Sharing how nanotechnology is extending the edge of neuroscience, NYU's Rodolfo Llinas provided some provocative new research that will surely push neurotechnology and our understanding of the mind to a new level.

- Using a noninvasive magnetoencephalography, it is now possible to see (via a computer animated representation) how magnetic fields flux throughout the brain as we think. Because thoughts and emotions occur in the tens of millisecond range, it is possible to see how and where neurons work at specific time frames while people perform different tasks.

- Even more impressive was a new neurovascular approach his team developed that might soon be used to monitor and manipulate the brain using nanowires (5 nm in diameter). In the most impressive visual of the conference, he showed an electron microscope video of a nanowire being moved within the capillary's that stretch throughout the brain. Projecting this technology out into the future, he suggested that computer-based optimization of multiple recordings and stimulation of sites could be structured to allow specific man-machine platforms that could deliver specific neurochemicals to specific sites in the brain.


- While exploring the benefits that this technology represents, he also shared his concern about the future misuse of this technology, especially as the ultimate tool for drug addiction.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

NBIC 2004 - Engaging Developing Countries

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

Exploring the impact that converging technologies will have in developing countries was Jim Hurd, NanoScience Exchange, and Sarah McCue, UNDP. Highlights as follows:

- Adoption in developing countries isn't always slow - Mobile phones in China went from 1 million users in 1997 to over 200 million by the end of 2001.

- The Grameen Bank + mobile phones = success - The ability of the Grameen Bank to lease a wireless mobile phone to poor women in a small town in places like rural India has been a huge success for everyone.

- By viewing knowledge as a global commodity, CITRIS, the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, is looking at new ways to create an always on network in all developing nations.

- No small task to develop microfluidic chips that can enable low-cost diagnostics under $1 - New micro-ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) tests being developed at Harvard could transform disease diagnostics throughout the developing world. The new chips only require 1 drop of blood, the chips are resusable, and the detection system is now down to $45.

Special thanks went out to following for contributing to this important on-going work in developing countries: Jerome Glenn, Claude Leglise, Tom Kalil, Chris Hurd, Raj Bawa and Anil Srivastava.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

NBIC 2004 - Religious Comparative Advantage

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

Conference co-Chair, William Simms Bainbridge, gave a wonderful talk on religious comparative advantage and tracking emotions throughout one's life. Co-author of many books, including: The Future of Religion, Religion, Deviance and Social Control and A Theory of Religion, he made the following points:

- Ancient attempts to understand and control the mind were based on religious superstition rather than science. For example, ancient Egyptian technology wasted much energy trying to achieve immortality with mummification (there are more than 1 million mummies believed to be underground in Egypt). While Christianity has historically helped science and technology to advance, it is now may actually be blocking our progress to understand the mind. In this respect, he suggested that monotheistic religions (and the regions in which they dominate the socio-political landscape) may prove to be at a comparative disadvantage in the coming years.

- On emotions, he shared a device he uses to capture different emotions that he feels at across time. The device then does a factor analysis of these emotions and provides a "most like" list of previous experiences that contained similar emotional states. This is part of a project he calls the lifetime information preservation system. While relatively crude, he is absolutely on the right track of trying to understand the dynamic emotional changes that occur throughout one's life. While today we share photographs with our descendants, tomorrow we will be able to share our most intimate emotional experiences.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

NBIC 2004 - Simplexify Says Josh Wolfe

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

Like last year, trustworthy Josh Wolfe, editor of the Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report, made the point that the real opportunities in nanotechnology do not come from leveraging Moore’s law-like advancements to make gadgets smaller and more powerful (although conference chair Mike Roco rightly made the point that this will still be valuable), but instead come from leveraging the new properties that materials exhibit when one begins to manipulate materials at the nanoscale. He called this process, simplexification.

Other salient points included an update on Nanosys Inc.'s progress and a recent discussion with Michael Mauboussin on the coming nano-IPO window. It was good to have lunch with Josh again.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

NBIC 2004 Highlights

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

I'll be posting highlights from NBIC 2004 throughout the day. My talk on emerging neuropolicy issues went very well. Here is a response I received from John Sargent, senior policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Commerce:

I found your talk thought-provoking and the implications profound. I would like to have you come in and talk about your work with Under Secretary Bond and some of my colleagues at Commerce.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

February 08, 2004

Legal and Ethical Implications of NBIC

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

Here are the key points of the presentation I'll be giving at the NBIC 2004 conference in NYC on February 26th.

Using History to Illuminate the Societal Implications of Converging Technologies

-250 Years of Converging Technologies
-Techno-economic Waves and Socio-political Responses
-Neurotechnology Bottlenecks: Biochip (NB) and Brain Imaging (IC)
-NBIC Convergence Enables Neurotechnology
-Neuroceuticals: Improving Human Performance
-Societal Impacts of Neurotechnology
-Neurocompetitive Advantage
-Unknown Impact: Perception Shift
-Evolution of Neuropolicy Issues
-Neurosociety Institute Focus Areas

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

February 04, 2004

NBIC 2003 Recall, Slick Nano-Slime

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

One of the more impressive talks at last year's NBIC conference was Dr. Carlo Montemagno's presentation on an actin-based nanorobotic system developed by the UCLA biomotor group.

Having tried to design nanosystems for almost a decade, he recently turned to biomimetic principles (mimicking nature) with promising results. These principles include: local communication, no central processing, fully distributed, and stupid agents that follow simple rules. See the videos of the UCLA Biomotor group.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

January 20, 2004

NBIC 2004 Conference - My Talk will Cover Neuroethics

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

I'll be speaking at the NBIC Convergence For Improving Human Performance conference to be held in NYC from February 25-27.

NBIC, pronounced N-bic, stands for the convergence of nanotechnology, information technology, biotechnology and cognitive science. My talk will focus on the legal and ethical implications of NBIC, and how NBIC relates to neurotechnology.

The 2004 conference is a continuation of many of the discussion that took place at UCLA. (NBIC 2003 coverage).

Other talks will cover:
-Converging physical and human dimensions: Brain and Mind
-Converging technologies for the developing world
-Cognitive technology and NBIC
-Collaboration on converging technologies: Education and Practice
-Transforming tools of NBIC
-Integration of drug delivery and artificial tissue
-Biosystems and NBIC
-Neuroscience and NBIC
-NBIC impacts on organizations and business
-Multidisciplinary cooperation opportunities and challenges
-How to move convergence forward

This year's conference is co-chaired by Drs. Mihail C. Roco and William Sims Bainbridge. Join Wrye Sententia (CCLE), Nobel Prize winning memory researcher Eric Kandel (Columbia), Arthur Caplan (Penn. State), and James Canton (Inst. for Global Futures), among others for what should be some very interesting discussions.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

December 01, 2003

The Long Wave Perspective

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

Andrew Anker at VentureBlog suggests in Accelerating Acceleration that technology adoption life cycles are compressing. Alex Pang at FutureBlog summarizes the points:

-The product uptake curve is accelerating
-The laggard market is disappearing
-New products will either open big or get killed early
-It's not about technology any more
-Early adopters will become a big enough group to serve on their own

Although I agree that that this may be happening in information technology related products and services (Andrew's examples are specifically consumer electronics -- DVD players, movies, Internet usage, Tivo), it is far from any general acceleration across all markets.

Just spend a minute with Derek Lowe as he discusses the continuing difficulties facing the pharmaceutical industry to see how technology adoption and diffusion is not accelerating everywhere. Instead, we are observing what economist Brian Arthur described as the coming information technology build-out.

By taking a broader historical view, as developed by Carlota Perez in her seminal work, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, we can see that we are nearing the fourth and final stage of the information technology wave. Indeed, it is by taking this longer term perspective that it is possible to see that within the next decade we'll be entering the neurotechnology wave, where NBIC technologies will converge creating entirely new markets with many of the same old adoption life cycle attributes.

Comments (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

November 17, 2003

NBIC: Neurotechnology Research Grants

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced additional funding for the neurotechnology research, development and enhancement program.

As I have written previously, neurotechnology is being driven by the convergence of advances in Nanotechnology, Information Technology, Biotechnology and Cognitive Science (NBIC -- pronounced N-bic). Mike Roco, the man who has spear headed the National Nanotechnology Initiative over the past decade, is now targeting the NSF's attention on creating a similiar initiative to understand how NBIC technologies will create new tools to enhance human performance.

I have grouped the examples used in the Neurotechnology Program Announcement into their respective technology sector to show that all four of these areas are required for neurotechnology to fully develop. I have also tried to find links to relatively close examples of each technology for those who wish dive deeper. (Many of these technologies could fall into multiple categories. For example, drug delivery systems are likely to require nanobiotechnology for significant breakthroughs to emerge.)

Neurotechnology Program Research Objectives

This program seeks to enable neuroscience and behavioral research by soliciting research and development of novel tools and approaches for the study of the development, structure, and function of the brain. Technologies that are appropriate include: hardware, software, and wetware (and combinations of thereof) that would be used to study the brain or behavior in basic or clinical research.

Nanotechnology
1. Nanocrystals or quantum dots covalently bonded to neural receptor ligands
2. Microfluidic systems for in-vivo spatial and temporal delivery of biomolecules
3. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) used for monitoring neurons
4. Nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) used for monitoring neurons
5. Amplifiers for mice to record neural activity from many neurons
6. Non-invasive optical imaging instruments
7. Tools for detection of acute neurological events
8. Improved electrodes, microcomputer interfaces, and microcircuitry

Information Technology
1. Software to translate neuroimaging data from one data format into another
2. Algorithms for understanding human neuroimaging data
3. Tools for real-time analysis of neurophysiological events
4. Dynamic monitors of intracranial pressure and spinal fluid composition
5. Devices for non-invasive diagnosis and precise identification of pathogens
6. Tools, technologies and algorithms for neuroprosthesis development
7. Non-invasive tools to assess damage, monitor function in brain tissue
8. Tools for data mining into genomics and proteomics of the nervous system

Biotechnology
1. Proteome analysis arrays, proteome data storage, analysis of proteome data
2. Genetic approaches to study structure or function of neural circuits in animals
3. Biosensors that would be selectively activated by neurochemicals
4. Delivery systems for drugs, gene transfer vectors, and cells
5. Probes of brain gene expression that can be imaged non-invasively
6. Genetic approaches to manipulate or monitor synaptic activity
7. Tools for intervention and prevention of acute neurological events

Cognitive Science
1. Non-invasive methods for in-vivo tracking of implanted cells
2. Tools to enhance visualization of specific brain markers
3. New methods to study neural connectivity in living or post mortem brain,
4. Tools for early-warning detection of imminent seizure activity
5. Methods to facilitate high-throughput analysis of behavior
6. Tools for therapeutic electrical stimulation for rehabilitation

Just as previous techno-economic waves have been driven by the convergence of multiple technologies from different sectors, so too will the neurotechnology wave. To understand how our emerging neurosociety may take shape, it is critical to understand how the NBIC convergence will drive the neurotechnology wave.

All thoughts and comments welcome. If there is a request I will start a NBIC wiki for those who are interested.

Comments (3) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

May 27, 2003

Dear Mr. President

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

Earlier this year John Brockman amassed 100 of America's leading scientific thinkers to answer this question hypothetically asked by President Bush:


"What are the pressing scientific issues for the nation and the world, and what is your advice on how I can begin to deal with them?"


Insightful responses covered topics from global bioterrorism to increased funding for science education, but none addressed the issue that I believe will impact humanity most in the coming decades.  While a few people like Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel, Mary Catherine Bateson, Steven Pinker and Steven Quartz pointed in the right direction, the remaining gap motivated me to send the following letter to the President.


----------------


Dear Mr. President:


Emotions drive human society. Fear and anger easily bumping conscious thoughts out of our awareness, while wishing that anxiety or depression would go away just doesn’t work.  


Advances in brain science and biotechnology will soon change this reality by making it possible for individuals to significantly control their mental health.  With an initial focus on reducing the severity of mental illnesses, the same technology will also make it possible for each individual to enhance cognitive clarity, emotional control and extend their senses. 


When people begin to influence their emotions, how will this impact corporate innovation, political opinion and personal relationships?  When individuals can enhance memory recall and accelerate adult learning, how will this change the basis of competitive advantage?  As it becomes possible to safely extend our senses of sight, hearing and taste, what will this mean for artistic exploration and entertainment?


Just as the wheel, steam engine and electricity shaped the course of civilization -- the emerging tools of neurotechnology will create new industries, new forms of political organization and new modes of artistic expression. 


Neurotechnology's ability to temporarily influence an individual's mental health will have more profound implications for humanity, in a much nearer time frame, than genetic engineering for several reasons:



  • Neurotechnology is temporary: Human genetic engineering won't become widely adopted until people can experiment with less permanent tools 
  • Social acceptance is proven: Humans are already using first generation neurotechnologies on a vast scale.  For example, 17% of the US white-collar work force is currently using anti-depressants
  • Regulation and distribution systems are in place:  The FDA and pharmaceutical development and distribution systems are already globally trusted processes

In fact, as neurotechnology develops it may turn out that in a majority of situations humans will choose neurotechnology instead of genetic engineering to combat disease and enhance themselves because of the versatility it offers.


The policy implications of neurotechnology's emergence include:



  • Ethics: A national neuroethics discussion should be promoted to compliment your focus on bioethics.
  • National defense: Neurowarfare capabilities need to be researched while programs that are already exploring neurotechnology's potential like DARPA's Human Performance Augmentation program should be expanded.
  • Economic competitiveness: Mental health is the ultimate competitive weapon.  Neurotechnology represents new tools to enhance mental health and will create new forms competitive advantage.  To ensure American companies prosper in the coming years a focus should be placed on accelerating brain imaging and biochips technologies.

Neurotechnology's capacity to allow individuals to influence their emotional, cognitive and sensory states represents the most transformative force that human society will experience in the next 25 years.  This reality should be reflected throughout your administration's agenda.


Sincerely,


Zack Lynch

Comments (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

March 04, 2003

Navy Seals to See with Their Tongues

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch


It turns out that the tongue is the ideal interface through which to obtain additional information about the environment. 


U.S Navy Seals are currently in the exploration phase of testing a device that will help them "see" in soupy-water environments.  The plastic oral retainer device is connected to a infrared camera that transmits information to the tongue via 100 different microscopic metal points.  This seems to be enough information to be able to navigate successfully in a 3-D environment. 


Unlike every other part of the body the tongue has no dead layers of skin, the saliva conducts electricity well, requiring only 3% of the voltage of normal skin.  According to one prototype user, "it feels like pop rocks candy."

Comments (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

February 16, 2003

LUXurious VC for NBIC

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

Josh Wolfe of Lux Capital shared his vision of how public and private capital will fund NBIC-oriented companies. Not shy to admit that his fund is just getting interested in companies that go beyond "ordinary" nano-material science, Josh gave a clear "thumbs up" to the long-term viability of the nano-biotechnology market.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

February 08, 2003

Cognitive Liberty and Responsibility

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

Wrye Sententia spoke on the work being done by the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics (CCLE). She argued that the U.S. Constitution's framers innately understood that mental freedom actually precedes freedom of speech in terms of an individual's right to privacy.


In regards to coming neurotechnologies she asserted that it is an inherent American Right to have freedom from them and freedom to them. Audience members agreed with the caveat that their is an equal right to be responsible.


Watch the neuroethics debate with great interest, it's important to us all.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

February 07, 2003

Slick Nano-Slime

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

Carlo Montemagno gave an incredible talk on how his UCLA biomotor group has developed artificial nano-slime (otherwise known as actin-based nanorobotic systems). Heavy into biomimetics (mimicking nature) he has developed a working model that shows real promise. After having tried to design nanosystems for almost a decade, he finally turned to nature's rules: local communication, no central processing, fully distributed, and stupid agents that follow simple rules. Check out the videos!

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

Roco Covers all the Rocks

Email This Entry

Posted by Zack Lynch

Mihail Roco, conference co-chairman and primary NSF supporter of the NBIC initiative gave a 10,000 ft. overview of the past two years of work around NBIC. Having been the key architect behind the National Nanotechnology Initiative and having helped its research budget grow from $116m in 1997 to $700M in 2003, Mike is now looking to do the same with NBIC.


Mike's vision is right on target. He constantly cajoles speakers and participants to think about the social implications of bleeding-edge technology, while also attempting to keep everyone focused on the goal of enhancing human performance. His five areas of interest:

  • Expanding human cognition and communication
  • Improving human health and physical capabilities
  • Enhancing group and societal outcomes
  • National security
  • Unifying science and education
  • Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05

    A Politician Who Gets It

    Email This Entry

    Posted by Zack Lynch

    Philip Bond gave a thoughtful, truthful and inspiring lunch-time talk on the value of honest communication with government representatives. Calling on NBIC experts to fly to D.C. to share their views on the importance and reality of NBIC, he sketched a realistic portrait of the US body politic.

    Most insightful comment: "When the horse-less carriage was invented, the City of San Francisco required that users park outside of city limits and ride a horse the rest of the way." He knows his political economic history and our political reality.

    On a personal note, Philip suggested that he is starting to feel that it would be nice to have a cognitive enhancer focused on helping him remember people's names, but the truth is that if you are as caring a politician as he is, you'd have to remember quite a few names. Sometimes people underestimate what they do.

    Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: NBIC 03-04-05