This story has been reposted to HN a few times over the years. My reaction to this particular repost was to feel intensely guilty that so many people were still being tricked by the same old snakeoil. Then I looked up what the author had done in the subsequent years, and it's a pleasant surprise: DeMarse has worked on some wonderfully interesting projects which are quite unique.
I'm glad that I never tried to expose this "brain in a dish" as the lie that it is. Everyone deserves to make a mistake once in awhile, and his, I think, was merely to be flattered that reporters were interested in his work at all, which is quite a natural reaction. I'm sure he regrets that he wasn't as careful as he should've been with correcting the reporters' assumptions.
I don't know how to feel about that. If you find some time, would you mind evaluating my write-up at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=97299 ?
I'm wrestling with the moral implications of a scientist riding a wave of unfounded hype to raise public money for his own lab. Also, I don't know if that's an accurate description of what happened; it seems that way to me, but I'm worried I'm wrong. I'd be grateful to get your thoughts (and anyone else's).
Here is the pertinent reference in DeMarse's paper: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/23/28/9349.full.pdf+html
Now to answer what you asked me about. Do I think what DeMarse did is morally right or wrong? I do not want to pass judgement because I am still in school and don't have to worry about funding my own research. A professor I respect for his scientific integrity told me every scientist has a skeleton in their closet (referring to research projects). I think the fact that DeMarse's paper caught on like wildfire just goes to show you that a majority of Humans (computer programmers included) can be relatively stupid.
I'm about 99% sure that I'm not just a brain in a dish plugged into a simulator.
It looks like they're using a combination of high and low frequency pulses as a reward/punishment mechanism, though I don't fully understand how that influences the decisions being made. Would love if someone could explain it in more detail.
Because flying a jet isn't all that impressive!?
I'm still impressed that an artificial brain was able to do it.
But that's unfair. F-22's don't have to reproduce.
Yet as a developer I still have the uneerie feeling that all this data ought to be in a database and such a page content should be autogenerated with a single query.
Regarding the other comment that was asking about how flying a jet might be insufficiently advanced: basically it's just wired up to Microsoft Flight Simulator, and the neural outputs are hooked up to the essential inputs and controls of the simulator. Hooking up an actual tissue culture with an electrode array tends to be more difficult (or at least more work) than wiring up keyboard bindings to a weight-summer network thing.
This is a fundamental question when doing rat studies, you would like the regions of the brain your are affecting in the rat to be similar to the regions you would find in a human brain.
IMHO these things cannot be considered in isolation. We as society should really start talking about our progress and where we want to go, instead of a few people being into it, the rest feeling threatened. We can do better, and we surely have to the tools for it.
Okay, here is what actually happens. Neurons don't usually differentiate. So instead, cancerous neuronal cells are commonly used (neuroblastoma cells). Basically, these neuronal cells have decided to divide rapidly. You simply place these cells in a serum of growth medium consisting of protein, sugars, and salts and watch them divide over the course of a few days.
It would be nice to use stem cells instead or cancerous cells... but that is another thread entirely.
Answered a lot of my questions about how the brain was cultured and stimulated.
[See "The Game of Rat and Dragon" if you don't get it.]
The Brain: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky—try to take over the world!"
Presumably someone, somewhere has a bathtub of human neurons and is probably using them to try and predict the stock exchange.
That's nothing. I've seen -- with my own eyes -- places where they have entire office floors or even buildings full of whole human bodies stationed trying to do the same thing.