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Expanding Human Umwelt

senses umwelt sensory augmentation

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#1
Hyndal_Halcyon

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Came across this talk by David Eagleman about creating new senses.

 

https://www.youtube....ist=WL&index=13

 

Brief Summary:

  • Brain does not care where sensations are coming from, but cares about what it can do with them, essentially making it a general purpose blackbox computer. 
  • Senses are simply swappable peripheral devices, since even the simplest animals are using similar architecture but having differently-tuned senses.
  • Our subjective reality is limited by our senses, but we can substitute senses we don't have using our other senses, such as translating spoken words into vibrational patterns on the skin.
  • The difference between accessing big data and experiencing it, comes with customized sense organs.
  • We can reduce the technological complexities of our own devices into biological sensations, such as translating the orientation of the drone you are flying into vibrations on your skin.
  • Scale that up and somehow, an airplane can become an extension of its own pilot's body.
  • Apply it on other senses and things, and we can feel our own microbiome, and be generally more aware of our whole body and our surroundings.

Here's what I think about it.

 

He's not exactly adding new sensations, but he makes a pretty good point of translating different types of data into preexisting sensory data. It's like learning new languages, but its still the same five senses associating meaning with complex sensory patterns.

 

Here's what I feel about it. 

 

If anybody here remembers my old post about bioengineered synesthesia, this is exactly what I mean.

 

Lacking primitive real-life marketable references at the time, I wrote something about improving eyesight by combining photosynthetic cells and polarizing filters on our eyes so that we can taste the sunlight as well as add radar and sonar capabilities for ourselves. I even imagined a quantum telepathic empathy through pheromones, in which emotions encoded in the quantum states of aromatic molecules ooze out of our skin and can be picked up and interpreted by supersensitive noses, allowing those who can smell our happiness understand our happiness as if it is their own.

 

But back then, I had to reinvent the entire body just to make it all sound plausible, which made it sound too farfetched and therefore improbable. 

 

And now, some other guy is doing it, and I ain't even mad. Albeit a bit crude to use wearable senses, it's all good hehe. I feel validated.

 

Here's what I want to know.

 

It's all kind of like an augmented reality, but with different types of data mapped into our different senses, creating a more intimate and personal understanding of "what's out there for our little brains".

 

Now, what other types of data do you want to be mapped into our different senses using what peripheral sensory devices?


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As you can see, I'm a huge nerd who'd rather write about how we can become a Type V civilization instead of study for my final exams (gotta fix that).

But to put an end to this topic, might I say that the one and only greatest future achievement of humankind is when it finally becomes posthumankind.


#2
funkervogt

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Here's an unmodified copy and paste of something I wrote about upgrading human vision:

 

 

This is the most interesting response: 'The answer really depends on how you define “we.” If “we” means current human beings, then the answer is a fairly definite “no.” If we allow for future evolution, then it is possible that humans might develop different types of color sensors in their visual systems and new types of processing to allow them to experience new color perceptions.'

 
Humans can see light beams that have wavelengths of 300 - 700 nm. We could use genetic engineering to change our eyes so we see wavelengths as low as about 100 nm, which is the ultraviolet (UV) part of the spectrum. This would definitely let us see the world in finer detail: clouds would look more distinct, flowers and human faces would look more detailed, and we'd be able to see more stains and residues on walls, floors and other surfaces. Objects that had electrical charge, like power lines and home appliances, would also appear to flicker, as if sparks were coming out of them every few seconds.
 
I doubt it would be possible or beneficial to try engineering humans to see wavelengths of light that are less than ~100 nm though, since there are very few natural sources of that kind of light (ionizing radiation, such as X-rays).
 
Pushing the upper boundary of human vision would be worth it and is probably possible with genetic engineering since we already know some animals can see that part of the light spectrum. If you could see wavelengths of light up to 10,000 nm, it would mean you could see infrared light, and you'd have better night vision. Vegetation would also look more distinct and detailed, so a hedge of assorted trees, bushes, and other plants that today looks like a uniform mass of green to you would have more color variance corresponding to the species of plant and the health of each plant. Objects would also seem to glow "red hot" at lower temperatures than they currently do to your non-augmented eyes, so you would be in less danger of accidentally putting your hand down on a stovetop burner that you turned off a few minutes ago, but which is still 200 degrees F. Fires would also look brighter.
 
Since a photosensor (whether organic or artificial) has to be about the same size as a wavelength of light to detect it, we probably can't tweak our biology to be able to see anything about 10,000 nm since the we'd need to introduce large photoreceptor cells into our eyes (our existing rods and cones are much smaller than that) just to sense light at those upper wavelengths. We might be able to get around this through radical genetic engineering that would make our eyes bigger (like the melon-headed gray aliens), but I'm unsure if it would be worth the benefit.
 
Pushing our ability to sense light outside of the 100 nm - 10,000 nm range is probably impossible through biological tweaking, and would require us to start integrating cybernetic devices into our eyes and bodies. For example, if you wanted the ability to "see" UHF light, which has a wavelength of 10 cm to 1 meter, you'd have to surgically install a metal walkie talkie antenna inside your body and connect it to your brain with wires. I have no clue how you would perceive UHF light, or whether it would appear as a different color of light, or what benefit you'd gain from being able to detect radio waves.
 


#3
Hyndal_Halcyon

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Pushing our ability to sense light outside of the 100 nm - 10,000 nm range is probably impossible through biological tweaking, and would require us to start integrating cybernetic devices into our eyes and bodies. For example, if you wanted the ability to "see" UHF light, which has a wavelength of 10 cm to 1 meter, you'd have to surgically install a metal walkie talkie antenna inside your body and connect it to your brain with wires. I have no clue how you would perceive UHF light, or whether it would appear as a different color of light, or what benefit you'd gain from being able to detect radio waves.
 

 

 

Maybe we can put active metamaterials aranged as extra eyelids? That way, we can have lenses with variable foci and centers, mirrors with variable reflectivities and curvatures, and polarizers with variable angles and gratings. We would have a fully customizable visual spectrum, consciously controllable. But of course, we have to enlarge our eyes, possibly giving us catlike looks like the Na'vi, but with three additional eyelids.

 

I can imagine modifying chameleon and cuttlefish skin's color-changing abilities, but instead of structural and chemical pigments, we have epithelial tissues filled with metamaterial liquid crystals whose distribution, orientation, and composition can be changed subtly and allow us to shift and/or expand the visual spectrum to anywhere in the whole EM spectrum.

 

We can get rid of telescopes, microscopes, antennae, parabolic dishes, and whatnot, altogether. We can just move our eyelids a little and we can see anything in full color detail. Squint a little but focus far to see galaxies, squint some more but focus near and look at individual dust particles. Even detect and correct gravitational lensing, since we can also look at redshifts and blueshifts with the enhanced naked eye. Block entire colors with custom mirrors on our eyes. You name it, nothing can hide from our plain sight no more.

 

I mean, just imagine.


As you can see, I'm a huge nerd who'd rather write about how we can become a Type V civilization instead of study for my final exams (gotta fix that).

But to put an end to this topic, might I say that the one and only greatest future achievement of humankind is when it finally becomes posthumankind.


#4
funkervogt

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Why stay confined to an organic form? Why soldier on with wet, gooey eyes? 


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#5
starspawn0

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It's probably not just the spatio-temporal pattern of the data that is mapped to the brain, but also the wiring pattern of our brains. To get people to experience certain new sensations you may need to not only supply new sense organs, but also rewire the brain.

As to what data / sensations to experiment with, I've often thought it would be neat if we could make Relativity and Quantum Mechanics more intuitive, through the use of the right sense data. The reason these aren't intuitive is that they are barely noticeable at the everyday, human level of perception -- e.g. if we were just able to move a relativist speeds as easily as we walk, the effects of relativity would be much more obvious. It's not clear, though, what data patterns to supply to give that intuition, in the absence of the ability to move very quickly.

....

One thing I wonder about, regarding all these modifications, is how we fix the problem of "attractiveness". That is, modify yourself too much, and you won't look good. We are biologically programmed to find certain forms "attractive"; and that programming will need to be altered in tandem with body modifications. For example, a human with a 350 IQ, but an over-sized cranium, may be attractive to people who value a good mind; but I think the majority of people will declare them "ugly" -- "You can keep the IQ. I'd rather be a lot dumber, but look good."
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#6
Hyndal_Halcyon

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Why stay confined to an organic form? Why soldier on with wet, gooey eyes? 

 

Who said anything about organic wet gooey forms? Have you heard of iChells?

 

It's probably not just the spatio-temporal pattern of the data that is mapped to the brain, but also the wiring pattern of our brains. To get people to experience certain new sensations you may need to not only supply new sense organs, but also rewire the brain.

 

If you watched the video, the guy says the brain doesn't care where information is coming from and only cares what to do with it. I trust our neuroplasticity will handle that, if we don't consider redesigning the brain completely.

 

As to what data / sensations to experiment with, I've often thought it would be neat if we could make Relativity and Quantum Mechanics more intuitive, through the use of the right sense data. The reason these aren't intuitive is that they are barely noticeable at the everyday, human level of perception -- e.g. if we were just able to move a relativist speeds as easily as we walk, the effects of relativity would be much more obvious. It's not clear, though, what data patterns to supply to give that intuition, in the absence of the ability to move very quickly.

 

Maybe it's just like sensing magnetic fields with magnetites in bird's noses, or electric fields with shark's noses. We just need the right materials, so enter Endohedral Fullerenes, a new class of quantum dots built from a metal atom caged in a buckyball. The sheer sensitivity that these things can offer might give us a way to detect the slightest of environmental changes. Think GPS, but down to millimeter scale. LIGO, but built as an array of cells that use endohedral fullerenes. Maybe we can use them as qubits as well.

 

Now that you can sense gravitational fields, electromagnetic fields, electric fields, and magnetic fields alike, how much more intuitive do you want the fabric of reality to be?

 

One thing I wonder about, regarding all these modifications, is how we fix the problem of "attractiveness". That is, modify yourself too much, and you won't look good. We are biologically programmed to find certain forms "attractive"; and that programming will need to be altered in tandem with body modifications. For example, a human with a 350 IQ, but an over-sized cranium, may be attractive to people who value a good mind; but I think the majority of people will declare them "ugly" -- "You can keep the IQ. I'd rather be a lot dumber, but look good."

 

If you worry about messing up our proportions, I think we should keep them. Why not complement a larger head with a larger body entirely (by properly scaling up our biology, of course, so that we don't ran into problems with the square-cube law) ?


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As you can see, I'm a huge nerd who'd rather write about how we can become a Type V civilization instead of study for my final exams (gotta fix that).

But to put an end to this topic, might I say that the one and only greatest future achievement of humankind is when it finally becomes posthumankind.


#7
funkervogt

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If you worry about messing up our proportions, I think we should keep them. Why not complement a larger head with a larger body entirely (by properly scaling up our biology, of course, so that we don't ran into problems with the square-cube law) ?

 

You could get around the square cube law by engineering the giant humans to have stronger bones and muscles. I doubt this can be done through biological/genetic tinkering, so you'd probably need to make cybernetics and nanotech integral to the giant humans' growth and development. 

 

 

'Habib says even if a dragon followed all of his specifications, it could only grow up to about 1000 pounds without grounding itself—not several tons, like Daenerys’s children.

 
“They’re probably beyond the flight limit for any anatomy,” Habib concedes, “unless they’re secretly made out of carbon fiber and titanium.”'

http://mentalfloss.c...ed-some-experts

 

However, an "easier" solution might be to use radical genetic engineering to increase the number of neurons in a standard human brain while not increasing the brain's volume. Do that, and there's no need to scale up the human body to retain our current head:body ratios. 

 

 

Although many in the field expected the bird brain could be densely packed, the extent came as a surprise to the study authors. “My expectation was simply that bird brains should be different from mammals in size and number of neurons,” says neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel, now at Vanderbilt University, one of the senior authors on the paper. “But we didn’t have any idea that the difference would be so extreme that in a parrot brain you would have as many neurons as in a mid-size primate.”

https://www.scientif...-some-primates/



#8
Jakob

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One thing I wonder about, regarding all these modifications, is how we fix the problem of "attractiveness". That is, modify yourself too much, and you won't look good. We are biologically programmed to find certain forms "attractive"; and that programming will need to be altered in tandem with body modifications. For example, a human with a 350 IQ, but an over-sized cranium, may be attractive to people who value a good mind; but I think the majority of people will declare them "ugly" -- "You can keep the IQ. I'd rather be a lot dumber, but look good."

Not to mention, such an intelligence boost would cause massive isolation and psychological distress. Imagine being the only human in a world of chimpanzees and see how long you'd stay sane.


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#9
Alislaws

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With some sort of BCI or implant, you could make all kinds of changes without altering your core appearance.

 

You could hook up a whole bunch of different peripherals, so if you had a Vision Implant, you could put on IR sunglasses, which interface with your implant and let you see in longer wavelengths than would be practical in the human eye.

 

If you have a touch implant, which mimics information feedback from your skin, you could put some gloves on which give you the ability to feel magnetic fields etc.

 

This way you can experiment as much as you like without any surgery (except maybe for whatever brain implant your using) 

 

It wouldn't be so bad becoming intellectually isolated if, as soon as you're done pushing back the frontiers of human knowledge, you can  just turn your super intelligence off and go back to throwing poo with the other chimpanzees.







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