by James Bailey |

Sociologists, who deal with aggregations of millions of people, have not traditionally had much overlap with brain scientists, who often deal with single neurons. Two articles this week suggest that this might be changing, with artificial intelligence providing a common language.

Prof. Christof Koch draws on the looming potential of joblessness at the society level to assert that we humans need to up our game all the way down at the neuron level. He sees the progress we are already making in interfacing human neurons to machines:

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Unlike say the speed of light, there were no known theoretical limits to intelligence… How can the human species keep up?… We need to enhance our cognitive capabilities by directly intervening in our nervous systems.

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Meanwhile Prof. Alex Pentland is operating all the way up at the human society level, using concepts from deep learning to improve performance globally.

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The idea of a credit assignment function, reinforcing "neurons" that work, is the core of current AI. And if you make those little neurons that get reinforced smarter, the AI get smarter. So what would happen if the neurons were people?

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Culture is something that comes from a sort of human AI, the function of reinforcing the good and penalizing the bad, but applied to humans and human problems.

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The range from a single neuron to a planet of people is quite wide. If AI is becoming a common language across this whole spectrum, would it not be a good idea to have our kids conversant in that language?

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