From LSD to AI with Switzerland's Brain Explorers | Hello World with Ashlee Vance

From LSD to AI with Switzerland's Brain Explorers | Hello World with Ashlee Vance

Introduction to Swiss brain research

  • Switzerland has a long history of being obsessed with the science of the mind.
  • Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman was the first person to synthesize LSD.
  • Swiss labs and medical companies continue pushing the frontiers of neuroscience, computers, and AI.

Restoring mobility with spinal implants

  • Onward, a Swiss company, has created a technology to help reconnect paralyzed people's brains with their bodies.
  • The technology involves implanting electrodes on the spine to stimulate the disconnected part of the spinal cord.
  • Patients with spinal cord injuries regain movement in their legs through electrical stimulation.
  • The treatment also helps regulate blood pressure, improving patients' quality of life.

Using brains to improve artificial intelligence

  • Researchers at Swiss research institutes are studying the brains of animals like mice and flies to understand how they learn and adapt.
  • By recording neural activity in these animals, they hope to inform and shape AI algorithms.
  • The goal is to create highly capable robots and improve artificial intelligence.

Inducing ghostly presence in a controlled experiment

  • Neuroscientist Olaf Blanke conducts experiments to induce the feeling of a ghostly presence using virtual reality (VR) and robotics.
  • These hallucinations are a common symptom of Parkinson's disease.
  • The experiments could serve as an early warning system for Parkinson's or other neurological disorders.

The intersection of neuroscience, AI, and engineering

  • The fields of neuroscience, philosophy, and engineering are converging to unravel the mysteries of the brain.
  • Collaboration and expertise from various domains are necessary to understand the complexities of the brain.
  • Switzerland's brain research complex continues to explore and push the boundaries of our understanding of the mind.

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