“Retrosplenial cortex map the conjunction of internal and external spaces” was recently published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience. The research paper authored by Andrew S. Alexander & Douglas A. Nitz discusses spatial reasoning and neurological systems that facilitate said reasoning. The paper makes the case that a “Retrosplenial cortex” is a densely interconnected intermediary which registers the animals special position in multiple spatial frames of reference.
In this study both allocentric and egocentric frames of reference are used to demonstrate the utility of the RSC. Allocentric refers to the outer boundaries of a perceptible world, not unlike the edges of a map in your favorite video game. The positions of power ups and planned paths taken to route an enemy also fall under the category of allocentric space. Egocentric frames are internal reference frames that in the context of navigation are motor and sensory correlates tied to specific actions. A pressure plate that opens a path to another unseen area of a game world could be considered an Egocentric frame in the context of this paper. Anything that while navigating causes you to consider a motor of sensory task which brings about something else is egocentric. This discovery has far reaching implications for technology and our understanding of navigation in general.
BUILDING A BETTER BUILDER
Imagine for a moment there is a massive assembly line building cars or complex mechanical parts, and suddenly something goes wrong. A single inch in the wrong direction or a slight skew of alignment in an automated system like those in an assembly line means certain failure. Now imagine if the mechanical arms and robotic appendages could “navigate” or compensate for failures in the positioning or spatial representation of parts in the line. Being able to teach or program a machine to navigate intuitively is an invaluable skill, one that google is attempting to do with their cars. The google car runs without a driver and can navigate most roadways, as this technology improves it won’t just be cars and assembly lines that can compensate for error.
SENTIA EX MACHINA
Nitz is collaborating with a colleague at UC Irvine to create an artificial neural network. The potential for understanding and solving navigation problems goes beyond anything a brainless slime mold can solve for us. Multi-leveled puzzles with thousands of moving parts and contingent events would be solvable in the same time it takes a calculator to do a math problem. The potential application of this navigational breakthrough would range from architecture to infrastructure and could revolutionize the way we travel, it could also do ~Other~ things.
THEY TOOK OUR JOBS!
We live in a world were automated systems are rapidly replacing the paying jobs of living breathing human beings. These automated systems are imperfect and lack the human element, but they also do not complain, feel tired, or require a paycheck. As our understanding of ourselves on a neurological level advances, so too does our ability to program and design systems. It’s easier to say that this advancement is a good thing or a bad thing without considering the larger implications. Some jobs like hazardous waste disposal and EOD are better left to lifeless drones that don’t have families waiting for them.
We need to decide how far is too far and what laws if any that potential future systems with advanced neuro-nets need follow. Politicians need to stop hiding themselves away and waiting for judgement day to come. Access creep in today’s world can lead to somebody getting fired or a company getting robbed blind, in the world of tommorrow it could mean an AI uprising. Rather than falling into the fever of a technological arms race, we need to make calculated decisions about what access, if any, that “AI” should have. Instead of waiting for legal and regulatory systems to catch up with, technology we should put measures in place to block or ban the linking of artificial neuronets with external or internet-facing systems. The construction of neuronets needs to be treated the same way an experimental disease is treated by the CDC. Special licensure should be a legal requirement in order to work with anything resembling an AI. Quarantines and redudancies will provide both saftey and certainty. When the dawn of the AI comes it must be because we have orchestrated it intentionally.