Eric Holloway: Human-derived organoids learned faster than AI and always outperformed mouse-derived organoids in terms of volley length, raising troubling questions:
A couple other interesting results from the research. First, human-derived organoids always outperform mouse-derived organoids in terms of volley length. Second, even without negative feedback, when the paddle missed the pong ball, the organoids still learn to increase volley length.
The scientists hypothesize that this is because long volleys are more predictable than the random resets generated when the paddle misses the pong ball.
Overall, fascinating research. But, it raises the troubling question, are these brains conscious? The brains certainly are learning, and insofar as the brain has to be conscious in order to learn, then this implies the brains are indeed conscious. And what if this technology becomes mainstream and we have embedded human brains powering our home appliances?Eric Holloway, “Are the brain cells in a dish that learned Pong conscious?” at Mind Matters News ()December 27, 2021)
Takehome: The ethical dimension of the organoid research — largely ignored in the news — is the reverse light it casts on the value of human life. A number of organoid experiments do use human embryonic stem cells. If we are worried about the consciousness of the derived organoids, are we likewise worried about the consciousness of the beings from whom the stem cells are derived? We dehumanize them through terminology, calling them “fertilized eggs” or “blastocysts.” Yet these little collections of cells are far more likely to turn into conscious human brains than the organoids in the scientific experiments.
You may also wish to read: University of Chicago biochemist: All living cells are cognitive. James Shapiro’s recent paper points out, with examples, that bacteria meet the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “cognitive.” Future debates over origins of intelligence, consciousness, etc., may mainly feature panpsychists vs. theists rather than materialists vs. theists.
Note: Because the organoids are described as a Matrix theme in some quarters, you may also wish to read: The Matrix Resurrections: The studio is making us do this! Mark Zuckerberg, eat your heart out. If there is one word to describe this movie, that word is Meta. Agent Smith — now a cooperate bigwig — informs Neo that they are making the Matrix Trilogy, now a video game, into a new franchise, with or without his consent. (Gary Varner)