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China Communications Technology

Huawei Prepares For Robot Overlords and Communication With the Dead (bloomberg.com) 114

An anonymous reader shares a report on Bloomberg: Chinese technology giant Huawei is preparing for a world where people live forever, dead relatives linger on in computers and robots try to kill humans. Kevin Ho, president of its handset product line said his company used science fiction movies like "The Matrix" to envision future trends and new business ideas. "Hunger, poverty, disease or even death may not be a problem by 2035, or 25 years from now," he said. "In the future you may be able to purchase computing capacity to serve as a surrogate, to pass the baton from the physical world to the digital world." He described a future where children could use apps like WeChat (Editor's note: WeChat is a popular instant messaging app in China and other Asian markets) to interact with dead grandparents, thanks to the ability to download human consciousness into computers.For those unaware, Huawei is a major Chinese conglomerate. The company, known for its network equipment, last year got some spotlight for its Nexus 6P smartphone.
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Huawei Prepares For Robot Overlords and Communication With the Dead

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  • thanks to the ability to download human consciousness into computers.

    • You're right. We'll never be able to download someone into a computer. Best case scenario, we'll make a copy of someone's brain patterns and to us, externally, it will appear as the same person. But it won't be.

      • It's questionable whether consciousness would even work in a real computer, in the sense of the computer duplicating a neural net.

        Consciousness is a real phenomenon, and therefore arises out of real world physics, real atoms and energies, somehow. This is separate from the brain as data processor.

        You could duplicate the processes and still thus lack consciousness. Depending on how necessary consciousness is to intelligent thought, the virtual brain may not turn on at all.

        One thing is certain, though, cons

        • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Thursday May 12, 2016 @11:09AM (#52098743) Journal
          Neurological science still doesn't even have the foggiest idea how the human brain does all the things that it does, let alone what causes the phenomenon we refer to as 'consciousness'. Personally, I believe most of the problem there is the lack of ability to observe the machine in operation; our instrumentality is sorely lacking. Too bad it's not like a piece of machinery, that you can stop, dismantle, examine all the pieces and see what they do, blueprint the thing, then put it all back together and see it run again; you stop a human brain, it more or less starts turning into useless mush immediately, and there's nothing to see anymore.

          Of course I'm not all that certain that at this point in our social evolution as a species, that we should even be trusted with knowing all the secrets of how our brains work; I'd be afraid of the knowledge being misused.
          • Here [sciencemag.org] is a Lamprey eel brain in a robotic body back from 2000. We are making progress.
            • by Trogre ( 513942 )

              Yes, though to be fair to the GP that was essentially a black box experiment.

              They connected devices up to specific inputs and outputs without knowledge of the inner workings of the eel brain.

            • Well, that's not technically copying or downloading a consciousness, per se, that's just hooking up a brain to electrodes and reattaching nerve pathways. I say "just", but it is impressive; it's just not on the same level of understanding and manipulating the phenomenon of consciousness itself.
        • You could duplicate the processes and still thus lack consciousness.

          Bingo

          • If it's doing the same processes, following the same logic, making the same choices based on its same internal logic and memories, and producing the same output then how could it not be conscious? We already construct small systems that work on the same spiking neural network model that the brain uses. The system works without ghosts.
            https://www.elen.ucl.ac.be/Pro... [ucl.ac.be]

            What many people here are advocating is that there is some kind of magic ghost that rides on top your brain pulling switches and making everyth

        • Actually, there is some debate in the field as to whether consciousness actually exists at all - it may be simply a perceptual illusion created as a side effect of our brain doing purely mechanistic information processing.

          Not that I'd buy that personally, it seems even more unlikely (and irrelevant) than free will being an illusion, but it's good to keep in mind that at this point there's essentially *nothing* certain about the mechanisms by which the mind operates. Certainly there's no evidence whatsoever

        • I'm not too sure. My inkling is that consciousness is a necessary part of the feedback loop that makes the higher order decision-making system of our brain work. If all human-level decision-making would work fine even if we weren't conscious, then why would consciousness appear in the first place? It would be unnecessary, and we could envision humans who are identical to us, act just like us, yet have the "consciousness circuit" turned off even though the will insist they are conscious, write poetry and boo
      • by Empiric ( 675968 )

        So, then, I'd invoke prior art from two thousand years ago, and ask Huawei the natural follow-on question regarding their hypothetical product:

        "On the day when you were one you became two. But when you become two, what will you do?"

        (Thomas 11)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, 2016 @10:55AM (#52098605)

      thanks to the ability to download human consciousness into computers.

      Why not? My brother-in-law's consciousness would probably run just fine on a Commodore 64.

    • by lhowaf ( 3348065 )
      It'll never happen because you have to upload human consciousness into computers - you have to download it from the human brain.
  • Immortality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Thursday May 12, 2016 @10:53AM (#52098591)

    "Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon."
    (Attributed to Susan Ertz [wikiquote.org])

    I imagine that immortality would become quite a bore unless there were things to do in the eternal digital afterlife. Hopefully there would be some cool VR games that would be worth playing for a century or two.

    What would be great is to be able to put your consciousness into a drone-body or something where you could go off and do something useful and/or interesting, ala the Iain Banks uber-powerful and capable drone entities.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why a drone body? I've played RTS games, give me a dozen robo-servitors, one or more overhead viewpoints and a lag-free control UI.
      But also give them a programability factor for repetitive activity, no way I'm going to have a digital copy of myself stuck in trivial task micro-management hell.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We can give you a C compiler and you write your own afterlife.

    • Re:Immortality (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Thursday May 12, 2016 @11:14AM (#52098805) Journal
      One of my favorite authors is Larry Niven, and he's covered quite a bit about people who more or less live forever ('boosterspice'), and the effects it has on their personalities and the choices they make. Very often it isn't pretty; some would commit suicide, probably in some spectacular way; some would turn to crime; some would inevitably turn to a neverending quest for power. To be fair about it, some would turn to bettering humankind. But, when you've lived so long that you've managed to conquer and master every single interest you've ever had in your life, what do you do then? 'Idle hands are the Devils playthings' as the saying goes. Imagine someone like Donald Trump, except he never ages, lives forever, is essentially unkillable, and he's getting really, really bored as the centuries roll by; what do you think he's going to do? Don't know about you, friend, but the thought makes my blood run cold.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Imagine someone like Donald Trump, except he never ages, lives forever, is essentially unkillable, and he's getting really, really bored as the centuries roll by; what do you think he's going to do?

        I don't know, but that would be SO COOL!

      • Imagine someone like Donald Trump, except he never ages, lives forever, is essentially unkillable, and he's getting really, really bored as the centuries roll by; what do you think he's going to do? Don't know about you, friend, but the thought makes my blood run cold.

        Its not just Trump.
        Really how this will play out is those who can afford to "live forever", will.
        This will be a very small group of people who will get that opportunity.
        Those with that power, to see their agenda fulfilled, due to the fact that they will stick around much longer than "normal" sociopaths do, will try to shape the world as they see fit.

        Just imagine if someone like J Edgar Hoover or Stalin had stayed physically and mentally healthy, much, much longer than they did.

        • J Edgar Hoover or Stalin

          Why stop there? How about Vandal Savage [wikipedia.org]? Fictional character, I know, but we're more-or-less talking fictional things right now anyway (until if-and-when there's such a thing like 'boosterspice', so you can stay young forever -- or at least as long as you can afford the stuff). Been covered in other things I've read over the years, though, yeah. I don't think that immortality would necessarily be a good thing for humans, not as we are socio-politically right now.

          • I don't think that immortality would necessarily be a good thing for humans, not as we are socio-politically right now.

            Tru Dat.
            The technological change we are seeing now far outpaces the level of civil discourse, and most importantly, how human beings treat each other.

          • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

            That said, I don't think that comics do a very good job of modeling the life that a "real-life" Vandal Savage might have. A real immortal could end up dead or evil, or he could just as easily be really good.

            However, there is just as much possibility that a person like that could have a "blue/orange morality" as oppose to black and white, and be completely unpredictable.

        • It will only temporarily be an expensive thing, if it even is. Mass demand and production will make the price drop rapidly.

          A cabal of ultra rich hogging it eternally for themselves (much less keeping it pricey) is the stuff of dystopia fantasies and idiot shows like Family Guy.

          • It will only temporarily be an expensive thing, if it even is. Mass demand and production will make the price drop rapidly.

            Yeah, just like owning Teslas and Learjets and mansions, the price will come down until every bum and ne'er-do-well will be awash in them.

            Sorry, but I think the idea of "a cabal of ultra rich hogging it eternally for themselves" is far more likely than every Joe and Jane Sixpack having access to it. Most people can't afford a hip-replacement, what's the chance of them being able to pay for life extension treatments?

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        magine someone like Donald Trump, except he never ages, lives forever, is essentially unkillable, and he's getting really, really bored as the centuries roll by; what do you think he's going to do?

        Very little Trump's ability to do anything depends entirely on people willing to go along with him because of his celebrity or his Daddy's money. I say his Daddy's because Trump could have got better ROI just buying the DOW and holding than he has with his 'empire'. I say this as a Trump supporter (well since Cruz dropped out).

        No I would be much much more afraid of things really smart people who are content not being household names as long as they get pull the strings might do. Like say Trump's latest a

    • "Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon."

      I long for a world in which death is purely an option for the bored and unadventurous, thereby selecting them out of the population.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      You could easily find yourself bored, and that is a real danger, not simply with immortals, but with any leisure class. We've already seen the shit that aristocrats can get up to when they're bored and don't need to work to maintain their lifestyle.

      Of course immortality could also be an eternal life of everlasting drudgery. You're never bored, per se, but you're working on things you dislike, just to maintain your immortal existence.

    • I'm pretty sure I could entertain myself for all eternity given a sufficient supply of 4X games, at least, judging from the "played" time on some of them on my steam profile...
      • I'm pretty sure I could entertain myself for all eternity given a sufficient supply of 4X games, at least, judging from the "played" time on some of them on my steam profile...

        I understand this is meant to be humorous, but you're probably not even 50 years old, right? You can't imagine five thousand years of conscious existence (I know I can't). Get back to me after the first 100,000 years of doing whatever and let me know if boredom might just possibly be an issue.

        I'm rarely bored, but just thinking of 10,000 years of existing seems like a living hell.

    • by neoRUR ( 674398 )
      But unless they can make money or find a way to support them selves then no one is going to care. Are you going to pay your your downloaded great -great-grandmother to exist in the Immortality Net?
      • Are you going to pay your your downloaded great -great-grandmother to exist in the Immortality Net?

        I doubt I'd cough up the money for my own mother, frankly.

        Also, how many generations back are you going to pay for people who have little to nothing in common with you beside some DNA?

        For example, I doubt my great-great-great-great-grandfather and I would have a single common point of reference for anything.

        And the same goes for my great-great-great-great-grandchild. I'd be as alien to them as a creature from deep within the Magellanic Cloud.

    • I already spend my whole life on a computer connected to the internet, spending the afterlife doing the same thing doesn't sound bad at all!

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Thursday May 12, 2016 @11:01AM (#52098669) Journal
    In the future, you may be able to:
    • Download your brain into a computer construct
    • Step into a transport booth and instantly be anywhere in the world
    • Have Starships that travel many times the speed of light and take you to distant galaxies
    • Never age, never be hungry, never get a disease
    • Live in a world without poverty, fear, or war
    • Discover Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Gods are actually real, you can meet them and sit down and have a drink and talk to them
    • {insert other utter fantasy here}

    ..but it's not very likely any of those things will happen.

    Hurr, you have no imagination!

    On the contrary, I have a huge imagination, it's one of the things that makes me good at what I do -- but I also have a firm grip on reality and know the difference between it and fantasy -- and this guy from Huawei is spinning fantastic-sounding stuff just to get some attention. I rate it's credibility just slightly above things you hear out of North Korea.

    Fun to think about such things though. And, you never know.. but I'm not holding my breath, either; I recommend others do the same.

    • All of this is straight from a William Gibson book that i read maybe 30 years ago. It may have even a Chinese company that provided the service.
    • These things are not all equivalent.

  • Will it have version control so you can talk to young grandpa about things that matter rather than old grandpa, who can't remember who you are? Will you turn them off between interactions, or leave them running all the time so they can reflect all alone? How about interaction between these AI bots? would we allow them to talk with each other so they can plot the overthrow of meatspace? How about the next serial killer? Would you download his consciousness too so we can continue their incarceration? Wh

  • Huawei will never get any where near a us launch site. And what good will that cell network be after some nuclear winter?

  • It must be nice having one's job responsibilities be naming off science fiction movie concepts, rather than analysis and practical application of actual science.

    We have not even the broadest notion of how to "download human consciousness into computers".

  • I wish they would focus on their phones. My Ascend P7-L10 has NEVER had an update. A once flagship phone is still running Android 4.4.2.

    I don't need time travel. I need a reasonably up to date cell phone.

  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Thursday May 12, 2016 @11:16AM (#52098825)

    "Hunger, poverty, disease or even death may not be a problem by 2035, or 25 years from now,"

    What kind of an idiotic statement is this? Are they telling us that it is 2010? Any normal person (if a "normal" person were to say such a stupid thing) would say "by 2035 or 2040" or "by 2036 or 2041" or "twenty or twenty five years from now". Mixing dates and durations in the same sentence for different milestones just makes you come across as confused.

    • It's also idiotic because it patently won't or can't be true. So long as the world carries on broadly as it has done there will still be all those things for a large proportion of the world's population. Or was he just referring to himself and his kind who will have fucked off to some Elysium-style space station world?

  • We have the "technology" to end hunger today. We just don't have the will. The question is, are we somehow going to improve our character by 2035? I doubt it. Probably by 2035 there will be even better technology to end hunger, yet somehow there will be more of it.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )

      We have the "technology" to end hunger today. We just don't have the will.

      Not exactly true. What we don't have is an infrastructure necessary to get food to places that need it the most via a means that is economically sustainable. This is, at least in part, owing to limitations in technology... but more related to how expensive those technologies are to sufficiently deploy in areas that are inadequately served by them than because the technologies do not exist at all. Theoretically, as technology advan

  • Firstly, that a digital computer contained within this universe can accurately replicate the behaviour of a brain in real time, let alone the behaviour of the brain coupled with its body.

    Secondly, even if one comes up with a passable approximation, I remain to be convinced that my conscious experience will be transferred into the digital version so that the 'digital me' will not be a simulated prediction of who I am. The 'experts' tend to handwave around the difficult parts of matters like this, saying that

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      You assume that you are not, yourself, already being simulated... without you even knowing it.
  • Because all you are is a bunch of chemical reactions and mechanical synaptic firing, occurring in a miraculously organized soup of random intelligence, that can be decoded and "downloaded" to a computer.

    When you treat the human being as a machine, you end up with a dead world.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison

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