When I was a kid, I scoured the pages of my ‘How Your Body Works’ book for hours. And not just to laugh at the willies. My kids are exactly the same, fascinated by the internal workings – brains, guts, other squidgy bits, and blood. They love the little cartoons of skeletons and men without skin, but could they handle a lifelike picture of a central nervous system?
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California-based artificial intelligence expert Matt Taylor has tweeted the below picture of “what humans really look like” – without the organs, skins, and bones, which Matt says are, in terms of consciousness, surplus to requirements.
“This would be conscious if still alive,” says Matt, who works in biologically-constrained machine intelligence for Numenta. Though I’m sure he’d agree it would be quite a miserable, horror-like existence, trapped in a giant jar and with only your bits to wiggle about for entertainment.
Here is what humans really look like. The majority of your body is there for mobility and interaction. The core of your self is captured in this photograph. This would be conscious if it were still alive. pic.twitter.com/PwyUbL6ihZ
— Matt Taylor (@rhyolight) February 27, 2018
Honestly, it looks like something that might end up fighting the Brundlefly in a crossover horror movie franchise. And it’s almost guaranteed to give the kids nightmares.
It’s not entirely clear where the pic comes from. One tweeter said it looks like a nervous system that was on display in the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons, while another suggested it could have been from the Body Worlds Exhibition. As long as it not something being kept in Matt’s (or anyone else’s) basement, we’re laughing.
To be fair, there are plenty of pics like this already online, but Matt’s tweet has struck a chord (the kind plucked straight out of your nervous system) because it’s caused a fair bit of banter about whether this “back to basics” human really could be conscious without its other body parts. Check out some of the debate below.
But the most interesting bit of it all is probably Matt’s follow comment:
“The human ability to manipulate biological life through DNA related discoveries is already here. We will be able to grow bodies at some point.”
Which is the last thing we need. A load of these horrible things being grown, all conscious and intelligent enough to escape their jars, build synthetic bodies, and take over the world. Will these scientists never learn?