Interesting idea raised by Jimmy in another thread - if an advanced race fully understood their DNA they could recreate themselves as they saw fit.  Topic for discussion: What would be the ultimate modifications?

I'm imagining almost all brain, living in an almost indestructible metal shell connected to robotic limbs that could be changed out as necessary.  What do YOU think?

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I don't actually think your eye example is all that far away. Another decade, maybe two. But it will be electronics which get there first. The only real hurdle left is deciphering the electronic code the eye uses to communicate with the brain. Which is something we have made some decent progress in already with cochlear implants.

It might actually be a tight race between biology or technology granting us immortality first.

Neurological signals aren't purely electrical. They are electro-chemical. I don't think we are on the brink of turning information from a CCD to electro-chemical information just yet.

They are only electrochemical as they need chemical reactions to produce the electric signal that is transmitted to the brain through the optic nerve.

Anyway we can already turn information from a microphone into electric signals the brain can understand through the auditory nerve. Now i understand sight will be more difficult , but we already have proof that the basic idea behind it works.

We've sent electric impulses directly to the retinas to give sight to the blind.  So far I think they've only managed 32 pixel resolution, but that's pretty fantastic when you've been living with 0 pixel resolution.

Yes, the basic mechanics are understood and have been for years. I saw a brief segment perhaps over seven years ago in which a completely blind man was provided enough vision to safely drive around a parking lot at a slow pace. Prosthetic limbs which attach to our nerves have also been developed and refined for probably over a decade. I believe a lot of it comes down to technological barriers at the moment.

That is amazing, but it sounds like we're still a long long way from giving people anything close to normal sight.

They are only electrochemical as they need chemical reactions to produce the electric signal that is transmitted to the brain through the optic nerve.

The chemicals enable awesome (and sometimes unpredictable) complexities in neuronal behavior and interaction between brain parts, whether the chemicals are system-wide (e.g. hormones), at a modular level (e.g. for sensory processing or motor control with feedback), at a cellular level (e.g. when glial cells help mediate a multitude of growth connections between neurons), or at the synapse level where all kinds of analog activity has to happen before a neuron fires off its electrical signal.

So by directly inducing electrical currents we are bypassing a lot of the chemical based processing factors of the brain?

Yes, although I shouldn't have interjected that argument here, in the case of retinal stimulation. There is some chemical/analog processing that occurs between the retina and the optic nerve before electrical pulses are sent to the brain, but those complexities either aren't insurmountable with new technology, or don't matter wrt directly stimulating the retina.

I meant to speak to other processes in the brain where the analog nature of chemical processes drastically complexify its digital nature. The chemical environment of neuronal interactions--especially inside synapses--can vary from one split second to the next.

Nah, it's a good place to bring it up.  When thinking about the problem of whether or not we'll ever be able to compute human consciousness, the issue of rather obscure clouds of chemical inhibitors/catalysts has never really entered my mind.  It updates my view of the brain from one of very complex circuits to something more like complex circuits governed by a weather system of sorts.

Custom built hormone/ neurotransmitter curves. I mean, imagine you were willing to tolerate a controlled low just to thrust yourself up to an absurd high at the right time, then level off gracefully instead of plunging into a swing of severe depression.

I think modern behaviorceuticals are almost at the point of being able to do this.

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