View Full Version : Pilots to be replaced by brains in jars...

23rd Oct 2004, 14:43
University of Florida scientist has grown a living “brain” that can fly a simulated plane, giving scientists a novel way to observe how brain cells function as a network.
As living computers, they may someday be used to fly small unmanned airplanes or handle tasks that are dangerous for humans, such as search-and-rescue missions or bomb damage assessments.
“Initially when we hook up this brain to a flight simulator, it doesn’t know how to control the aircraft,” DeMarse said. “So you hook it up and the aircraft simply drifts randomly. And as the data comes in, it slowly modifies the (neural) network so over time, the network gradually learns to fly the aircraft.

Full story here (http://www.napa.ufl.edu/2004news/braindish.htm)

23rd Oct 2004, 14:54
A load of cobblers. Everyone knows that "Rat Brain" tissue is only suitable for "upper airline management", not actual flying as in being a pilot.

edited for missing word due to my sheep brain graft of 10 years ago. It's not that baaaaaaaad though.

23rd Oct 2004, 15:00
Monkey see....Monkey do...What's new? :}

Onan the Clumsy
23rd Oct 2004, 15:27
If they use brains in jars as pilots, what'll they do with the dog?

Kaptin M
23rd Oct 2004, 15:29
Autopilots have been doing this stuff for decades - come to think of it, so have pilots :} but when something out-of-the-ordinary crops up, the a/p is "overridden" for the Safety of pax, crew, and the aircraft.

Re-inventing the wheel??

It might come in handy for doing boring, repetitive, mundane chores, such as everyday accounting, load control, cabin cleaning, and airline management, and other menial chores, where it's unnecessary to have a requirement for any lateral thinking. :yuk:

23rd Oct 2004, 16:57
..pilot's brains in jars.

This could lead to passengers finding themselves in a pickle.

I must admit I've been feeling somewhat remote lately.

Will this all come under JAR-OPS?

23rd Oct 2004, 17:37
Short TV report (http://netscape.feedroom.com/x/smil.jsp?mode=compact&&sid=FEEDROOM85547&c=tech&uk=1098536584696.0.b6wmoBztauo4&vc=1) on the same thing (RealPlayer).

The desktop flight simulator they're using is X-Plane (http://www.x-plane.com) by Laminar Research, by the way.

Tower Ranger
23rd Oct 2004, 17:46
Aparrently there are plenty of pilots with the space for a retro fit.

23rd Oct 2004, 18:16
Where will these new pilots store their egos? How will we hear their excessively tedious voices? Will Breitling find a new strap so their watches will fit on the jar?

Onan the Clumsy
24th Oct 2004, 06:57
ok, sorry :(

24th Oct 2004, 08:29
More importantly will someone start a new forum like GJPRuNe where the Glass Jar Pilots can wade through idiotic and tediously moronic comments and topics from wannabe-GJPilots who know nothing whatsoever about flying from a glass jar or anything else about aviation...

24th Oct 2004, 14:37
Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the term "glass cockpit", doesn't it?

Mind you, I know of quite a few pilots who have been jarred from time to time too!

25th Oct 2004, 10:51
Discussion of this topic (intelligent niblets) seems to divide into a few lines of thought:

a) some think it is stupid, sacreligious, or demeaning to humans to contemplate manufactured components that "think"

b) others simply disbelieve that it is possible to replace human intelligence with off-the-shelf components made from (whatever)

c) a fair number (on pprune) are mostly concerned about the impact that smart niblets in a can might have on their job security

d) and a tiny fraction (in the local case, that would be me) think that off-the shelf "smartrons" are entirely possible and probably also a great idea.

I started thinking about this topic some 30 years ago...10 years after my first pilot's license and a few years after I had mastered the skill of designing commercial mainframe computers. Feeling plucky, I set out to invent machine intelligence of the real kind...back when it was not considered a very feasible concept.

Although I later repressed this mad-scientist tack (it didn't pay very well) and choicefully took another parallel direction careerwise, in some practical ways the mid-70's effort succeeded in developing actual intelligent-style decisionmaking in machines - which resembled neither biological nor software nor electronic nor mechanical models of thinking. Have one embodiment on the desk right here - as a paperweight. ... In the process, I quickly learned/understood that intelligent machines..whether following the biological model or more abstract models...were not just feasible but really inevitable.

I am personally ok with this understanding because I can largely bypass and ignore the philosophical need to see "reasoning" versus "thinking" versus "problem solving" versus "intelligent reflex response" .... and so forth... as uniquely human. Clearly not everybody is as comfortable with letting go another fixpoint of human identity.

So.. thirty years further thinking about this, and following its progress in the academic world out of a corner of me eye....tells me this:

a. doesn't matter what they're made of.. biological soup that thinks - as in the refereenced story - is quasi-equivalent to something that can be construed as software and tucked behind the faceplate of an efis, or the same result (a machine niblet that thinks) can be made out of silicon & stuff in an off-the-shelf LSI.

b. the question now is not "whether to believe in 'em", but "what to do with 'em".