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DIGITAL PEOPLE

enhanced by emotions. Emotional states affect what the senses per- ceive; more surprisingly, too little emotion can prevent someone from narrowing down a menu of alternatives until a valid and rational choice emerges.

The links between reason and emotion might upset a treasured science-fiction notion, expressed in Isaac Asimovs I, Robot and other stories, that an unemotional artificial brain can make better decisions for humanity than humanity, burdened by emotions, can make for itself.This perception might prove to be an illusion if machine emo- tions are necessary to produce fully capable machine intelligences. If that is the case, it adds a new dimension to the construction of an artificial brain: It might be necessary to ensure that the brain includes whatever combination of rational and emotional systems is necessary for full creative thought and consciousness.

Even without emotional components, however, it is a challenge to make digital microprocessors that process information as effec- tively as the human brain. New designs and modes of operation of computer chips might be required to improve sheer processing power, and eventually to incorporate new functions such as emotions. As Rosalind Picard has pointed out,

There are certain ways in which emotion influences memory . . . that are not as obviously easy to implement in present machines . . . I would encourage some radical architectural rethinking and probable redesign.

No one seems to be actually working on an emotion chiplike the unit used by the android Commander Data in the Star rek series, but researchers are working to improve artificial brains by increasing the speed and capacity of present-day digital chips, and by designing new types of chips. Further off on the horizon is the possibility of using living neurons or brains in cyborglike arrangements. To understand these possibilities, we need to examine both organic and artificial brains.

GRAY MATTERS

Look at the surface of a human brain and you see gray, distinct from the innermost parts that are white. The gray surface is the cortex, a

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