Robert L. Blum, MD, PhD




Sphere of Interest

WebBrain: AI
neurosci psych

Stanford Brain Lecture Notes

The RX Project:
Robotic Discovery

CV Biblio (1985)


Index of Essays

Psychology &
Neuroscience brain-icon

Computer Science,
Robotics, and AI

Health & Biotech

Earth Wisdom: Universe

Be Saved by Bob!!!
(And Other Balms )

Optimal Nutrition:
Are Fats Killers
or Saviors?


Consciousness Video:
Who, What, When?

Stan Dehaene's
Consciousness & Brain

Near Death Experiences: In the Desert With Pim Van Lommel

Fine-Tuned for Life?

Neuron Videos Say
Forget Realistic AI

EUV 2014 - Future of Moore's Law

BAM: Brain Activity Map of Spikes

Beating Jeopardy!
What is Watson?
AI Overlord or Tool?

SETI: Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

KEPLER Seeks Earth-like Worlds

STEVE PINKER in the Amazon: photos

Billion Year Plan:
AI Formulation

AI Awakens

CONSCIOUSNESS as Global Resonance

SEAN's Accident

Coronary Artery
CT Scan: Yes!

Book Review: TRANSCEND

Book Review:
Create a Mind

Does Drug X


Total Recall:
Everything, Always

Ralph Triumphs:
Elbot Cheers

Scientists &
Evangelicals Unite

Thomas Berry,
Geologian: Obituary

Calorie Restriction
Works in Monkeys!

TheBrain &
WebBrain: Review


Psych/NeurosciAI/RoboticsHealth/BiotechEarth Wisdom


Diplomate: American Board of Emergency Medicine

Diplomate: American Board of Internal Medicine

Research Affiliate: Stanford Center for Mind, Brain, and Computation

Emergency Physician: Kaiser Permanente, Northern California, ret.

Research Scientist (1981-1986): Stanford University, Computer Science Department
and Principal Investigator of the RX Project (Stanford University)

Science Advisory Boards: Brain Preservation Foundation and Lifeboat Foundation

Post-Doctoral Fellow: Clinical Pharmacology: Stanford University

PhD: Computer Science and Biostatistics: Stanford University

MD: University of California, San Francisco (neuroscience)

B Sci: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (mathematics)

Carmat: Artificial Heart Triumph
Carmat's second patient is now home (January, 2015) and cycling like mad.

Realistic AI? Not Possible Now;
New Videos of Neurons say "Forget It!"

Two new videos have just appeared in the prestigious journal Science.
The first is an animation showing the incredible level of detail at the synapse.
The second video, based on hundreds of electron micrographs stitched together,
shows the impossibly complex ultrastructure of the neuropil: the impenetrable forest
surrounding synapses.

The key question is how much of that fine detail must be modeled
to replicate the brain's performance. My guess is that much more is required
than is accounted for in current brain-inspired AI models.

EUV 2014: The Future of Moore's Law
Will Moore's Law soon hit a brick wall? To make sure it doesn't,
Cymer, ASML, and Intel have spent billions developing EUV lithography.
Here is the current state of EUV.

Stanford Neurosciences Institute 2014 Inauguration Videos
This was a total thrill: the launch of the SNI, attended by Stanford President
John Hennessy and NIMH Director Thomas Insel. These talks are all stellar.
Stanford Neurosciences Institute website is here. SNI is directed by
Prof. Bill Newsome, who was tapped by NIH Dir. Francis Collins to co-direct
the Obama Brain Initiative Working Group. How important is SNI?
The old COGEN building that will be scraped before constructing the new HQ
prob. cost > a hundred million translated into 2014 bucks. Stanford is forever
abuzz with exciting neurosci, cog sci, and AI/robotics.

BAM - Brain Activity Map: Every Spike from Every Neuron
In 2012 a blue-ribbon panel of nanotechnologists and neuroscientists from
the Kavli Foundation proposed creating an incredible new set of tools to enable
the visualization of every spike from every neuron in brain-wide regions in real-time.
The resulting functional connectome would greatly advance brain science and its simulation.
Enthusiasts included NIH Director Francis Collins and Pres. Barack Obama. This project
became the ten-year scientific moon shot presented in the 2013 State of the Union!
That project is now the (Obama) Brain Initiative.

My Book Review of Stanislas Dehaene's Consciousness and the Brain

Popular: Let the AIs, not us, formulate a billion-year plan!
Recently the (Ray) Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence (KAI) newsletter ran a major article
by Lt Col Peter Garretson (US Air Force)) entitled What our civilization needs is
a billion year plan
. Here's what made me bristle in that article: 1) strong advocacy of
manned space programs, 2) using those programs to rescue humanity, and
3) pushing the notion of trillions of humans spreading throughout the galaxy.

My rebuttal in KAI argues that 1) manned missions, costing 100X the price of science-based
launches, are a waste of precious NASA resources better spent on robotic probes and rovers,
2) humanity is already choking off the biosphere of Earth - we don't need trillions more
in space, and 3) humanity is a stepping stone to the profound intelligences
soon to emerge
(< 1-2 centuries) that will be the great explorers and engineers of space.

Essential Reading: Optimal Nutrition: Are Fats Killers or Saviors?
We are each a community of 10 trillion cells in dynamic equilibrium with what we eat.
So, what should we eat? How many calories per day? How much fat and what kinds of fat?
Controversy abounds, but it's essential to get it right. I examine the issue in detail
and show you the best videos and articles available free on the internet.

I have been fascinated by the neurobiology of consciousness for fifty years. How is it possible
for neural circuits to produce pain, pleasure, and our entire perceived world?
Is it possible for robots to be designed with pain, pleasure, and a subjective world?

Online Video: Consciousness: What, Who, When, and Why
(an introduction to the scientific problem of consciousness (for a general audience))

Updated WebBrain of Cognitive Neurosci and AI:
A Repository of 7000 Links to Cognitive Psychology, AI and
(the public half of my 14,000 node private collection.)
(updated December, 2014 - News flash: my in vivo brain is still only 1½ quarts and shrinking.)
Also see my notes on recent Stanford Cog Neurosci/ Psych lectures here.

Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Life?

My Stanford Lecture Notes 2014: Cognitive Neuroscience and AI
(You won't find any of these lectures anywhere else on the web; Stanford is in the forefront
in opening online classes to the world. But most of the lectures I attend are not available except here.
Also look in my WebBrain for archived lecture notes.)

My Sphere of Interest
A summary that integrates my various areas of academic interest with long-term
societal goals. History is a race between education and catastrophe. H G Wells

SETI: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Near Death Experiences: In the Tucson Desert with Pim Van Lommel

With STEVE PINKER in the AMAZON - Cognitive Science in the Jungle

Voted Best Article on Watson by Quora:
Beating Jeopardy! What is WATSON? AI Overlord or Tool?

Kepler Seeks Earth-like Worlds

Google Goes Into Robotics Big-Time
by buying up several robotics start-ups. Here are videos of their acquisitions.)
The upside: those firms have stable funding. The downside: they've been
sucked into invisibility by the Google black hole

Allen Brain Institute Symposia Video Archive
A magnificent collection of lectures presented by some of
the world's top neuroscientists to the world's top neuroscientists.).
(Imagine Sir Isaac Newton giving a powerpoint pitch to Queen Ann.)

Stanford Center for Cognitive and Neurobio. Imaging (CNI):
Inaugural Event videos, March 22, 2013

An outstanding video collection by some of the world's leading experts in
fMRI and cognitive neuroscience. Includes lectures by Marcus Raichle,
Leslie Ungerleider, Nancy Kanwisher, and many others.)

Consciousness as Cortical Global Resonance

Computational Models of the Neocortex: Stanford: Spring 2012
Tom Dean, Google researcher and former Chairman of Computer Science at Brown,
taught a course at Stanford in computational models of the neocortex in spring 2012.
I audited the course, which featured weekly visits by top computational neuroscientists.
Tom's materials for the course include many must-see, up-to-the minute videos and pdfs,
including the latest from Bruno Olshausen, Ed Boyden, Sebastian Seung, Stephen Smith,
Markus Meister, Dharmendra Modha, Henry Markram, and others.

Is Microsoft Broken? My Struggles with Windows 7
I now enjoy Win7's features but getting there was a major struggle,
battling Restore/ Recover options that didn't work. Perhaps the CIA tolerates
Chinese theft of Microsoft software as a means of reducing China's productivity -
kind of like Iran and Stuxnet. My photos contrast a Microsoft Store and an Apple Store.

Book Review of Ray Kurzweil's How to Create a Mind

Book Review of Kevin Kelly's What Technology Wants

On a Planet Near You: Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror
On Sunday, the 5th of August, 2012 NASA's one ton rover, Curiosity, landed
on the surface of Mars. To do so it had to slow itself from 13,000 mph using a tightly
choreographed sequence involving a parachute, retrorockets, and a sky crane with tethers.
Here is a superb collection of hi-res photos of Curiosity on Mars. And here is a
wrap-around panorama of the Marsian landscape showing Gale Crater and Mt. Sharp.

A Review of Intel's 320 series, 25 nm Solid State Drives,

Total Recall - Technology Wants Everything, Everywhere, Always

Artificial Consciousness? Digital Computers, No: Silicon Networks, Maybe!
A response to David Gelernter's AI is Lost in the Woods

Against the Wall, Behaviorists! Get Conscious Now! Read William James!
America's towering intellectual of the nineteenth century,
James' descriptions of the self were decades ahead of his time and
as aesthetic as the prose of his younger brother, Henry James.

Stanford Center for the Explanation of Consciousness
(I regularly attend this series featuring some of the foremost philosophers
of mind; recent talks were given by John Searle, Paul and Pat Churchland,
Owen Flanagan, and Pat Suppes - highly recommended, if you're in town.
Bob's WebBrain contains all my notes - search CEC or Skokowski (as in Paul, our director.)

Book Review of TRANSCEND: 9 Steps to Living Forever

Review of Why Red Doesn't Sound Like a Bell:
Understanding the feel of consciousness
by Kevin O'Regan

The Internet Rises to Self-Understanding:
Kevin Kelly's Global SuperOrganism

Singularity Summit 2010: Aug 14-15: San Francisco:
Detailed Lecture Notes and Transcriptions

URGENT EVOKE: Save The Planet via Video Games! (?)

Robot Scientists Automate Discovery

Phil Zimbardo's Secret Powers of Time

Salman Khan teaches the world science and math

Review of Manna: Two Visions of Humanity's Future by Marshall Brain
Future AIs may act as enslaving Big Brothers or as empowering liberators.

Antidepressants Don't - Ketamine Does
Increasing evidence suggests that antidepressants mainly work via a placebo effect.
See Lesley Stahl's interview of Harvard's Irving Kirsch on the TV show 60 Minutes.
Also, ketamine general anesthesia may acutely resolve severe depression.

Sir Martin Rees: Humanity's Final Hour
Only have a few minutes to spend checking out my website?
Here's how to do it. Go directly to Sir Martin's TED lecture (and skip everything else.)
Extinction level threats to humanity need to be front-and-center on the internet.

There is a view, gaining traction in some circles, that superintelligent AI
is so imminent that it dwarfs other more prosaic existential threats. I regard
this view as erroneous (super-human AI is NOT imminent). Furthermore,
this sensational forecast may only serve to further weaken
already anemic efforts to lessen real existential dangers: nuclear war,
ecological calamity, and proliferation of bioweapons.

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