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Science

Mind Over Matter Patented

After an episode of Babylon 5 with a nice twist, Allan Doyle's contribution was somewhat spooky... Mindsong Inc (notice the Psi Corps sign on their page) has received U.S. Patent No. 5830064... the first patent for a device that can assess the influence of a person's mental intentions on the outcome of a random event. S: As Allan says "Gotta wonder what kind of range they claim to get...". If you take this to be true, should it be patented? If you take it to be false, it's another fine example that anything can be patented. They've got some paper abstracts online. They are a spin-off from Princeton University's Pear Program which has had some pretty interesting results. The beginning of their book is available online.
Princeton's experiment goes like this: Take a quantum device that produces a true random binary output (not like a the rand() function). Create a plot such that every time the device outputs a one, the line goes up, otherwise it goes down. Sit a human in front of the screen and ask it to mentally will the line up or down. It has an effect. Consciousness is misunderstood by Western Science, and this experiment is one of the first serious attempts at looking into it. My take is that I've seen this quite a few places over a few years, and have not heard much counter-evidence, but it's still hard to believe. However, coming from an AI background, the only difference I can see between my mental processing and what a computer can do is complexity (which I am sure we will master) and that I am conscious... and I don't see in what way consciousness helps me survive versus your average Zombie/Computer.

Remember that getting a patent does not mean very much. There is a possibly apocryphal story of a British inventor who wanted to prove that anything could be patented. So he patented a foolproof method to kill a fly: hit it with a large heavy object such as a hammer. He duly received his patent.

Finally this article is obviously controversial, being on the margins of modern science. It's very easy to flame, so don't bother. If you have some criticism of their method, some knowledge of value to the others, please contribute. But mindless flames waste everybody's time, and reflect poorly on you.

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Mind Over Matter Patented

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