I Have This Terminal Disease,
It Moves So Slow It Is Killing Me!
One of 25 Best Alzheimer’s Blogs of 2012
Mike Donohue is a brave man. Courageous, direct, and bold, his blog energizes readers with a passion for action. Dementia Endured gives a hint in the title as to the nature of this talented writer: he will endure. And with a personality like Mike’s, it’s easy to believe that he shall overcome, as well!
His life experiences are opened to the reader, and his journey recovering from alcoholism to adjusting to Alzheimer’s holds its own fascination for visitors to his site. Mike’s strength and determination will remind readers that dementias are one area in which it’s best not to hold any punches.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
ANOTHER BOOK OF INTEREST EXPLORING TOPIC WHICH RELATES TO CHANGES WITH ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE.
I just finished a second book that got me to thinking even more about this. Robert Sawyer, a Canadian science fiction writer recently published WWW Wake . The book was fascinating. It is the start of a three book anthology on a number of topics having to do with the function of the brain, sight, words, images and Artificial Intelligence.
The main plot is about a blind since birth 16 year old girl who with the invention of a unique computer is able to see.
The computer built by a Japanese Scientist can be carried around like an Ipod. It receives and transmits wirelessly. Caitlan, the young lady, had a digital receiver implanted behind her eye where it could interface with the nerve pathway (Optic Nerve) coming from the retina leading to the brain. In the young ladies case she had a rare disease that produces a scrambled signal running from the retina reporting it to the brain. The signal is sent backwards and the brain cannot interpret it.
The interface from the computer interrupts the signals, takes it, unscrambles it, then sends it back on its way to the brain in a digital order that the brain can read and translate it to an image able to be recognized by the brain. This eventually worked and the Caitlan was able to see.
Like every good read the plot thickens in a very tantalizing way. While working to make the interface function properly Caitlan was limited to seeing the World Wide Web. In this process they discovered the existence of an intelligent digital signal lurking in the background.
Caitlan, a young genius, is able to identify the signal as that of an artificial intelligence (A-I) the source of which is not revealed in the first book. It starts as an intelligent but uninformed and un-developed sentient. Caitlan is able to communicate with the A-I, direct it into a series of programs on the net starting with the alphabet lessons she is taking on the net as a literate Braille reader but illiterate with the written word. From this she leads the A-I to a variety of WebSites, one of the first being Wikipedia. The A-I develops into a super intelligence.
A sub plot deals with a short vignette about Caitlan father, a brilliant scientist in his own right, who is autistic. There is a discussion between Caitlan and the Japanese Scientist about autism in which the professor tells Caitlan that many people with Autism think in images and not in words as normals do.
He explained that an infant thinks in images until it encounters and learns to speak. In the process of doing so it switches from thinking in images to thinking in words. An autistic person cannot make this shift and continues to think and interact with the world thinking in images. This makes many things difficult to an autistic person who has to work so much harder to assimilate communication with the world about.
It was this information that caused Caitlan to introduce alphabet, words, phrase, sentences, writing in general to the A-I. The professor suggested that at the time of discovery the A-I was doing what thinking it could do in images. It did not know writing or written words anymore than Caitlan did short of her literacy in Braille. To expand the intelligent horizon of the A-I she took it upon herself to teach the A-I to think in words.
Yet another plot running concurrently with the main plot is that of a Chimpanzee who has learned sign language as part of a laboratory experiment. The Chimp demonstrates its ability to paint pictures and at one point does a rudimentary portrait of his keeper. This was out of sight of the keeper and was done from the Chimp memory of what the keeper looked like.
This told the lab folks the Chimp, like all animals, thinks in images. Accordingly the Chimp was able to remember the appearance of what it had seen and then transpose a representation of the image on a picture painted by the Chimps memory of its image the chimp. That plot goes no further than introducing this set of events in the first book.
I have no idea where the anthology is leading but see the ingredients that I have been considering in looking at death and what Jill Taylor wrote of when writing about her stroke.
This series is on this Blog: My Alzheimer’s Afterthoughts written and posted to date in four parts:
# Part IV: TO CONTEMPLATE DEATH ONE CAN CELEBRATE TH...
# Part III: DEATH: IT’S WHAT YOU THINK OF IT THAT M...
# Part II: DEATH: IT’S WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT THAT COUN...
# Part 1: WHAT WAS > WHAT IS > WHAT IS YET TO COME