The false promises of Artificial Intelligence and the genuine issue of poverty and brain mal development

According to some, immortality is for tomorrow and the baby who is going to live 1000 years already born. There are now singularity universities, and the popes of this trend are relying on a heavy mixture of science fiction and prophecies. R. Kurzweil for instance has decided that the evolution will reach its climax in a mix of half humans half robots. One problem with these “prophecies” and theories is that they do not take into account the fact that history is liable to changes resulting from political struggles and the complex dynamic of societies. Nothing is fully programmed and wars, climate change, epidemic catastrophes or on the other hand, more efficient and wide spread health, politics and community engagements can attenuate these deleterious trends.

In the meantime, more stressing and obvious issues are ignored. Thus, recent studies have shown that hunger attenuation and food supply in malnourished children can not only ameliorate stunted growth but also cortical width and later IQ. Studies performed in Brazil, the Philippines, Peru, Jamaica and Zimbabwe have associated poor stunted growth with low school achievements and cognitive scores. More recently, a study in Bangladesh, financed by the Gates foundation has used EEG, MRI and near infrared spectroscopy in malnourished babies (2-3 months) and showed smaller volumes of gray matter.  A study on 130 children in Dhaka (36 months old) has shown distinct patterns of brain activity in babies with stunted growth associated with more activity in response to non-social stimuli (trucks). C. Nelson and colleagues (Boston and Dhaka) are now examining the outcome 5 years later in order to determine if the visual system development is affected in undernourished babies and children.

Another illustration of the need to take into account socio-economic and food intake in our understanding of how the brain develops and how it is altered with life long sequels.

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