Telekinetics: The Next Big Comm Technology?

February 28 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Entertainment   Year: 2008   Rating: 16

New brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are poised to increase human productivity, advance entertainment and transform social interactions. A potential catalyst for all the new media that’s emerging right now, such devices could play a game-changing role in the near to mid-term evolution of comm technology.

When I first read Emotiv’s announcement of a brain-wave reading headset my reaction was lukewarm. But then, as my brain rattled off implication after implication of this new comm device, it all sank in: “This is telekinesis. And it’s nearly market-ready!”

Subsequently, a quick search through the Future Scanner for similar material turned up a helmet that allows Second Life users to navigate their avatar simply by thinking about walking. Boom. Another BCI that’s nearly usable. And this one’s been around for three months already.

With monkeys controlling robotic arms, robots climbing stairs and cars parking themselves clogging my attentional input valves, it’s no wonder that BCI’s had evaded my innovation detectors…

After a bit of reflection, I’ve come believe that these technologies have the potential to truly revolutionize the way that we play games, drive automobiles, learn in classrooms, surf information and ultimately relate to other people—and not 20 years from now, more like 5-10 years.

A product that in 2008 lets you control a video game by adjusting your mental and emotional states is a big, big deal on the macro timeline of innovations. It heralds the beginning of a new era.

“The next major wave of technology innovation will change the way humans interact with computers,” says Nam Do, co-founder and CEO of Emotiv Systems. “As the massive adoption of concepts such as social networking and virtual worlds has proven, we are incorporating computer-based activities not only into the way we work, learn, and communicate but also into the way we relax, socialize and entertain ourselves.”

Nam Do may be selling his company’s system, but his message resonates with me.

Imagine what the near-term successors to these early BCI’s will mean for brain-to-brain bandwidth. Together with virtual worlds, augmented reality, new semantic technologies, (etc), they have the potential to “lube” social network effects in a fashion that no human has ever witnessed.

Sound the trumpets. Telekinetic interfaces have arrived and are here to stay.

What potential near-term applications can you envision for BCIs?

When will you purchase you own personal Brain-Computer Interface?

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Orgasm please computer.

July 08 2008 / by Virulent / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Relationships   Year: 2020   Rating: 12

An oldie but a goodie.

Brain-pacemakers are being used to treat patients suffering from severe depression and the potentials of the technology are being expanded on. What happens when brain stimulation is safe and not only reserved to people suffering from disorders?

“Brain pacemakers” are used to treat people who suffer from epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, clinical depression and other diseases. The pacemaker is a medical device that is implanted into the brain to send electrical signals into the tissue.

For those of you who don’t know what they are the paragraph above is the first sentence from the wikipedia article and as you can see the treatment the technology provides is quite vast and immediate.

Lets look down the winding road a little bit and consider what a world it would be like if these pacemakers become easy to implant and remove self maintaining and powering. A nanobot for stimulation?! what scientist would dare consider such a thing.

Well i found an article a while back in wired which had this to claim:

Implant Achieves Female Orgasm

One woman undergoing treatment for back pain may have discovered a cure for the thousands of woman frustrated by the inability to achieve orgasm. While Dr. Stuart Meloy was putting an electrode into the woman’s spine in an attempt to ease her chronic pain, he not only reduced her back pain, but gave her an unexpected – but delightful – side-effect. (cont.)

“She said, ‘You’re going to have to teach my husband how to do that’,” Meloy, an anesthesiologist and pain specialist in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said. The discovery is published in Wednesday’s issue of New Scientist.

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Lab wants to capture minds... Literally!

June 03 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 11 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

The mega-billion dollar Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) recently developed a new state-of-the-art facility – Janelia Farm Research Campus – to learn how brain cells store and process information.

Today, biologists can only observe a cell’s activity by indirectly analyzing chemicals it produces in response to stimulus. But what if you could take a picture of a brain cell at the very moment it recorded a thought? HHMI researchers believe this worthy goal can be achieved and they are rounding up some of the top researchers in the world to make it happen.

Janelia Farm will provide its world-class science team with near unlimited funds in a mostly unsupervised environment. “The Institute’s core belief is that scientists who demonstrate creativity and imagination make lasting contributions to benefit humanity when they are given flexible, long-term support and the freedom to explore,” said former HHMI President Thomas Cech.

Attempts to capture memories, personality, and feelings – elements that describe the mind – are not new. Researchers have successfully transplanted worm brains, and a proposal is underway to implant a trained mouse brain into a new mouse to see if habits and traits can be transferred. But the host body is destroyed in these experiments. (cont.)

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Japanese Researchers Close to Recording Your Dreams

December 11 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: Beyond   Rating: 11 Hot

recording.jpg

Researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have succeeded in partially translating brain activity in humans into images.  "While the team for now has managed to reproduce only simple images from the brain, they said the technology could eventually be used to figure out dreams and other secrets inside people's minds."  They honed the computer to each tested individual by showing them over 400 different images and recording how their brain reacted.  While successful tests have been run so far, the images used in the tests have been fairly simple ones such as the word "neuron."

Anyone who saw the movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within has to remember how the main character was able to record her dreams for later viewing.  And, true to fashion, the images were somewhat cluttered and fuzzy, an excellent representation of where the technology might be in 20 years (due to the erratic nature of dreams and the speed at which they occur, we may never be able to record a dream like we see it sleeping).  And while it may lead to reading minds entirely, the "secrets" the team refers to, this technology is universally wanted by gadget-hounds everywhere.  Controlling things with the mind will always be the end goal for all of these BCIs.

via Yahoo!

Apple Spins out MYEYES

April 03 2008 / by learner / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2020   Rating: 8

Jan 2020 – Today Steve Jobs announced the spinout of a new company, MYEYES, a most unusual announcement at his annual keynote. Mr. Jobs took this very unusual step due to his belief that the new software programming approach represented by MYEYES technology will revolutionize the treatment of many sensory impairments. MYEYES will release its first product on 1 July 2020 after it completes a fast track certification process with the US Government’s Health and Biotech Laboratory.

Some history will help you understand the magnitude of this announcement.

Historically most sensory impairments such as failing eye sight or hearing lose has been treated in one of two ways. Mechanical augmentation, both external(eye glasses, hearing aids etc) or internal(surgical repair or implants) and biologically with pharmaceuticals and recently dna driven repairs. MYEYES represents a third approach that has been in the works for the last 20 years, reprogramming the brain to modify signal inputs received from sensory organs by the brain.

(cont.)

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Brain research promises smarter machines, healthier humans

June 16 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Cognitive computing (computers that process information the same way a brain does) has been a dream for 50 years. Artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic, and neural networks have all experienced some success, but machines still cannot recognize pictures or understand languages as well as humans do.

Despite the many false starts however, forward-thinkers like Dr. James Albus, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, believe cognitive computing research is at the tipping point, similar to where nuclear physics was in 1905. The following projects underway now describe the progress of this new research:

‘Smart’ cars: Auto makers are now investing heavily in collision-warning systems and vehicles that drive themselves; DOT officials believe that robotic vehicles with safety warnings will likely save more lives than airbags and seatbelts combined.

Future military: DOD planners predict that by 2015, auto-fly drones and other computer-driven systems could remove most soldiers from battlefield dangers.

Modeling the brain: Scientists at the Blue Brain project, a collaboration of IBM and the Swiss government; can zoom inside a single cell and examine exactly how each neuron fires. This research will help repair damaged brains today, and in the future could allow robots to mimic human consciousness. (cont.)

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Allstate Insurance Using Video Games to Refresh Elderly Drivers' Skills... Seriously

October 13 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Issues   Year: 2008   Rating: 8 Hot

Allstate, the second-largest insurance provider in the US, recently sent out video games to 100,000 of their clients aged 50 to 75. “The set of five games, together called InSight and made by Posit Science, are designed to improve the mental acuity of older drivers.” Allstate expects to see fewer accidents among the group receiving the video games than from those who did not.

Allstate professes that “ten hours of game play turns the clock back 10 years in terms of memory, useful field of view, processing visual information, and general cognitive functions.”

The idea of training the brain to perform better is something that has been studied for centuries. Think of it as putting your brain through its own workout routine – it needs to do lifts, squats, push-ups and of course cardio. This is most commonly in the form of games.

So will we be seeing more and more brain training in the future?

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A brain implant for artificial motivation

March 30 2009 / by iPlant / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Biotechnology   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

I recently blogged and vlogged about Medtronic starting a clinical trial where deep brain stimulation (DBS) would be applied to the ventral striatum (part of the human reward circuit) to treat depression in up to 200 patients. Then the article on CNNmoney that I was basing this on disappeared and I worried that the whole thing might have been a mistake or a hoax. But the article has resurfaced on the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, and I finally got around to digging up Medtronic's original press release from 19 Feb 2009, which confirms that they are conducting a clinical trial of DBS as a treatment for depression.

reclaim.jpg

But more than that. It turns out that the entire implant procedure that they're using isn't new at all - it's the same procedure they use to treat OCD (recently FDA approved for up to 4000 patients). The implant is called Reclaim and (quoting the press release) "the anatomical target in the brain is the.. ventral striatum.. which is a central node in the neural circuits believed to regulate mood and anxiety". So it seems DBS implants have been placed in the human reward circuit since the OCD trials started, many years ago. This is good news because it means we're even better at putting DBS implants in the human reward circuit than I thought we were. Basically, DBS applied to the ventral striatum (VS) didn't just alleviate the behavioural tics of OCD patients but also improved their mood. Studies like Schlaepfer et al 2008 (3 patients) and Malone et al 2009 (15 patients), which I thought were ground-breaking, merely confirmed that DBS applied to the VS improves the mood of severely depressed patients as well.

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Marshall Brain: Robots to eliminate 50 million jobs

October 25 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Business & Work   Year: Beyond   Rating: 5 Hot

Marshall Brain, founder of How Stuff Works, gave a presentation on how robots can easily eliminate half the workforce of the United States fairly soon.

He said that by 2042 there will be $500 desktop computers with computing power equal to the human brain. We can then put this into a robot which will have the power to do jobs that millions of people hold today. Robots can easily take over education, transportation, construction and retail jobs.

For example: Walmart alone has over 1.2 million employees, performing easy jobs. If robots take the jobs, “a million jobs at Walmart will evaporate.”

But what about the job market?

6.5 million in construction will be gone. 16.4 million in manufacturing will be gone. Retail/wholesale will lose 20 million jobs. Drivers will lose 3 million jobs. Education to lose 2 million.

“Half the jobs in the economy right now we can see robots taking over.”

He ended with the question displayed “What if 50-million people became unemployed?” He then said “there is no doubt these jobs will be gone fairly soon.” We have to start modifying our economy to deal with the mass unemployed.

Will robots eliminate millions of jobs?

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Your Brain: the War Machine

September 04 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Security   Year: General   Rating: 3

The Army recently awarded a team of UC Irvine researchers a $4 million dollar grant to study the foundations of synthetic telepathy, a new practice that monitors brain patterns and mental images via a central computer which then deciphers the information, transforming it into actual machine-readable data. In other words, your thoughts would be captured and translated by the computer which, much like Twitter, would then distribute them to others you’re wishing to contact.

The practical implications of this technology, when fully operational, are amazing, as are the military applications. When it comes to war, one of the few constants throughout the centuries, be it in Roman times or even today, is the lack of quick and reliable communication. Effectively deployed synthetic telepathy would basically eliminate the inefficiencies of communication in the field. Any army in possession of this kind of technology would enjoy a tremendous advantage.

Commanders in the field would be able to look at a map, decide which units should be deployed where, what their function would be, and instantaneously send messages to relevant sub-commanders or even individual soldiers with their orders. Instant responses from teams in the field reporting locations of mine fields, mobilizing enemy forces, or potential weak positioning points would afford any commander equipped to receive and process this information in real-time such a strategic advantage that opposing them would seem almost futile.

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A Penny for Your Thoughts

September 23 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Communication   Year: General   Rating: 3

Jack Uldrich

Cross-posted from www.unlearning101.com

ThoughthelmetLast week, a colleague of mine at Future Blogger, Alvis Brigis, suggested that the coming reign of online video broadcasting as the "most ubiquitous and accessible form of communication" may be short-lived. In its stead, he suggested that brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) may replaced it.

To many people the idea of brain-to-computer or even brain-to-brain communication might seem a little "out there." I disagree and think that Alvis is on the right track. As evidence, I submit this recent article on the U.S. Army’s plans to invest in a "Thought Helmut" for voiceless communication. And lest anyone think that voiceless communication is some far-off, fuzzy, futuristic technology just check out this amazing video demonstrating an early prototype of this technology.

Until I can read your thoughts directly, I’d be interested in reading your reactions to this possibility and how you think it may necessitate that we unlearn some things—such as, perhaps, how we communicate in the future.

Let's use rewarding deep brain stimulation to help the baby boomers exercise

September 24 2008 / by iPlant / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Issues   Year: General   Rating: 3

The baby boomers are getting older. Their pensions and healthcare will exert an enormous strain on European, north American, East Asian and Australian economies over the next few decades. Advances in medicine and medical technology continue to reduce blood-pressures, patch up hearts, extract cancers and extend life expectancy worldwide, but the brain, it turns out, does not yield to traditional methods, and effective treatments for cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s remain elusive. In the US, the annual cost of care for sufferers of Alzheimer’s is expected to exceed the total current healthcare budget ($1 trillion) as 10 million baby boomers develop the disease (Nixon et al, 2008 , Alzheimer’s Association, 2008).

There is, however, one highly effective preventive treatment: heavy physical exercise cuts one’s risk of stroke and neurodegenerative disease in half (Medina, 2008). Heavy, regular physical exercise improves blood supply to the brain, eliminates free radicals and stimulates the generation of new neurons. In the coming decades, 500 billion dollars or more could thus be saved each year in the US alone if every baby boomer exercised daily. The problem of course is that exercise is difficult and people are sedentary, so sedentary in fact that we are faced with a looming obesity epidemic that compounds the problem of age-related cognitive decline. And there’s no way of using modern medicine to improve people’s motivation to engage in physical exercise, right?

Wrong. A technique called rewarding brain stimulation has for decades allowed researchers to motivate rats to run (Burgess et al, 1991), lift weights (Garner et al, 1991) and learn other behaviours (Hermer-Vasquez et al, 2005).

Here’s how it might work in people: A person needing help to exercise would go to a hospital or a private clinic to be fitted with a deep brain stimulation implant capable of activating his reward system (the dopamine system).

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