Monthly Archive for September, 2011

Turning the Mind Into a Joystick

More “mind reading” hyperbole in today’s New York Times Magazine: The Cyborg in Us All.

I’ve talked about EEG-related technology many times in the past. Here are some quotes from the article:

This creates a pulse in his brain that travels through the wires into a computer. Thus, a thought becomes a software command.

We’re close to being able to reconstruct the actual music heard in the brain and play it.

… a “telepathy helmet” that would allow soldiers to beam thoughts to one another.

The NeuralPhone was meant to demonstrate that one day we might mind-control the contact lists on our phones.

The general public has two reactions when the lay press publishes this kind of stuff:

  1. I always knew this would come true. I.e. perpetuation of scientific fantasies.
  2. This is really scary stuff. I don’t want anybody reading my mind — or worse, controlling it.
If you know anything about the underlying techniques and algorithms you also know that “mind reading” and useful brain-controlled interfaces are a long way off.  Because the article fails to provide any sort of time-frame perspective, why won’t someone think these capabilities exist now.
The real problem I have with these kinds of articles is that this is important work that could potentially improve the quality of life for many disabled individuals.  Hyping it up to be something it’s not doesn’t help anyone.
One more quote:

“This is freaky.” And it was.

Huh? … I think the NYT needs to improve their editorial oversight.

 

Microsoft BUILD Conference

Wow — talk about drinking from a fire hose. BUILD Conference news and opinions are everywhere.

Fun stuff. It’s going to take a while to digest all of this.

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