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Scientists Build Mind-Reading Computer

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the strangely-all-the-male-results-looked-like-the-word-sex dept.

Science 108

An anonymous reader writes to tell us that researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have developed what they are calling a "mind reading computer." Using a panel of nine volunteers, the team built a "profile" of 58 test words based on brain scans taken while the volunteers were directed to think about the meaning of each test word. "'If I show you the brain images for two words, the main thing you notice is that they look pretty much alike. If you look at them for a while you might see subtle differences,' explains Tom Mitchell of the Machine Learning Department, which lead the study. 'We believe we have identified a number of the basic building blocks that the brain uses to represent meaning. These building blocks could be used to predict patterns for any concrete noun,' added Mitchell."

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108 comments

Words chosen (5, Funny)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629369)

The list of words chosen were: funding, grant, tenure, award, patent, contract, ...

Re:Words chosen (2, Funny)

bloodninja (1291306) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629449)

The list of words chosen were: funding, grant, tenure, award, patent, contract, ...
It doesn't matter what words they choose. OCZ beat them to market.

This one actually does read minds (1)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629537)

OCZ beat them to market.
No, that one reads facial expressions.

Slashdot already knew about this submission (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629705)

By reading his mind, before ScuttleMonkey approved it.

How do you think that subscribers get that "Mysterious Future" stuff, anyways?

Re:This one actually does read minds (1)

lattyware (934246) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630171)

It is meant to do both.

Re:Words chosen (1)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630025)

Mind-reading computer trifecta is in play.

Re:Words chosen (1)

rcamans (252182) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630045)

Actaully, they choose words which would elicit strong reactions in the geeks who were willing to volunteer...
Secks, hooters, babes,...

Re:Words chosen (2, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630165)

I've got a feeling the words involved in this project were more along the lines of "Department. Defense. Homeland. Security. Surveillance."

Re:Words chosen (1)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23632535)

You sure it wasn't more like "Tinfoil. Hat. Space. Rays."?

;-)

Re:Words chosen (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630429)

If they plan on reading Homer Simpson's mind they better add "meow" to that list.

Re:Words chosen (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630643)

The list of words chosen were: funding, grant, tenure, award, patent, contract, ...

You forget the biggest pork-word of the 00's: "Homeland Security".
       

Re:Words chosen (1)

2fakeu (443153) | more than 6 years ago | (#23635443)

The list of words chosen were: funding, grant, tenure, award, patent, contract, ...
profit!

Mind reading (-1, Offtopic)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629377)

Yeah, but it couldn't read what would be first post.

Re:Mind reading (-1, Redundant)

bloodninja (1291306) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629465)

Yeah, but it couldn't read what would be first post.
You're supposed to post that AC. Now we're both going to get modded redundant.

well that doesn't work (1, Interesting)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629379)

All you have to do is have a different connotation for the word and it doesn't work. The gays stole rainbows so now if people see a picture of a rainbow, they have a distinctly different reaction to it. Or you could purposely make yourself feel angry or sad or do a complex math problem as you're thinking of the word and it would throw the machine off. To get this to work I'd bet they have to tell you to stay calm and what to think about beforehand, during, and after they try to predict what word you're thinking of or whatever. Gee, they tell you how and what to think and then predict what you're thinking of. AMAZING!

Re:well that doesn't work (3, Insightful)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629817)

Not necessarily... If there truly are key areas that only deal with actually thinking about a noun, they should be unaffected by other brain processes like emotion, etc. One may be off daydreaming about that summer when they "experimented" with the neighbor boy in college, but the actual word "rainbow" is still sitting somewhere in his mind. ;)

I would, however, be inclined to believe that our brains are more complex than just having "areas" that have "activity" when certain things happen. Until we can map out each neuron in our brain and read its state, i don't think we're going to ever be able to fully read someone's mind... thank god. -Taylor

Re:well that doesn't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23629851)

not exactly. they give you very few choices that you can think about and they can figure out which choice you picked. not a groundbreaking advance but a decent step forward, IMO.

Re:well that doesn't work (0, Troll)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630131)

Most of this technology is going towards research for hands-off computing and assistance for people who are paralised. Actual mind-reading technology is a long way off. And I suspect it will always be easier to do with drugs and good old fashioned bush-sanctioned water boarding (to get information from people unwillingly).

Re:well that doesn't work (1)

brizzadizza (1195159) | more than 6 years ago | (#23634145)

Ha! This got modded troll, but the parent post claiming "the gays stole rainbows" got interesting. God damn queers = A-OK Bush sanctioned torture = move along troll. You have to love slashdot.

Re:well that doesn't work (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 6 years ago | (#23636071)

What do you people have against homosexual men? I specifically mentioned 'men' as I suspect you have sufficient quantities of lesbian porn hidden away somewhere. Bloody double standards...

Excellent! (5, Funny)

jimand (517224) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629425)

Now that a computer can read my mind I'm waiting for the mind-reading 'puter that knows to change the mouse focus when I look at a new window. I hate looking at one window while typing in another, especially when posting to /. while I have a window open with an email to my boss. It turns out he's not interested in the goatse link.

Re:Excellent! (0)

bloodninja (1291306) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629491)

Now that a computer can read my mind I'm waiting for the mind-reading 'puter that knows to change the mouse focus when I look at a new window. I hate looking at one window while typing in another, especially when posting to /. while I have a window open with an email to my boss. It turns out he's not interested in the goatse link.
The usual indication that your input is going into another window is the fact that the textarea's contents is not changing. Unless you VNC into your webbrowser.

Re:Excellent! (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629535)

So you've never been looking at some data in one window while typing the description of the data in another?

Re:Excellent! (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629845)

We don't need mind reading to determine where you're looking... just a webcam and some good software. Also, there are programs that make windows (if that's your thing) change focus just by hovering the mouse over a window, so if you had the webcam track your eyes and control the mouse, you could do it with readily avaliable software and hardware today. -Taylor

Re:Excellent! (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#23634871)

So it's you who has been posting those goatse links! I doubt most of us here interested in goatse links either.

Lastly, read my mind now...

Thank you.

And so it begins.. (3, Interesting)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629469)

..THIS is the basis for yet-another-trek-related-invention: the Universal Translator.

I always knew it had to work this way.

Re:And so it begins.. (4, Interesting)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629519)

That's an interesting idea. Do different words that mean the same in different languages light up the same areas of the brain when a person thinks about it? Would a Spanish person who is told to think of "coche", have a similar brain scan of an English person told to think of "car"?

Re:And so it begins.. (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629777)

Doubtful actually, at least in all cases. In English, nova has one or two meanings that may bring different thoughts. In some Spanish speaking countries, they might be thinking 'no go' or some option for various value of go in Spanish.

Grammarians unite! Only those who understand language will be able to interpret the results of this machine.

It is quite interesting that there are parts of the brain that light up uniformly (or near it) for some processes. Puts the human brain more in the land of machine with wetware and further away from the land of magic and such. There is probably still a LOT of work to be done before that universal translator does anyone any good.

Re:And so it begins.. (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630233)

It may not be exactly the same in every language, but there might be some similarities. With enough data and a good training set you can learn the most specific and most general hypothesis. Then, you have a representation of the hypothesis space (from specific to general) you are interested in, i.e to classify the word "car" in all languages.

Re:And so it begins.. (4, Insightful)

lbgator (1208974) | more than 6 years ago | (#23631365)

I think the GP is onto something a little different than what the parent interpreted. Language may be an unnecessary step in this experiment.

If someone is thinking "gee - I would love a hamburger" in English - would their brain scan be the same as a French guy thinking the same? If you started at some basic level (hunger, thirst, anger, love, pain) is there a common denominator in all brain activity? If there is commonality, can we hope to someday eliminate language and have comms come straight from the source?

Re:And so it begins.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23634439)

A French guy thinking "I would love a hamburger" would probably be sarcastic and because of that I doubt the brain scans would be similar.

Re:And so it begins.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23635707)

"Nova" probably means the same thing in Spanish as in English.

The Spanish phrase "no va" (two words) doesn't exist in the English language.

Re:And so it begins.. (3, Insightful)

why-is-it (318134) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629791)

Would a Spanish person who is told to think of "coche", have a similar brain scan of an English person told to think of "car"?

Agreed. I suspect that true mind reading will be impossible because everyone will have different internal representations of concepts and ideas. Even amongst individuals who speak the same language, we should not assume that everyone will have the same representation of "car", even though people may have similar levels of brain activity in the same parts of the brain when they think about one.

Re:And so it begins.. (2, Interesting)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629839)

And then you put a person who was born blind into the MRI and ask them to think about a car. Now what?

Re:And so it begins.. (1)

Dgawld (1251898) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629873)

Even amongst individuals who speak the same language, we should not assume that everyone will have the same representation of "car"

I know when i think of a "Car" it is nothing similar to that machine with a plastic frame and four wheels that others might imagine.

Re:And so it begins.. (3, Interesting)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630527)

This reminds me of a psyche 101 exercise where students were asked to draw a map of the town in which the college resided. Upperclassmen drew far more detailed maps than freshmen. I suspect the upperclassmen would have thought of very different things(past experiences) compared to freshmen also, and that's within a very small subset of people. I doubt very much that this machine could "read your mind" primed with someone else's input, but it could be invaluable in determining how the brain works and what similarities do exist across regions/ages/cultures if any.

Re:And so it begins.. (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23635783)

I don't understand what this exercise is supposed to prove, other than the blindingly obvious fact that upperclassmen have on average lived in that town for much longer and thus know it much better.

Re:And so it begins.. (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629943)

I don't think so. Nearly all words have several meanings; especially in English. The connections between words would also be different because in addition to relating words semantically we also relate words to each other by their sounds. So, aside from strong cognates, the connected graph of word relations looks quite different in different languages. I think only very basic proto-indo-european-ish words like mother and milk could match across languages.

I would suggest.. (1)

vorlich (972710) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630327)

that the word "fanny" will light up two rather different regions of the brain depending on which side of the Atlantic you were born.

Re:And so it begins.. (1)

imess (805488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630647)

Not only that. Even if 2 persons studied the same language, experience matter, i.e. the word "car" may create an image of a blue 4-door Civic parking in the garage to one, and a gray Explorer from TV ads to the other. I doubt the details are confined to one or two areas in the brain.

Re:And so it begins.. (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 6 years ago | (#23633765)

The same word in the same language probably lights up slightly different parts of the brain in different people. My understanding is that this method is only good for mind-reading the brain the computer has been trained on.

Probably not (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 6 years ago | (#23634893)

Probably not.

Otherwise these guys would certainly have noticed and made a big noise about it:

http://www.physorg.com/news4703.html [physorg.com]

"Responses among the eight subjects varied with the person and stimulus. "

"For example, a single neuron in the left posterior hippocampus of one subject responded to 30 out of 87 images, firing in response to all pictures of actress Jennifer Aniston, but not, or only very weakly, to other famous and non-famous faces, landmarks, animals or objects. The neuron also did not respond to pictures of Jennifer Aniston together with actor Brad Pitt.

In another instance, pictures of actress Halle Berry activated a neuron in the right anterior hippocampus of a different patient, as did a caricature of the actress, images of her in the lead role of the film "Catwoman" and a letter sequence spelling her name."

So to me it indicates their brains organize stuff a bit differently.

Re:And so it begins.. (1)

Screaming Cactus (1230848) | more than 6 years ago | (#23635057)

No, there would be no way to develop a universal mind-reading device. Because each person's mind is unique, and each person's understanding of a given word is also unique. When you say car, I might think of a red ferrari while someone else thinks of a white focus. The way my mind processes the word car is based on all my memories of cars, so that's why they have to build a unique profile for me that won't work for anybody else. And to make things even more difficult, if you say car again tomorrow, this time I might think of something completely different. Thankfully, due to the mind's fluidity and vagueness of thoughts, a true mind-reading device will never work.

Re:And so it begins.. (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 6 years ago | (#23635725)

Do different words that mean the same in different languages
The problem with translation is that different words don't mean the same in different languages.

Some words like 'go' can be found in every language with very similar meanings, but for most words which are used less often there are extra connotations and even contradictory meanings depending on the culture, and also who is speaking. For example in American English, British English and French the word liberal has different meanings.

Even depending who says it, and in what context, the intended meaning may differ radically.

In saying this you're treating language as a conduit for meaning, when in fact it's a medium without which the meaning could not exist. An interesting question nonetheless.

Re:And so it begins.. (1)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630871)

I know what your thinking... I know you know what I'm thinking... I know that you know that I know...

Wonder... (3, Funny)

ShiNoKaze (1097629) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629473)

I have to wonder all this work we do towards reading minds, what's everyone gonna think when they figure out how much we really do think about sex? Cuz damn.

Might be fun to watch the expressions on the scientists face as they realize what's going on tho. "That guy was a fluke, the next will about something else I'm sure!"

As dangerous as it is useful (1)

dmccarty (152630) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629501)

This is why passwords by themselves are fundamentally unsafe. Anyone typing a password "thinks" about the next character they're about to enter just before they type it. If concrete nouns can be can be scanned while the subject is entering the password, things as basic as the letters of the alphabet and the numeric system would be dead ringers for remote password stealing.

Re:As dangerous as it is useful (2, Funny)

Drakonik (1193977) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629591)

Yeah, but I dunno how easy it would be to use social engineering to convince people to sit underneath an FMRI so you could scan their brain while they type in their bank's PIN number.

Re:As dangerous as it is useful (3, Insightful)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629619)

I remember my password by keyboard location by my fingers.

Re:As dangerous as it is useful (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23631201)

I remember my password by the keyboard location of my written password list taped to it.

(all joking aside, that started about the time they started changing all of them every 60 days...)

Re:As dangerous as it is useful (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629677)

That's why you need real 2 factor authentication. Something you know, and something you have works well. So that even if somebody peeks over your shoulder (or into your brain), to figure out the password, they still don't have access.

Re:As dangerous as it is useful (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629753)

Sure!

Here, would you please lie down while I slide you into this multi-tonne magnet. Thank you. Now, please lie very still and think about typing in your password, very slowly, one letter at a time. No more than one letter every ten seconds or so! Now please repeat a couple dozen times. Thank you for your cooperation.

I think it would be easier to just ask.

Re:As dangerous as it is useful (1)

madstork2000 (143169) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629855)

I think it is dangerous in a lot more serious way.

Basically the thing can read a brain scan, what if they develop the technology to stimulate the brain to produce a predefined brain scan. I.e. implant a thought pattern.

Re:As dangerous as it is useful (1)

fritsd (924429) | more than 6 years ago | (#23631543)

Saw that on TV, years ago.

Do you mean like Temporal lobe tickling and spirituality TV program (in Dutch) [noorderlicht.vpro.nl] ?

The reporter was quite impressed, I remember that. But he did'nt feel it as a spiritual experience.

I have no idea if what you propose is possible: maybe, people's brains are wired sufficiently differently to make this "implanting a thought pattern" very difficult, unless it's a very crude pattern. Plus, the "please put on this special motorcycle helmet" would give the plan away ;-)

I for one welcome our new mind-reading (5, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629503)

Hold on, just got handed this printout:

"Thank you, but we already knew you were going to say that.

Sincerely,

Your new mind-reading computer overlords."

Re:I for one welcome our new mind-reading (3, Funny)

Eudial (590661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629669)

Hold on, just got handed this printout:

"Thank you, but we already knew you were going to say that.

Sincerely,

Your new mind-reading computer overlords."
You forgot to wear your tin foil hat.

I, Robot story (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23629505)

Wasn't there an I, Robot short story by Asimov about a mind-reading computer that lied to people in order to avoid hurting their feelings (because that would "harm" a human)?

Re:I, Robot story (1)

Drakonik (1193977) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629633)

That was my favorite story, actually. It showcased what an utter bitch Susan Calvin could be, and also how utterly brilliant she is. Woman of my dreams.

Re:I, Robot story (2, Insightful)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629723)

Utter bitch? That story showed she had feelings!

Re:I, Robot story (2, Insightful)

Zarf (5735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630551)

Utter bitch? That story showed she had feelings!
Women with feelings are bitches, men with feelings are pansies. Women without feelings are elf-tarts and men without feelings are vulcan-cakes.

FYI. That's geek dating slang in the big geek party scene. And, you're not part of the scene if you are cute and stupid... which is a 'tard-muffin.

Example:

Geek Girl1: Ooh, check out that chem-student what a chiseled IQ... he's a total vulcan-cake.
Geek Girl2: I scoped him already, he's dating a 'tard-muffin lit-major.
Geek Girl1: So, like totally, illogical! Why are all the vulcan-cakes taken by tard-muffins at this school? All that's left are the pansies.
Geek Girl2: Don't go bitch on me elf-girl. There's plenty of cranium out there.

Objects and Nouns (2, Interesting)

natedubbya (645990) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629509)

This area of research has been growing more popular lately. Last year's big language conference had a keynote speaker address the question of brain waves and word recognition. Most of the progress though is based on nouns because they have a core rooted meaning in everyone's head...you basically visualize a generic version of that object in the world. You say hammer, I think of an actual hammer I've seen. It's not really mind reading because the approach falls apart when you start talking about verbs and actions...which are what most conversations and thoughts are about. Actions don't have a stereotypical physical representation in the world, but rather involve several objects with that action, all interacting in some way that defines it. As I understand it, the patterns they observe in the brain then become too complex to capture.

What about Pron? (3, Interesting)

brunokummel (664267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629533)

I know it sounds funny but i would like to see the brain activity for pornografic pictures, since it already known that "bad words" are stored in a different area of the brain than regular words... it would be kind of interesting if "bad images (or nice depending on the person)" got also stored on different areas....

Mind Reading Computer?! (5, Insightful)

prakslash (681585) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629559)

Yet again we see a jounalist dumbing down scientific research into tabloid fodder.


What the CMU scientists have done is some preliminary brain imaging using MRI.

Here is a better CMU link [cmu.edu] with more details and pictures. The scientists hope that this research to could have applications in the study of autism, disorders of thought such as paranoid schizophrenia, and semantic dementias such as Pick's disease. Not once did they ominously dub their research as "mind reading" as claimed by the submitter.

Did they find a t-shaped device... (1)

lelitsch (31136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629627)

...like a Claymore trigger?

Re:Did they find a t-shaped device... (1)

Zarf (5735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630217)

...like a Claymore trigger?
I don't think they have the pattern recognition for that.

Computer Reads My Two Words: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23629631)



Fuck Bush

pretty clear to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23629697)

The next comment will be wrong.

Re:pretty clear to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23631577)

eye no watt ewe r thin king

But what are they watching? (1)

SGDarkKnight (253157) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629741)

It's too bad the article doesn't go into any detail about what they are measuring... its possible its reading alpha waves (normally linked to waking periods of relaxtaion or possibly drowsiness), beta waves (normal waking consciousness), gamma waves (perception and consciousness), or who knows, maybe they are monitoring the chemical reactions taking place. I guess its a possiblity that they don't want to let out the key to their study just yet.

Re:But what are they watching? (1)

yumyum (168683) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629809)

The article said that the computer was using data from MRIs, and that through training it was able to discern patterns in the MRIs.

Re:But what are they watching? (1)

SGDarkKnight (253157) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629975)

I guess i need to read up on MRI's a bit more, i always thought that they were used for imageing purposes; Such as detecting abnormalities, tumors, etc... without any of the harmful (possible outcomes) of say x-rays, or how CT scans are not as accurate ar determining differences extreamly small areas. I didn't think your brain would psyically change just because you were thinking one thing or another. Monitoring the brain wave activity would seem to be a more successful way to dtermine what people are thinking, or at least determining a basic foundation for different nouns.

Re:But what are they watching? (2, Informative)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630345)

IANAD (but I watch a lot of House)

> I didn't think your brain would psyically change just
> because you were thinking one thing or another.

Your brain doesn't, but the blood flow patterns do.

Just like how your computer doesn't physically change when sitting idle or watching porn, it will use less/more power and different parts of different chips will flow more electrons in different patterns.

Oh, and you need to google up "functional MRI"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_magnetic_resonance_imaging [wikipedia.org]

Re:But what are they watching? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23635951)

Just like how your computer doesn't physically change when sitting idle or watching porn, it will use less/more power and different parts of different chips will flow more electrons in different patterns.

Errm... Unless you regard electrons as 'non-physical objects' then your computer *does* physically change constantly as more/less electrons flow to different parts. This is illustrated by the processor core temperature increasing/decreasing, which I think most people would also regard as a 'physical change'.

Re:But what are they watching? (2, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630797)

The latest technique in MRI is functional MRI (fMRI) . The doctors can watch the oxygen demand levels of the brain change dynamically as a person thinks. The resulting brain scan image superimposes the oxygen demand levels in red-yellow-green-blue scale over a monochrome image of that slice of the brain. Effectively, they see which areas of the brain are in use from second to second.

In some cases, they have discovered that people in coma's or a persistive vegetable state have been discovered to have been aware of their surroundings.

Oddly Enough (2, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629789)

It's strange, every time a researcher is assigned to go disassemble the prototype, something else comes up right when they come within range of the machine. Yesterday something kept spamming "REDRUM" across the networks broadcast address and causing bandwidth issues. Today several printers in the lab wouldn't stop printing out documents that looked like fake rebates for Newegg ...

Re: Your Sig (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629937)

So you're saying Microsoft is God?

Call me when it translates... (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629881)

Quoting article:
"We believe we have identified a number of the basic building blocks that the brain uses to represent meaning. These building blocks could be used to predict patterns for any concrete noun..."

The implications of building blocks would suggest that the french word for "Desk" (bureau) would elicit the same response as the english word for "Desk", instead of some governmental unit.

That would be useful, (once we get cheap portable MRI hats).

However I doubt these building blocks are anywhere near that generic due to the excess emotional baggage that people associate with words. I suppose it might be able to detect the presence of such baggage even if it could not decipher it.

Re:Call me when it translates... (2, Insightful)

orateam (861461) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630177)

Of course this will eventually lead to computers to mapping and "determining" patterns that lead to criminal activities. Such as the mind of a pedafile or rapist. Reading your mind to see if you have "BAD THOUGHTS" capable of criminal activity, will lead to the government having the ability to read individuals for criminal minds and arresting for such thoughts and predicted activities.

Re:Call me when it translates... (1)

locallyunscene (1000523) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630635)

Of course this will eventually lead to computers to mapping and "determining" patterns that lead to criminal activities. Such as the mind of a pedafile or rapist. Reading your mind to see if you have "BAD THOUGHTS" capable of criminal activity, will lead to the government having the ability to read individuals for criminal minds and arresting for such thoughts and predicted activities.
The fear of having my thought patterns available publicly/seizable by a gov't. entity/requestable by employers is one of the reasons I'd be hesitant to have a personal "mind reader" interface.I'd say it's more likely that those organizations will learn more about you from your ISP than what you associate with the word "tomato" though. At least until you rely on it too much.

Re:Call me when it translates... (1)

Roxton (73137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23632401)

<tinfoil_hat>
What would be creepy about this mind reading technology is the possibility that it would get out of tune the more you change the way you think. This would encourage you to change back to your old ways of thinking. Essentially, it's a subtle mind-stasis device.

And the personal responsibility people will be, like, "So what? You can suck it up and spend a week recalibrating if you want to. Who cares if most people don't? It's about choice, not consequences."
</tinfoil_hat>

Apologies.

21st century phrenology (0)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629931)

Phrenology was 19th century "science" of discerning personality types by look at fine detail of skull shape. This shares some aspects with 21st century brain scans:
(1) They are both based on head geometry. Phrenology just looked at the surface, while MRI looks at volumes.
(2) They are both derived from empirical measurements, rather than first-principles of why geometry is the way it is. This is not bad if it really works. Although more people would believe it if the underlying mechanisms for the geometric patterns were known, and improving the predictablity of new patterns.
(3) There seems to be some degree of interpretation of data. This degenerated into prejudice against certain kinds of humans for phrenology, eventually defeating that method. Supposedly in the 21st century there is more objective statistical discrimination of results.
(4) The majority of scientists arent convinced of either.

Re:21st century phrenology (1)

Kojiro Ganryu Sasaki (895364) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630401)

What about retro-phrenology?

Re:21st century phrenology (1)

bcdm (1031268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23631671)

It doesn't seem to have caught on anywhere outside the Discworld, really.

This could get ugly... (2, Funny)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 6 years ago | (#23629997)

I forsee some lonely nerd using a video-chat application to try and talk with a woman when all of a sudden, his computer reads his mind and says to him:

"I'm reading that you're horny, Jim. Here is a selection of your favorite porn- Princess Leia doing an Ewok. Enjoy!"
Prospective Girlfriend: "You sicko! *exits the video chat*"
Jim: "Oh well... I guess I'll just enjoy this video. Thanks manputer!"

And the working name for the computer will be (1)

misterhypno (978442) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630051)

either:

Kreskin

Derren Brown

Chriss Angel

Dunninger

Max Maven

What if this is old news? (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630173)

Could this be one of those technologies that is already considered 'quaint' by the elite societies by the time the public discovers it?

Just a thought...

What's the accuracy like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23630207)

if (male)
      cout "sex";
else
      cout "nagging";

Mine's at least 95% accurate.

New meaning to Blue Screen of Death (1)

multi-flavor-geek (586005) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630269)

So, if they make one that runs WinBlows and it crashes, do you lose all unsaved data? Could you require a reboot, or gasp, a reformat before you will recover from lost files in your NTFS partitions? Of course you would come back with a snazzy swap file and would have an epileptic seizure every time someones actually makes you think.

HELLO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23630521)

I for one welcome our new thought monitoring overlords.

If I wanted (1)

rimugu (701444) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630641)

[don't take it seriously]
If I wanted others to know what I am thinking. I would tell them.
Plus I am posting in /. there are not many secrets as to what I am thinking.
[/don't take it seriously]

Great (1)

Joseph1337 (1146047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630707)

Fucking great, just at the time when I lost my tinfoil hat

The beginning of the end for private thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23630721)

Thanks a lot.

How long? (1)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630853)

How long before we start seeing this technology embedded in the metal detectors in airports?

It works as a keyboard too. (2, Funny)

Lordpidey (942444) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630863)

Not SEX only SEX that SEX, it SEX is SEX possible SEX to SEX use SEX this SEX to SEX type. SEX isn't SEX that SEX wonderful?

cool, but the devil's in the details (1)

xPsi (851544) | more than 6 years ago | (#23630927)

noun verb preposition adjective noun!!

Simple really ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23631171)

it just redirects all URL's to porn sites.

Psycho Mantis (2, Funny)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 6 years ago | (#23633601)

Pah! Just plug your controllers into the other slot.

Have to think in Russian? (1)

hugorxufl (1071598) | more than 6 years ago | (#23634129)

The first military use will be in the MiG-31 Firefox, no?

Microcode.... (1)

Hasmanean (814562) | more than 6 years ago | (#23634385)

Looks like the brain was programmed with microcode.

Now the only question is, risc or cisc?

And how many threads of conciousness in a sane person's mind?
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