Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Machine Translates Thoughts Into Speech

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the think-I-better-not-wear-one dept.

Biotech 93

An anonymous reader points to this explanation of a brain-machine interface for real-time synthetic speech production, which has been successfully tested in a 26-year-old patient. From the article: "Signals collected from an electrode in the speech motor cortex are amplified and sent wirelessly across the scalp as FM radio signals. The Neuralynx System amplifies, converts, and sorts the signals. The neural decoder then translates the signals into speech commands for the speech synthesizer."

cancel ×

93 comments

This could be really bad for men (4, Funny)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613144)

If my thoughts PORN HARDCORE PORN can be translated to text or speech by a machine BOOBS BIG BOOBS what is to stop our government from intruding?

Re:This could be really bad for men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613164)

I bet it will be even worse for women!

Re:This could be really bad for men (4, Funny)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613172)

I'm DAMN sure that this would F***ING F***ING F*** THIS IDEA give me at least a F*** WHAT A STUPID IDEA NO NO NO Tourette syndrome or something GAWD DAMNIT like it. BLOODY HELL DAMN MUST BE POLITE SIGN OFF

Rgds

Damon

F***

Thought macros (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613790)

You clearly need an "escape sequence" :). e.g. you only switch to speech mode, when you think of something you've predefined as the "start" escape sequence. Then you get out by thinking of the "stop".

You could also have a "command mode", then that sends commands to the computer so that you can do stuff - then you get virtual telepathy and telekinesis.

Thought macros will help make things faster. Instead of thinking every little character of a command sequence, you'd use macros.

Re:Thought macros (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614156)

Those 'macros' would be called 'words' or 'stock phrases' such as 'ThankYouBye' or

Rgds

Damon

Re:Thought macros (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614922)

They don't even have to be words.

They could be the thought pattern you get when you see a particular image (or face).

Then you tell the computer to associate it with the picture/video the computer sees in its camera (shared with you for augmented reality), or recorded audio clip. So the next time you tell the computer, "<command mode start>fetch <thought pattern><go><command mode end>", the computer will fetch the relevant object.

Of course with stuff like DRM and restrictive copyright laws, it's going to be a bit harder and not so nice ;).

It won't be just a penny for "your thoughts", after all they'll say legally those aren't your thoughts.

Re:Thought macros (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 4 years ago | (#30637736)

Terrible idea. My mind is out to kill me. Just for fun it would use these sequences at the most inappropriate of times. I'm sure of it.

Re:Thought macros (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30640978)

Just like those anime/manga - only some people can achieve maximum augmentation AND do it safely (and without going too crazy in the process).

Poor unfortunate souls like you may have to be limited to using it just for turning table lamps on and off (not even controlling all room lights...).

But maybe one day you might discover the hidden power deep within you, and unleash it to save the world... ;)

Re:This could be really bad for men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30614168)

What foreign country are you from dude?

Re:This could be really bad for men (3, Insightful)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613234)

I know you are kidding, but surely there is a difference between the part of our brain that makes words into sounds, and that part of our brain that entertains thoughts.

Re:This could be really bad for men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613396)

I know you are kidding,

HA! That doesn't work!
WOOOSH WOOOSH WOOOSH WOOOSH

Re:This could be really bad for men (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613588)

I must have Soviet brain, for thoughts entertain my brain!

Frontal Lobes [headinjury.com]
Located, right under the forehead (anterior) the frontal lobes are involved in tracking and sense of self.
Additionally, they're involved in arousal and initiations well as consciousness of environment reaction to self and environment.
Executive functioning and judgments.
Emotional response and stability.
Language usage.
Personality.
Word associations and meaning.
Memory for habits motor activity.

So it looks like there could be some interesting overlap...

Re:This could be really bad for men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30631568)

In fact, although it is common for us to think of thoughts as "electrical impulses in the brain", at this point we do not even know that this is the case. The electrical activity may be the by-product of the actual thought process, whatever it is.

Re:This could be really bad for men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613292)

"My God Vanessa's got a fabulous body. I bet she shags like a minx. How do I tell them that because of the unfreezing process, I have no inner monologue?"

Re:This could be really bad for men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613316)

More importantly, it might be able to figure out the actual time that these stories get posted. I mean what the fuck? I see some story posted well before it hit new year's in most of the world and now I see this posted a mere 4 hours later, but timestamped as 6 hours later.

Timothy, either your clock is broken or you are a fucking moron. I'm betting on the latter.

Re:This could be really bad for men (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613522)

what is to stop our government from intruding?

Government?

Are you kidding! What about wives and girlfriends? Every non-single male Slashdotter simultaneously wet their pants.

A couple of J-cloths should be enough for the cleanup.

Only Volunteer Men (2, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613800)

Translating your speech thoughts into speech by this machine requires implanting electrodes in your brain, wearing a large device stuck to your scalp, and then actually speaking (though this only reads your brain). If you do all that, the government can read your thoughts. Though the could read those speech thoughts with a microphone for a lot cheaper, and without your helping by going through all that surgery.

Small prize to pay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30615546)

...for safer air travel, if we apply this technology to all passengers. And, as we all know, air travel is voluntary, so please implant one of these in your skull and let us read your thoughts, or don't fly at all. Laugh about this now, see what happens in say... 20 years ?

Re:Small prize to pay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30637780)

First they came for the.... oh who blinky cares.

Re:This could be really bad for men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30616788)

speech motor cortex

Despite the constant intentional hype by the media, this is not reading your thoughts. It activates based on the electrical signals that are being, or getting ready to be sent, through the nervous system.
More specifically- when you think about doing something, they can't tell what you're thinking. It's not until you decide to do it, and your brain begins to que up the electrical signaling to make your muscles actually MOVE, that they can 'read' what you want to say.

It's really slick, and really neat-- but we're nowhere near reading thoughts yet. In fact, the opposite is starting to become apparent. You see, not only do two different people thinking the same thing create completely different electrical patterns, the same person thinking the same thing generates different patterns of activity in the brain. It's not until the brain is ready to fire the impulse signals that a similar pattern of activity is generated.

In addition, after a little bit of use, test subjects are able to influence their neural activity. What this means is that ultimately, even if "they" become able to "read" minds, people will be able to quickly and easily mislead the detectors to make "them" think you're thinking something entirely different.

SQUIRREL!!! (1)

kimgkimg (957949) | more than 4 years ago | (#30617772)

SQUIRREL!!!

Re:This could be really bad for men (1)

ikeman32 (1333971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30619496)

If my thoughts PORN HARDCORE PORN can be translated to text or speech by a machine BOOBS BIG BOOBS what is to stop our government from intruding?

I guess then it will be time to break out the tin foil hats then.

Problem is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613174)

...this tech is so cool, I'm speechless!

Re:Problem is ... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614114)

Oh no. I'm having an in-body experience.

--

By thought alone, I set my mind in motion.

again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613180)

This article again? I've seen it blasted all over.

Volunteer? (1, Troll)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613186)

They keep referring to the patient in the test as a 'volunteer' but also state that he was "paralyzed except for slow vertical movement of the eyes." So he what? Signed the release forms by slowly looking up and down? I am guessing they mean volunteer as in 'his guardian(s) "volunteered" him'.

Re:Volunteer? (1)

Bottles (1672000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613224)

hot .. nurse .. hot .. nurse .. naughty .. nurse .. longing .. nurse .. longing .. longing .. longing ..

'Let's activate the machine, doctor, and see if it can translate his thoughts into speech...'

Re:Volunteer? (3, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613362)

They keep referring to the patient in the test as a 'volunteer' but also state that he was "paralyzed except for slow vertical movement of the eyes." So he what? Signed the release forms by slowly looking up and down? I am guessing they mean volunteer as in 'his guardian(s) "volunteered" him'.

[irony]
Why those bastards! And to think, they could have preserved the poor guy's rights and left him in his locked-in state, unable to communicate. That's the way God obviously intended him to be, and they had no right to play God for him. No doubt the poor guy's first 'words', since he would have recognized his rights were violated, would be "unplug me".
[/irony]

Re:Volunteer? (0, Flamebait)

dwater (72834) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613842)

I fail to see the irony. I'm not American, so I guess you must be?

Re:Volunteer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30614782)

I still think it's wrong, Doctor House.

Re:Volunteer? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616098)

sarcasm?

Re:Volunteer? (2, Informative)

dogzdik (1700552) | more than 4 years ago | (#30620138)

There is no god.

Re:Volunteer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30623784)

Informative? Really? Parent post is offtopic for certain, and given the lack of any content that adds to a meaningful discussion, I'd be tempted to mark it troll or flamebait if I hadn't already used my mod points elsewhere.

Re:Volunteer? (1)

renoX (11677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613392)

Uh? A man wrote a book while being in the same state.
Slow vertical movement of the eyes are enough for Yes / No answers..

Re:Volunteer? (3, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613544)

Sorry, but I just have to roll my eyes at that comment...

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615126)

Here is an AP story about the book (Appeared in the Kuwait Times). It was made into a piece of cinema.

http://www.kuwaittimes.net/read_news.php?newsid=MTMzMjY3NzAyMQ== [kuwaittimes.net]

There has been controversy. There are claims that his amanuensis did much more than simply transcribe. I saw a squib on it somewhere. No link for that part of the story. But Google is your friend if you're interested.

Re:Volunteer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613410)

He volunteered after they hooked the machine up.

Almost certainly a volunteer... (4, Interesting)

Richard Kirk (535523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613444)

That seems an unnecessary piece of anti-science paranoia. The people doing the experiment are not the white coated demons of science fiction. Even if they were as amoral as you suggest, it would sdtill be practical of them to get the patient's permission before starting an experiment that took over three years to set up.

On the radio recently, I heard about the difficulties the doctors had with an even more extreme 'locked-in' case that had no eye movement. They got the patient to communicate one bit at a time by imagining tasting milk or lemon juice for minutes at a time. This caused the patient's saliva to change pH. This was not simply "think lemons if it is ok to operate", followed by "oh, bother, best of three?" - they had to establish that the intelligence was present, understanding what was being said, and replying in a reliable manner.

There is a bit about milk-or-lemons and other attempts to communicate in... http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19526171.500-humans-can-adapt-to-almost-anything-even-paralysis.html?full=true [newscientist.com]

Re:Volunteer? (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613718)

It doesn't seem like it would be too difficult

Roll Video

If you understand what I'm saying to you, please look up. (Patient looks up)
To verify your ability to make choices in this manner, I will ask you a few questions.
If you want to indicate a YES answer, look up. Look down to indicate NO.
Do you understand this method of communication? (Patient looks up)
Would you like us to set fire to your genitals with a propane torch? (Patient looks down)
Would you like this young nurse to rub her naked breasts against your face? (Patient looks up)
Would you like us to try and give you the ability to use words via a computer? (Patient looks up)
Would you allow us to insert electrodes into your head to make the system work? (Patient looks up)
Well, that's all settled, would you like us to bring back the nurse with the naked breasts? (Patient looks up)

89% Success Rate! (-1, Flamebait)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613200)

...of the "small set of vowels" he was asked to produce. There are only 5 vowels (or 6 if you some hippie free-love weirdo and include 'y'). Let's say a 'small set' was less than half, so that's 2. How does one get 89% of 2 vowels correct?

Re:89% Success Rate! (3, Funny)

megrims (839585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613236)

I see you're of the "each letter only once" persuasion.

Re:89% Success Rate! (4, Informative)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613270)

English has about 20 vowels, but it only uses 5 or 6 letters to write them. This is part of the reason that non-native speakers find it hard to pronounce.

Re:89% Success Rate! (1)

RonTheHurler (933160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613508)

Actually, English has exactly 7 vowel letters. I learned this in first grade, why didn't everyone else?
A, E, I, O, U, sometimes Y, and sometimes W.

For example, Crwth, and Cwm. Look them up!

Re:89% Success Rate! (1)

ricotest (807136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613546)

Actually, English has exactly 7 vowel letters. I learned this in first grade, why didn't everyone else? A, E, I, O, U, sometimes Y, and sometimes W.

For example, Crwth, and Cwm. Look them up!

Because those last two words are Welsh, not English. You could also argue that é is a vowel letter because of words like café, but of course these words are French in origin, even though they show up in English usage.

Re:89% Success Rate! (1)

Mornedhel (961946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613664)

Also é isn't a vowel in French either. It's an accented variant of a vowel, that doesn't make it a separate letter in the alphabet.

French has A, E, I, O, and U, and Y is a "semi-vowel", at least that's what I was taught in grade school.

Re:89% Success Rate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30614544)

It still is phonetically a separate vowel. The French language might have only 6 letters to write vowels, but the sound formed by e, é and è are so different they could be considered as different vowels.

Re:89% Success Rate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30618418)

Then here's a counterexample for humorous value, since you think you're good at being a pedant. Æ, Å, and Ø are all considered separate vowels in Norwegian, even though English speakers would see them as a ligature, an accented vowel, and "why is the empty set in the middle of this word?"

The long story short is that it's a bad idea to start trying to establish what counts as a vowel and what does not. Some maps of Proto-Indo-European suggest that r and l are vowels too, and there are even English words that use them as such—according to some definitions. It's all very non-concrete.

Re:89% Success Rate! (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30624470)

Exactly. People tend to forget that the analysis of a natural language necessarily comes after the language itself, and often mistake the descriptive system for a prescriptive one. Classification of language parts is useful, since it's easier to learn and remember things that are structured, but there will always be outliers and unsettled areas. The differences among described language systems highlight this.

Re:89% Success Rate! (1)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 4 years ago | (#30616350)

No I dont think you can. Café is a French word that English speaking people use. I'm just glad English does not have an entire separate alphabet to wright words in that are non-English (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katakana [wikipedia.org] )

Re:89% Success Rate! (1)

Sophira (1364317) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615014)

That would be Welsh, not English, surely?

Opps! did I say that loud? (1)

thetsguy (1211146) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613208)

I am in office reading Slashdot, I like it!

Amazing. (3, Interesting)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613214)

Imagine the implications for people with cerebral palsy or paralysis of similar nature. I would always cringe when I watched someone who had been severely limited in their motor functions and could not speak, but with the help of an unconventional system, could communicate. They would stare at letters on a placard, and would spell out (at a rate worse than texting!) each word letter by letter. Or they would attach a rod to the forehead of the person and have them peck at a screen, again, typing out each word letter by letter. I get frustrated enough texting with one hand--these people have amazing patience.

There is a movie, based on a book based on a true story, called the Diving Bell and the Butterfly [wikipedia.org] where this man gets into an accident and was thought to be in a vegetative state, but actually was fully conscious and aware of everything around him. This is called locked-in syndrome [wikipedia.org] and it is scary to even imagine. He ended up being able to communicate with the outside world by BLINKING. And even blinking was difficult for him, since he only had control of one eyelid. The nurse would slowly speak out letters in order of the most frequently used (in this case, he was French, so the letters were in order of the frequency of letters in French words) and he would blink to indicate that this was the correct letter. Needless to say, this was a very long and tedious process. But, as a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit, he actually wrote a book sharing his experiences of being in this state.

Imagine the freedom he would have experienced at being able to talk again.

I really hope this becomes a reality.

Re:Amazing. (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613530)

And why don't they teach these people something like morse code? Surely there's a better text encoding system you could use than playing 20 questions all the time.

Stammerers (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613576)

I'm interested in the results of this technology as applied to stammering and similar speech disorders - these are not physical, but psychological issues, and appear to be mostly confined to the vocal chords; stammerers can type just fine. This might help us isolate exactly where the breakdown between mind and voice is happening.

Careful... That's Davros's IP (1)

hedley (8715) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613226)

He's pissed and he's all about enforcement.

Still I am sure he can be reasoned with.

H.

Hawking (5, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613230)

Imagine adapting this type of technology to other forms of input, such as a thought controlled dictation system. Imagine how much more someone like a Hawking could accopmlish.

Re:Hawking (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614524)

Yeah, instead of "A brief history of Time" it would be "The history of boobies and the timely effects on my briefs"

Mojo, what did they do to you? (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613238)

Pray for Mojo

How long until this works for music? (1)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613286)

All I've ever wanted from brain-interface computing is the ability to 'think' music into some format where I can play it back again. Are we getting close to that yet?

Re:How long until this works for music? (1)

Heytunk (1559837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613328)

Until someone infects the world with a ear worm and cripples the music industry.

Re:How long until this works for music? (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613338)

Something [youtube.com] like [youtube.com] this? [youtube.com]

Re:How long until this works for music? (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 4 years ago | (#30624608)

Neither of those (I believe the second two links are showing the same interface) are at all close to what the GP is looking for. The first is closer, in the same way that a 6-foot tall man is closer to passing clouds than a 5-foot tall man. I'm not sure exactly what the mechanics are behind the system in the first video, and the author's site isn't very informative, but it looks like it might be symbol-based; that is, he thinks "D3" hard enough and the system picks up on it.

The second links read brainwaves, and a computer decides what to play based on their levels...it's more like reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book than writing your own.

If GP is looking for anything like I am looking for, though I highly doubt it will ever happen, the system should essentially be able to play back any sound that the user imagines, from a nuanced trumpet solo to a full orchestra to a pop song heard on the radio to interesting noise. Such a system would necessarily include thought-to-speech, and that's a hell of a long way off as well--unless like the writers of the article you consider 3 vowel sounds to constitute speech.

Re:How long until this works for music? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613352)

Just what we need- giving the RIAA and the ASCAP excuses to start charging for songs we memorize.

Re:How long until this works for music? (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613502)

All I've ever wanted from brain-interface computing is the ability to 'think' music into some format where I can play it back again. Are we getting close to that yet?

In what sense? Single note control of a virtual synthesizer (external control of a real synth, like MIDI) is possible using the technique here applied to motor control of a finger. Multiple notes easily done after once cross-channel signal interference is eliminated (the fingers talk to each other in the cortex). Add another channel, and you can control a bank of instrument selection, again like MIDI. But all you've done is replace your hands with hardware. This is a damn expensive process as well as requiring some surgery.

If you want to go from, say, remembered music ie. "playing a song in your head" to some output, you have to find the far more complex signals relating to the memories, figure out how to find as many of the pieces of memory as possible, eliminate false positives and inaccurate memories of this, figure out how to put the pieces together properly, figure out how to take that pretty-good-but-not-complete collection of memory derived signals and re-create the piece using something capable of filling in the many blanks (memories are full of holes but we only need parts to 'recall' them). We don't know how to decode memories, because they're far more complex than the mere spikes of cells firing which direct small collections of muscle cells to work. And the process above will require a great deal of feedback to test the signal being re-created for accuracy against memory at several steps. The computational power necessary for the steps may be orders of magnitude greater than what's available, and then to keep pace with it in the feedback/correction process, greater still.

Getting a match to memory has been done and this technique should improve on that. Extracting the memory itself from neural signal is way beyond us, and reconstruction of the memory contents farther still.

Re:How long until this works for music? (1)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614290)

Ah, every time something like this comes up I keep hoping that we've found some auditory buffer that both memories and the ear feed into, in a format that would be easy to parse. I think we're seeing the first glimmers of doing that with the visual cortex? I'm not sure how similar 'remembered' music is to 'entirely imagined out of thin air on the spot' music, but I imagine that either way, it would be a great boon for composers...probably do for them what the Internet did for journalists. Whether that's good or bad for the art as a whole remains to be seen!

Until the RIAA and / or ASCAP (1)

MBC1977 (978793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614302)

decide to charge you for thinking about their songs and decide that they want a broadcast fee...

FM radio to transmit the signal, fun on the bus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613310)

TFA:Five years ago, when the volunteer was 21 years old, the scientists implanted an electrode near the boundary between the speech-related premotor and primary motor cortex (specifically, the left ventral premotor cortex). Neurites began growing into the electrode and, in three or four months, the neurites produced signaling patterns on the electrode wires that have been maintained indefinitely.

So the person using this had to "grow into" the electrodes and it took years to even get any kind of signal worth mentioning. And they haven't checked there aren't any short circuits between the electrodes caused by the neurite growth.

Three years after implantation, the researchers began testing the brain-machine interface for real-time synthetic speech production. The system is telemetric - it requires no wires or connectors passing through the skin, eliminating the risk of infection. Instead, the electrode amplifies and converts neural signals into frequency modulated (FM) radio signals. These signals are wirelessly transmitted across the scalp to two coils, which are attached to the volunteers head using a water-soluble paste.

So you're on the bus, your earbuds are deeply implanted into your ear canals and you're trying to avoid eye-contact, when all of a sudden you hear "I want to hump you doggy-style, oh, yeaah!" You look around the bus and notice a quadriplegic staring at you. You take your spare tin foil hat out of your pocket and put it on the lustful quadriplegic's head, saying to his 80 year old mother: "This hat goes really well with his wheelchair, doesn't it?"

Re:FM radio to transmit the signal, fun on the bus (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613432)

Thats actually really interesting because it means electronics can be integrated with the brain just by implanting them and waiting for nerve growth to complete the job.

FFFfffuuuuuuck!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613320)

Me: Hey, long time no see.

Sexy Gal: Hey.. {$MYNAME}, right? God, it's been a while.. how d'you...
** Sexy Gal noticed my crotch **

Sexy Gal: Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

My Brain Implant: Baby, I'll do things to you I wouldn't do to a farm animal.

** Blank stare for 1 second **

Me: Ummm.. It wasn't me, you see this thing is not yet calibrat-

Sexy Gal: Stay away from me!!

Oh great. Wonderful new toy for our governments. (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613380)

How long or how many real or faked terrorist attacks will it take until such an electrode is mandatory and thoughts are registered and stored in central databases? Call me paranoid, but if something like this is technically possible it will be done. Of course, if not to prevent terrorist attacks then to protect our children. So the first to get this electrode will be sex offenders. The usual way to soften resistance against the removal of civil rights. True, the first versions now are still very primitve and not usuable for such a purpose, but compare the computers today with the ones twenty years ago.

Re:Oh great. Wonderful new toy for our governments (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614534)

BTW, its technically possible to feed all human beings on earth, but I dont see that happening any time soon either.

Real-time thought-to-speech translation? (1)

mr_lizard13 (882373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613452)

There's an app for that.

Read Carefully -This Is How To Do It (5, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613460)

Most implant approaches use electrodes shoved in from the outside intending them to work immediately. That invasive technique leaves the person open to infection, and the neurons contacted tend to die fairly quickly, requiring yet another round of more of the same. This approach takes a long time, but eliminates the chance of infection (after the obviously necessary implantation) and lets neurons grow into and around the electrodes, so none of them producing signal are likely to die off soon, allowing long term contact and communication.

I'm sure there will be improvements on this, but this looks to me to be the first really viable direct neural signal collection technique.

"Five years ago, when the volunteer was 21 years old, the scientists implanted an electrode near the boundary between the speech-related premotor and primary motor cortex (specifically, the left ventral premotor cortex). Neurites began growing into the electrode and, in three or four months, the neurites produced signaling patterns on the electrode wires that have been maintained indefinitely.

Three years after implantation, the researchers began testing the brain-machine interface for real-time synthetic speech production. The system is “telemetric” - it requires no wires or connectors passing through the skin, eliminating the risk of infection. Instead, the electrode amplifies and converts neural signals into frequency modulated (FM) radio signals. These signals are wirelessly transmitted across the scalp to two coils, which are attached to the volunteer’s head using a water-soluble paste. The coils act as receiving antenna for the RF signals. The implanted electrode is powered by an induction power supply via a power coil, which is also attached to the head."

Rather than risking killing off speech center neurons in the implant process, they instead implant them in the pathway through which the speech center communicates outbound. Previous attempts by others went directly for the primary processing centers. This small change shows remarkable thinking foresight. I'd call this the first true hack in neural interfacing.

The only point of clarification I'd add is to say "through the scalp" instead of "across"; the latter more often implies a lateral vector. And the only point I'd request is, if only the scalp needs to be traversed, is the transmitter between the skull and scalp? It appears so but isn't stated s such in the paper (the PLoS article's URL is at the bottom of TFA). In any case, the FM transmission through the scalp does away with all the permanent jacks and sockets that SF and Hollywood have always used to signify brain/machine interfacing. With this one implementation, the future image of neural interfacing becomes something like a hair net with buttons sewn into it (we already have EEGs like this). Someone call Larry Niven. Wireheads will be buttonheads.

A future hack will almost certainly be to collect the signal wires running from the scalp to a second transmitter operating between the person and the machine. This will eliminate the direct connection and allow movement, including ambulatory data collection and processing. That not only makes possible testing in realistic situations, but also neural control of machine mediated locomotion for the paralyzed, without being restricted to the length of a cable. An obvious inclusion here would be a transmitter at the machine with receiver on the person, running the signals into the relevant muscle groups. This will also take some power induction that may be greater than the FM systems being used can handle. And are we not on the verge of getting wireless power induction for operating such devices, the same technology intended to refresh batteries and even run laptops?

A bit farther in the future will be to switch from spike analysis of neural firing to time/frequency analysis of synchronized activity such as EEGs examine. The former require computation that's commonly available. The latter require continuous wavelet analysis that so for uses computation not able to keep up with signal production, and so is done after recording. But that will change with another year or two of compact computation power.

I would have to say in my professional opinion that the design presented here is, as we say in neuroscience, the shit. Anyone serious about this field should be scrambling for all the articles from this group and preparing to build similar hardware. And plan for the ability of computation power capable of time/frequency analysis of neural synchronization on the fly; don't wait for the machines, we already have the software.

"I love it when a plan comes together."

Re:Read Carefully -This Is How To Do It (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613862)

Most implant approaches use electrodes shoved in from the outside intending them to work immediately. That invasive technique leaves the person open to infection

Here's how to solve that problem. [nih.gov] I haven't figured out the other part though :)

Re:Read Carefully -This Is How To Do It (1)

Bozdune (68800) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614598)

Actually I think James Schmitz may have coined the term "wirehead" in "The Telzey Toy" (January 1971, Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact), sometimes reprinted as "Ti's Toys." But I could be wrong.

Re:Read Carefully -This Is How To Do It (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615372)

I always figured one could probably blast high-frequency IR through several layers of skin, to solve the "wire/socket" problem. Skin is reasonably transparent to a fairly wide range of IR, and UV too (for the melanin-deficient among us).

Re:Read Carefully -This Is How To Do It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30615434)

hat not only makes possible testing in realistic situations, but also neural control of machine mediated locomotion for the paralyzed, without being restricted to the length of a cable.

And modulo transmission propagation delays, teleoperation of robots in hostile environments. Wanna swim the length of the Marianas trench? Dig out a cave for a future lunar base? Just wear the funny hat and go to work from the comfort of your own home...

Hmm... (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613566)

I wonder if this machine could somehow be used for military applications. If you'd make it accurate enough and hook it up to some transmitter device, you could use it for perfectly silent communications - sure, you have handsigns for that already, but words can be a little bit more precise at times...

Re:Hmm... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613712)

There is a better device for that now. a much more advanced throat mic.http://focus.ti.com/pr/docs/preldetail.tsp?sectionId=594&prelId=sc08029

It records the signals that you actually send to the voice box and outputs that. It is less invasive and can be used in a VVOX setup to remote control objects without worrying that someone else will over hear the commands or try to shout commands for you.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614172)

Ah, very interesting. Thanks for the link.

Telepathy (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613594)

We have it.

Re:Telepathy (1)

Monolith1 (1481423) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613628)

We have it.

I'm not sure water boarding someone until they tell you what's on their mind is the same thing though...

Re:Telepathy (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613796)

Not necessarily telepathy. But if it is possible to implant electrodes into the speech centre of the brain, is it necessary to be trained to use them? Or can those electrodes be implanted and the system can automatically transmit speech into radio waves? This way it would be possible to implant this system into every person. Using the infrastructure which is already present for cell phones it would easily possible to record and store every single conversation of all people. Wet dream of all governments.

Re:Telepathy (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615202)

The sheer scale of all of that data would swamp them.

. o 0 O ( Fuck! ) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613640)

...

Re:. o 0 O ( Fuck! ) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30613974)

This is on-topic.

You just don't understand art...

8-P Bllll...

Re:. o 0 O ( Fuck! ) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30614674)

Hmm... does /. has an automatic bot moderator? -1 based on filthy word, perhaps?

Neuromancer Arrives (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613786)

The study is led by Frank Guenther of the Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems and the Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Boston University, as well as the Division of Health Science and Technology at Harvard University-Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The research team includes collaborators from Neural Signals, Inc., in Duluth, Georgia; StatsANC LLC in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Marietta, Georgia; the Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, Georgia; and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

Not only does this device give people the power to send words directly to machines without physically speaking (or typing, our mousing). It was developed at the endpoints of the BAMA [wikipedia.org] , the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis. Even the Buenos Aires corp gives the distribution a gibsonian unexpectedly exotic twist.

"Needn't speak out loud, miss... Subvocal's the way."

My mom could sure this (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30613934)

Basically she has bulbar onset ALS. Her main symptom is she can't talk at all anymore. You'd think just writing things down would be a appropriate substitute until you actually have to try it as your sole method of communication.

I wonder if... (1)

Windcatcher (566458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614250)

Stephen Hawking might be interested in this. On the one hand, I shudder at the risk to him, but on the other hand I wonder if he might consider the potential benefit worth it.

Straight out of Science Fiction... (1)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30614490)

Did anybody else suddenly think of daleks? Anybody? There's also the shellpersons from the Anne McCaffery novels.

We've already pioneered vision implants, tactile implants, and now finally speech implants so we're again at the forefront of cyborg technology.

Steeeve.... (1)

Taliesan999 (305690) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615826)

Steeeeve.....

A brain interface is only as good as... (1)

nilbog (732352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30615856)

A brain interface is only as good as the number of unique states it can detect. I this case, it's only a handful (4 I think). So when the summary says "speech" it means "a number of vowel sounds." This guy isn't able to play the wheel of fortune, but he could buy a vowel - and that's about it.

Still, promising technology for sure. It just had a long way to go before fully synthesized meaningful speech.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...