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Next X-Prize — $10M For a Brain-Computer Interface

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the does-it-come-in-small dept.

Biotech 175

The first X-Prize was about reaching space. Now, reader destinyland writes "This time it's inner space, as Peter Diamandis holds a workshop at MIT discussing a $10 million X-Prize for building a brain-computer interface. This article includes video of Ray Kurzweil's 36-minute presentation, 'Merging the Human Brain with Its Creations,' and MIT synthetic neuroscientist Ed Boyden also made a presentation, followed by discussion groups about Input/Output, Control, Sensory, and Learning. Besides the ability to communicate by thought, the article argues, a Brain-Computer Interface X Prize 'will reward nothing less than a team that provides vision to the blind, new bodies to disabled people, and perhaps even a geographical 'sixth sense' akin to a GPS iPhone app in the brain.'"

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I've got that right now (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012194)

It's called my hands on the keyboard.

ok, where's my 10mil

This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contests (5, Interesting)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012198)

My understanding -- as a complete outsider to the field -- is that a lot of the elements are already there.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (3, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012272)

It also might not take millions of dollars to do. This could potentially be solved by someone in their garage.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (4, Funny)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012362)

FIDO! Here boy! Daddy's got a surprise for you...

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (4, Funny)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012476)

That's a strange name to give a child...

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (1)

Venik (915777) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012600)

I agree. Especially since most slashdoters already have their DIY lobotomy kits.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (3, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012766)

I agree. Especially since most slashdoters already have their DIY lobotomy kits.

What did you think where all those First Posters and goatse linkers come from?

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (5, Informative)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012714)

It also might not take millions of dollars to do. This could potentially be solved by someone in their garage.

No, that's just not the case. It will take millions of dollars and lots of equipment and infrastructure. We're not talking about technology, we're talking about biology. There are already hundreds if not thousands of people working on the problem (I'm among them). The limiting factors are not the power of our computers, or the whizziness of our mechanical machines, but the understanding of (a) how we can make permanent high-fidelity implants in the brain that do not pose an undue risk to the health of the patient, (b) what, exactly, the language for communicating through these implants is. While the last 100 years has seen tremendous, fantastic progress in understanding the brain, we are still pretty much in the dark as to the fine details, and it's the fine details that matter for a machine-brain interface. Fortunately, recent technological advances (two photon microscopy coupled with ultra-high resolution 3d tissue reconstruction) are going to give us a huge push toward understanding the details in the next few years.

Like I said, I work in the field. To do a very small -- SMALL -- experiment with only half a dozen volunteers who will have a temporary brain implant for two weeks, the non-recoverable costs are about $500,000. That's just for the hospital stays, the costs of the operating room, and paying support staff and the like, and assumes that the surgeon's time is donated, along with all of the important hardware. Remember, this is actually brain surgery. And yes, I have that cost baked into my budget.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (2, Funny)

Cigarra (652458) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013388)

US$ 500k? You've got to outsource that ASAP!

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (3, Interesting)

isomer1 (749303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013442)

I work in an optical imaging lab doing whole animal and human brain imaging studies. As you've mentioned two key points should be stressed for those outside the field.

(1) The project is laughably underfunded. Think more on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars plus for these types of projects to make it through the full FDA approval process. Human trials are phenomenally expensive, to the point where whole established companies can be driven to bankruptcy through the process (ART in Canada comes to mind).

(2) Many of the smaller pieces HAVE already been invented. By many different groups scattered around the globe. It will take some sort of insane IP wizardry to combine all of these patents along with the additional research required to meet the specific aims of the challenge.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (3, Informative)

vix86 (592763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013518)

I suppose this might fit in with your (a) but...

I read a BCI panel report put together by Theodore Berger some 3 years ago and the one thing I took away from the report was that the problem with BCI right now (for invasive implants) isn't the matter of "Where to put the implant" and "How to communicate," but a problem with keeping it permanently there. I hadn't realized prior to reading that report that the body was actually the number one "enemy" in any kind of long term study involving invasive implants. At the time that panel report was published (2007), the longest running implant had been just about a year. There were still a lot of open questions as well as to what was causing the implants to eventually fail.

Unless the implant tech has improved in the last 3 three years; it seems to me the biggest hurdle will be getting implants that can last longer than a year.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (1)

Mashdar (876825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012838)

It also might not take millions of dollars to do. This could potentially be solved by someone in their garage.

I'm not sure what this person is envisioning, but it has to be disgusting.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012946)

It's a thankless job, but somebodies got ta do it! Peelin' off the tissue inch-by-inch, skinnin' off the muscle tooooo. /Repo

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012282)

One aspect to this is programming the mind itself.

To some extent we already do this naturally with our learning and memory forming cognitive capabilities. Simple programs are easily written to our minds.

THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING
YOU ARE NOW BREATHING MANUALLY

It will take time to build a language in which we can program more complex behaviors, but I have no doubt it is possible.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012378)

One aspect to this is programming the mind itself.

Especially programming the jury's minds to give you the prize. :-)

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (4, Funny)

RealErmine (621439) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013028)

THINK ABOUT YOUR BREATHING
YOU ARE NOW BREATHING MANUALLY

Oh no! Now what do I do? How do I know that once I stop thinking about breathing that it will continue? Oh, cruel Fate! Must not get distracted...

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (4, Informative)

pz (113803) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012314)

My understanding -- as a complete outsider to the field -- is that a lot of the elements are already there.

My understanding -- as an insider in the field -- is that you are correct. I work in the field of visual prosthetics. There are Phase II clinical trials underway for visual prostheses based on retinal stimulation, and a handful of researchers, like myself, who are looking at alternate approaches that include a more direct brain interface. To create a crude machine-brain visual interface, you need: (1) a digital imaging device, like a web cam, (2) a means to translate the image into the neural signal, like a wearable computer, (3) a computer-controlled multi-channel stimulator, like are used for cochlear implants, (4) a brain electrode, like are used to treat Parkinson's disease through Deep Brain Stimulation, or are used on the cortical surface to treat epilepsy. The parts are all there; it's really just a matter of integration, optimization, and getting FDA approval to try it in blind volunteers.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012386)

A brain/computer interface already exists. How else can one explain the ease with which Mitt Romney can be reprogrammed?

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (1)

Mashdar (876825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013138)

While I grant that some vision restoration experiments are promising, the rest of what they are talking about is not at all within our grasp. The only reason vision (and for that matter auditory) implants are successful is because the person already has a functioning nerve group for input and the brain systems developed through prior use. In cases where people have been without vision for too long, or where there has been damage/degeneration of the neural pathway, such techniques have had little positive effect.
When you start talking about the "replacement body", this may have similar nerve bundles pre-existing if the injury is outside the brain and occurred in the recent past. I will yield there is fair promise in the programs in which they re-map nerves to enervate existing muscle and then use sensors to detect muscle twitches, but there are no great methods of establishing direct signaling from nerve to machine yet.
None of the above are brain machine interfaces, at least not in the direct sense. Direct BMIs (not relying on existing nerves for IO) have so far not been able to do much of anything in real time.
And the GPS "feature" is likely many decades away. And would probably require claiming some significant portion of the brain already in use. A compass would probably be implementable in the near future (10+ years), if we can find some long-lasting solution to encourage nerve-diode interfacing.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013294)

My understanding -- as an insider in the field -- is that you are correct. I work in the field of visual prosthetics. There are Phase II clinical trials underway for visual prostheses based on retinal stimulation, and a handful of researchers, like myself, who are looking at alternate approaches that include a more direct brain interface.

Then what are you doing posting on slashdot!?! There's 10 million at stake! If you're really so close, get back in the lab and make yourself a multi-millionaire!

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012326)

My understanding is that while brain-to-CPU is now quite advanced, direct feedback is missing.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012446)

It depends. I've read about a lot of low-bandwidth, one way brain->computer interfaces, and a lot of clever hacks to have sensory-restoring computer->brain interfaces, but if the rules call for a two-way computer-brain interface, that still seems a far way off.

We're not even close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012586)

If you read the article you would have noticed that they require a full feedback loop and in fact full neural communication between a human brain and a computer. The article surmises that this prize will be won in 10-20 years which is reasonable considering that we still do not have the ability to even accurately map active neural networks in the brain let alone communicate with them in real time.

Re:We're not even close (4, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012764)

> we still do not have the ability to even accurately map active neural networks in the brain let alone communicate with them in real time.

Does the prize apply if the BCI only works if it is installed at an early age?

That way we don't need to have accurate maps of the neural networks (which are likely subtly different for each brain).

We just put the interface in, and let the brain learn how to use it - just the way tetrachromats get four colour vision while most humans have 3 colour vision.

Or how humans can learn how to use echolocation, see with their tongues (google seeing with tongue), or see with sound that's derived from videos/pictures ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0lmSYP7OcM [youtube.com] ).

Re:We're not even close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31013522)

... humans can learn how to use echolocation, see with their tongues (google seeing with tongue), or see with sound that's derived from videos/pictures ...

You left out thinking with one's gonads.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (5, Interesting)

Mashdar (876825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012688)

I have a small bit of experience in this field (having attended lab meetings for a University group partnered with the lab of Duke's Dr. Miguel Nicolelis).

I frankly have to say that the resolution in non-surgical methods is just not there, and is not promising. Surgical methods, on the other hand, are fairly invasive, and have yet to yield long-term success. And by success, I mean prediction of a single motor event, ie a mouse pushing a lever. Implants tend to degrade in signal quality over time.

Given that we cannot yet accurately predict simple motor events (which should have very easy-to-identify motor cortex manifestations), the idea that we are anywhere near interacting with conscious thought (which we still have no concept of the physical manifestation of which), is wrong. To put it in CS terms: Our data path is lossy and degrades with time. We have no idea what format the data is in, or even the data structures involved. We can tell that there is traffic on the network, but little else.

i am homer of borg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31013230)

/.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (1)

Yevoc (1389497) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013304)

The elements are not really "there," unfortunately, as this demands electrode implants, which are a long ways off from being reliable/safe. As an electrical engineer who built electrode devices to read muscle commands, I can also tell you with confidence that invasive methods are the only possibility, as noninvasive brain/nerve scans are simply too weak to make confident guesses on what you're thinking. 95% is the absolute best I've ever seen for non-invasive in very unrealistic settings (thinking of a single word or looking at a particular picture for tens of seconds), and while 95% sounds great, it means it would do the wrong thing for you in 1 out of 20 commands. Granted, there is a lot of work on invasives, but most engineers won't touch it with a 100 foot pole, as invading a person's skull = FDA regulation until you drown. Because of this, progress is glacial instead of the frantic pace of innovation people are used to in the electronics industry. If you get your technology wrong in even a very subtle way, the class action lawsuit you face from incapacitated customers will dwarf the $10 million prize.

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013344)

Yeah; for example: does banging your head on the keyboard count?

Re:This will be one of the shorter X-Prize contest (1)

trust_jmh (651322) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013424)

My understanding is very little has changed in the last 10 years. Slashdot keeps posting on supposed BCI progress but it just seems more of what has been available beforehand is making the headlines.

The problem seems almost like asking for true AI but people are so board of hearing it for 60 years, something different has been set.

Virtual telekinesis and telepathy (2, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012210)

Yay for virtual telekinesis, telepathy, auxiliary video in and digital "videographic" memory.

Except that DRM and restrictive Copyright laws will probably cripple it...

Re:Virtual telekinesis and telepathy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012424)

We're sorry but the memory you are trying to access has been removed due to a copyright claim by the MPAA.

Re:Virtual telekinesis and telepathy (5, Interesting)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012516)

Don't worry. You'll only get such messages in the beginning. As technology advances, you'll simply forget that you've ever seen it (which has the additional advantage for them that you might go again to see it "the first time").

Re:Virtual telekinesis and telepathy (1)

netruner (588721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012576)

That's one good thing about the human brain - the designer doesn't claim DMCA protections on it. However, there's also no warranty - oh, and you only thought that Microsoft was tight lipped about their APIs.

Re:Virtual telekinesis and telepathy (1)

Mashdar (876825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013222)

Brain DRM has already been patented. If you attempt to implement it, expect years in and out of court, and finally an order to compensate the patent holder with some fraction of the souls of your customers.

Re:Virtual telekinesis and telepathy (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013576)

Yay for a hive mind, perhaps?

Re:Virtual telekinesis and telepathy (1)

MortimerGraves (828374) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013618)

And who are you going to trust enough to buy their direct brain interface?

The Apple iMind? All shiny, but locked down and proprietary...

The MSBrain? With that unfortunate "blue scream of death"... :)

It's already done (2, Insightful)

SerpensV (1325715) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012220)

What are the exact rules? Some BCI devices have already been made.

Re:It's already done (2, Informative)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012772)

From TFA it looks like they haven't set the goals yet.

Sight (1)

holmstar (1388267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012224)

Isn't sight for the blind already getting close? (ok, last I heard it was B/W only and the resolution was ridiculously low, but it was still a brain machine interface)

Re:Sight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012432)

I think those still depend on the optic nerve being intact. And thats not exactly useful when degeneration sets in or retinal detachment in the center of the eye has caused damage. We're getting close but black and white plus such a low resolution that you probably can't even see a lot of things in 3D for those lucky enough to have a good optic nerve isn't exactly "sight for the blind".

Trust me, watching your retinas tear, detach, scar and tear more while intentionally scarring it in strategic places from age 13 forward and knowing that eyes only get worse as you get older isn't much easier to take if when its done you can still get some black and white back.

Re:Sight (1)

holmstar (1388267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013500)

Actually, I'm talking about a different approach, one that actually uses a set of electrodes in contact with the brain.

communicate from dreams (5, Interesting)

trybywrench (584843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012226)

I want a way to communicate with the outside world from within a dream. If you could get lucid dreaming perfected you could get a day's work in while your physical body is resting. Then when you're awake you have the day off. ...of course i'm sure this will just devolve into working during the day and when you're asleep too heh.

Re:communicate from dreams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012292)

where's the oblig xkcd?

Re:communicate from dreams (3, Funny)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012304)

Personally, I'd prefer an interface from the subconscious to the outside world. Then you can do your work without even thinking about it.

Re:communicate from dreams (2, Insightful)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012700)

I don't think my subconscious would do my job very well even if it wanted to.

Re:communicate from dreams (3, Funny)

SerpensV (1325715) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012338)

Try this: http://xkcd.com/269/ [xkcd.com] Apart from that, I've heard about experiments where vertical or horizontal eye movement was used to comunucate yes/no signals from the sleepers to the outside world.

Re:communicate from dreams (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012684)

I had lucid dreaming perfected during high school, though I'll be honest, I would prefer to work the day and rest in my dream.

My dreams could be anything I wanted them to be. More fantastical than a Role playing game and more stimulating than a girlfriend. Now that I look back on it, I don't think I'd be able to get any work done, even more distractions than the internet.

Re:communicate from dreams (1)

Mashdar (876825) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012760)

I do not believe you would experience the benefits of REM sleep if there was real input. Sleep is not for your body, but for your brain :D

Re:communicate from dreams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31013256)

You're forgetting that as soon as it's possible to complete work from inside your head, work schedules will change to reflect the worker's ability to work while sleeping. You think that a brain control interface while sleeping would be used to give yourself free time during your waking hours? No, it would be used to turn the last bastion of the human experience, sleeping and dreaming, into the 24 hour schedule.

Re:communicate from dreams (1)

KnownIssues (1612961) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013350)

I'm guessing you're half jesting, but I see a few problems with that concept. First, even if you could get lucid dreaming perfected, could you keep up a lucid dream for 6+ hours? Second, I have to believe maintaining a constant conscious state couldn't be good for one's health. It just doesn't strike me as likely that either evolution (or God) would have developed a sleep cycle for no good reason. If we could function day and night without sleep, we'd have a major survival advantage and would have almost certainly developed that ability.

Just remember for safety (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012228)

use optoisolators for any sensors attached to the human body.

The Keyboard (0, Offtopic)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012270)

I have this device with 104 keys on it that, without even speaking or looking at said device, can transmit commands to a computer. It only requires neurological impulses to transmit down to one's fingers causing a force compression on an electric button, which then sends a signal to the computer, which interprets said signal as directed.

Re:The Keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012380)

Yes, and one of the ideas of this X prize is for your neural impulse to bypass your fingers and keyboard to transmit directly to another computer.

Win Criteria? (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012274)

I wonder what the criteria is for winning? Do you have to be able to move something physical? Move a mouse or press a button? According to this wiki article, [wikipedia.org] they've already had some success with the non-humans.

Re:Win Criteria? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012742)

Turns out the only requirement is RTFA.

Re:Win Criteria? (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012804)

There are some pretty good bionic / cybernetic / prosthetic arms with over twenty degrees of freedom, that are controlled by what's left of the arms original nerves. As for the requirements, the TFA looks like they haven't yet been determined.

Re:Win Criteria? (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012990)

Hrmmm...that makes it even more curious. I'm assuming that what they want is the cybernetic equivalent of a private sector space launch, you know? But I wonder what that could be? Maybe complete control of a UI where you can press buttons and write sentences just by using precognitive functions? As you and some of the other posts have pointed out, many of the building blocks are already in place.

Depressing (2, Funny)

symes (835608) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012302)

But if we pipe the internet directly into the brain will this make us even more depressed?

Re:Depressing (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013130)

If by "us" you mean, "the internet" yes, I can assure you, "we" will be even more depressed than we are after reading the millions of blogs out there.

Signed, the internet.

And the other obvious use. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012354)

'will reward nothing less than a team that provides vision to the blind, new bodies to disabled people, and perhaps even a geographical 'sixth sense' akin to a GPS iPhone app in the brain.'"

....and let's you jerk off without even pulling your pants down.

Actual information (5, Informative)

Stone Rhino (532581) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012390)

The article linked is spammy and terrible. For the actual information, see the newsitem on the xprize site [xprize.org] or the linked details [singularityhub.com] . Basically, there is no prize yet but they had a workshop to begin working out A. Rules for a prize and B. What is achievable. The actual prize would be announced in about 8-14 months.

iPhone GPS app? (1)

spammeister (586331) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012402)

Need some way to know where you are at? There's a map for that!

Seriously, let's just work on getting "brain in a jar" to a functional state, and get the kinks worked out before Apple gets a hold of it and turns it into an iBody.

iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012420)

"a GPS iPhone app"

What? This doesn't have anything to do with iPhones

Not enough. (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012462)

To sell my soul. Cause we all know where they will be using this technique. And it will cost us all a lot. -we don't need no education, we don't need no mind control. It's just another brick in the.... -

Re:Not enough. (1)

SerpensV (1325715) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012588)

As long as you have no input to your brain, you're safe.

Re:Not enough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012680)

True, but they'll just reprogram our brains not to care. So no one will care. And then it will be all good.

Great Idea, probably won't affect consumers (1)

TheRon6 (929989) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012468)

I *love* this idea. Neural interfaces are still very much in their infancy with the best commercially available probably being the OCZ NIA [ocztechnology.com] and even it is mostly a glitchy gimmick at this point. But the standards they're considering for this X-Prize seem very high. Providing vision to the blind and being able to control virtual bodies both require an understanding of very intricate neural operations that we probably won't see for many years. Sure, there's been devices created that can sort of do these things already but not on levels that can significantly help the disabled. All the more reason that this prize is a good idea since it will hopefully draw interest to the appropriate fields of study. Unfortunately the kind of things that they're talking about will almost certainly require implants. Further advancement in non-implanted interfaces will undoubtedly be much slower so don't assume that you're going to be roaming the hills of Azeroth as if you were actually there any time in the next 20 years. But hey, hopefully I'm wrong.

Have you seen Al Gore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012474)

That guy has to be running off a ti-83. TRS-80 CoCo at best.

Re:Have you seen Al Gore? (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012566)

That would assume he can actually add 1 + 1. I think Al Gore is running off of a "speak and spell" by the way he talks. Either that or he is running of the device E.T. built utilizing a speak and spell... "Al Gore, Phone Home"....

I can think of a few people ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012538)

... that need the occasional "Alt+Ctrl+Del" combo.

Re:I can think of a few people ... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012610)

I like to think of the whole planet as a system; each of us as an application in part of the global operating system.

In which case I'd settle for widespread use of alt-F4.

I was reluctant at first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012552)

I used to be reluctant about the idea of a brain-computer interface. I wasn't so sure I wanted to become dependent on a computer to function. Then, while I was looking at the 6th work-related wikipedia article of the day (and probably 20th wikpedia article of the day), I realized I was already dependent on a computer to function. Since then, I say, bring it on! Wire the internet directly into my brain.

Re:I was reluctant at first (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012640)

You'll think differently about this as soon as someone rooted your brain.
On second thought: No you won't.

Real Futuristic Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012564)

Yea! Let's hear it for real futuristic technology, and not plebian cellphones!

Wait a second, how dangerous is this? (1)

Rhalin (791665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012636)

Ok, I know the "X-Prize" in general is not without it's risks. But with the Ansari X-Prize, a lot of those dangers could be mitigated before testing. Yes, we can passively monitor the brain for all kinds of great things- memory, motor control, etc. However, it looks like what they want is active input directly -to- the brain from a device. I think they're treading on very dangerous ground here, and "somebody working in their shed" would be a bad person to be feeding electrical current into a live brain... Just my opinion.

Re:Wait a second, how dangerous is this? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013008)

It is 5 dangerous. As long as they put in some boilerplate, I doubt there will really be any way to hold them responsible when some doofus wires his brain to a car battery.

Not to mention that there are already people doing similar stuff to real live patients.

Cyberbrain sclerosis (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012654)

So what will we do when people start developing Cyberbrain sclerosis? Who will be liable, will it be the indivdual or group who invents the interface or the one who manufactures it or the neurosurgeon who installed it?

And also will section 9 be involved?

Re:Cyberbrain sclerosis (1)

SerpensV (1325715) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012694)

So what will we do when people start developing Cyberbrain sclerosis?

You'll get micromachines, People liable will get the vaccine.

Real question is will the Laughing Man be involved.

Re:Cyberbrain sclerosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012844)

So what will we do when people start developing Cyberbrain sclerosis?

You'll get micromachines, People liable will get the vaccine.

Real question is will the Laughing Man be involved.

neither the individual eleven will be behind it and we all get tachicomas

Re:Cyberbrain sclerosis (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013446)

I thought I'd like to see what it's like to be you for awhile.

Non-Standard Interface (2, Insightful)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012676)

The big problem I see is that unlike regular computer interfaces, which have tightly defined specs for physical connectivity, voltage levels, signalling etc, brains tend to be unique, irregular and dynamic, with only very rough maps available of which area has which function.
  Unlike TCP/IP, There's no clear distinction between the link, transport and application layers to work with in the brain, they blend together. So it might be possible to implement on an individual level with a ton of work, but I can't see it happening generally.

What's the Frequency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012708)

OK I have to ask, they're beaming it into by brain, What's the Frequency? I'm told it works best on people named Kenneth?
That's my name .

Prize not needed and too small (5, Insightful)

Grond (15515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012860)

A $10 million prize is absolute peanuts compared to the obvious commercial value of a usable, non-invasive (or at least low-risk) BCI. Just for starters, an effective BCI would largely solve some of the major side effects of a stroke. That right there is a massive, multi-billion dollar market. Another $10 million is not going to substantially stimulate research and development in this area. It's like offering $10 million for a cure for cancer.

Furthermore, this is an invention with applications in dozens of areas. The company or individual that invents it would be swamped with licensing offers.

Compare this to the original X-Prize. There a prize was useful because there was no substantial pre-existing market for the technology being developed and there were relatively few areas of application for the technology. Under those circumstances a prize model makes sense.

But for situations like this one we already have a prize; it's called a patent. Even better, the value of the prize is determined by the market, so there's less of a risk of under or overvaluing the invention.

Re:Prize not needed and too small (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013368)

"Compare this to the original X-Prize."

I've always thought the X-Prize awards were kind of silly in that the offered prize seemed too small given the R&D expenses, and potential market value of the accomplishment.

Then I realized this is just clever Venture Capitalism. You want to throw $10M into a startup, to help it with a portion of startup costs for bringing the project to market. You don't want to throw a lot of money at R&D in the initial phases when you have no idea if the person/team/company in question will be able to deliver something legitimate or not. You want to bring press coverage and prestige to the winner so they can attract even more money from other private investors (or possibly public money from places like DoE, DARPA, Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines), and a little Golden statue, in this case, would probably not be sufficient to bring much press attention, but say it is a $10M contents and *maybe* the press will pay attention.

Sure, throwing $10M into a startup doing commercial space flight or Brain Computer Interfaces, etc, is peanuts compared to the eventual payoff from the market, $10M is still $10M and should at least provide a little help to anyone struggling to bring a great, proven idea to market.

So, there you have it. I think you're right that the prize isn't really sufficient as a prize, but if you think of it as an investment and an effective PR stunt, then it's still useful, I suppose.

Re:Prize not needed and too small (2, Insightful)

Grond (15515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013630)

Then I realized this is just clever Venture Capitalism. You want to throw $10M into a startup, to help it with a portion of startup costs for bringing the project to market. You don't want to throw a lot of money at R&D in the initial phases when you have no idea if the person/team/company in question will be able to deliver something legitimate or not.

Actually venture capitalism is usually most valuable at the R&D stage. The X-Prize is a VC who only wants to come in after the idea has already been proven. At that point you normally have no shortage of (non-VC) investors. Where you still need VC is when it's uncertain whether there's actually a market for the product or not.

That's why the space flight X-Prize was useful. Even once you had the proven technology there was no guarantee you were going to be able to recoup your costs because the market was so uncertain. The X-Prize helped overcome that by trying to ensure that the winner would at least break even. (Of course, the winner actually spent well over $10 million but you get the idea).

In this case, the market is guaranteed. Indeed, there are markets for the limited BCI that we have already. The first truly usable, safe BCI will make billions.

Sure, throwing $10M into a startup doing commercial space flight or Brain Computer Interfaces, etc, is peanuts compared to the eventual payoff from the market, $10M is still $10M and should at least provide a little help to anyone struggling to bring a great, proven idea to market.

The issue isn't getting the money to bring it to market. Proven BCI technology will have no shortage of investors willing to pay for patenting, FDA approval, manufacturing, etc. The issue with BCI is developing the technology in the first place, which requires real VC willing to get in at the R&D stage, existing corporate R&D, or non-commercial funding like NIH grants and university research.

Manned commercial space flight was different. Not only was the technology not there, but the market wasn't necessarily there either. So it needed both early funding (which the serious competitors had) and a guarantee that the investors wouldn't lose their shirts if the market failed to materialize. That's where the X-Prize stepped in.

if you think of it as an investment and an effective PR stunt, then it's still useful, I suppose.

Commercial space flight benefited from the PR, to be sure. But in the case of BCI, there's so much money to be made that the companies that would commercialize the technology will be paying plenty of attention, prize or no prize.

I don't mean to rain on the X-Prize's parade. BCI is a big deal, and I suppose the prize can't hurt. But I think there are areas where they could get more bang for their buck.

Bad Idea (1)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012870)

It will cause a Standalone Complex!

Re:Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31013384)

I hate you weaboo.

Unfair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31012914)

So Carmack has already won, I presume?

KVM... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012916)

...my brain and computer have been using this interface successfully for years.
Where's my money. :-)

Keyboard. (1)

jitterman (987991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012950)

I'll take that reward as a direct-deposit, thanks.

Please no iPhone app in my head! (1)

ChilyWily (162187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31012958)

...even a geographical 'sixth sense' akin to a GPS iPhone app in the brain.'

The possibilities for such an interface are amazing yet I have to say that I really find it distasteful when 'product placement' intervenes in an otherwise fun comment. It casts a pall over the entire comment and denigrates it to marketing-speak.

I think it's already here. (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013026)

I'd be very surprised if this technology doesn't already exist.

Richard Dolan speaks here [youtube.com] about what he terms the, "Break Away Civilization".

The idea being that black budget technology is so advanced, has been growing of its own accord for so long, and is so impossible to reveal given its nature, the result is that people working within its structure are essentially no longer dealing with the same reality as the rest of us. The slaves get sticks and fire while the master of the house gets to use the current technology. The only difference here being that the slaves don't even get to see the technology made possible by their sweat and bondage.

-FL

Banging my head on the keyboard... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013096)

Does that count?

Re:Banging my head on the keyboard... (1)

mugurel (1424497) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013664)

Of course! No brain-computer interface as versatile as the human body.

interesting paradox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31013122)

Oh, come on, this will only attract any new talent if it is completely free of a clue, and clueless won't solve this one. Having that would be worth so much more than any X prize could ever pay that you'd be much better off keeping it a secret outside of some government buyers -- or just selling it.

This is like awarding 10 million for a workable, portable, reliable free energy source, fusion in your pocket. Who would be stupid enough to apply for that prize if they had that? Doh! Yeah, sure, I need a couple mil now, you take the trillions this is worth and take care of all that for me, right?

Double your IQ or no money back, duh, sounds like a good deal to anyone who'd take this one on.

And yes, I know more than a little about the topic. As a published expert on DSP, nerve impulse driven prosthetic arms and legs were simply hard to do -- vision, thoughts? Come now. And who would volunteer for a test and what government would allow such testing even if someone was half close? Could you try this on a monkey and know if it was worth trying on a human?
Dream on, guys.

Yes, one of my alumni did go ahead and do functional MRI brain scans in real time....simple by comparison.

Baud rate? (1)

adipocere (201135) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013290)

For a commercial takeoff, we need to expand beyond quadruplegic patients and the locked-in. Always loved the idea, but let's be honest -- if typing is faster, typing will still win. And that's just output. For input, I don't think competing with something high-speed like vision is all that important. Just a BCI that would allow for IM rates might as well be freakin' telepathy.

Not enough of a prize (1)

proslack (797189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31013454)

Sounds like they expect quite a bit for a paltry 10 million in prize money. Anyone that develops any one of those will probably go public and pocket a hundred times that much.
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