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"Brainput" Boosts Your Brain Power By Offloading Multitasking To a Computer

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the let-me-give-you-a-hand dept.

Hardware 121

MrSeb writes "A group of American researchers from MIT, Indiana University, and Tufts University, led by Erin Treacy Solovey, have developed Brainput — a system that can detect when your brain is trying to multitask, and offload some of that workload to a computer. Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which is basically a portable, poor man's version of fMRI, Brainput measures the activity of your brain. This data is analyzed, and if Brainput detects that you're multitasking, the software kicks in and helps you out. In the case of the Brainput research paper (PDF), Solovey and her team set up a maze with two remotely controlled robots. The operator, equipped with fNIRS headgear, has to navigate both robots through the maze simultaneously, constantly switching back and forth between them. When Brainput detects that the driver is multitasking, it tells the robots to use their own sensors to help with navigation. Overall, with Brainput turned on, operator performance improved — and yet they didn't generally notice that the robots were partially autonomous. Moving forward, Solovey wants to investigate other cognitive states that can be reliably detected using fNIRS. Imagine a computer that increases the size of buttons and text when you're tired, or a video game that slows down when you're stressed. Your Xbox might detect that you're in the mood for fighting games, and change its splash screen accordingly. Eventually, computer interfaces might completely remold themselves to your mental state."

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We are the borg ...... (1)

servo335 (853111) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996119)

I think this is how the borg began!

Re:We are the borg ...... (0)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996197)

Considering how much more capable even an average person's brain is than any computer we can build today, this is a bit silly. Enhancing the brain by waking some of the ~90% which is unused would almost certainly yield more practical results. Consider the numerous, very complicated instructions the brain is able to run just to walk, ride a bike, or breathe. If we can gain conscious control over that kind of functionality, we'd be formidable.

Re:We are the borg ...... (4, Insightful)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996239)

the ~90% which is unused

Citation needed.

Re:We are the borg ...... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997093)

I think it got twisted to "we only use 10% of our brains" when the original probably was "we only know the function of 10% of a human brain, we don't know what the rest does". And we're seeing the repeat of the same phenomenon with the DNA fragments that we don't understand yet.

Even NDT succumbed to this notion when he asked Dawkins, [something along the lines] "If human and chimp DNA differ by only 1.5%, imagine how much advances we can make if we improved by another 1.5% in same direction". Dawkins responded, a lot the other 98.5% is core stuff that you can't discard. There's a youtube vid of the entire talk.

Re:We are the borg ...... (4, Informative)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997645)

The "We use ~10% of our brain" statement is true for any specific moment in time.
A fraction of a second later you'll be using a different 10% though.
So over a period of time, you'll use most of your brain.

Re:We are the borg ...... (1, Funny)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998061)

I'm not using the sarcastic comment section of my brain right now. You're soooooo lucky. Hmmm... Still can't think of any sarcasm. Thinking of Boobs again. That's got to be more than 10%. Superman Vs boobs?(13%) Hmmm. Must do some work (0.05%) ... Battery screen time drain (65%)

Re:We are the borg ...... (5, Informative)

Psion (2244) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996259)

It is my understanding that the idea we use only 10% of our brain is a myth. [wikipedia.org]

Re:We are the borg ...... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996723)

But somebody proved that your brain actually overclocks when you are in a stressful situation. They took a LED display, had it flicker between two states at 30Hz. Normally, these would be indistinguishable to anyone in relaxed situations. Then they had the volunteers experience a sudden shock (sliding down one of those fairground attractions. If time really slowed down, the volunteers would be able to read the LED display.

Re:We are the borg ...... (3)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999555)

But somebody proved that your brain actually overclocks when you are in a stressful situation. They took a LED display, had it flicker between two states at 30Hz. Normally, these would be indistinguishable to anyone in relaxed situations. Then they had the volunteers experience a sudden shock (sliding down one of those fairground attractions. If time really slowed down, the volunteers would be able to read the LED display.

adrenaline works.. no news there really.

We use 100% of our brains. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996285)

Enhancing the brain by waking some of the ~90% which is unused would almost certainly yield more practical results.

We use 100% of our brains. [snopes.com]

Re:We are the borg ...... (4, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996351)

Considering how much more capable even an average person's brain is than any computer we can build today, this is a bit silly.

The average person is also "more capable" than a tanker truck, but I know which one I'd prefer if I needed to move 5,000 gallons of liquid across the state.

Enhancing the brain by waking some of the ~90% which is unused would almost certainly yield more practical results.

Which 90% would that be?

Consider the numerous, very complicated instructions the brain is able to run just to walk, ride a bike, or breathe. If we can gain conscious control over that kind of functionality, we'd be formidable.

If you gained conscious control over that particular functionality, you'd probably die in short order. Especially if you were trying to multitask.

There are a lot of things that the brain does very well. There are a lot of things the brain presently does better than any computer -- but that list is getting shorter every day. More to the point, computer capabilities are improving much faster than human capabilities. TFA suggests one way to take advantage of this.

Re:We are the borg ...... (4, Funny)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996733)

Which 90% would that be?

The Second 90%. The Third and Fourth 90% are still theoretical.

Re:We are the borg ...... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996923)

There is actually conscious control over breathing- it just isn't required. Otherwise half the meditation techniques in the world wouldn't work because we would always have the same resting rate for breathing (excluding changes from exercise and other factors).

Re:We are the borg ...... (2)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997767)

You are missing part of the equation. We are developing computer power to serve the interests of PHBs and above.

So, the wonderful achievement of science, like many before this like tcp/ip, will end up in something like:

*clippy 2020 pops up*

- "hey, Assassins|jon, I notice your brain is fatigued after the 5 games you played in a row. Let me switch you from "COD XXXII- the Dominicans strike again" to "Teletubby landscapes III...".

- FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

- "... and report you for doubleplus ungood thinking. Enjoy the game!"

Satelite image analysys via subconscious. (5, Interesting)

bd580slashdot (1948328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997915)

Our pattern recognition abilities are still better than computers, although the gap is closing. Much of our pattern recognition capabilities are not conscious but can be utilized anyway.

I think most people mean the 90% we "don't use" is part of our mind that is not conscious. That's pretty accurate in a way.

There's a good BBC Horizon episode called "Out of
Control" How Big is the Unconscious Mind? It gives some awesome examples of harnessing the power of our unconscious mind.

One intriguing example is using a person wired up to measure brain response to identify objects of interest to the military in satelite imagery. These are very high resolution images and take a long time to analyze using normal means. But you can use the pattern recognition powers of the unconscious mind to speed up the process without compromising accuracy. One image is cut up into many smaller images and these are then shown in rapid sucession to the analyst. Some images trigger neural patterns which are associated with interest, object recognition and so on. These images are then set aside and further analyzed using traditional methods including brute force human scanning of the images. Accuracy stays good and output is increased.

Cool huh?

Horizon magnet link:
magnet:?xt=urn:btih:34619356B292593508809F809F313CE4C064FC9A&tr=http%3A%2F%2Ftracker.publicbt.com%2Fannounce&tr=udp%3A%2F%2Ftracker.openbittorrent.com

and torrent:
http://torcache.net/torrent/22DA604A946D2E38C1076574447029393F90320E.torrent [torcache.net]

Oh yeh ... a weird thing about breathing is that it's the only autonomic function that is fully wired with somatic nervous control too. Our breath works unconsciously but unlike other autonomic functions like heartbeat and so on it can be consciously controlled without lots of practice. This can be used to practicle advantage. By using the breath as an object of attention during meditation and by consciously controlling our breathing we can help to reprogram the autonomic functions of our bodies. This happens because both sets of nerves are firing together (the somatic and the autonomic) so the autonomic system is trained too.

Re:Satelite image analysys via subconscious. (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998355)

One intriguing example is using a person wired up to measure brain response to identify objects of interest to the military in satelite imagery. These are very high resolution images and take a long time to analyze using normal means. But you can use the pattern recognition powers of the unconscious mind to speed up the process without compromising accuracy. One image is cut up into many smaller images and these are then shown in rapid sucession to the analyst. Some images trigger neural patterns which are associated with interest, object recognition and so on. These images are then set aside and further analyzed using traditional methods including brute force human scanning of the images. Accuracy stays good and output is increased.

...until the surveillance targets find out, and start papering the landscape with centerfold pictures as decoys.

Re:We are the borg ...... (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999019)

Maybe if we leave the brain stem (the part that is the life support in humans) alone and look at the 'higher' brain functions. It might hold some truth. Perhaps that is where the 10% part came from. There are many people who (at a young age) lost major parts of their brains. They lead active lives when they got older. The people who lost half of their brain are not 100%, but they can do most things just fine. The people who lost less do better. I am talking about young people here. Infants and people under the age of five. If an adult was to have 1/2 their brain removed, they be screwed (not in the fun way). The human brain changes over time. In the young, the brain can re-route things. In the old that does not happen. If we could figure out how and why the young brain can re-route things, we might be able to help older people with brain injuries or illness.

Re:We are the borg ...... (2)

kubernet3s (1954672) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000519)

Most things, not all things. Certainly less than someone with 100% of their brain. If they were using less than 100% of their brains, there should be some part we could just cut out, with no ill effects. However, overwhelmingly, if you cut out any part of someone's brain, they do not take it well.

Re:We are the borg ...... (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996645)

It's not very useful by itself. But as a research tool, it could lead the way to much more important discoveries.

Re:We are the borg ...... (1)

bdwebb (985489) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996731)

The issue at hand is that actual Multitasking is not one of the things that we do well (or even can do as far as all vetted research shows). Specifically with multitasking, if the program can detect when a user is attempting to do this and to send instructions to speed things along to the secondary entities you are attempting to manipulate, it could increase efficiency.

Re:We are the borg ...... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996881)

Considering how much more capable even an average person's brain is than any computer we can build today, this is a bit silly. Enhancing the brain by waking some of the ~90% which is unused...

Anyone who ever even believed that myth for a minute isn't qualified to judge what is or isn't silly with regards to cognition. (For the record, you use 100% of your brain. You use 30% alone for the initial processing of the image coming in from your eye, and that's not counting anything like recognizing shapes or the like, that's simply forming the picture.

Re:We are the borg ...... (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997151)

Enhancing the brain by waking some of the ~90% which is unused would almost certainly yield more practical results

No, if you increased your brain usage by ~90% the amount of excess waste heat would vaporize your blood and make your head explode.

Re:We are the borg ...... (2)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997533)

Sounds like a DARPA grant idea in the making.

Also, to be pointlessly pedantic, you'd be increasing the heat output by 900% not 90%.

Re:We are the borg ...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997173)

Sorry but the 90% "unused" is a myth.

Re:We are the borg ...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998891)

http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/mythbusters/db/human-body/ten-percent-brain.html

Mythbusters got Tory to use 35% of his at once.

Re:We are the borg ...... (1)

Vo1t (1079521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998057)

this is not true, read "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahneman. There are experiments that show that quality of human thinking degrades very quickly when multitasking. Therefore some system that can detect such situation would be very good for activities that require long attention span and are prone to interruptions.

Re:We are the borg ...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998477)

Consider the numerous, very complicated instructions the brain is able to run just to walk, ride a bike, or breathe. If we can gain conscious control over that kind of functionality, we'd be formidable.

That would be like using an interpreted script language where you need optimized assembly code.

Re:We are the borg ...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39999025)

90%

This again?

It shouldn't be too hard to figure this out even without any knowledge of biology or ten seconds on Wikipedia.

We've had thousands of generations of evolution to optimize our biology. Guess what natural selection does to an organism whose oxygen and nutrients feed ten times the brain it is actually using.

Re:We are the borg ...... (2)

No2Gates (239823) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996387)

No, this is how the Matrix was born.

Re:We are the borg ...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996781)

Since when are the Borg mutually exclusive with the Matrix?
This could very well be the beginning of both.

Re:We are the borg ...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996549)

The "borgification" of humanity will, I think, begin within the next fifty years or so... although less industrialized nations may take a few decades longer. Unlike the borg of star trek, however, I expect that people will retain a sense of individuality and personality. The most negative factor about it is liable to be that people who are not "hooked in" or whatever term they might happen to use at the time are probably going to be perceived as effectively handicapped. Those who do so by choice are liable to be effectively discriminated against, as more opportunities for success will be available to those who have adopted such technology.

Augmenting our own ability to think by adding machines to ourselves and interfacing them to our minds, is, I think, the most natural (if you will forgive the use of the word "evolutionary") next step for humanity to take, since I do not think it likely we can ascend to being purely beings of raw energy and do without instrumentality completely anytime within the next few hundred thousand (maybe even hundreds of millions) years.

Re:We are the borg ...... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996599)

Meh. If it means i get a crack a 7of9, sign me up for assimilation...

Re:We are the borg ...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997781)

She can absorb my individuality any time she wants.

Re:We are the borg ...... (2)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999573)

Good call, but I'll just take Jeri Ryan instead.

Re:We are the binar ...... (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000175)

It sounds closer to the Binars of 11001001 [memory-alpha.org]

Their most definitive characteristic is that they are interconnected with a master computer on Bynaus.

When a Bynar is born, a surgeon removes the child's parietal lobe and replaces it with a synaptic processor.

Lulz... (5, Funny)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996121)

If this comes to pass I can just see the 'splash' screen of just about every male on the planet, and it sure as *hell* ain't gonna be a 'fighting game'.

Re:Lulz... (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996173)

Problem is, Live will know that and charge for it.

Re:Lulz... (3, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996205)

If this comes to pass I can just see the 'splash' screen of just about every male on the planet, and it sure as *hell* ain't gonna be a 'fighting game'.

If I can offload all these 'impure thoughts' I may be able to finally get some real work done. I just hope the computer it gets offloaded to isn't a prude ;-)

Re:Lulz... (4, Funny)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996457)

If I can offload all these 'impure thoughts' I may be able to finally get some real work done. I just hope the computer it gets offloaded to isn't a prude ;-)

Odd, I generally offload my impure thoughts to a Kleenex, does wonders for my productivity.

Re:Lulz... (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996695)

I was about to reply the same thing. Masterbation can keep you from being controlled by your hormones. Example: About to cheat on your wife? Beat the meat and see if you still think it is worth it.

Re:Lulz... (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996977)

In other words, "I can take control over my body's insatiable desire for smoking cigarettes by smoking a cigar."

Re:Lulz... (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997041)

That's one way, except that it causes cancer.
Going out for a run would be a better alternative. Once it feels like you're going to tar the trail with your lungs you don't want a cigarette any more.
And the nicotine addiction goes away after a while - as opposed to your sex drive.

Re:Lulz... (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998097)

Perhaps I should've better used, "To control my addiction for whiskey, I'll drink beer."

The fact is you are substituting the urge for sexual release with sexual release. Regardless of whether or not it's with a partner, it's still satiating the desire. To those claiming masturbation gives them control over the urge, have them abstain from masturbation and they will realize it has only enforced the drive, not delivered them from it.

Re:Lulz... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998369)

Sorry boy, but the human sexual desire is as insatiable and irrevocable as our need to eat.
It always comes back because it's just hardwired into our biology.It's not an addiction to a foreign substance or even an "addiction" at all. It's just a normal, natural, and healthy part of life.

Denying sexual release is like going on a hunger strike. Sure, you can pull it off for a while, but your body will eventually catch up with you. Have fun with those increased chances for prostate cancer and nocturnal emissions.

Re:Lulz... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996471)

If I can offload all these 'impure thoughts'

I see what you did there...

Re:Lulz... (1)

gorgonymus gorgward (1936324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997207)

"It looks like you want to work, would you like me to offload your 'impure thoughts' for you?"

Re:Lulz... (1)

belthize (990217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998379)

I think I'll off load the real work to the computer so I can get on with the more interesting bits.

Not enough brainpower (1)

DaKritter (158840) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996149)

to understand what they are talking about. And I am even singletasking.

Re:Not enough brainpower (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996409)

In short it's a headband that detects when your brain is occupied with something other than the task at hand and switches to autopilot for the time being.

Re:Not enough brainpower (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996575)

Which means that businesses will use this to find out how often their employees aren't engaged in their jobs and terminate the slackers.

Re:Not enough brainpower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997275)

Actually, I believe they will use these to found out how often people actually work and then fire them for being competent. At least that seems to be what happens around here.

Re:Not enough brainpower (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997483)

It's not that easy, sometimes it's your job that requires you to multitask.

Hmmm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996159)

Interesting technology. How the summary talks about using it, though... makes me think of those friends who see you are down and just won't leave you the fuck alone about it.

Re:Hmmm. (1)

skids (119237) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997385)

Especially this:

Imagine a computer that increases the size of buttons and text when you're tired, or a video game that slows down when you're stressed.

Do. Not. Want.

Re:Hmmm. (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998513)

Not to mention that it's your body telling you to "STOP what you're and GO TO SLEEP FOR FUCK'S SAKE".

Re:Hmmm. (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999603)

Yeah. Thanks, but I can tell when I'm tired and adjust the computer accordingly, But when I'm that tired, the size of the buttons doesn't matter anyway.

Too closed (1)

pitchingchris (2591965) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996215)

If systems oriented to our state were available, it doesn't really provide as much opportunity for growth. If its always oriented to what we know and want, it wouldn't suggest alternatives to explore. Besides, when I play a game, I usually start out stressed, in order to releive that stress. You wouldn't want your initial state to be used. The adrenaline from playing is what actually gets me pumped.

the hard part (4, Interesting)

samjam (256347) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996225)

The hard part was finding an experiment where they could use the phrase "offload some of that workload to a computer" without a needing cogitative brain interface for the experiment.

Re:the hard part (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996269)

It's a big stretch even then. More like "computer detects state of brain, and then takes over control of a very specific task the the test subject is also doing as a part of the experiment."

Re:the hard part (2)

olau (314197) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997201)

I thought the same. But on the other hand, there's also a tendency that once people figure how to do something previously thought to be requiring fancy intelligence, people diss it with a but that's just ...

I have a ph.d. friend (in psychology) who was working on a pattern recognition problem. Basically show people some patterns, scan their brain to see how they react, then do the same while keeping the patterns secret to the researchers and try to figure out which patterns people are looking at. He ended his long explanation with: and then we're, well, reading people's mind.

If you think about it, it is quite awesome.

Re:the hard part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998163)

But there's that long training period for even simple patterns. And even then, there's still a pretty high error rate even for basic targets.
Every person's brain is different and is constantly reshaping itself.

This isn't like teaching a computer to recognise your speech.
As the initial poster commented, problem is computer knowing what you are thinking.
If you have to spend days to teach it every possible permutation of your thoughts in that task so that it can
usefully help out, you wonder why you didn't just *tell* the computer to start doing a subtask.
Or have the computer do all the tasks on its own without any intervention on your part apart from button pushing to activate task X.

And even if it was like teaching a computer to recognise speech.
Let's imagine the computer recognised when we were stressed and asked to help.
We still aren't at the stage of general purpose AI that you can just run off an english sentence to it, and have it take over.
And again at that point I'd wonder why the computer isn't doing all the heavy lifting from the start, apart from hurting the human's feelings.

So, yeah, aside from games, this seems kinda silly.

All tech developed for pr0n (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996271)

Moving forward, Solovey wants to investigate other cognitive states that can be reliably detected using fNIRS. Imagine a computer that increases the size of buttons...

Um, WRT to those "buttons", all successful technology is first rolled out for pr0n...

Re:All tech developed for pr0n (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997055)

And everything that increases the size of something is first marketed for... you've seen it.

Better with AI assistance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996305)

And, what if both bots were on AI all the time and just taking suggestions from the operator, and you leave the whole quasi-fMRI thing out of the loop.

Would performance improve more?

Would the operator notice?

Will somebody please pull the plug on SkyNet before it's too late?

Re:Better with AI assistance... (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998687)

Agreed. If a task can be partially automated then it should be partially automated all the time, except then a user wants finer control. There is no benefit to having the user do more work that could otherwise be automated, no matter the users mental state.

Re:Better with AI assistance... (1)

Imrik (148191) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999049)

Having the user participate somewhat all the time keeps them active and aware of current conditions in case of a crisis of some kind.

Question (1)

tanujt (1909206) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996315)

Here's my question: Why?

Re:Question (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996527)

A lot of us would like to fly more than one RC helicopter at the same time.

Re:Question (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998725)

Why not just make them autonomous and fly them with point and click?

Re:Question (1)

servicelaptopgsm (2638989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999035)

Maybe to evolve.

woosh (1)

dittbub (2425592) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996325)

I don't even know what this means

multi-threading, not multi-tasking (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996371)

They are offloading multi-threading, multiple robots in a maze doing the same task.

They are not offloading multi-tasking, like I'm currently simultaneously thinking about:
1) /.
2) a really slow data importer I should be fixing, but my brain needs to decompress to unconsciously determine the solution.
3) pr0n, of course.

Re:multi-threading, not multi-tasking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996863)

They are offloading multi-threading, multiple robots in a maze doing the same task.

They are not offloading multi-tasking, like I'm currently simultaneously thinking about:
0.5) pr0n
1) /.
1.5) pr0n
2) a really slow data importer I should be fixing, but my brain needs to decompress to unconsciously determine the solution.
3) pr0n, of course.

FTFY.

And don't forget pr0n...

Re:multi-threading, not multi-tasking (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998741)

And which of these tasks could the computer reasonably take over?

Computers are too 'smart' already (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996419)

I see you are writing a letter. Would you like me to:

- interrupt your work flow and blink at you blankly
- auto capitalize, and bullet whatever you are typing
- hide your menu items based on usage

etc, etc...

Of course! (1)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996461)

Because when I am heavily multi-tasking and am concentrating intensely, it would really help to get some unexpected interface changes and "helpful" suggestion pop-ups.

Clippy: I see that you are trying to work. Would you like me to interrupt everything and change your workspace?

Typical internal conversation (2)

netwarerip (2221204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996469)

Computer: It appears you have an erection. Would you like some porn?
Human: I have only 8 more minutes before Wapner, make it quick.
Computer: I will provide you with the top 3 most downloaded clips of the day.
Human: Sure.
Computer: No increase in breathing or heartrate detected, switching to kink mode:
Computer: Kink mode activated.
Human: Umm...
Computer: Response noted. Increasing blood supply to right forearm.

Re:Typical internal conversation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997097)

Powered by Stark Industries

Re:Typical internal conversation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997559)

Tony Stark: Wanker no matter where you put him.

Not to pick nits, but.... (3, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996533)

Not to pick nits, but offloading functions to a computer does nothing to boost brain power. Brain power remains constant in this scenario. However, the productivity and ability of the individual is enhanced, but technology has always done that.

Re:Not to pick nits, but.... (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998785)

the productivity and ability of the individual is enhanced, but technology has always done that.

You must be new to the Internet.

Re:Not to pick nits, but.... (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999411)

Yeah, This.
Flipping on the autopilot doesn't instantly improve the pilot's skills.

Clippy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996569)

It looks like you're Trying to Write a post to Slashdot.

Would you like Help?

O -Get Help Writing the Post.
O- Just type the letter without Help.
O- Go back to work.
O- Don't show this tip again.

So now I can play WoW and offload having sex? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996621)

So now I can play WoW and offload having sex with the wife?

Re:So now I can play WoW and offload having sex? (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998703)

Not the other way around?

Baked (3, Funny)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996665)

Now, over time, the infrared waves of the fNIR scanner will bake the brain and thus the computer control will take over all tasks over time and the humans will no longer be needed, nor mentally active.

Sounds useless to me (3, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996993)

Sounds useless and contrived to me. It detects high "brain cpu" load for a specific task and then takes over controlling the robots. The computer might as well take over most control of the robots in the first place, since it HAS ALREADY BEEN PROGRAMMED to be able to do that!

If you really want computers to augment humans,
once you have a wearable computer+sensors that are sufficiently advanced you can have them do the following:
1) Continuous video+audio recording in high res of past X minutes, and low res for longer periods. This way you don't have to miss stuff - you can tell the computer to switch to high res till further notice (the past X minutes would already be in high res) and then save it. Eidetic memory for the masses!
2) Continuous background image recognition (look for faces or objects - military version = gun muzzle detection, vehicle detection, anti-camouflage )
3) Continuous background audio recognition (voice etc[1]).
4) GPS+ map + compass direction feedback.
5) Work with "area/location computers" (so that you can more easily control/access location specific stuff - lights, jukebox, climate control, menus, ordering systems).
6) Many more stuff - see below too.

If brain computer interfaces become safe, reliable and good, you could use stuff like "thought macros". For example a fancy computer program would let me link certain thought patterns with certain actions or objects.

That way I can do: [start command][recall object]<some thought pattern>[go][end]. And then the computer recalls the relevant object which could be a video, photo, sound, file or whatever.

I can also do [start command][recall previous][go][send to]<thought pattern of friend>[go][end]. Or get the computer to help calculate stuff, search databases. Or even do "rain man" counting (you could get the computer to highlight/mark the objects it is counting so that you can countercheck that it is counting correctly - humans are OK at detecting if something should be highlighted by the computer and isn't - counting large numbers of stuff fast isn't our forte ).

Thought patterns in square brackets are commands. Though patterns in angle brackets are various thought patterns you choose to associate with a person or item.

Someone smart can probably work out the details and improve on the idea - I hope someone does soon - I'm getting old waiting for the future to arrive. Put it all together you'd have humans with eidetic memory, telepathy, telekinesis, and other super/magical powers. The technology is already mostly there - we've already got some sort of telepathy with mobile phones etc. Heck in the 1990s I was hoping wearable computing would take off and we'd already have this "magic" by now.

The main hindrance to progress I see would be copyright and patent law. You'd be crippled by DRM and you wouldn't be able to walk into a cinema without all that stuff being forced off.

[1]Military versions could also do sniper location assistance from "crack-thump", possibly more accurate if sharing data from teammates - assuming all clocks are high res and synchronized - and teammate positions are known accurately (could be possible with UWB).

Re:Sounds useless to me (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998293)

If you really want computers to augment humans,
once you have a wearable computer+sensors that are sufficiently advanced you can have them do the following:
1) Continuous video+audio recording in high res of past X minutes, and low res for longer periods. This way you don't have to miss stuff - you can tell the computer to switch to high res till further notice (the past X minutes would already be in high res) and then save it. Eidetic memory for the masses!
2) Continuous background image recognition (look for faces or objects - military version = gun muzzle detection, vehicle detection, anti-camouflage )
3) Continuous background audio recognition (voice etc[1]).
4) GPS+ map + compass direction feedback.
5) Work with "area/location computers" (so that you can more easily control/access location specific stuff - lights, jukebox, climate control, menus, ordering systems).
6) Many more stuff - see below too.

Sounds like you've either already read, or should read, Elizabeth Moon's "Vatta's War" [goodreads.com] series... :)

It's a great 5-book sci-fi series in which these sorts of brain/computer interface devices are quite commonplace. Artificial eidetic memory, command codes for database access, environmental controls, communication, memory storage, etc. It's very well written: if you haven't read it already I suggest giving it a try!

#1 = Trading in Danger
#2 = Marque and Reprisal
#3 = Engaging the Enemy
#4 = Command Decision
#5 = Victory Conditions

Crime Stopper (1)

Keith111 (1862190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997015)

With this technology we could start arresting criminals even before they commit the crime! Imagine the money saved by not having to investigate anything or in medical bills of the potential victims!

Re:Crime Stopper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997525)

You should then "Neanderthal Parallax" series, by Robert J. Swayer.

Summary's optimism is cute (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997257)

But horrifically naive.

Video games and toy robots aside, I can't think of any particular situation where this would provide a benevolent use, but I can imagine endless possible scenarios in which it could be used for malevolent purposes... Come to think of it, the example of a "Xbox... detect[ing] that you're in the mood for fighting games, and chang[ing] its splash screen accordingly" kind of exemplifies my point, since the reason it would react in such a way would be for marketing and advertising purposes, which are inherently evil IMO.

Sure, it's neat tech, but far less benign than the summary writer seems to find it.

Aww... isn't that cute? (2)

firewrought (36952) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997451)

Let the little human pretend he's in control, but put those functions back on a CPU the moment he starts slipping up.

Seriously, if a task can be offloaded to a computer, that's where it belonged in the first place. [Outside some sort of educational/cultural endeavor for the brain in question.]

CLIPPY CAN READ YOUR MIND!!! (1)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997541)

"I see you're trying to do several things at once. Which jobs may I screw up for you?"

what could possibly go wrong? (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997565)

Eventually, computer interfaces might completely remold themselves to your mental state.

enhance your calm, citizen?

In Soveit Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997967)

....computer CTRL-ALT-DELs you!

No big - I've been studying this for years (2)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998739)

I never referred to my studies as "bra input" like they did but I guess that's what it takes to get funding. All my research has been self-funded...

Poor-mans fMRI (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998961)

It's a bit misleading to call fNIR a "poor-mans" fMRI. They are very different beasts that address different problems. NIR sits somewhere in-between EEG and fMRI. It's faster than fMRI (but not as fast as EEG) and has better spacial resolution than EEG (but not as good as fMRI). The real weakness of NIR is that it can only measure a few centimeters into the brain. But at least you don't need to sit in a claustrophobic magnet.

Re:Poor-mans fMRI (1)

kubernet3s (1954672) | more than 2 years ago | (#40000465)

MRI was invented in the building I am currently in. The NMR spectroscopist, and the IR spectroscopist not fifty feet from where I am sitting both just had massive heart attacks when that sentence was written.

Hmmmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39999057)

"Brainput reduces brain effectiveness by successfully hiding machine interference."

FTFY.

Does This mean.. (1)

ihaveamo (989662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39999663)

...I have a chance of WINNING a game of starcraft 2???.
Sign me up.

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