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Two Heads Are Better Than One For Brain-Computer Interfaces

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the come-together dept.

Space 57

FatLittleMonkey writes "My mind to your mind... my thoughts to your thoughts... Researchers at the University of Essex have shown that combining the output from two non-invasive 'brain-computer interfaces,' computer-interpreted EEG signals, led to a much clearer signal of the subjects' intention than the output from a single subject. To test this idea, they had two subjects try to steer a simulated space-ship at a target planet, by thinking of one of eight possible directions. While a single user could achieve 67% accuracy, this jumped to 90% when two minds were combined. Researchers believe the technique also compensates for individual lapses in attention, and thus may have applications in real-world space missions."

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57 comments

If I'm thinking it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42779809)

If I'm thinking it, you're probably all thinking it too:
with the addition of another brain it became "crowd intelligence" or "crowd sourced" and is now sufficiently buzzword compliant.

Re:If I'm thinking it (1, Funny)

vlm (69642) | about a year ago | (#42779889)

If I'm thinking it, you're probably all thinking it too:

yeah the little head teams up with the big head to surf for the best pr0n...

with the addition of another brain it became "crowd intelligence" or "crowd sourced" and is now sufficiently buzzword compliant.

Oh. Yeah. That too.

Outsource it to India! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42779837)

They should outsource it to India!

At the price of one British they will have much more accuracy from 10 Indians!

Wow (5, Funny)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#42779861)

I think they just proved that 0.33*0.33 = 0.10.

Re:Wow (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | about a year ago | (#42779913)

I knew I read /. for a reason!

Re:Wow (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#42782625)

So this mind-reading contraption has two helmets, one that goes on my head, and the second goes on my penis, and somehow this provides more reliable results than just using the single one on my head?

Now that's using my dick!

Re:Wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42779941)

Or that P(A) * P(B) = P(A and B), which isn't always true if A and B are correlated.

Re:Wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42780157)

Thats why everyone told you to use that equation for independent random variables only :P

Re:Wow (1)

pesho (843750) | about a year ago | (#42780039)

"It is difficult to stay focused on the task at all times. So when a single user has momentary attention lapses, it matters. But when there are two users, a lapse by one will not have much effect, so you stay on target,"

They correlate inputs from two pilots to improve accuracy, but at the same time in the quote above they assume that the inputs from the pilots would not correlate. Its is not like two pilots in a jet liner would miss something as big as their destination airport. [go.com]

Re:Wow (4, Funny)

foobsr (693224) | about a year ago | (#42780319)

Its is not like two pilots in a jet liner would miss something as big as their destination airport.

Not always.

http://spantax.webs.com/rodolfobay.htm [webs.com] - Quote: "In May 1967, Spantax had received bad press in Germany. To counteract this Rodolfo Bay decided to fly a flight from Palma to Hamburg with German press on board to get good press for the airline. Unfortunately he landed at the wrong airport in Hamburg."

Yes, it is true, I lived in Hamburg that time. They had big trouble to get the bird into the air again as the runway was way too short.

CC.

Re:Wow (1)

BarfooTheSecond (409743) | about a year ago | (#42780491)

But then, what if both inputs are totally divergent. How would they correlate them?
I think they should free some space in the cockpit for a 3rd pilot...

Re:Wow (1)

pesho (843750) | about a year ago | (#42781235)

This is not going to help much, especially if the choice is not binary. Of course you can vastly increase the number of pilots to reduce the noise. But then again it may just turn into something like this [house.gov] .

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42783739)

I think they just proved that 0.33*0.33 = 0.10.

I know this is a joke, but I think it is rather interesting that mechanically applying basic math actually gives almost the same result as the researchers:

    P(A) or P(B) = 1 - (1 - P(A)) * (1 - P(B))

So if we insert numbers,

    P(system interprets at least one of the two inputs correctly) = 1 - (0.33 * 0.33) = 0.8911

This is awfully close to the 90% stated in the summary, and the difference might just be explained by rounding.
[Standard probability disclaimer: The underlying assumption is that the two probabilities are independent.]

20+ years ago (2)

Brad1138 (590148) | about a year ago | (#42779873)

I saw a TV program that showed electrodes connected to one person. That person was able to move an avatar around a 3D environment. Sure doesn't seem like they have come very far...

Re:20+ years ago (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about a year ago | (#42785171)

I saw a TV program that showed electrodes connected to one person. That person was able to move an avatar around a 3D environment. Sure doesn't seem like they have come very far...

20 years ago, it was fake. Today, it actually works.

Finally (2)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year ago | (#42779903)

A positive use for Tasmanian's. Explanation for non Australians found here http://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/T/Tas%20reputation.htm [utas.edu.au]

Could lead to better learning algos. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42779921)

If you were to research multiple people and how they think about the actions and how it translates on screen, it could lead to better algorithms that could be used to learn the device to your type of thinking.

The more people doing it together at once (sounds so lewd), the better the outcome since it would lead to quicker results of "do action, action done correctly, see resulting brainwaves of success".
The whole do static actions and being given a pat on the back is too solid and cold, it requires dealing with more than one thought at once.

Hopefully this research goes further since it would lead to far better BCIs.
The thing we have to remember is there is no such thing as a standard human. But there are standards of humans. Learning from as many people as possible will make the device as foolproof as possible.
Then I can hands-free browse and put my hands under the covers and be comfy when it is cold. You thought I was going to type something else there, didn't you? Oh you dirty people!

This research result was predicted by Pacific Rim! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42779933)

I didn't read the article but I watched the Pacific rim trailer.

Meanwhile, in the lab next door... (4, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#42780107)

While a single user could achieve 67% accuracy, this jumped to 90% when two minds were combined.

Meanwhile, a lone monkey with an hour's training, a penchant for bananas, and a joystick achieved 99% accuracy.

For steering rovers (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about a year ago | (#42780143)

By future space missions, they mean for steering rovers (from ta): But don't hold your breath, says JPL senior research scientist Adrian Stoica. "While potential uses for space applications exist, in terms of uses for planetary rover remote control, this is still a speculative idea," he says.

Of course they would have to weigh this against the benefits of giving the rovers better ai for moving from place to place.

Re:For steering rovers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42780731)

It'd only be practical if you were controlling the rovers from a nearby orbit, otherwise the latency would be terrible.

Elementary statistics? (1)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#42780153)

This would only be a surprise if people would all use their brain differently. On this level, they do not. No surprise here.

Re:Elementary statistics? (2)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#42780311)

That is one of the hot questions in neurology, and one that is far form settled. We still do not have a good idea of how the details vary from person to person... so while perhaps not a 'surprise', it is far from a given.

Re:Elementary statistics? (2)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#42782101)

Anything they do does require they can calibrate on a single individual. Just taking measurements from two individuals (with each their own calibration) will always be better. That has nothing to do with neurology, that is just signal processing 010.

Birds do it, Bees do it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42780175)

Even educated fleas do it. Let's do it; let's form a hive mind.

2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (0, Offtopic)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42780187)

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

9 Two are better than one,
        because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
        one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
        and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
        But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
        two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

[NIV]

Source: BibleGateway.com, Ecclesiastes 4, Holy Bible, New International Version [biblegateway.com]

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (1)

Kerstyun (832278) | about a year ago | (#42780325)

Devil quoating scripture for his own purpos's. What you're advocaating there is communism which is the dimetrical opposite of GOD's way.

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42781361)

Not to mention the whole cord of three strands verse. Clearly implying that Menage a Trois is a good thing!

Menage a Trois (0)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42781483)

It's not relevant to this verse and I don't think it's in the Bible at all, but some Christians find it spiritually helpful to think of marriage as a 3-way intimate relationship, with God being the 3rd, or should I say, 1st, party.

Personally, I think that such ideas work well as long as the two merely-mortal parties in the marriage are in complete agreement on this, but I'm not about to tell someone "if you don't think this way, you aren't a Christian" or "your husband or wife thinks this way, you should too, if you don't, you aren't a good Christian."

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42783857)

God's way is what? Capitalism? I don't think so. If God subscribed to any ism's, communism would be as likely as any. At it's core, before the addition of greed and corruption, communism intends to take care of everyone, and to eliminate the rich, the poor, leaving only a middle class. "Give what you're capable of giving, and take what you need" almost sounds biblical. Almost.

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about a year ago | (#42784369)

God's way is what? Capitalism? I don't think so. If God subscribed to any ism's, communism would be as likely as any.

Actually, a ton of Christian philosophers, economists etc. have tried to answer that. The best result of their attempts, as far as I know at least, is that of what we'd call a "3rd way", called "Distributism".

Distributists agree with communists in the centrality of the means of production, and that it shouldn't be in the hands of a few for them to use it to exploit the masses. Contrary to communists, however, they also don't think it should be in the hands of a single one (the state), but rather spread among as many owners as possible. Thus, they also agree with capitalists in the you must have and preserve private property. But goes against it in that the state should prevent such private ownerships from aggregating into monopolies. They also place a strong focus on small communities, and think that social security must be provided locally, by the well of members of a community to the less well of, thus going against both liberals, who think it must be provided by a centralized state, and conservatives, who think it must be provided by the individual alone. And they think the concept of employment as practiced today is fundamentally flawed, preferring cooperatives of free workers who own their own means of productions to that of employees (who don't) working for someone else (who does).

The best analogy I can think to this is of a world composed of unions who are also companies and who provide social security for their members. In other words, the ideal social model of Christianity would be a world of professional guilds.

The Distributist Magazine [distributistreview.com] offers lots of information. See also the Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] .

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42785891)

That's very interesting. I've never heard of distributism before - maybe I lead a sheltered life or something. (That's a joke - I've led anything but a sheltered life, LMAO)

Only problem I see, as I skim the surface, is that I'm quite anti-Catholic. But, the philosophy looks good. I need to spend some time looking at this. Note, I don't say "spend some time studying", merely looking. I'm to damned old to actually start studying economics, nor am I especially interested.

I do know that where cooperatives are permitted and encouraged, they seem to do well. Those I know about include credit unions, farmer's coops, and rural electric utilities. Members actually have a stake in those businesses, and they might find a small personal loss acceptable, if they know that the loss is going to a business in which they hold an interest.

Personally, I get a small payment from the electric coop every year. It usually equals a week or so of electric usage. Errrr - maybe five days, I never actually did the math.

Thanks for the links!

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about a year ago | (#42786163)

Only problem I see, as I skim the surface, is that I'm quite anti-Catholic. But, the philosophy looks good.

Yep. I like to make a distinction between "Catholicism the religion" and "Catholicism the philosophy". They overlap quite a bit but one can be taken without the other and the later is much more interesting and universally applicable than the former. I myself am not Catholic, but I do absorb quite a bit of their philosophy. After centuries of very serious intellectual development it acquired a "solidity" that most alternatives lack. As such, it's a joy to study for those so inclined, even if they disagree with it in many things (or specially when they disagree -- we in the humanities are weird like that).

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42785601)

What you're advocaating there is communism which is the dimetrical opposite of GOD's way.

I see you're one of those who never reads the bible they thump (also that you don't read much of anything at all and probably don't read all that well, as evidenced by your ignorant "purpos's". It's "purposes", kid), or are a wolf in sheep's clothing. Read John's letters to the churches (you know, Romans, Corinthians, those books between John and Revelations). The early Christians were communists. "Having all things common" means "freely shared."

Greed and selfishness are the ways of Satan, lawyers, and Republicans. "It is as hard for a rich man to enter heaven as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle." Christianity tells us that those who worship money go to hell. Maybe you should get an audiobook version of the bible, since you don't read well?

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (2, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | about a year ago | (#42780507)

Would have never thought that a quote from The Bible would hit me that hard, but my wife died Jan 2 - so.

CC.

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42781203)

Then, I hope in time you will learn to help yourself up.
Take care.

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42781639)

Sincere condolences from a sort of newly wed (1.5 year) AC.

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42781867)

You seem to have ignored that it continues to say three are better than two. Emotional distress does that to you, and religion exploits it. Stay away.

Re:2 are better than 1 - ancient wisdom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42785781)

I could be worse, it could have been a quote from a certain 3 dog night song. My condolences, but be aware that you're lucky; your marraige ended the way marraiges are supposed to end. My marriage died, but the ex can still haunt me through my children.

Will this work at all in the real world? (2)

mianne (965568) | about a year ago | (#42780335)

Or are both pilots going to be texting and surfing for pr0n with the assumption that the other one is taking control?

"It must have been a computer glitch which caused us to run out of fuel and crash into the Atlantic on our flight from Houston to Toledo."

Re:Will this work at all in the real world? (1)

AVee (557523) | about a year ago | (#42781223)

Welcome to 'Democratic Airways', the airline which frees you from the dictatorship of pilots.

Re:Will this work at all in the real world? (1)

Spottywot (1910658) | about a year ago | (#42781291)

Or are both pilots going to be texting and surfing for pr0n with the assumption that the other one is taking control?

"It must have been a computer glitch which caused us to run out of fuel and crash into the Atlantic on our flight from Houston to Toledo."

You haven't got much faith in people have you? You must be a manager :)

Re:Will this work at all in the real world? (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about a year ago | (#42783609)

If the people running my company's operations is any indication, they're not only going to be jerking off, they're going to be blaming the shortcomings on the working person...

anon coward pff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42783149)

common sense tells me that 2 people can do the work of 3 where as 1 can only do 1...if your thoughts affect reality then 2 peoples thoughts about getting it done are going to do more..idk cool stuff..

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