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NeuroGaming Conference Profiles the Rise of Brain-Computer Interfaces

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the building-a-better-skinner-box dept.

Input Devices 31

kkleiner writes "The first NeuroGaming Conference and Expo took place at the beginning of May to showcase the convergent technologies that are paving the way toward gaming with your mind. Tech news has been dominated with stories about Google Glass and the Oculus Rift, which was on display for attendees to test out. Other technologies that utilize EEG are opening up possibilities of a controller-free gaming experience into virtual realities with unlimited potential. 'Deeper questions surrounding the morality of neurogames will be sure to stir debate. As virtual reality technology inches closer to lifelike resolution, should gamers simulate themselves as characters engaged in acts of violence or criminal activity? It’s unpredictable what these games could uncover about the user as neurogames gain insight into a users’ psyche and how they respond to stimuli at a subconscious level. For instance, a game could uncover how its user particularly enjoys shooting at civilians in gameplay. Games might even become expert at diagnosing psychiatric disorders. As computers become exponentially more powerful, game resolution could fully mimic our ever-present reality.'"

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31 comments

Reality and games... (2)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year ago | (#43723739)

>> ..."game resolution could fully mimic our ever-present reality"

Ranging from "unsatisfying" and "depressing" to "induces high blood pressure"

Re:Reality and games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43724045)

>> ..."game resolution could fully mimic our ever-present reality"

Ranging from "unsatisfying" and "depressing" to "induces high blood pressure"

Sure, our real world induces a lot of those "unsatisfying" and "depressing" issues. But our real world also has law and order within, that the average citizen must abide, which may actually cause that stress. This legal and moral constriction may lead to unsatisfying situations and perhaps even depression, as hopelessness sets in due to the inability to truly change a shitty situation.

Now, compare that to any video game where in that virtual world you actually posses the ability to kill someone just for being stupid beyond belief.

Sorry, but in that aspect alone, this is night and day comparison.

Re:Reality and games... (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43724241)

You sound like a friend of mine that regularly gets home after his commute and plays Grand Theft Auto for a while to calm down.

Seems to me this reaction alone should be enough for any politician with dreams of tyranny to embrace violent videogames whole-heartedly - why risk having frustrated people work for real change when they can blow their emotional load in a game and get back to being nice well-behaved grist in your mill?

Re:Reality and games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43726807)

>> nice well-behaved grist in your mill

Now that's a metaphor with pithy tusks!

Brraaaaaaains (3, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#43723825)

All it really does is tell the zombies in the game(and, yes, every game these days has zombies) where to find your brain.

Mind reading (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#43723829)

Another technology always 20 years from now.

Re:Mind reading (0)

Shimbo (100005) | about a year ago | (#43723873)

It's been in Firefox for ages though.

Re:Mind reading (5, Interesting)

dpidcoe (2606549) | about a year ago | (#43724177)

As an owner of several neural interface devices, mainly an emotiv neuroheadset and also the brain controlled cat ears, I can confirm that this tech is not only 20 years out, but use as a game controller isn't even the proper application for it. There's a good ~second of input lag, coupled with poor detection over all, and most peoples lack of ability to control their general brain patterns (of the sort that these devices pick up at least) with any degree of speed or precision makes it a very very poor choice for use with anything that needs to be consciously controlled in a timely fashion. And the problem is more fundamental than simple tech hurdles. Even if we could reliably detect and monitor the output of every single neuron in the brain I don't think it would be possible to build a decent gaming control rig just by the nature of how the brain works.

The cat ears on the other hand are a much better application (and I'm saying this as someone who hates anime only slightly less than I hate furries). They're outputting additional data (your mood, as detected/determined by the sensor) without any conscious input and in a situation in which a few seconds of delay really doesn't make a huge difference. Using detection like this for something such as music selection, subtle lighting changes, changing the notification settings on your phone, etc. are applications that this kind of tech is much better suited for.

btdt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43723857)

think we just happen to live at the crux--when civilization can teeter one way or the other? no way, its been virtual ground-hog day for centuries. every-time we over heat the planet then invent fusion and blow ourselves up. trust me, i know the architect

Re:btdt (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43724411)

Nah man, we already no how to use fusion to blow ourselves up* - it's any other use that presents challenges.

* okay, so really we know how to use fusion to make a fck-ton of high-energy neutrons to drastically accelerate the fission that actually blows shit up. But hey, so long as fissile material is cheap and plentiful there's not too much practical difference.

Just please don't tell me the AI's are stupid enough to use humans as heat-battereis rather than just burning the food directly, or just ignoring primitive combustion tech all together and relying exclusively on their cold-fusion generators. They've got to be harnessing us for our creativity or *something* they couldn't get out of a few more CPUs or a sack of potatos. I'd hate to think that humanity was conquered by Artificial Stupids only margnially superior to that damned Office paperclip.

Re:btdt (1)

smallfries (601545) | about a year ago | (#43728945)

Organising your paragraphs around trolls - it is a brave strategy. I guess that you no some grammar nazi will bite on the first, and who could resist correcting the abortion of a description of a fusion bomb on a tech forum. Don't mind me, I'll just sit here to watch

Obvious ... (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#43723969)

should gamers simulate themselves as characters engaged in acts of violence or criminal activity?

Nope - stick to pornography - its the internet, stupid!

Ashamed to admit it? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43724023)

I'm posting this anonymously for what will be obvious reasons.

First of all I should say that I'm a normal, well-adjusted married man. I was never a sexual deviant and have never paid for sex, I had a grand total of three sexual partners prior to getting married. I view pornography on occasion, but I don't feel like it has any particularly negative effects on my sex life. I dabbled in controlled substances in my 20's, and haven't been in a fist fight since grade 7. I also like video games, but gravitate toward simulations, puzzle games, and adventures. I don't play any shooters or FPS of any kind.

All except GTA. I love that game, and here's the part that I'm ashamed of: I get sexually aroused from beating up prostitutes. I've never admitted that to anyone for obvious reasons, and I can't even explain it to myself.

The last thing I want is a game that starts to judge my neurological reactions to violent or deviant gameplay. It may be helpful in therapeutic situations, but for me... I'll keep fantasy squarely where it belongs. In my own mind.

Re:Ashamed to admit it? (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43724599)

Not so terribly unexplainable - sex and violence have been intimately connected in our species until very recently, only takes a couple minor psycholigical short-circuits for that violence to be redirected from the competition to the prize.

A word to the wise from someone who has dabbled extensively in fantasy: be careful which fantasies you indulge, they have a tendency to feed on themselves and begin to leak into real life. That fact can be used to your advantage to sculpt yourself into the person you aspire to be, or it can shape us into monsters - and there have I think been more than enough psychological studies in the last century to cement the fact that the seeds of monsterousness dwell within us all, and typically not far beneath the surface. (or at least within the overwhelming majority of us - enough that the truly righteous are a low single-digit statistical anomaly)

Re:Ashamed to admit it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43726957)

>> I get sexually aroused from beating up prostitutes.

I get turned on by clearing mine fields.

Re:Ashamed to admit it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43733703)

That's the whole point of the S&M culture... You're not some monster existing far outside the bounds of society.

News flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43724027)

>should gamers simulate themselves as characters engaged in acts of violence or criminal activity
WE ALREADY DO.

These implications weren't amusing the first time, they're even less amusing after testing keeps repeating the same evidence of no connection.

When your grandparents did it, it was "cops and robbers".
When their grandparents did it, it was "cowboys and indians".
When /their/ grandparents did it, it was "whites and OhYouAlmostGotMeThere"

Re:News flash (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43725413)

"come get some"

Benefits and downsides? (1)

fazig (2909523) | about a year ago | (#43724235)

It's always a good sign that neural interfaces become more popular and most likely cheaper as they enter the consumer market. Although I don't see these as viable input devices for the "core gaming" industry, as conservative input devices still have the advantage of accuracy due to decades of engineering, these interfaces become highly interested for disabled people. But there are already a few projects where EEG headsets are used to control motorized wheelchairs, virtual keyboards and similar applications.

As for the fears of a mind police and thought crimes.
There are already plenty of options to create statistics of gaming behaviour, EEG readings could make this easier but will they show different things? For example if a player enjoys killing civilians in a video game, where he thinks nobody can observe him, do we need EEG readings to confirm this or is it enough to count the amount of civilians he killed, in which time frame and in which frequency? Functional MRI [yaledailynews.com] already seem to be successful in measuring racial bias in a better way than traditional tests. To my knowledge EEGs haven't been able to get the required neural responses to make these measurements so far.
Should we be afraid of a 1984 scenario or look forward to Google's Brain-Leech, which might be able to tell us what we want even before we know it even faster?

hmmm... (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43724391)

Given that modern and probably future DRM will require "always online" connections... and businesses tend to monetize every conceivable aspect of their service regardless of how that impacts their customers... and the fact that this week the US federal governments pretty much been proven to be completely butt fucking insane and, I can't believe I'm saying this, Jesse Ventura might not be as crazy as we had all originally thought... It'll be a cold day in hell before I allowed any closed source software to read my mind. I doubt I'd let open source software read it either... but... shit, when we thought this stuff up in scifi novels it was so cool, how'd we ruin it? I give up and am going Amish.

Not a Replacement. (1, Flamebait)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43724491)

WTF is wrong with these humans? It's like they learn nothing about the Universe at all. I can see this type of technology accenting controller play, but not replacing it. Why? Because you do have hands! Yes, Look, I'm not lying! Many of you are using a direct mind machine interface right now, albeit a bit slower than thought, but clearly more refined than the control these helmets allow. Why, for a proficient typist the words spill right onto the page, and even auto-correct without explicitly thinking to hit the backspace key, or navigate the cursor and selection.

Hundreds of Millions of years of evolution have bought humans highly sensitive dexterous appendages for multiple simultaneous Input and Output channels; Yet their "advancements" in "intuitive" user interface are to just leave the most amazing "controllers" on the planet dangling at your sides while they try to detect brain waves? That's so similar to voluntarily grunting as a mode of communication instead of speaking that it lacks humor.

Don't get me wrong, I love new technology, but no you're not replacing the hand held controller. It's how humans have evolved to manipulate the Universe. Thought input doesn't give you the necessary tactile feedback to modulate your input. This is Elementary Cybernetics folks: Sense, Decide, Act.... SENSE. You need sensory feedback in order to decide to act, and thus converge on the proper input level. A keypress, button, or trigger informs you directly by way of near instantaneous immediate sensory feedback in a way that waving your arms about in front of a camera, or wearing a brain-wave detecting hat just can't.

The place for these things is perhaps to pull up and navigate on screen huds or issue commands to squadmates, or select weapon groups, or reactive-paint colors, Minecraft materials, etc. while you continue to control the game with hands and feet. I have pedals for my steering-wheel controller. The steering-wheel has force feedback -- The wheel fights back (it gives me feedback about the game-world). I was never able to compete in racing games until the day after I got that controller. I purchased it to develop games with, not because I enjoyed racing games or ever expected to be able to play them with skill, and yet I now do. The point is that there is plenty of room left for innovation in tactile response controls too. There's no false dichotomy. Hands-free controls can be used along with hand-held controls to give you more control.

It's really like they're not even observing the same damn species, I swear.

Re:Not a Replacement. (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43725315)

resistance is futile

Re:Not a Replacement. (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#43737309)

Not sure why you're rated flamebait. I'd fix that if I had mod points, instead I'll reply.

What says that a direct-brain interface has to be read-only? To be truthful I really don't care much about a gaming interface (Asteroids has been about the limit of my interest), but I'd be **REALLY** interested in an access to stored data and be able to output back to a modeling system. Currently in my profession (physical security) it takes an entire team to:

1) Accept a building design into AutoCAD or its equivalent
2) Apply local, state and federal building codes to the design
3) Locate cameras, access control readers, alarm points, and head ends
4) Plot cable paths between equipment and communication points
5) Create a programming matrix of all those points into the video and access control management system

Speaking from experience, that's an impossible job for less than a dozen people for even a medium-sized project, and even then more often than not it ends up entailing major revisions to reflect the real-world installation (we call them 'red lines', and they're required to be input into the final As-Built design delivered to the customer).

The problem is that our tools are too primitive. If I could stand INSIDE the plans and look around, follow the cable paths, view the camera fields of view, be alerted when some issue comes up against codes, and come up with a descriptive name that fits the customer's naming convention, I'd be a happy camper.

yeah, "profiles" (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#43725305)

it's like economists having conferences about the prospects for a vibrant economy

everyone likes to talk about what they are paid to work towards but will never achieve

Twentyfirst post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43725333)

Yeeeehaaa!

Imagine playing a Silent Hill game on this. (1)

Peterus7 (607982) | about a year ago | (#43726989)

Dear god, that would be horrifying.

It's all fun and games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43728395)

... Until your monsters of the id come out to play...

Need to create a brain plugin....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43729005)

This is not going to do anything, people will still realize it is a simple video game....

When they can figure out how to hack your brain into a computer generated reality, where you can feel emotion, and sensations. everything you experience in real life then you can ask or debate over the "moral" compass of video gamers.

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