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Mind Control In Virtual Reality, Circa 2013

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the just-thinking-about-one-of-the-best-things-I've-ever-done dept.

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New submitter chrisjz writes "What happens when you combine a virtual reality headset and a brainwave reading device? Here's a simulation showing off what's possible with current technology, using the Emotiv EPOC to read a person's brainwaves for movement in a virtual environment. Along with the Oculus Rift, a VR headset, and the Razer Hydra for hand tracking, this demonstrates another alternative to using omni-directional treadmills or full body tracking for movement and interaction in virtual reality. Consumer level brain computer interfaces are still primitive these days, but it doesn't seem too far off that we'll have virtual reality similar to what William Gibson envisioned in his novels or movies such as The Matrix has shown us."

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35 comments

*have shown us (5, Insightful)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 6 months ago | (#45318523)

We have been able to fly planes up tens of thousands of feet for nearly a century, but we're a long way from flying passengers to even to the Moon, let alone another solar system.

A small step in one direction is rarely a sign that a great leap will be made.

Re:*have shown us (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about 6 months ago | (#45318547)

But multiple small steps in one direction is often a sign that a great leap will eventually be made.

Re:*have shown us (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45318843)

Yes, but there is an upper limit to how far you can go with successively smaller steps, consider Zeno's paradox:

If I stick my penis 1 inch deep into your momma's ass, then 1/2 inch more, then 1/4 inch more, and keep going, will the tip of my dick ever come out the back of your momma's throat? You may think so, after a thousand years. However, the answer is no, and that is why the concept of the limit was developed. However, I did go deep enough, and emptied a cologne bottle's worth of come into her innards. She can take a lot of punishment!

Re:*have shown us (1)

VibratoryDavid (3419769) | about 6 months ago | (#45323891)

And that statement alone is the very basis for all scientific advancement, barring accidental stumble-leaps and acts of genius

Re:*have shown us (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 6 months ago | (#45318937)

Interesting article in the NYT today about the future of education and on-line courses.
They use an analogy to the advent of steam powered shipping.
The first steam boats were very limited in range and capacity and could only operate on rivers.
The trans-Atlantic shipping companies scoffed at the idea.
12 years later steam ships were crossing the Atlantic.
All of the original trans-Atlantic companies went out of business within the next decade.

Disruptive technology is a bitch.

Re:*have shown us (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 6 months ago | (#45323745)

We have been able to fly planes up tens of thousands of feet for nearly a century, but we're a long way from flying passengers to even to the Moon, let alone another solar system.

A small step in one direction is rarely a sign that a great leap will be made.

About 110 years ago (next month), powered flying for a distance of around 200 feet was the best we could do.

Re:*have shown us (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about 6 months ago | (#45324183)

That's my point yo. Flying passengers to the next solar system isn't just about making a series of optimsations to the Wright brothers' design, but about various separate technological leaps which need to be made.

Being able to detect crude changes with EEGs or fMRIs does not necessarily take us anywhere close to Science Fiction tier mind reading/control.

How is this news? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45318575)

The video contains absolutely no original content. It's some teenager who has blown his parents' cash on three gimmicky development peripherals and is using them to play the only demos that support them. If this is news, then I've got about a million "Let's Play" video links that I'd be willing to sell to slashdot's editors.

Re:How is this news? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45318707)

It's important to note that the submitter of the story is the guy in the video. It never would have made the front page if he didn't know an editor here personally. Just dismiss it as another day of /. cronyism and move on.

I question the value (3, Interesting)

undefinedreference (2677063) | about 6 months ago | (#45318651)

For better immersion, we'd be better off if we could somehow intercept nerve signals to the body. Thinking "move forward" isn't the same as "getting up, balancing, and walking", which could theoretically be done completely virtually if we could intercept signals from the brain to the body.

If we did that, we could also feed the body movement commands separate from the brain. Imagine playing a video game for a couple hours while our body rides an exercise bicycle through computer control (at varying intensities based on lactic acid feedback). You could play a video game or work in a virtual environment while your body is essentially at the gym.

Re:I question the value (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 6 months ago | (#45318929)

Some of the necessary wetware already exists in the mechanism that manufactures fake sensory input and intercepts motor nerve outputs while dreaming.

The logical place to intercept that for VR, telepresence, operation of sensory/motor systems including cyborg systems might be right there.

Re:I question the value (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 6 months ago | (#45321457)

Some of the necessary wetware already exists in the mechanism that manufactures fake sensory input and intercepts motor nerve outputs while dreaming.

Or while you're awake, for that matter. Also, tapping into these systems should allowing fabrication of whole new senses and operational controls - there's no particular reason why using Slashdot should involve either optical or motor centers, when the actual content is communications.

Re:I question the value (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45319313)

And then you could get stuck in VR unable to leave, scary. Not Sure I would ever want to put a device capable of intercepting nerve signals like that on...

Re:I question the value (1)

EdZ (755139) | about 6 months ago | (#45319331)

I'd rather skip the whole balancing and walking subsystem for my avatar motion, and instead just to move my avatar like a new limb. Don't think "move forward" as a conscious action, simply move your avatar forward; in the same way that you don't think "right hand, move upwards", you just move your hand up.
The benefit of decoupling avatar movement from physical motion is the ability to do both simultaneously for the most adept, but more generally to avoid issues where you need to 'turn off' signals to the body in order to intercept them for avatar motion (that's one hell of a failsafe you'd need to build in), and even with a safe failure you could end up with inadvertent injury from flailing limbs.
But how would you precisely move your arms and legs in the virtual environment? Well, why have arms and legs in the virtual environment in the first place. If you're not not trying to ape body movements, there little need to ape body layout.

Re:I question the value (1)

undefinedreference (2677063) | about 6 months ago | (#45319981)

This is exactly what I'm saying: You move as if moving your body. The same signals that would go to your limbs through your nervous system could simply be intercepted and interpreted by a computer.

Our bodies are not terribly different from a basic electronic circuit, wiring in a car, a bus in a computer, or even a network, aside from the mechanism of signalling (which is not actually that different). I wouldn't be surprised if nanotechnology reached a level where this would be possible within the next century.

deceptive headline >:( (3, Informative)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 6 months ago | (#45318807)

seriously, "Mind Control"? yeah, i'm sure you were thinking "everyone will know i'm talking about man-machine-interfaces" when you wrote that headline. fear based headlines are NOT helpful.

Re:deceptive headline :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45318871)

You seriously got scared of that headline? Tinfoil hat much?

Re:deceptive headline :( (1)

Toe, The (545098) | about 6 months ago | (#45318959)

You seriously got scared of that headline? Tinfoil hat much?

You seriously didn't? Read the news headlines much?

Re:deceptive headline :( (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 6 months ago | (#45318915)

We've had 'mind control' for over 90 years. It's called radio/TV...

Re:deceptive headline :( (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 6 months ago | (#45319019)

We've had mind control for a few thousand years. It's called "religion".

Re:deceptive headline :( (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 6 months ago | (#45319103)

"Religion" is content. I was talking about the medium.

Re:deceptive headline :( (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 6 months ago | (#45323665)

I think you can argue that religion is a medium, and one of the most effective and robustly self-reinforcing.

Sadly, for the same reasons as it is robust, it's not very flexible. The content is ideas of all sorts, both good and bad. "Brush your teeth" could be a religious cleanliness ritual. So can "throw rocks at unmarried pregnant women".

Some of the oddest things come out of the mouths of people who truly believe their religions in a literal sense. Not believing in a literal sense is tantamount to applying a filter on which content of the religion you will accept (hopefully tossing some of the "throw rocks" stuff that accumulates over the years and retaining only neutral-to-good ideas like "brush your teeth").

I mean, if Marshall McLuhan can argue that a light bulb is a medium then surely religion is one (though I kind of argue against a light bulb being a medium, unless used as a semaphore or something like that).

Mind/Computer interfaces alternatives? (1)

youn (1516637) | about 6 months ago | (#45318945)

I am interested in playing with mind/computer tech and I am curious,aside from the Emotiv Epoc, what is there? a quick search found neursky mindset... just wondering if someone had played with the alternatives and could provide some feedback?

Not "mind control" like zombies (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 6 months ago | (#45319253)

Brain/computer interfaces don't equal "mind control."

Yes, it may make manipulation and brainwashing easier, but you can do that in the real world by feeding people false information and getting them to believe it.

Mind control in the "zombie" sense of the word would be directly stimulating the brain to move muscles around, or perhaps one level more abstract, to directly manipulate "the will" whatever that is. A further level up the abstraction ladder would be to directly manipulate memories and emotions.

As it is, right now we are talking about "reading the mind" but using normal means of providing sensory input.

I, for one, do NOT welcome a world where people think it's okay for lets their brain be directly manipulated by a machine in a way that impacts the will. Yes, I'm fine with "brain pacemakers" to deal with bona fide medical conditions, but not giving healthy people "cyborg brains" for the sake of efficiency or entertainment. That's one ultimimate upgrade [wikipedia.org] that I don't want.

Why I would be really happy about this (1)

Leon da Costa (225027) | about 6 months ago | (#45319745)

So, I recently got diagnosed with ALS. I'll lose function of all my muscles in a manner of years. To me this is promising as it means I might have a better hope of keeping in touch with the world than just using my eyes to point to letters on a virtual keyboard :)

Matrix (2)

pellik (193063) | about 6 months ago | (#45321839)

The summary seems to imply that Gibson made the Matrix. I know he's a popular guy in geek circles, but come on.

yup, not Gibson, but he came close (1)

spage (73271) | about 6 months ago | (#45323143)

The summary seems to imply that Gibson made the Matrix. No it doesn't, there's an "or" in there.

However, William Gibson never envisioned mind control in Virtual Reality either. You jacked in to cyberspace, a consensual hallucination of a graphic representation of data (which never took off, there's no "representation" of the net at all when you jump from Slashdot to YouTube), but Gibson explicitly had his hackers typing commands while jacked in: "distant fingers caressing the deck", "whip moves on those keyboards faster than you could follow", etc.

Gibson's Neuromancer follow-up Count Zero is stuffed with profoundly prescient ideas like fully-immersive telepresence and one of the first descriptions of hanging out with people's avatars in cyberspace, but the closest he comes to a "brain-computer interface" is slotting in a piece of microsoft behind your ear which gives you the knowledge to fly a real plane in physical reality. Similarly, in Spads & Fokkers (his short story with Michael Swanwick) players use a brain interface to control a holographic plane in a videogame: "He fitted the Batang behind his ear after coating the inductor surface with paste, jacked its fiberoptic ribbon into the programmer, ... when it was done, a sky-blue Spad darted restlessly through the air a few inches from his face. It almost glowed, it was so real. It had the strange inner life that fanatically detailed museum-grade models often have, but it took all of his concentration to keep it in existence. If his attention wavered at all, it lost focus, fuzzing into a pathetic blur."

In another comment undefinedreference says You could play a video game or work in a virtual environment while your body is essentially at the gym. Gibson foresaw that too, but “The street finds its own uses for things,” and so Rikki in Burning Chrome is "working three-hour shifts in an approximation of REM sleep, while her body and a bundle of conditioned reflexes took care of business. The customers never got to complain that she was faking it, because those were real orgasms. But she felt them, if she felt them at all, as faint silver flares somewhere out on the edge of sleep."

Gibson's ideas are masterful poetic riffs on the future, but they aren't its operating manual.

Neuronal upgrade booths. (1)

VibratoryDavid (3419769) | about 6 months ago | (#45323949)

Once the technology develops, I can imagine high profile tutors/academies using these technologies in concert with tdcs. Use a virtual reality system to run tests on certain areas of brain function, read the resulting activity, modify the action potential of the section of the brain that is 'lacking', implement accelerated learning sequences using the virtual reality system.

OASIS or Neural Nanonics, please... (1)

SanDogWeps (2882399) | about 6 months ago | (#45326053)

Until I see the birth of one of these (bonus points if you've read the applicable books), I'm going to remain un-excited. Well, maybe except Oculus - that I may get excited over...
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