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DARPA Working on Spidey Sense for Soldiers

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the everyone-riding-the-hype-wave dept.

Upgrades 191

anti-human 1 writes to tell us Wired is reporting that DARPA is developing a new optics system to help soldiers identify threats earlier. "The most far-reaching component of the binocs has nothing to do with the optics: it's Darpa's aspirations to integrate EEG electrodes that monitor the wearer's neural signals, cueing soldiers to recognize targets faster than the unaided brain could on its own. The idea is that EEG can spot 'neural signatures' for target detection before the conscious mind becomes aware of a potential threat or target. [...] In other words, like Spiderman's 'spider sense', a soldier could be alerted to danger that his or her brain had sensed, but not yet had time to process."

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1 step closer (5, Funny)

Vexor (947598) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958671)

Now if I could just get this web shooter to work.....

Re:1 step closer (2, Interesting)

tritonman (998572) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958727)

This kind of stuff scares me. How can you tell if someone is thinking about killing you or wishes that you were dead? Sometimes I wish someone was dead, but I wouldn't go kill him or tell someone to kill him. Pretty soon if you disagree with someone, you will be taken as a threat and executed as some sort of preemtive strike.

Re:1 step closer (1)

Eideewt (603267) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959317)

Yeah pretty scary. Binoculars that pick out hard-to-see things for you.

Well for starters... (5, Funny)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958953)

The web-shooter goes in your wrist, not your

{no....I just can't bring myself to finish that one.....}

Re:1 step closer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18960609)

http://www.howdoishotweb.com/ [howdoishotweb.com]

Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (5, Interesting)

nexuspal (720736) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958705)

I was reading a military close quarters combat manual and they made reference to a "sixth sense". It stated explicitly NOT to look directly at the enemy before you walk up to them and kill them silently one way or another. You are supposed to look at the ground by their feet and not think about them before you "off" them. It is amazing to me how many people do not believe that we have a sixth sense, the ability to know someone is looking at you even though they are not in your field of vision. I have yet to see science explain this...

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (4, Insightful)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958841)

I was reading a military close quarters combat manual and they made reference to a "sixth sense". It stated explicitly NOT to look directly at the enemy before you walk up to them and kill them silently one way or another. You are supposed to look at the ground by their feet and not think about them before you "off" them.
- Of course you shouldn't be looking directly at them. You should be looking at the path between you and them. If you walk up to someone while staring directly ahead you're more likely to stand on something loudly or trip or generally fuck up your silent approach. As for thinking about them, well it's generally not a good idea to concentrate too much on someone you're about to kill. The more you think about them the more real and human they become.

It is amazing to me how many people do not believe that we have a sixth sense, the ability to know someone is looking at you even though they are not in your field of vision. I have yet to see science explain this...
- I've yet to see anyone come up with a reliable and objective experiment that provided any evidence of a "sixth sense". Science can't explain something that hasn't been empirically observed.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959075)

As for thinking about them, well it's generally not a good idea to concentrate too much on someone you're about to kill. The more you think about them the more real and human they become.

True about entire societies. The more evolved, the truer — one may even perish completely, when confronted by another, which manages to concentrate on the mission of killing the enemy, instead of "seeing his side".

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (3, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959245)

It is amazing to me how many people do not believe that we have a sixth sense, the ability to know someone is looking at you even though they are not in your field of vision. I have yet to see science explain this...
- I've yet to see anyone come up with a reliable and objective experiment that provided any evidence of a "sixth sense". Science can't explain something that hasn't been empirically observed.


Okay, here's one:

Pick someone, anyone, out of a crowd, on the highway (not recommended if you are driving), etc., from who you are out of their field of view. Stare at them intensely for a few seconds. Direct a strong emotion towards them if you can -- hate, fear, rage, etc. I guarantee you that most of them will look back at you nervously. It may not work for everyone because some people are less aware of their '6th sense' than others.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (5, Informative)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959373)

Okay, here's one:

Pick someone, anyone, out of a crowd, on the highway (not recommended if you are driving), etc., from who you are out of their field of view. Stare at them intensely for a few seconds. Direct a strong emotion towards them if you can -- hate, fear, rage, etc. I guarantee you that most of them will look back at you nervously. It may not work for everyone because some people are less aware of their '6th sense' than others.
- I'll bet a million simoleans that this experiment will find that the number of people who are "aware of their 6th sense" happens to directly correspond to the number of people who would simply by chance turn around and wonder "WTF is that guy looking at?". Funny that. It may seem to the casual starer that more people turn and look at them, but it's simply a case of them subconsciously dismissing the people who don't turn but explicitly noticing the people who do. You might want to look into selection bias for more info on the topic.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (3, Insightful)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959925)

And even if it were confirmed, there would be a better-than-reasonable chance that some primitive part of our brain processes input coming from peripheral vision, and sorts it for input that might correspond to potential threats -- like "pairs of eyes directed directly at our tasty flesh."

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959973)

When I read both posts I just could think of something: Aren't we wasting too much time writing posts? Shouldn't someone try this experiment already and either kill the myth or find out it is not that much of a myth? Hmmm I guess I watched mythbusters way too much.

They never admit defeat (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960225)

Shouldn't someone try this experiment already and either kill the myth or find out it is not that much of a myth?


When people want to believe in something extraordinary there's no way an experiment, no matter how well performed, will convince them of the contrary. They will always assume the experiment itself was faulty in some way.


It seems that for some people the need to believe in something is so strong it overrides reason.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18960987)

The "sixth sense" thing is purely myth. Experiments have been carried out by the military, universities, etc. and under strict scientific study there is no statistically significant proof. Making someone turn or influencing them is purely random.

That said, it is pretty obvious from psychological studies that what we call a "sixth sense" is the brain making sense out of input that is below the conscious "noise" threshold. Your brain doesn't raise the vast majority of your neural input to a conscious level. If it did you couldn't consciously filter all the sounds, visual stimulation, tactile experience, balance sensation from your inner ear, etc. It would just be far too much to handle.

This technology merely looks for patterns in one's input ("noise" included) that the human animal didn't evolved to notice or are below certain thresholds. It is that easy.

As for not looking at your opponent in the eyes. Anyone that has boxed, wrestled, studied martial arts, or played a contact sport can tell you that you have to be aware of your surroundings. You have to be ready for anything. And in fighting you actually care more about your opponents center of gravity not their head. The eyes, head and limbs can lie. The center of gravity usually doesn't. Besides in a life or death situation you don't want to think of your opponent as a fellow human.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (3, Insightful)

mike2R (721965) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960121)

Pick someone, anyone, out of a crowd, on the highway (not recommended if you are driving), etc., from who you are out of their field of view. Stare at them intensely for a few seconds. Direct a strong emotion towards them if you can -- hate, fear, rage, etc. I guarantee you that most of them will look back at you nervously. It may not work for everyone because some people are less aware of their '6th sense' than others.

Then get scientific evidence for it: Make absolutely sure that the observer cannot affect the environment of the subject in any way, and record the results.

All sorts of EMP studies have been tried, and there is still no evidence for it. Given how easy it would be to get evidence if it did work, I think the only conclusion has to be that it doesn't.

My own opinion of this sort of anecdotal evidence is that 1) it is very startling when someone who you are sure cannot see you looking at them turns and looks at you (hence we tend to remember it as important event), 2) it's not very remarkable when people don't turn when you are looking at them (so we tend to forget it), and 3) our brains very very good at making connections between tiny bits of sensory data and the possibility that someone is looking at us (so in our everyday lives we are likely to see a bias towards people noticing us watching them).

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

powerpants (1030280) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960193)

I guarantee you that most of them will look back at you nervously.
...and by "guarantee" you mean "think".

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

glyph42 (315631) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960925)

... from who you are out of their field of view
I think that's the problem right there. Most people have roughly a 180 degree field of view, especially when it comes to detecting eyes or faces looking in their direction. I can tell if someone is looking at me even if they are standing slightly behind me to one side, because I have a 210 degree peripheral field of view. That's with my eyes locked straight ahead. Also, people tend to scan their environment a little bit with their eyes, which increases that field of view without even turning their head. Furthermore, people tend to turn their heads a little once in a while, again increasing the field of view.

My hypothesis is that people look back at you nervously because they saw your staring at them, given that you were more than likely in their field of view, even when you thought you weren't. As a rule of thumb, if you aren't looking at the back of their head, then they may very well see you within a few seconds of ordinary milling around.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (2, Interesting)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959499)


This has more to do with empathy. Picture your enemy is a 14 y/o iraqi girl with an AK. looking her in the eyes will cause you to connect, question and pause. all of which can be fatal under threatening conditions.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18960147)

This has more to do with empathy. Picture your enemy is a 14 y/o iraqi girl ... looking her in the eyes will cause you to connect, question and pause. all of which can be fatal under threatening conditions

If 14 year old girls that you have apparently freed from the oppression of a ruthless dictator are your enemy, then something has already gone very, very wrong

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (3, Funny)

rambag (961763) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960025)

Yeah I did, my buddy is such an ass he's like, "yeah in the end you find out Bruce Willis' character has been dead the whole time" Oh did I just spoil it for you too.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

nexuspal (720736) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960125)

It specifically stated to use your periphial vision and not to look. There were other parts of the manual that covered how to prepare yourself to kill a human, this part was directly related to killing WITHOUT the enemy making a sound or turning his or her head around at the last second. Do the test, look at people from behind, you'll be surprised (they'll do a quick head turn and look you right in the eyes)...

P.S., be open minded about ideas that are outside of the scope of "science", I'm thinking the whole idea of a 6th sense goes along with the idea of quantum mechanics, specifically quantum entanglement. There is much we don't know, and a lot to be explored. Just because we can't show how it works now doesn't mean it can not exist.

Quantum Entanglement [stanford.edu]

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18960441)

"I've yet to see anyone come up with a reliable and objective experiment that provided any evidence of a "sixth sense". Science can't explain something that hasn't been empirically observed."

okay, what sense allow you to stand ? that's the sixth one : equilibrum.

Here's a study on it then... (1)

nexuspal (720736) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960581)

Affirming my first post. So yeah, I'm not going to hold on to my "foolish" beliefs no matter what people say. I am actually posting research affirming my position that poeple do indeed have a type of 6th sense...

link [newscientist.com]

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (2, Insightful)

suitepotato (863945) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960593)

As for thinking about them, well it's generally not a good idea to concentrate too much on someone you're about to kill. The more you think about them the more real and human they become.

This is what separates normal people from sociopaths and it isn't a good thing to head down that road. You should think about what you're doing, who you're doing it to, and be able to do it anyways and deal with the thoughts of it later. This is what it is to fight in the most limited way and not come to enjoying the killing, but only do what is necessary when necessary. Dehumanizing objectification has allowed people throughout history to do things to people that they ordinarily would never have done.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

Eddi3 (1046882) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958879)

For instance, If three kids are playing hide and seek, statistically, the kid who thinks of something else other then the game will be less likely to be found then the one who is thinking about the game (Why it's taking so long, or "OMG HES RIGHT ON TOP OF ME!!11")

I'm young enough to pretty much confirm this, though I don't have a link to prove any of it. Anybody?

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

ShawnPrend (1096383) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959275)

For instance, If three kids are playing hide and seek, statistically, the kid who thinks of something else other then the game will be less likely to be found then the one who is thinking about the game (Why it's taking so long, or "OMG HES RIGHT ON TOP OF ME!!11")

I'm young enough to pretty much confirm this, though I don't have a link to prove any of it. Anybody?
If your constantly thinking that you are more likely to move unconsciously because your mind isn't on keeping yourself totally still and quiet.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960645)

In both cases there's an obvious connection between what you're thinking and what's happening. In the first case, you're thinking about how long you've been hiding because you've been hiding for a long time: obviously the longer the seeker looks, the more likely he is to find you. And in the second case, if you're thinking about how another player is right on top of you, you're probably about to be found regardless of what you think about. And because the human mind is so good at recognizing patterns, it naturally feels like you MUST be attracting the seeker with your mind. Say it with me now, loud and proud: correlation IS NOT causation. You'll hear it at least 10 times a week on /.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (4, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958911)

It is amazing to me how many people do not believe that we have a sixth sense, the ability to know someone is looking at you even though they are not in your field of vision. I have yet to see science explain this...

Science doesn't have to explain it. That part comes after proving that it actually exists.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (4, Interesting)

geek (5680) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959005)

I remember studies from the late 90's about human perception, specifically in regards to insects. Ever notice a small spider out of the corner of your eye while watching TV? Ever wake up from a DEAD sleep to find a spider hanging over you? It was proposed that humans developed a "sixth sense" like this during our evolution to protect us from smaller and more deadly creatures such as poisonous snakes and spiders. The idea is that we percieve more around us than we are consciously aware of and our subconscious has the ability to red flag certain things and awake our consciousness to it. Speaking from personal experience, I have woken out of a dead sleep and found a spider over me, several times. I thought to myself "what a coincidence", but after hearing about the studies, whenever they were, I can't find them now, I realize it's very possible we have a sort of sixth sense in the non literal meaning of the words.

My guess is that this type of perception is what they are alluding to. The "gut instinct" of it.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (5, Funny)

0racle (667029) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959155)

I thought to myself "what a coincidence"
If you're like most people, that wasn't your first thought.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (2, Insightful)

airhed13 (732958) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959551)

In those spider situations, I always figured the bugger'd been crawling on my face and spun back up above my head when it realized I was waking up and moving around. The light pitter-patter of spider shoes has woken me up from a deep sleep more than once in my life. I just count myself lucky that I woke up before it crawled into my mouth.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

Jaqenn (996058) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959859)

Yeah, you got lucky THAT time. You know the average person swallows a handful of spiders in their sleep every year, right?

Here's the source, if you're interested: http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/spiders.htm/ [snopes.com]

Stop Eating Spiders, Make Money Fast! (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960693)

OK. Number one, your link is broken. Here is a working one [snopes.com]

Number two, snopes says that this little tidbit is false.

Number three, snopes says that this bit of misinformation started out in the 50s in a list of common insect misconceptions, and was used in the early 90s in an experiment of fake facts on the internet to show how gullible people are.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960759)

As evidence of your claim you post a link that says the opposite is true? You might want to brush up on your rhetorical skills.

Sensory Perception and Wakefulness (1)

HalfOfOne (738150) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960279)

I would wager that there's no need for a sixth sense to explain this one; it's entirely within the realm of our five normal senses. Even during full REM, your senses are monitoring what's going on around you and information processing is occurring. This is often seen with people who incorporate various sounds into their dreams, such as the ringing of a phone or an alarm clock for an air raid siren in their dream, and so on. Likewise, spouses of frequent snorers can usually just tell their significant other to roll over and even in their subconscious state the subject will obey the command. At least that's what my wife tells me. ;)

I think you're correct in your guess regarding human evolution with regards to threat perception during different states of wakefulness. There would be a significant advantage to being able to process information and correctly identify threats during sleep, and it would most likely be naturally selected for.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (2, Insightful)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959047)

You sure thats not called a conscience? I would think removing the 'personal' factor and dehumanizing your enemy, you might reduce some combat stress and guilt that you just killed another human being. I wonder if this recommendation is more for mental health reasons or perhaps for both.

I kinda have a 'sixth sense' that someone is staring at this post right now.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959111)

It is amazing to me how many people do not believe that we have a sixth sense, the ability to know someone is looking at you even though they are not in your field of vision.

Try this today.

1. Get in a car and drive until you reach a red stop light.
2. Look at other person.
3. Watch them instantly look back at you.

Or in reverse

1. Get in a car and drive until you reach a red stop light.
2. Don't look at other person until you feel them looking.
3. Look at them quickly and watch them turn their head away.

One of those things that always bothered me is that you can usually tell when another person is looking at you while driving.

Moving head? (1)

Code Master (164951) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959181)

I've always thought it was simply my peripheral vision, which is very sensitive to movement, seeing their head turn. I often watch people, but don't like being seen watching, so I will often watch people when stopped at a light by just turning my eyes, and not my head. In this case, people never look back unless their eyes are just wandering.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (2, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959169)

OK, so this is just more mil-speak bullshit. I've heard more generals and colonels talk about science issues on which they have no concept just to hear themselves speak. There has been more bad science done in the name of the military than I would like to admit and this is marketing speak designed around that.

*If* you are going to kill someone, particularly someone who can/will fight back, then you damn well better be prepared to pay attention to what you are doing. The whole reason that one is admonished to not think about them is that you may hesitate at what the Corps at least used to call the "Moment of truth", that moment at which you can make the decision to take a human life. Believe it or not, most human beings will hesitate at taking another persons life, so basic training programs spend an inordinate amount of time slowly accommodating soldiers to the concept through the use of paper circle targets, followed by silhouette targets, followed by more natural human looking targets. For other more specialized disciplines, there is even a more complex psychological process that soldiers go through to "glorify" the moment of a killing, "looking for the pink mist" if you will.

Any "sixth sense" is simply a more acute awareness of your surroundings through kinesthetic space, smell, hearing, etc.... We don't see higher mathematical dimensions like amphibians or fishes do and we don't have lateral lines like fishes do. However, there is nothing that says we cannot develop artificial supplements to our senses.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

StonedYoda47 (732257) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959249)

.... We don't see higher mathematical dimensions like amphibians or fishes do and we don't have lateral lines like fishes do

Could someone please explain this to me? I've never heard of either concept before.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (5, Informative)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959467)

Could someone please explain this to me? I've never heard of either concept before.

Humans see principally in three "channels", red, green and blue due to the opsins in your photoreceptors. There is some evidence that some women are tetrachromats however. At any rate, these three opsins give us color discrimination in three mathematical dimensions. However, fish and amphibian eyes are much more complicated than ours. For example, the turtle likely sees in at least seven channels of vision, perceiving a world we could never hope to imagine and here is another fact: In the zebrafish, despite their retinas being much more complex and sophisticated than ours, can repair their retinas from damage whereas we are currently screwed if our retinas go bad.

IAAVS (I am a vision scientist), and neuroscientist.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

StonedYoda47 (732257) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959601)

Wow that's pretty neat. Thanks for the explanation. I learned something new today.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (2, Informative)

morethanapapercert (749527) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959633)

I dunno about the ability to see higher dimensions, never heard of that concept myself either. I know that many, if not most, fish have a very different field of vision and see in a different part of the spectrum than do humans. (Deep dwelling species don't need to see the wavelengths that are filtered out by the first few feet of water.)
However, lateral lines are found on a lot of vertebrate sea life. They are lines of neural tissue that run down the body of the critter. The exact structure differs depending on if the animal is primarily a mobile one swimming from one place to another or a lurker. (e.g. fish that hang out in coral most of their lives.) These lines of nerves are exquisitely sensitive to pressure waves in the water, allowing the animal to sense the slightest shift in currents. Predator species use the lines to sense the presence of appropriately sized food moving at the right speed. Prey species use them to sense the approach of predators coming from their visual blind spot. There is evidence to suggest that schooling species also use this organ to help stay in formation within the schools. With some species, the lines are also electrical sensors, allowing an animal to sense the emanations even of prey that is lying motionless.
Oblig. Wiki Lateral-line [wikipedia.org]

*Disclaimer: I am NOT a marine biologist or ichthyologist, so my summary is sloppy, but you get the gist of it anyway...

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959405)

You are supposed to look at the ground by their feet and not think about them before you "off" them.

Couldn't have anything to do with looking at where you're going, or maybe not having the whites of your eyes give you away -- humans are good at identifying faces, so face down makes that more difficult. It probably also is intended to not make you dwell on the fact that you're about to kill a person.

It is amazing to me how many people do not believe that we have a sixth sense, the ability to know someone is looking at you even though they are not in your field of vision. I have yet to see science explain this...

I have yet to see science substantiate it either. In the absence of evidence to demonstrate such a thing, I'm going to continue being skeptical such a thing exists.

I mean, science has yet to demonstrate the healing power of cyrstals or ESP either -- but that's because every time they test it, there is no measurable effect that is reproduceable.

Science only needs to try to explain it if you can actually reproduce the phenomenon. Otherwise, it's mumbo-jumbo that has no business in science.

Cheers

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (2, Informative)

pQueue (1091881) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959697)

It is amazing to me how many people do not believe that we have a sixth sense, the ability to know someone is looking at you even though they are not in your field of vision. I have yet to see science explain this...
Experiments have shown exactly the opposite. Test subjects are unable to tell if someone was looking at them or not in a rigorous test. The real question is why people believe you can, which can be answered by psychology: you remember the hits and not the misses. When you turn and someone is looking you make note of that and forget when your are wrong.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960895)

I've heard the same thing. I'd have modded you up but you gave no sources. I can't find any with a quick search. Do you know any?

People want so bad to find patterns and magic in the world. That's why people believe in gods, supernatural phenomena, astrology, etc.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

bleak26 (683240) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959761)

I was taught this for killing sentry's as a part of a BBD Ninjutsu (Ninja) training course a few years back. It did not seem to make a difference at the time. But it did make me wonderer if the chances of being noticed by a sixth sense increased when the intent to kill or harm is real, rather than just as part of training.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

vimh42 (981236) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960135)

What about snipers? Are they not supposed to "look" at thier target before pulling the trigger?

Perphaps it's less about a sixth sense, and more about making use of or augmenting the senses you have.

When you "know" somebody is looking at you, it wasn't your sixth sense. It was something one of your five picked up on but just didn't have enough information to put together a clear conscious thought. Instead you just get that "feeling" that not all is well.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18960171)

Plus you may feel a twinge of human empathy stopping you from committing murder if you look at them.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960351)

There are a lot of things that Western science hasn't gotten around to "explaining" yet. A lot of Eastern traditions like yoga, tai chi and the like have been dealing with qi and universal energy for a long time. Once you've been exposed to the "phenomena" first hand, it's pretty hard to discount it. When you come across those who haven't had similar exposures, they will call you a looney quack and demand scientific proof.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960403)

a sixth sense, the ability to know someone is looking at you even though they are not in your field of vision. I have yet to see science explain this...
Okay, it is a known fact [citation needed] that we see small details with the central part of our field of view, the peripheral area being more sensitive to movements and variations of light. These detections have their own fast circuits to react to dangerous things. People dodge before looking when a dark thing appear on top of their head, catching or deflecting a ball is slower than a reflex but faster than conscious act.

It is less known that the resolution of this peripheral area is better than what we see consciously. All this information is not wasted though, it goes through our fast object recognition routine. This routine use more movement information than shape/color and works only with a small set of objects that you know well. People owning cat can probably confirm how often they have mistaken some clothes on the floor for one of their pet before looking directly at it. The detection of other people/animal's direction of gaze is something that is almost hard-wired in this area. Most of the moving stuff at the border of your field of view will just but dismissed but people gazing at you will trigger a red flag.
This is why if you are at the limit of the field of view of someone, you can move or make signs that the person will not recognize, even maybe not really be aware of them being caused by a human, but if you look at him/her. Red flag.

This is not seeing things outside your FOV (it doesn't work if you shut your eyes). But it is seeing things outside your "conscious" field of view.

Yeah, I am working on computer vision :-)

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

powerpants (1030280) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960621)

I've always seemed to me that humans have more than 5 senses. In addition to the usual suspects, we can also sense temperature, direction (some more than others), and pressure (to a certain degree). Even within our sense of vision, there is a tremendous amount of processing that occurs unconsciously. If you've ever realized, upon pulling into the parking lot at work, that you can't recall a thing since leaving the house, you know what I'm talking about. Cognitive scientists call this ability "blindsight" and it's a very different thing from what we normally think of as sight.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

Catullus (30857) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960731)

You're referring to the "sense of being stared at". People have actually done experiments [csicop.org] to test this; most scientists are skeptical that it exists, but some people [sheldrake.org] claim that they have evidence that it does.

Re:Ever hear of the "Sixth Sense" (1)

nexuspal (720736) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960931)

Very informative links. I'm thinking the study on the college students was done in a relaxed and safe atmosphere where knowing if you're being stared at or not is pretty much a non issue. Stare at a cop form behind (who dies if he/she doesn't notice someone) and they will, most of the time, definitely know it. Set and setting has a lot to do with people "caring" about whether or not they are being looked at. Very nice read though and thanks :-)

"Sixth Sense" == subtle details (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960813)

The "sixth sense" is your brain absorbing and processing and reacting to inputs which have not been trained enough to result in articulable commentary.

Higher cognitive processes screen out LOTS of material to prevent overloading - that doesn't mean lower cognitive processes aren't getting that material and doing something useful with them. There's a tremendous amount of auditory/visual/etc. stimulus which _does_ have meaning, but which is not rationally considered. You subconciously perceive them, and part of your brain reacts thereto - regardless of whether higher cognitive processes can articulate it better than labelling it a vague "sixth sense".

Even the notable "don't look at your prey, their sixth sense will tip 'em off" thing is likely explained by subtle differences in how you walk, making different sounds, which the prey's baser instincts can differentiate as harmless vs. threatening. Someone walking to you vs. by you will act differently - behavior which in turn can be affected by whether they are looking at you vs. somewhere else.

Go read "The Science and Art of Tracking" by Tom Brown for more insights on this.

It's amazing how little of their environment people pay attention to.

Edgy Perception? (3, Funny)

bitRAKE (739786) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958729)

I get the same effect from too much coffee.

There's something wrong with my Malibu Stacey doll (1)

racecarj (703239) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958737)

"My spider sense is tingling, anyone call for a webslinger?"

Sorry for the obligatory Simpsons quote.

Re:There's something wrong with my Malibu Stacey d (0, Offtopic)

Drew McKinney (1075313) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958819)

Sorry for the obligatory Simpsons quote.

No problem, try this one on for size:

"I, for one, welcome our new arachnid overlords."

Twofo GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18958745)

Faggots. [twofo.co.uk]

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How is this better? (2, Interesting)

Tofystedeth (1076755) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958799)

So if I understand it right from the article, our brain is constantly sending out danger signals that we ignore. This technology will then sense those danger signals and beep or flash red or something? So now we have another danger signal that needs to follow all the same routing. Does this cause a feedback loop? If there is something dangerous enough that our brain can recognize it would we not maybe notice it before the machine reading our brain? It sounds like we have a lot of these danger signals. Is every piece of trash blowing by in our peripheral vision going to set this thing off?

Re:How is this better? (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#18958951)

We already have such feedback loops as you describe. One of them is called "panic". It's not impossible to train the brain to ignore such loops, and probably even easier to train the machine.

Re:How is this better? (1)

Vexor (947598) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959061)

I kind of envisioned the Terminator like view. Little target reticles on a visor in front of your face. I'm not sure if this device would be sensing stuff all around you or just in front of you. I think their goal is to reduce the amount of reaction:action time gap. Spend more time being proactive about the danger then reacting.

As the OP mentioned though if every piece of trash tumling by sets it off that would be a great recipe for a psychotic breakdown. Paranoia here I come!

Re:How is this better? (1)

Tofystedeth (1076755) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959975)

Little target reticles on a visor in front of your face. I'm not sure if this device would be sensing stuff all around you or just in front of you.
I kind of started skimming at the end of the article so they may have addressed this already, but neat as this would be, its impossible unless they're also doing image processing. That could get cumbersome, checking for movement, perhaps pattern matching algorithms to see weapons, then associating these with a danger signal. Not quite sure how they'd do it.

I think their goal is to reduce the amount of reaction:action time gap
I still don't buy that this would be much of an improvement. If something registers as dangerous enough to us that our brain is already sending danger signals, I don't see how a machine could process that and inform us in enough time for us to process the binoc's message to be faster than us simply processing what we already know. We've had umpteen years of evolution to work on seeing snakes. We're fairly good at it. I'll buy that there may be a few situations where someone may be inattentive or distracted enough that this could be the difference, but is it really worth spending all that money on it for a few cases? We could instead spend it on training and armor, not to mention all the non-military places megabucks could be spent.

Re:How is this better? (1)

Vexor (947598) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960681)

I'm not saying this is better. It's just what I pictured as I read TFA. I guess we'll have to see what happens in 3years. We have these roadblocks to stop useless information for a reason. I agree that this may not be worth the billions it no doubt costs.

What I'd like to do... (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960527)

Is sneak up behind someone wearing that rig and pop a paper bag full of air.....

Altered Carbon (2, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959001)

Anyone who has read Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan will recognise this. In the book, cloned bodies have improved reflexes, reaction times, even better responses to pain. Fall over a ledge, your augmented brain has a reflex action to grab something, which is faster and more accurate than normal.

In the book, ordinary people with enough money can get the tech. If you meet someone who has better tech than you, they can almost certainly take you down with little effort. Every move you make, they see first and move faster to counter.

Re:Altered Carbon (1)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960289)

Thank God, just when I thought I was the only person who's actually read those books. Supposedly Morgan is done with Kovacs, which is too bad. Market Forces was entertaining, but it somehow managed to be less plausible than his books about the body-swapping mercenary/detective/serial killer. Go figure.

And yet soldiers don't want this crap (4, Insightful)

lawaetf1 (613291) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959049)

For the life of me I can't find the article but there was a recent publication about how soldiers don't like all this high-tech gear. And I can imagine why. Outside of body armor (and soldiers say there's such a thing as too much) and good communication a lot of this junk is over-hyped whiteboard warrior stuff that gobbles up billions of dollars of DoD R&D.

Within the article:

"It's unclear what the final system will look like." but "Darpa says it expects to have prototypes in the hands of soldiers in three years."

Sure. It's like the Popular Science covers of the 1960s "Flying cars tomorrow! Pick your model today!"

If we really want to helps soldiers brains, help them come back from a bogus war with fewer instances of PTSD and other psychological damage.

Re:And yet soldiers don't want this crap (1)

Dan Slotman (974474) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959483)

A squad equipped with unified system of all these high tech ideas we've been reading about could act as elite shock troops to anchor normally equipped troops, just as Roman regular army squads were used to supplement and strengthen the typical mercenary and conscript troops.

Just off the top of my head, in the last few months there have been slashdot articles about:
  • lighter, stronger body armor with the ability to flex and "breathe".
  • a blood cooling system which exponentially increases muscles' endurance.
  • this "heads up" sensor
  • Night vision that allows color recognition
  • non-lethal microwave weapons, suited to urban warfare in environments with mixed combatant and civilian populations
  • an invisibility cloak (which would have to be vehicle-mounted due to weight, size, and power requirements), making it less applicable to this list)
  • small, light, and rugged UAV's suited to urban environments
  • target recognition systems which could be used to give soldiers a "minimap" similar to video games like Battlefield 2. (This one anticipates the incorporation of non-satellite input data from UAV's, etc.)


Frightening to think that in twenty or thirty years, infantry warfare could be more like science fiction than anything we'd recognize now. Hell, it is already science fiction compared to Vietnam, Korea, or the Cold War. I can see why field infantry wouldn't want to bother with equipment like this, since it would have tremendous maintenance costs, training costs, and technical knowledge requirements. The entire force wouldn't be equipped in this way, but an army will always have a use for elite units.

Re:And yet soldiers don't want this crap (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18959589)

Frightening to think that in twenty or thirty years, infantry warfare could be more like science fiction than anything we'd recognize now.

Frequently in CNN and discovery interviews, I saw the young tank operators from the Iraq war say that they would put their headphones on, play a really violent soundtrack and then blast away on the enemies, and feel like it was all just a video game.

(On FOX, they edit out these statements. Go figure.)

Re:And yet soldiers don't want this crap (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960259)

Even pilots in the Vietnam war got sick of all of the electronics barraging them in combat. They started turning off many of the alarms and alert signals leaving on only the ones they though were really important.

Complex systems also increase the chances of an equipment failure. German tanks in WWII were overengineered and prone to breakdowns.

Re:And yet soldiers don't want this crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18960537)

You've been reading Popular Science haven't you?

Re:And yet soldiers don't want this crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18959529)

. . .help them come back from a bogus war with fewer instances of PTSD and other psychological damage.

Then let them win.

Asshole.

Re:And yet soldiers don't want this crap (1)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959933)

I think my sig says it all. Four years and running now.

Win != done (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960483)

Victory over the existing regime is one thing, achieved a couple years ago.

Filling the resulting power vacuum is something else, still underway.

To use an analogy relevant to /.ers:
Just because a product has successfully shipped doesn't mean development work is done. Bug fixes, enhancements, documentation, etc. all follow for a prolonged period.

Likewise, successfully removing a tyrranical dictator from power doesn't mean troops can just go home ... there's a long painful period of keeping the would-be dictators, warlords and petty tyrants from making a further mess of thing while the victors proceed to set up a new, effective, and generally moral/decent government to fill the power vacuum.

Pulling out of Iraq now would result in the country collapsing into civil war and prolonged violence; better (for both the citizens and the occupying soldiers) to stay and finish the job right, THEN pull out when a decent self-supporting gov't is in place.

Re:And yet soldiers don't want this crap (1)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959555)

future soldiers will have been trained on these systems the way todays kids are on video games.

I saw a documentary on the development of the joint strike fighter - and the simulator. they bought kids in and let them use it. they incorporated their feedback. they wanted to make it feel as close to a video game as possible... the experience of flying the jsf.

my mother tried texting once. she quickly gave up. i text frequently... but i'm apparently not as cool a texter as my nephew - who at 11 whizzes across a keypad - shooting around a flurry of misspelled words and improvised acronyms. new soldiers will adapt as their entire lives will eventually incorporate this tech.

re: research dollars - wartime seems to be the most fertile time for innovation and military expenditure often seems very fruitful in developing useful tech. to that end, i can't be too critical of it, i guess.

Re:And yet soldiers don't want this crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18959821)

Conventional soldiers might not like the additional weights that they have to carry, and there probably are plenty of targets for them to pick on the battlefields anyway. But for the special forces guys, operating in uniques environments, they want every advantage they can get!

Re:And yet soldiers don't want this crap (1)

svnt (697929) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960343)

The article you're searching for is this one relating to the new Land Warrior [popularmechanics.com] system. It also quotes a Marine as saying that "All guys bitch and moan for a while about new gear."

Don't get me wrong, I still think this is a horrible idea. Assuming you get over having a feedback mechanism implanted in your brain ("augmented by an alerting system that literally taps the wearer's prefrontal cortex to warn of furtive threats detected by the soldier's subconscious"), and having pounds of electronics strapped to your head and wired to the binoculars, you still have this:

That prefrontal cortex, he explains, allows the brain to pick up patterns quickly, but it also exercises a powerful impulse control, inhibiting false alarms. EEG would essentially allow the binoculars to bypass this inhibitory reaction and signal the wearer to a potential threat.
Honestly? You really want every flying piece of 500-meters-away-tank-shaped-dust to register with your vision system as a potential threat? Nothing is going to make a soldier turn the system off faster than false positives.

Why not go one better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18959131)


and give them some common sense /controversial idea in USA at the moment

Almost like forcing "DSI"... (5, Insightful)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959133)

Also called "Dysfunction of Sensory Integration". It's a neurological condition where the brain has difficulty putting certain sensory signals "in the background". Say, for example, you put on a wristwatch this morning. Eventually your brain goes "OK...wrist watch...left arm...I get it", and you stop becomming constantly aware of the watch. You know it's there, the nerves in your arm can still detect it, but the brain pushes it into the background because it does not need to keep reminding you it's there.

A tactile DSI, would always feel like they just put that watch on, it can be quite irritating after a while. Tactile DSIs often do things like cut tags off of thier clothing and take other such steps to minimize the sensory overload they are exposed to.

I'm an auditory DSI, I have a hard time blocking out background noise and often times, it competes with what I should be paying attention to. My work-around is to wear wireless full-coverage headphones that pipe in soft classical music. Thus, I reduce the distractions to a single source that is easy to manage.

These days however, I have an office so I can also just close my door.

Based upon my experience, I say this won't work like they hope it will.

great (0, Troll)

spykemail (983593) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959209)

I can't wait for the spidey sense to kill an unarmed civilian. Oh wait, we don't need advanced technology for that.

The more gear you have to wear . . (1)

errittus (13200) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959217)

The more of a burden it can be. However, I think that one day we'll see variants of these kinds of enhancements. This just seems like a transitional step to a "wetware" system of some sort. This kinda thing HAS to be a possibility. We've been adapting to the dangers of our existence for quite some time.

Darpa should give Spidey sense to Bush ! (0, Offtopic)

The Media Mechanic (1084283) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959335)

Maybe then he will finally clue into the fact that fewer and fewer Americans support his flawed Iraq policy with each passing week...

http://www.hist.umn.edu/~ruggles/Approval.htm [umn.edu]

Re:Darpa should give Spidey sense to Bush ! (1)

ZirbMonkey (999495) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959665)

Cool Graph. Too bad Bush would merely have his staff re-title the graph so it says "Threat of Terrorism against the US." Look how low it is today!

So instaed of just processing the threat (1)

drcln (98574) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959481)

With this system a user will have the added delay and distration of processing a stimulus that the system provides after the system processes the signals that would have lead to recognition of the threat except for the fact that the user's attention is being diverted to process the stimuls generated by the system.

Wouldn't it be more useful to simply provide better training to enhance the soldiers' awareness and response to instinctual signals?

Re:So instaed of just processing the threat (1)

JoeInnes (1025257) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959635)

Surely if the threat is being processed, the soldier would be literally split-seconds away from recognising the threat anyway? In which case, the system would only slow soldiers down as described above. Unconvinced.

Book: Blink (2, Insightful)

ZirbMonkey (999495) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959497)

Everyone has a sixth sense about making split second decisions. Professional soldiers who've been in combat situations over their life gain subcontious instincts that let them spot things that "don't seem right." But this is experience one gains over time from encountering lots of examples.

This technology would merely make your subcontious more contious. But it doesn't tell you anything that you don't already know. Green recruits dropped into combat with this technology wouldn't get any use out of it, since they don't have the experience to understand what to look for. And all it would do to senior soldiers is confirm their already itching suspicions.

http://www.amazon.com/Blink-Power-Thinking-Without /dp/0316172324 [amazon.com]

It's an interesting idea, especially for scientific purposes of visualizing what goes through a soldier's mind during combat. You get the possibility of mapping the subcontious in a visual way. But I have a strong feeling this tech will never make it on a practical side.

Re:Book: Blink (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960357)

Way to watch the Colbert Report, bookworm

Cut the funding already (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959593)

The soldiers don't even have enough of the existing technology and we are wasting money on spider sensing devices that will cost millions of dollars AFTER being developed. This will never be in the hands of more than a dozen soldiers if the tech makes it that far.

Forget this AND forget the armor they don't have. We don't need enough armored vehicles for a large scale offensive anyway. What we need to preserve what we have. Congress needs to grow some balls and recall the troops by refusing to grant additional funding.

Re:Cut the funding already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18959931)

The soldiers don't even have enough of the existing technology and we are wasting money on spider sensing devices that will cost millions of dollars AFTER being developed.


Possible argument heard in the middle ages:


"Stop development on those expensive cannons! Our archers don't have enough arrows, and will never be able to carry one of them as easily as their bow and quiver, so they will be useless anyway!"


This is stupid and useless... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18959639)

There is no way to alert the brain to something that hasn't been consciously realized yet but flagged unconsciously any faster than the brain would already do it without actually altering the brain. The alert would have to pass through the same or similar processing pathways as the initial sensory input which caused the alert signals that would be measured by an EEG. Even if the EEG and associated external equipment produced results instantaneously it would only get in the way of the brain's natural function.
This could be used for something like automatic targeting where a computer would already have begun targeting (for weapons fire or for detailed radar or optical scanning) something of interest before an operator or pilot knew he/she was interested in it.

It won't work (1)

Thoron77 (993515) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959797)

All the system will show to poor soldier is that their very ass should not be there in the first place, because brain knows it, the feeling is just suppressed by the training and whatever else reasons to be in the battlefield ;)

talk about a show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18959977)

armour the damn humvees, decent body armour, weapons with less pieces that don't jam.

no one is fooled by 'look at this new shiny jet'...while the soldiers eat cornflakes

the military need to get 'back to basics' less they look stupid.

Articulation != perception (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 6 years ago | (#18959997)

Articulation of perception is just the last step in a long complex mental process.

Just because you can't explain something in a rational symbolic cognitive socially-accepted linguistic framework doesn't mean you haven't perceived it.

Tools that help enhance and articulate these perceptions would be very useful - especially in war.

On a related note: may I suggest The Science and Art of Tracking [amazon.com] .

Keep this away from potential recruits (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960299)

If service age kids get their hands on this equipment it could be a disaster for recruiting.

"Danger Danger young Will Robinson! Don't go in there! Try community college first at least!"

So... (1)

dtzWill (936623) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960655)

So... what happened to the sharks with lasers? :)

obligatory Richard Farina quote... (1)

MollyB (162595) | more than 6 years ago | (#18960903)

from Hard-Lovin' Loser: [numachi.com]
He's the kind of cowboy got a hot trigger finger
Shoots his boot 'cause he's drawing kind of slow...

'Course you gotta have gray hair (if any) to remember that ditty.

Not spidey sense, but (1)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 6 years ago | (#18961009)

T1000 sense. Having a LCD/optics that use EEG responses to detecting threats is more like what was seen in the Terminator movies (T1000 targeting sequences). My eyes can easily notice color, motion, anormal scene changes differences, but my brain processing says it may not be important to 'pay attention'. Reading EEGs should be able to bypass the processing part and just display information in a holistic approach to enchance the processing part. In otherwords, it will give soldiers a headache in the long run...

Why build a opticial sensor when there's a perfectly good, free [as in beer], orgainc sensor we can tap in our heads?

Is this the same military that couldn't... (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 6 years ago | (#18961023)

Is this the same military that, right now, is testing new headgear for soldiers that shows the position of friendlies 30 seconds later?

Um, yeah, good luck with that "beating the speed of thought" thing...

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