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Major Breakthrough in Direct Neural Interface

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the ready-for-my-dni-thanks dept.

Biotech 308

jd writes "In a major breakthrough, neurologists are reporting that they can decypher neurological impulses into speech with an 80% accuracy. A paralyzed man who is incapable of speech has electrodes implanted in his brain which detect the electrical pulses in the brain relating to speech. These signals are then fed into computers which covert these pulses into signals suitable for speech synthesis. As a biotech marvel, this is astonishing. Depending on the rate of development it is possible to imagine Professor Hawking migrating to this, as it would be immune to any further loss of body movement and would vastly accelerate his ability to talk. On the flip-side, direct brain I/O is also a major step towards William Gibson's Neuromancer and other cyberpunk dark futures."

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Really accurate? (1, Insightful)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381037)

A paralyzed man who is incapable of speech has electrodes implanted in his brain which detect the electrical pulses in the brain relating to speech. These signals are then fed into computers which covert these pulses into signals suitable for speech synthesis.


How do they know they're accurately converting the signals to sound, if they're basing this off a man who has no ability to speak?

Maybe telling him "try to say X" or something, or having him write down what he's trying to say.

But the article leaves off a little bit as to where they pull 80% from.

Re:Really accurate? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381077)

are you really that dense? i can't believe people are really this stupid.

Re:Really accurate? (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381617)

So... you don't watch television, then?

Re:Really accurate? (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381107)

How do they know they're accurately converting the signals to sound, if they're basing this off a man who has no ability to speak?
Many people who are unable to speak are able to communicate in some other way (usually, some form of gesture, whether sign language, nodding, blinking, whatever.) It doesn't take a much to be able to indicate "right" or "wrong".

Re:Really accurate? (4, Informative)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381177)

I'm guessing the 80% comes from the fact that this is an issue of the linear separability of signals. Its generally hard to get reliable sensitivity/specificity measures over this that anyone is going to take seriously.

Sensitivity = percentage number of correct identifications
Specificity = corresponding percentage of incorrect identifications at each measured sensitivity.

Probably they can get up to 90%, but from experience I would say the rate of false positives at this sensitivity likely is moving towards exponential increase. It's better to stop at 80%, at least when something is in the early stages.

This is just guessing of course, I have no understanding of their research, but going from my own work on non linearly separable sets, I'd say this is what's happening.

Re:Really accurate? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381555)

So what you're saying is that when the machine correctly identifies 80% of the signals, it recognizes that the other 20% are garbage and ignores them, whereas at 90% it (falsely) recognizes the other 10% as correct as well?

Re:Really accurate? (3, Funny)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381807)

Now you are just putting words in his mouth. :)

Re:Really accurate? (3, Funny)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381831)

This is great. Now all we have to do is reverse the fucker so it figures out 80% garbage and 20% signal. Then we attach it to congress critters, lawyers, and RIAA stoges. Now we don't have to listen to their shit at all anymore.

Re:Really accurate? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381203)

So your main source of skepticism is something that you, as (I'm assuming like me) a layman, thought up a solution to in 5 seconds?

Yeah it's a short article, what's your point? You want the exact methodology they used to get that number (which if we took literally only has one significant digit), you'd have to read whatever paper they publish. "Ask them to say X, compare to what the computer says" seems a pretty reasonable assumption of how they did it though.

Executive Order #477474711121 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381219)

I'll [whitehouse.org] ftoml to that.

Cheers,
W.

Re:Really accurate? (3, Funny)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381237)

How do they know they're accurately converting the signals to sound, if they're basing this off a man who has no ability to speak?

I can see it going something like this...

Researcher: "The machine translates his electrical pulses as 'I'd really enjoy a blowjob from your assistant, Ms. Jenkins.' Ms. Jenkins, do you mind?"

Ms. Jenkins: "Anything in the name of science!!"

Researcher: "Well, that ear-to-ear smile is conclusive proof that he is in fact enjoying it. Eureka, it works!!!"

Re:Really accurate? (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381889)

Can I be the control?

Re:Really accurate? (3, Funny)

Thought1 (1132989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381333)

They know it's accurate because the voice translation told them it was! It then said something about "robotic voice translator overlords..." We're not sure about that bit. (:

Re:Really accurate? (2, Funny)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381377)

They know it's accurate because the voice translation told them it was! It then said something about "robotic voice translator overlords..." We're not sure about that bit. (:

Hence the 80%.

Re:Really accurate? (2, Funny)

deathy_epl+ccs (896747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381679)

How do they know they're accurately converting the signals to sound, if they're basing this off a man who has no ability to speak?

That was the easy part... they were able to start with the assumption that he just kept repeating "kill me" over and over again.

Re:Really accurate? (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381815)

If they are getting back semi-coherent conversation with him then it is safe to assume that the words coming back are more or less correct.

Re:Really accurate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381847)

My guess is that the only way to advance beyond 80% is to better understand the impulses to existing musculature which could be translated into an emulated larynx. They have experimented with artificial larynx in cell phone tech for a while. The idea being it would be easier to describe predefined movements of the artificial larynx than to send digital representation of the audio. Some of the work has been VERY impressive and in fact working models do exist.........

On the gripping hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381045)

> On the flip-side, direct brain I/O is also a major step towards William Gibson's Neuromancer and other cyberpunk dark futures.

But on the gripping hand, er, side... since we're already living in a dystopian cyberpunk future, why shouldn't we at least get the cool wirehead toys?

Re:On the gripping hand... (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381165)

A Mote in God's Eye. Good reference.

Still I like high error rate.

I wonder where the error would come in when someone orders "A hot duck" for dinner?

Make sure that... (2, Funny)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381063)

...your antivirus software is up-to-date before you plug your brain in cause I hear it really sucks when your brain Snow Crashes [wikipedia.org] !

what if (5, Funny)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381067)

The subject turns out to have Tourettes syndrome?

OI! [redacted] will you [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] make me a [redacted][redacted][redacted] cup of [redacted] coffee?

Brain obscenity filters for teh wins....

Re:what if (1)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381179)

The subject turns out to have Tourettes syndrome? OI! [redacted] will you [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] make me a [redacted][redacted][redacted] cup of [redacted] coffee? Brain obscenity filters for teh wins....

You're right, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to hook it up to army drill sargeants or sailors either. It would be fun to hook up to the pointy haired boss... just to see if anything comes out. ;-)

Sadly more likely... (5, Interesting)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381325)

My wife was in a massive car accident, a decade ago. She was in a coma for a month, suffered brain injuries, a collapsed lung, shattered arm, cracked eye socket, multiply broken jaw, etc. A national merit scholarship winner before the accident, her parents were told that, if she survived, she'd likely never walk much or be able to look after herself again.

As it happened, she was sufficiently beaten up at the time that she had no concept of how bad her injuries were. She got out of the wheelchair simply because it frustrated her. She went back to working part time simply because she didn't realize she wasn't supposed to be able to. By the time she comprehended what had happened, she'd improved enough that setting impossible goals like "become a personal trainer" weren't quite so impossible. We taught her to read again (yes, even that got messed up) and even managed to get her back in to school - initially only able to pull a 2.0 average but improved each semester.

In her case, she had an amazing recovery. Yet she, herself, says, "If I'm ever like that again, turn me off." She didn't realize how hurt she was and got lucky with recovering before she did. Understanding now, she has absolutely no desire to try that fight again. She'd rather just call it a day.

So, sadly, there's a real likelihood that his first words, upon realizing he can finally communicate, after years of being unable to and stuck in a totally paralyzed body, will be, "Kill me." Probably not ideal to have the family in the room for.

And yes, that entire story was just so I could "drop" that I have a wife in a slashdot post. Cunning, huh?

Re:Sadly more likely... (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381367)

And yes, that entire story was just so I could "drop" that I have a wife in a slashdot post. Cunning, huh?

Your wife's recovery and you staying with her, through all of that, is the most poignant thing I have read on Slashdot, ever.

A story like yours deserves to be told, and demands that we listen.

May the winds always be at your back.

Re:Sadly more likely... (3, Insightful)

papvf (725513) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381885)

As a slashdot.dot reader it goes without saying that I love to revel in the latest tech but, stories like this one prove that it is people like you and your wife that are the true inspirations in the world. All the tech and science is wasted if it can't benefit people with "real lives" like yours. Like tjstork said: "A story like yours deserves to be told, and demands that we listen." Any that don't listen, cut them selves off to reality and lose out on more than they can dream of. -papvf

Re:Sadly more likely... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381813)

MOD PARENT UP! Best. Slashdot. Post. EVAR!!

Seriously, that's a real testament to the power of positive thought, or, more accurately, the power of negative thought and how not having negative thoughts don't allow them to have power over you. It's also inspiring in that she overcame the odds. A bit of a bummer that she'd just throw in the towel if she had to do it again.

And, you're not the only guy on Slashdot with a wife. I've been married for over about 2.5 years now. It's not all it's cra....Hi, Honey! No, just posting on Slashdot. Oh, she says to say married life is wonderful!

I see the future now... (-1, Redundant)

ZonkerWilliam (953437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381069)

This kind of research obviously would lead to, a few years down the road, a type of electronic telepathy.

Re:I see the future now... (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381753)

> This kind of research obviously would lead to, a few years down the road, a type of electronic telepathy.

Yes, think of the progression:

- Improve detection to the point it can accurately detect thought-sounds
- Instead of translating the sounds into audible sounds, trasmit them wirelessly (transmitting)
- Implant wireless receiver that injects sound-signals into brain for receiving
- AI spontaneously emerges and takes over subject's brain, becoming the first of our neural-implant overlords!

80% accurracy? (-1, Troll)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381079)

Thats crap spackle.

80% accuracy is NOWHERE near good enough.

http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/11/09/1656208 [slashdot.org]

Re:80% accurracy? (4, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381201)

80% accuracy is NOWHERE near good enough.
It's good enough to get you elected president - twice.

Re:80% accurracy? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381379)

Tell that to a family member they can now communicate to.

"ow our ewe"

that makes no sense when reading it, but people hearing it can make it out.

More info (4, Informative)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381091)

The BBC article is pretty light on detail, and the New Scientist one is subscribers only, but there is more stuff here [eurekalert.org] .

They have hooked up to 41 neurons and:

For now, the team is focusing on the building blocks of words. In a series of experiments over the last few years, Ramsey has imagined saying three vowel sounds: "oh", "ee" and "oo". By watching his brain activity, the researchers have been able to identify distinct patterns associated with the different sounds. Although the data is still being analysed, they believe that they can correctly identify the sound Ramsey is imagining around 80 per cent of the time

Re:More info (2, Funny)

WombatDeath (681651) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381619)

Cool! With a bit more work he'll be able to join in the chorus of Old MacDonald.

Re:More info (3, Insightful)

sseaman (931799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381771)

Thanks, that's quite helpful. I could find no details about this on my own, lacking a New Scientist subscription. He isn't "imagining" these sounds - he's trying to produce them. I suspect they've tapped into the motor cortex, where one of the last stages of motor processing. They're not tapping into "speech" centers - it's simply a motor area associated with articulatory muscles. Not that it isn't impressive, but it's not a step towards mind-reading or better computer-human interfaces unless you suffer from a muscle- or nerve-based speech disorder. We've understood to specific relationships between regions of the motor cortex and muscles in the body for quite some time. Actual language centers are far more mysterious.

As Fleet Captain Pike said.. (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381113)

"Beeeeeep." [memory-alpha.org]

Just wate until SP2... (1)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381119)

This sounds great, but considering how well cochlear implants work this scares me a bit. I know some one who has a a defective cochlear and it is causing her a lot of problems. Worse than the fact that her restored hearing sounds like a computer and the implant is failing is the prospect of another operation to fix it. How ever much this technology could be of benefit I would much rather avoid the implants all together.

Re:Just wate until SP2... (1)

crgrace (220738) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381445)

You shouldn't be scared about cochlear implants. The cochlea is just a biological transducer (converts pressure changes to electrical pulses). It is complex, but it is not a "decision-making" part of the brain. It serves as an input to the brain. So, a cochlear implant replaces the biological transducer with an electronic one. It works well but of course it will be improved.

What about the babies?? (2, Funny)

rambag (961763) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381139)

Would a device like this work on someone who doesn't know how to speak english or better yet a baby that speaks no language at all, if so then we just invented the universal translator, live long and prosper trekkies.

Re:What about the babies?? (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381273)

I think that popping sound was my mind blowing from your comment. You sir, just made my day!

Re:What about the babies?? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381607)

Since it has to wire into the nervous system, it's more like a babel fish.

Re:What about the babies?? (3, Interesting)

Not_Wiggins (686627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381685)

Would a device like this work on someone who doesn't know how to speak english or better yet a baby that speaks no language at all

The answer is "Yes" (but not the way you intended) and "No."

It would work for a non-English speaker IFF that speaker was trying to speak his native language; what they've detected is the brain's intention to produce a SOUND; so, by extension, the interpretation is producing a phonetic representation of the sounds in the person's head.

It isn't interpreting the concept of the sound (someone isn't thinking of a cat and the word "cat" is produced). It should be possible for someone speaking any language (including a made-up one) to use this system.

For a baby (who has no word associated with the object), it wouldn't provide any use... unless your conjecture is that a baby doesn't speak because the muscles in her throat aren't strong enough to form words, but her brain knows what sounds would be made. Then... sure, it would work. 8)

Re:What about the babies?? (2, Interesting)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381891)

> Would a device like this work on someone who doesn't know how to speak english or better yet a baby that speaks no language at all, if so then we just invented the universal translator, live long and prosper trekkies

Yes it certainly would. The device works by directly picking up the intent of the subject in a global individual-neutral format. That intent is then translated into English by dictionary lookup and standard text-to-speech software. It would be a trivial matter to subsitiute any other language besides English.
As an interesting side-note, since the device directly reads a persons thoughts and intent it can also function as a lie-detector, dream interpreter, and as a therapist.

You sir, have a gift.

What drives modern science? (5, Funny)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381141)

What drives the advances of the last couple decades?

Two desires:

1. To restore Stephen Hawking's physical body to its former fully-functional form.

2. To turn Stephen Hawking into a mobile, indestructible cyborg of incomprehensible power.

Re:What drives modern science? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381225)

Once we've accomplished the first part, he'll take care of the second on his own.

Be fearful!

Re:What drives modern science? (1)

Cragen (697038) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381657)

got nuthing to say! #$$%^#! go away! <mutter mutter> how do I turn this d*** thing off? </mutter>

Re:What drives modern science? (1)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381257)

s/Stephen Hawking/Christopher Reeve/ Some still haven't given up on Reeve.

Re:What drives modern science? (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381515)

aehm . seriously ... he's been dead for 3 years [imdb.com] . Maybe it's time to move on ...

Re:What drives modern science? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381533)

Some still haven't given up on Reeve.

Umm... Christopher Reeve? [wikipedia.org] As in, "The late Christopher Reeve, who died in October of 2004?"

What it would take to help him now doesn't involve brain transplants; it involves necromancy.

That said, the foundation [christopherreeve.org] he and his late wife Dana founded isstill hard at work to find a solution to spinal cord injuries.

Re:What drives modern science? (1)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381791)

Whoosh.

Been done! (4, Funny)

Sqweegee (968985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381267)

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39133 [theonion.com]

"With the new exoskeleton, Stephen will be able to safely handle radioactive isotopes in the high-radiation area of the new supercollider particle accelerator. And his new robo-arms are capable of ripping open enemy tanks like they were nutshells,"

Re:What drives modern science? (1)

corifornia2 (1158503) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381341)

When hawking can finally talk I think his first words will be, "Put me back in the spinny":

Spinny Spinny [theage.com.au]

BTW Funny. [brickshelf.com]

Re:What drives modern science? (1)

TheZalm (129363) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381641)

I for one, welcome our (formerly) crippled overlord!

Why was this not a Futurama Episode? (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381841)

That one is just hanging there....waiting to be written...but NOOOOOO!, the got to make Nixon the indestructable cyborg....

Re:What drives modern science? (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381845)

To Six million dollar man Stephen Hawking to the point that there are two Chuck Norrises in the world, asymptotically, of course. Because the only thing better than Chuck Norris is a geek Chuck Norris i guess.

Wait-- they haven't actually done this yet (5, Insightful)

raddan (519638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381143)

Read carefully

Although the data is still being analysed, researchers at Boston University believe they can correctly identify the sound Mr Ramsay's brain is imagining some 80% of the time.

In the next few weeks, a computer will start the task of translating his thoughts into sounds.

"We hope it will be a breakthrough," says Joe Wright of Neural Signals, which has helped develop the technology.
While this is indeed promising, and I hope that this 'unlocks' this poor fellow, this 'unlocking' has not happened yet. Hopefully, when they are able to decipher these signals, he's not saying, "Kill me" over and over again.

Re:Wait-- they haven't actually done this yet (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381639)

It's OK, the editors are only able to decipher what TFA says some 80% of the time.

What? (3, Interesting)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381153)

Electrodes have been implanted in the brain of Eric Ramsay, who has been "locked in" - conscious but paralysed - since a car crash eight years ago.

What do you do for eight years as a locked in? Wouldn't that drive a normal person insane or dull the mind beyond all recognition? Does anyone know about the mental state of these people?

-Grey [silverclipboard.com]

can still communicate (4, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381249)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Diving_Bell_and_the_Butterfly [wikipedia.org]

he could blink. that's it. yes or no. and with that ability, letter by letter, he wrote a book (with the help of some very patient nurses/ assistants)

it's coming out as a movie soon too i think

Re:can still communicate (1)

BlendieOfIndie (1185569) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381773)

Did he blink binary ASCII text?

Re:What? (5, Informative)

klenwell (960296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381265)

I believe Antonio Damasio addresses this question in one of his books. Apparently, a fortunate side-effect of this condition is it impairs the part of your brain that would normally find this horrific and intolerable and leaves you with a weird sense of acceptance and well-being (IIRC). Otherwise, I guess you just blink a lot and hope they keep the feeding tube hooked up.

Re:What? (2, Interesting)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381465)

Apparently, a fortunate side-effect of this condition is it impairs the part of your brain that would normally find this horrific and intolerable and leaves you with a weird sense of acceptance and well-being


Really? I hope so, but that just seems like too much of a coincidence -- like something the caregivers tell themselves so they don't have to deal with the horror of the situation.

-Grey [luminiferous-aether.net]

Re:What? (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381683)

Apparently, a fortunate side-effect of this condition is it impairs the part of your brain that would normally find this horrific and intolerable and leaves you with a weird sense of acceptance and well-being (IIRC).

I think something similar is happening in the US.

Re:What? (1)

KaoticEvil (91813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381853)

You, sir, are completely incorrect. It is not *happening* in the U.S., it has already *happened*.

You've heard of the 60's right? Remember all the drugs? Well, not all of them were used. Some were flushed into the water system, thereby being distributed to all 50 states... Those who ingested the drugs the water system had children (my generation), so we were born with it! :)

Slashdot. (-1, Flamebait)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381161)

Ahhh, Slashdot, full of atheists who reduce us to biochemical machines yet want to endow us with rights endowed by our Creator.

Re:Slashdot. (1)

hickory-smoked (969938) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381195)

... Whut?

Re:Slashdot. (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381285)

On the flip-side, direct brain I/O is also a major step towards William Gibson's Neuromancer and other cyberpunk dark futures."

As we move toward a better understanding of the brain as a biochemical machine, we are better able to manipulate it through various methods. As we do that, we run into the ethical delima of doing so. But if we accept that we are only a complex machine, then is there really any concept of "human rights", or is it just a social construct that may be revoked at any time.

Reading a lot of this apocalyptic literature, you notice something... the same folks who deny a deity, who deny that we are more than a complex set of chemicals are the sameones who talk about a human spirit... something intangible that makes human manipulation wrong. This duplicity of thought, to me, is rather humorous.

Re:Slashdot. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381197)

"...endow us with rights endowed by our Creator."

No they weren't. I hope you are not spreading that tired old, and completly disproved, myth that the US was founded Christians? or on "Christian Values"?

Re:Slashdot. (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381449)

No they weren't. I hope you are not spreading that tired old, and completly disproved, myth that the US was founded Christians? or on "Christian Values"?

Huh? The founding fathers were predominantly Christians in their private and public lives. Judeo-Christian values were at the core and often demonstrated at "federal" and state levels of government. What they did disprove of was government favoring any particular church or religion. Therefore they wrote in a very neutral manner, such as "... the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them ...". On a personal level their doubts had more to do with churches, not the Judeo-Christian god.

Re:Slashdot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381253)

As opposed to those adherents of "our Creator", who want to reduce us all to slaves.

Endow the endowed? (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381337)

Is it like turning on the light that is already on?

Wow! That must be cool!

Re:Slashdot. (1)

TheEmptySet (1060334) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381495)

Yes. Parent is weirdly correct, yet totally misses the point. We (by which I mean people who want to live in a nice world) really do wish to endow people with certain basic rights. Something along the lines of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". It makes me feel rather more secure and happy feeling I can trust most people not to abuse me or people I care about in certain ways.

So your creator had the same suggestions. Brilliant. Sounds like someone who cared about our wellbeing. But wouldn't it be a shame if we could not understand that the need for human rights arises independently of (our knowledge of) his existence?

The real breakthrough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381209)

will come when thoughts can be generated from machines. A mind/machine interface should go both ways.

Mr. Gibson's dark future is a human failure ... (2, Insightful)

2TecTom (311314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381241)

and not a 'techno-biological' failure. The future's darkness comes from a tyrannical plutocracy which misuses the technology, which could have just as easily been used to save mankind. It is in fact an outgrowth of current economics and politics, not technology. Please, get your stories straight.

Quite... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381441)

Reading stories from the '50s we should be living in a "dark future" now because we invented robots.
Whose obvious first reaction upon being created would be to enslave/destroy man kind. Riiiight...

Mmmmyeeaaah, but ... (3, Insightful)

anticlimate (1093749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381721)

But your kind of reasoning could also be used inside out, eg: "Mr. Gibson's dark future is a technological failure and not an economical/political one. That nasty future comes from a tyrannical group of technologists who misuse the social system."
What I want to say is technology and politics/economics are all a creature of humans. It's just as misleading blaming "economics" and "politics" instead of the people misusing the system (who are basically all of us), as it is to blame a particular technology for all of our miseries.

direct brain I/O is also a major step.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381243)

Dark futures? To hell with that, hook me up! I wanna be a damn brain in a jar with all my favorite sites streaming directly into my cortex.

thesingularityisnear (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381245)

Comon, if anything deserved this tag its this.

Lots of major breakthroughs (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381291)

Remember a few years ago when we could control wheelchairs with 90% accuracy from electromagnetic transducers outside the skull. Now the external sensors are gone and we have a breakthrough with 80% accurate speech synthesis from internal sensors. Wonder when the wheelchair one is going to become a product.

I'm skeptical at best. (1)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381299)

I have to be really skeptical when I see this kind of report. Research has suggested that the way the brain functions to produce speech is not like typing out words into a computer. Things are probably not grouped by the similarities in their letters or pronunciation. They are most likely stored by a particular hierarchy that may or may not vary widely across individuals depending mainly on environment. Noise also becomes a huge issue, having the electrodes inside the brain cuts down on that problem but it would still require places of little or no EM interference. Out in the world we don't offer many places like that. Additionally, you would need to do some sort of heroic measure of training for each individual who was to use this device as the signals for every word they may want to saw would need to be mapped and adequately distinguished from other words and brain activity.

Re:I'm skeptical at best. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381699)

Go study neurolinguistics.

Re:I'm skeptical at best. (3, Insightful)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381793)

> you would need to do some sort of heroic measure of training for each individual

Not be be callous, but I'm pretty sure they can find time in their busy eating, sleeping, and bedpan changing schedules in order to regain the ability to communicate with the world.

Oblig: (0, Offtopic)

Sepiraph (1162995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381339)

I, for one, welcome the Ghost in the Shell Universe (and ghost hacking etc).

We lack 2 major advances for that(no pun intended) (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381633)

1. Lifelike Gynoids
2. Lifelike Androids

Should budget constrains force us to develop only one of those I for one vote for the first advancement.

Decypher? (1)

masterz (143854) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381345)

Decypher? Is that a British spelling of decipher?

Dream Speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381355)

I wonder what would happen if this were used on someone while they were dreaming.

/. Headlines Surpassing the Ridiculous (1)

E++99 (880734) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381383)

The headline says "Major Breakthrough." The scientist says, "we hope it will be a breakthrough." Seriously people, it's called "truthfulness." Try some.

This could be really embarrasing for users (3, Funny)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381391)

how would it bea ble to differentiate between "out loud" voice and private thoughts? This could be really embarrasing for users. Imagine if a secretary (or nurse) walks by when you're in the middle of speaking or dictating a letter:

Dear sir,
I am writing wow nice tits and she has a great ass too uh oh wedding ring in order to ask if you would be interested in our new product line of neural-input word processors.

"covert" operation (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381399)

computers which covert these pulses
Convert.

80% accuracy... (3, Informative)

uwbbjai (661340) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381403)

It reads: "Dear Aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all"

What do you want to decipher today?

Practically worrying... (1)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381405)

If this device can translate your thoughts (impulses) into real world signals to produce sound, how can it separate internal dialogue from the external. Often I think of something ("I can't stand this dimwitt.") but I say something else ("Mmm very interesting idea Sir"). I wonder if this can separate the internal/external dialogues we all have going on in our heads...

Re:Practically worrying... (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381819)

I don't think that this thing actually reads your internal thoughts. You have to learn to send the right impulses to it just like as a baby you have to learn to send the right impulses to your mouth and vocal chords.

If this works (1)

koan (80826) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381407)

Then it shouldn't to hard to use the same impulses for control interfaces, so thinking of speaking and manipulating your computer, or other item.

The Identity Theorists (1)

kdcttg (980465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381417)

...will be having a party to celebrate this research. All dualists are welcome, however they should be aware that they will be mocked.

tin foils hatters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381419)

will have the last laugh.

Re:tin foils hatters (1)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381531)

They might, but how would anyone hear them?

As always.. (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381505)

...when I read about advances in neural-electrical interfacing, I hope for a quick solution to the problem of blindness. I have so many friends that would be even more creative and productive, if they only could see.

My mother is becoming blind, too, and it's breaking my heart to see her like that. I hope an affordable implantable camera, interfaced to the vision centers, will come in the near future. Nothing fancy, just B&W at low resolution with no greyscale, would do miracles.

Re:As always.. (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381703)

there's a couple prototypes for this sort of thing out already. I was reading about one a few months ago in some online version of a mainstream mag.

Think of the interrogation capacity! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381605)

Hook up this sucker with a polygraph and something to measure the dilation of pupils, and whammo, we're in your head! Just what you need!

Does it work both ways? (1)

Myrcutio (1006333) | more than 6 years ago | (#21381637)

If they can interpret electrical signals into speech, can they send pre-recorded electrical signals back, effectively making a person speak? And you thought we had political puppets before!

Stephen Hawking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21381855)

The comment about Mr. Hawking is thoughtful but he has said already, that he would not upgrade his voice synthesis. There is already better voice synth than his hardware, but the voice he uses now is "his voice". He has said it would just not feel right to suddenly have a different voice. Would YOU change your voice if surgery were possible to do it?
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