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Brain Scanner Can Tell What You're Looking At

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the what-does-a-scanner-see dept.

Technology 158

palegray.net writes "Wired News brings us an article about brain scanning systems that can accurately tell what you're looking at by analyzing your brain's electrical activity. Using a database constructed of readings taken on test subjects who were shown thousands of photographs, the system works in real time to decipher what you're seeing. Naturally, there are some ethical concerns over some potential applications for this technology. Definitely a new twist on "input devices.""

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urgh (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22661844)

I hope my girlfriend never know about this.

Re:urgh (4, Funny)

EvilNTUser (573674) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662012)

Don't worry. If she needs a brain scanner to determine when you're looking at porn, she'll probably leave you soon anyway.

she'll find out soon enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662838)

As soon as she discovers the implant you are sooooo busted.

Ok brain scanner (4, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661850)

what type of porn am I looking at now?

Re:Ok brain scanner (5, Funny)

Degreeless (1250850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661868)

The scanner knows and it has alerted the authorities.

Re:Ok brain scanner (3, Funny)

coinreturn (617535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661890)

what type of porn am I looking at now?

You're sick. That's clearly goatse you're ogling.

I've found a demonstration site (1)

KNicolson (147698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662844)

what type of porn am I looking at now?

You're sick. That's clearly goatse you're ogling.
That's you looking at goatse.cx [brainscannr.com] .

Re:Ok brain scanner (1, Offtopic)

sqldr (838964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663742)

As we can see from this thread, pr0n is yet again the central driving force of technology. No doubt Sony will release a brain scanner at some point, but everyone will go for the one with all the pr0n on it.

Re:Ok brain scanner (1)

derrida (918536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661924)

slashdot.

Re:Ok brain scanner (5, Funny)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661934)

We're not sure. The printout is up to 32 pages so far but they're all filed with the repeated phrase "Turn me off now!" alternated with "Make it stop!"

Re:Ok brain scanner (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662362)

All my pages say are "Computer screen," over and over.

Re:Ok brain scanner (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662094)

what type of porn am I looking at now?
Geek porn. Free on Slashdot! But sadly not really a turnon.

Re:Ok brain scanner (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662512)

Geek porn.
A skinny hacker trying to shove his apostrophe into a SQL-server's big phat ass?

Re:Ok brain scanner (2, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662380)

Judging by your /. ID, the computer guesses medical-testicle-fetish porn.

Re:Ok brain scanner (1)

stainlesssteelpat (905359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662566)

Looking at porn? How? I can't get the flash to work on my damn iphone.

Re:Ok brain scanner (3, Funny)

Bonus_Eruptus (991451) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662942)

Tranny midgets in fishnets fisting morbidly obese German women.

It's alright, you'll loop back around to being turned on by chicks in bikinis soon enough, then the treadmill begins again.

Brain Scanning and Lie Detection (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661860)

Bad enough that they do lie detection with fMRIs (how can I cheat that?!) but now, to know what I'm thinking (rather that just knowing that i'm lying...)
*sigh* No more private thoughts, then.

more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (2, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661894)

With all the technology in the realm of brain scans, etc., what's to stop some nefarious employer requiring mandatory scans for every employee?


With such powerful technologies, and with such rapid development there's going to be an everpressing need for privacy laws that protect our thoughts, literally.

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (4, Insightful)

FST777 (913657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661916)

what's to stop some nefarious employer requiring mandatory scans for every employee?
Legislation, I hope.

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (4, Interesting)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661940)

From what I understand Polygraph tests are legally prohibited from most work environments. I hope they extend those laws to brainscans, thought detectors, etc.

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (2, Insightful)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662534)

IIRC, polygraph tests are illegal in most places of work because they don't work [wisegeek.com] , not because of ethical concerns.

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662740)

Polygraph tests don't work, but other lie detection techniques do! (fMRI, IMMs, etc)

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (1)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663204)

And those are much more cost prohibitive.

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (2, Insightful)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662114)

Legislation, I hope.
And, if that fails: baseball bats, assault rifles, small nukes...

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (2, Funny)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662346)

And, if that fails: baseball bats, assault rifles, small nukes...
Yeah, if all else fails we can nuke it from space... It's the only way to be sure...

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662334)

or simply the cost of the machine and the extra space, power it would be taking up in the cube farm. ;)

Whenever a company say "anyone", it usually means anyone below the level of the middle management. i.e. the people that are doing the real work.

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662338)

Not just legislation, cost as well. The cost of an fMRI scan for non-medical/research purposes easily costs $125-250 for 15 minutes (about the time to set up and scan 1 subject).

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (1)

FST777 (913657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662972)

Eventually, the costs will go down. I sure hope that the law will prevent these kind of things before it is economically viable to actually use them.

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (2, Insightful)

fuzzlost (871011) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662994)

what's to stop some nefarious employer requiring mandatory scans for every employee?
Legislation, I hope.
Or common decency from our employers? Oh, right, I forgot I live in the U.S...

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (1)

tacroy (813477) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663124)

I'd rather people just refuse to work there, market forces over legislation any day. Hopefully that would convince other employers to not ever try. If all else fails then legislate, lets not have our default action be government reliance.

It isn't time for fear mongering yet (4, Informative)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662408)

Although it true that our ability to image the brain is now allowing us to detect "thought" in the brain, it really needs to be pointed out that this is very in the lab sort of stuff. It doesn't just involve sticking you in a tube and viola a little readout comes out telling you what you were thinking. It requires finicky, multi-million dollar, difficult to interpret equipment. First have to baseline a persons normal brain function then after detailed analysis by crazy smart cognitive neuroscientists we can sort of glean very simple conclusions. Are you adding or subtracting from a number (not found out in real time btw)? Looking up or down? Which, incidentally, I can also determine by looking at your eyes. Basically the stuff here and in other imaging studies is cognitive childsplay in comparison to the "reading of someones thoughts" people seem think is around the corner. We are so far off from that state of technology that ethics really aren't an issue, yet. It is kind of interesting to me that ethical concerns are beginning to become a concern in research of cognitive neuroscience, but needless worry is premature. This is like people starting to fear the atomic bomb right after discovering uranium.

Excuse me while I ignore the content of your post (3, Funny)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663040)

It doesn't just involve sticking you in a tube and viola a little readout comes out telling you what you were thinking

I don't know about you, but I would never fit in a viola.

OK, so I read it now, and... (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663406)

I think that it's important to note that science is often misapplied. Polygraph tests are used to sway opinions in court cases, even though they're not admissible as "evidence" because they're completely unreliable.

How much would it suck to have a lawyer tell the jury that you saw yourself kill someone? How stupid are people? (Allow me to enter into evidence: Internet Explorer, truck balls, aspartame, Enzyte)

Re:It isn't time for fear mongering yet (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22663522)

And we all know that that fear was completely unfounded, right?

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (3, Insightful)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662934)

Actually I'm hoping that this technology gets developped even more and is proven to be infallible.

Can you imagine the stinkin' lawyers we'd get rid of? Stick the guy in the brain scanner and ask 'did you rob the store and murder the clerk - yes or no?'. Done. No more blowing a quarter million dollars of my tax money on some trial for a lowlife criminal (or wrongly convicting the innocent).

Re:more than ever - Thought Privacy laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22663270)

With all the technology in the realm of brain scans, etc., what's to stop some nefarious employer requiring mandatory scans for every employee?

Pretty much nothing unless you do something about it. The technology for reading thoughts is probably far off, but you can start by saying no to drug tests in the workplace rather than taking an "only druggies have something to fear from drug tests" stance.

Re:Brain Scanning and Lie Detection (1)

RKThoadan (89437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662526)

Check out MythBusters. One of them (I think it was Grant) beat the fMRI lie detector. None of them beat the traditional polygraph.

I love it (3, Interesting)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661876)

I'm really starting to love that augmented reality that we are headed towards. Surveillance won't be too much of a problem I fear, there will always be paranoid nerds like myself that will work damned hard to keep the "authorities" from watching while still enjoying all the benefits of the technology.

Re:I love it (5, Funny)

Degreeless (1250850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661908)

On the up side that aluminium foil hat you're wearing might actually keep the government out of your brain for a change.

Re:I love it (1)

slawo (1210850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662024)

I can already foresee the potential Human Machine Interactions that could result from this technology...
In a blink of a thought he built a genetic algorithm that will learn how to interact with his business partners and optimize his negotiation skills.

Re:I love it (2, Insightful)

orielbean (936271) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662708)

Or better yet, we work to turn the instruments on those same people. Transparency is key and requires just as much work as enforcing your privacy. Who watches the watchers?

brains (2, Insightful)

losethisurl (980326) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661888)

It's amazing how far we've come to understand how our zombie food really works. Think about it, we can chemically alter it with a degree of precision, we can take minutely detailed images of it to determine any number of things, we can influence and stimulate it to any number of ends. Now we're on the verge of seeing each others dreams. I wonder what Tom Cruise has to say about this...

Re:brains (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662032)

Now we're on the verge of seeing each others dreams.
Hmmmm...well, your brain literally doesn't know the difference between what it 'sees' and what it 'remembers'. Dreams are generally a kind of "mix-tape" of various memories -- they're constructed from memories. So when you dream, your visual cortex is stimulated in the same way as when you 'remember' and when you 'see'. IOW, the same tech should, in theory, be able to read your dreams.

Re:brains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662084)

Anything Tom Cruise has to say is quite possibly going to be a load of horsecrap, given he's a cultist and all. _

My girlfriend can do the same thing... (5, Funny)

Evil_Ether (1200695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661892)

... and it normally ends in pain for me and my wandering eye.

Re:My girlfriend can do the same thing... (1)

duggi (1114563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662452)

This is not funny, it is true. Humans have that sense of instinct (not experience, Instinct) that computers don't have. An expert would always be better than such a device.
Also, why all this paranoia about what would happen with such devices if they are small enough and can be used easily(not like sticking electrodes into the brain)? I'm thinking of ways to escape this, by better morphing of objects i see into objects i imagine. Something like when you read a book, you can imagine the characters and their faces and "see" them...Or if you are listening to a song and watching another video, I don't think there will be a way to tell then. My brain is my own, and I am the master to it. Good luck with that machine if you are trying to read into my terrorist plans :)

Patient: What am I looking at now? (4, Funny)

notnAP (846325) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661946)

Doctor: You're looking at the inside of the Brain Scan 3000(TM) scanner.

NEXT!

Re:Patient: What am I looking at now? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22661974)

You're now looking at a CCTV screen. Now you're watching yourself watch yourself watch yourself watch yourself watch yourself [error: infinite loop detected]

Re:Patient: What am I looking at now? (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662286)

Infinite recursion, surely?

Re:Patient: What am I looking at now? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662588)

Meh, it's functionally similar to an infinite loop

Re:Patient: What am I looking at now? (2, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663518)

We've come back with the results of the brain scan Mr Brown. Let's see...

Sex
Sex
Sex
Got an itch
Sex
Nurse's cleavage
Sex
What do I want for lunch?
Sex...

the goatse art of self defense (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662080)

-So, Mr. Interrogator, what am I thinking of *now*?

-Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh!

Mod 'im up! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662404)

probably the only constructive use in the world for the goatse image, and you ignore him?

invade mental privacy? (1)

MancunianMaskMan (701642) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662082)

truly a horrible prospect: the stuff that Azimov's (and other's) darker visions are made of. Did anyone gather from TFA if any of the brain-decoding is "generic", or if all of it is trained to a specific individual?

FBI agent: Please Mr. Terrorist, prior to our interview, could we ask you to look at these few thousand pictures whilst strapped into our MRI machine? And don't think of anything other than what's on the pictures. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

Terrorist: Thank you for the lovely slide show!

Re:invade mental privacy? (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663548)

Did anyone gather from TFA if any of the brain-decoding is "generic", or if all of it is trained to a specific individual?

Excellent question! It would be interesting if looking at the same picture created the same brainwave pattern in everyone or even in most people. Comparing the patterns the same picture creates in different brains might lead to all kinds of discoveries about how the brain works.

dangerous new input device (0, Offtopic)

Atreide (16473) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662100)

what happens if I read "rm -fR /" ?

Maybe I should have not rea|

What it says I'm looking at (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662110)

Building, street, street, sidewalk, sidewalk, breasts, breasts, breasts, breasts, breasts, breasts, breasts, ass, ass, ass, ass, ass, sidewalk, sidewalk...

I wonder... (1)

Skynet (37427) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662112)

What my brain looks like when I'm reading Slashdot?

My guess would be the Starship Enterprise flying by, followed by a bunch of sharks with lazers?

Re:I wonder... (0)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662460)

I wonder what my brain looks like when I'm reading Slashdot?
Be grateful this isn't soviet Russia, or Slashdot would be wondering what your brain looks like.

A scary new meaning for "being slashdotted".

ethical issues? c'mon ... (4, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662154)

you're strapped into a machine the size of a room - we're not talking about someone suppreptitiously pointing a camera-sized device at you and reading your thoughts. Yes. that'll be an interesting idea, if and when it becomes a practical proposition.

From the article Those technologies remain decades away, but researchers say it's not too soon to think about them, especially if research progresses at the pace set by this study.

Well, I beg to differ. By the time the "decades" have passed, we'll actually have some information to consider, not just a load of pie-in-the-sky whimsy from people who have no facts to base it on.

Let's worry about today's ethical issues and leave things like this for when they look like becoming a practical reality.

Re:ethical issues? c'mon ... (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662354)

you're strapped into a machine the size of a room - we're not talking about someone suppreptitiously pointing a camera-sized device at you and reading your thoughts. Yes. that'll be an interesting idea, if and when it becomes a practical proposition.
It's all just a matter of time. Your mobile phone is more powerful than computers which filled several rooms a few decades ago. If we've learned anyhthing about new tech, it's that big bulky impractical stuff will be mobile and practical before we know it, so now we have precious time to consider the fact of such a device's existence and applications before we're presented with it as part of everyday life.

Re:ethical issues? c'mon ... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662620)

I doubt if it will ever be a remote imaging like a camera, but can you imagine a helmet version, combined with another version, allowing pilots to target another airplane just by focusing on that plane.

Stargate Atlantis's Puddle jumper neural interface just might become reality, well with a helmet. Focus your thoughts and the aircraft follows.

Re:ethical issues? c'mon ... (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663116)

You mean like the AH-64's 30-mm cannon? [aviationexplorer.com]

The lightweight [...] cannon [...] can be controlled from the gunner's helmets.

Re:ethical issues? c'mon ... (1)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663286)

Yeah, then we can do things bass-ackwards like always. Look, planning for eventualities is a good thing (Especially when it becomes feasible). As we all know - whether or not it is practical, there will always be that one or two individuals who will do it as soon as they can. These are the same people who always end up flying under the radar, making trouble for everyone later.

Closer to the Real Thing Than you think (4, Interesting)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662180)

This is interesting because it is a form of pattern matching. Anyone who has studied the actual way the brain processes information from the senses knows that the brain receives a pattern--regardless of which sense it comes from--and interprets that pattern in such a way that it can make the interpretation. A great example of this is a device that has been built for the blind. The device consists of a grid of pressure-causing pins that are laid on the tongue of a blind person. If an image of some object is represented in the grid, the wearer's tongue can transmit this image to the brain and, with practice, a blind person's brain can learn to interpret that image and act on the basis of the information. I cannot stress the magnitude of this type of thing: the brain does nothing but pattern interpretation. It matters not where the pattern comes from, only the interpretation that is applied matter.

ethical concerns (2, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662222)

Naturally, there are some ethical concerns over some potential applications for this technology

Whose code of ethics are they following here? The legal profession's? The medical profession's? The psychiatric profession's? The military's? All these organizations have different codes of ethics. Who's concerned that this may be against their code of ethics?

There are certainly moral concerns.

Re:ethical concerns (1)

darkfire5252 (760516) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663390)

Here's a newsflash for you: ethics are not just used by professional organizations. Some people actually have personal codes of ethic; other people go so far as to believe that there are universal codes of ethic that apply to everyone whether or not they recognize them. Morality is more how one feels about certain actions, ethics dictates the obligations one has to do or not do something.

Re:ethical concerns (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663596)

Whose morals? I'm pretty sure an Evangelical Christian's idea of what it means to be a moral person differ a bit from my own.

Games, etc. (2, Interesting)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662262)

I'd be very interested in seeing the quality improvements in games that can use this technology to improve only certain points in a display based on where you are actually looking.

Now what would be terribly interesting is coupling this sort of thing with a car and a transparent LCD windshield. It would be able to enhance various aspects of your car's display and perhaps make some things more apparent from your peripheral vision.

Or for combat pilots, using this sort of technology to target a craft based on where your eyes are focused.

I could think about this all day...

Slashdotter subject #4035 brainscan results (1, Funny)

Ranger (1783) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662340)

Boobies.

Slashdotter subject #4036 brainscan results (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662492)

#4035's brainscan results.

Grokster. (2, Funny)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662364)

Finally. A way to get content driven advertising all the time, everywhere I go. I don't have to sit around online to get pelted with banner ads, anymore.

Dystopia (2, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662466)

The government will certainly misuse this technology too, no matter the legal protections. We have something called the Constitution that supposedly protects us against the government spying on us, but we're all seeing how much good that does.

So it's not out of luddism that I hope they belay this advance; rather, I want to wait until we've rebalanced our government and society to ensure our freedom and rights will not be abused.

In the meantime, why not cure cancer? That's an unambiguous good. Go work on that!

Re:Dystopia (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662662)

> want to wait until we've rebalanced our government and society to ensure our freedom and rights will not be abused

They are currently "rebalancing" our government. Only not in the direction you hoped.

Am I the only one who is thinking 1984 (4, Interesting)

RationalRoot (746945) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662468)

George Orwell - The Thought Police.

How far is it from detecting what you are looking at to detecting general ideas like "Violent Thoughts", "Adult thoughts", "Rebelious Thoughts" - if they use different parts of the brain....

Seriously. If I got a $50 fine every time I thought about killing someone, It'd get damn'd expensive.

It could get recursive, what if I wanted to kill the guy for fining me $50.....

Let's not ever consider being fined for "Adult thoughts"

Re:Am I the only one who is thinking 1984 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22663062)

Of a bigger concern to me would be psychiatric incarceration if you have more than X number of "bad" thoughts in a given period of time. Unlike jail, which has all sorts of rules regarding who goes in there and what they can legally do to get out, people can be commited to a mental institution with very little recourse or legal process.

If the tech was available now to monitor everyone's brain and tell what they were thinking (generally), how many random public shootings (VA tech, Columbine, etc) would it take for the general public to want it to be mandatory?

already here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662486)

my wife already knows when i'm looking at something I shouldn't ;-)

Mind-reading Devices in Courtrooms (2, Interesting)

Brian Ribbon (986353) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662490)

"In the courtroom, mental readouts could have the same problems as eyewitness testimony"

Would that prevent their use in courtrooms? I don't think so.

I know of someone who was charged with a child pornography offence, who was targeted for being prominent in the paedophile activist community.

I strongly suspect that he was set up, however this will be irrelevant in the courtroom, as people know that he's attracted to children. In other words, he "must be guilty", simply because of what he is known to think.

This attitude is not only a problem for people who are attracted to children. If people associate certain thoughts and behaviours, a strong suggestion that the defendant has the thought will lead most people to presume guilt, even when the defendant is innocent.

If the researchers actually manage to build a mind-reading device, it will be used in court and it will lead to the conviction of innocent people.

Good research, but not mind reading... (4, Informative)

MacBorg (740087) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662510)

Gah. Can we file this under really bad summary - this is basically an expansion of work that has been underway for a few years now (just read a paper on a similar concept from 05). What we're really seeing is a pattern-matching algorithm - train it using fMRI data from visual cortices and, with a limited subset, it's pretty accurate. Honestly, as a vision researcher, the more interesting bit isn't the so-called "mind reading" bit, although it is a good trick - it's the fact that it works across subjects with a respectable amount of accuracy (which indicates that activation in V1/V2/V3 is not overly dissimiliar between subjects). Cool work though...

Re:Good research, but not mind reading... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662814)

I don't know about you but being able to detect what I am seeing directly from a brain scan seems like some degree of mind reading to me. Granted, it can't detect my concious thoughts, but it is definatly pulling information out of my mind.

My question is, can we take this beyond the visual cortex? Why not try the same experiment but have the subjects simply think about different objects. Or alternativly, send in a whiff of apple pie sent and see if the signals for apple pie light up.

BSoD (1)

Ollabelle (980205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662532)

So is the blue screen of death on my end, or on the scanner's end?

Crotch-staring guys, eye-gazing ladies (2, Interesting)

Kozz (7764) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662548)

A study was done recently that was using eye position recognition, and participants were shown photos of all kinds of people. The computer was able to note where (on the image) the person's eyes were fixed, and for how long.

They found (among other things) that women tend to fix upon the face and eyes of the person in the image. And they found that guys frequently stared at the crotch area, such as that of a baseball player (hey, dudes, it's a CUP, don't get so insecure). There were other findings, but these are the more memorable ones.

Article here [ojr.org] .

When will this include sounds you're imagining? (2, Interesting)

stoofa (524247) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662568)

In the future will we get billed by the RIAA for singing a song in your head without the proper 'internal cranium broadcast license' ?

Re:When will this include sounds you're imagining? (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663528)

If most geeks "think-sing" as well as they "real-sing" then there weren't be a problem.
The device just won't be able to tell what song they were trying to sing that has only one three notes, all of them sung in the key of "off"

Summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662570)

Wired News brings us an article about brain scanning systems that can accurately tell what you're looking at by analyzing your brain's electrical activity.
The article concerns functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which does not analyze the brain's electrical activity. fMRI contrast is based on blood-oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) contrast. Essentially, oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin have slightly different magnetic properties, which results in slight variations in the MRI images.

fMRI measures localized increases in blood flow (which decreases the amount of deoxyhemoglobin in the blood). The exact relationship between increased blood flow and neuronal activity is still not known, and there is no current way of directly monitoring the brain's electrical activity using MRI.

Pfff... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662574)

"Wired News brings us an article about brain scanning systems that can accurately tell what you're looking at by analyzing your brain's electrical activity. Using a database constructed of readings taken on test subjects who were shown thousands of photographs, the system works in real time to decipher what you're seeing.
I can do the same thing, by looking at what another person is looking at.

If only it would go the other way... (2, Interesting)

mnemotronic (586021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662786)

If only the system, or another, could stimulate areas of the brain to induce the perception of an image. Feed in the mathematical model of a dog, and the person sees, or thinks they see, a dog. In essence, allow the blind to see. Combined with a camera and image recognition algorithms, and that blind person could see their surroundings in real time. And the model doesn't have to be accurate, so long as it is consistent. I'll bet the brain would do plenty of interpreting - if the impulses for a dog were there, and the subject was told "this is a dog", they would associate that imagery with "dog".

Of course, technology like that opens up the way for abuse -- if the subject is induced to see a face or talking head which they believe is their deity, while being simultaneously subjected to sound-inducing microwaves [wikipedia.org] (or this ootoob video [youtube.com] ), that person thinks they see and hear God, as it were. And the voice says "I want you to build me, an ark" or "I want you to kill so-and-so" or "Your boyfriend needs a lot more sex"....

Re:If only it would go the other way... (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663090)

Probably won't work for the congentially blind though since the visual centers would not have developed when they get to adulthood. The impulses would probably have to be turned into audio or tactile senses instead.

Re:If only it would go the other way... (1)

Bloodoflethe (1058166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663744)

People are way more adaptable than you give them credit for being. If people can learn to use objects with only the power of the brain, then they can interpret new signals as well. It doesn't have to be seeing the way *we* see, to be seeing. I wouldn't be surprised if they oriented to being able to see in new spectra with greater ease than a sighted person.

Re:If only it would go the other way... (1)

Starcub (527362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663694)

It appears as though they still in the early research phase. I don't think they can determine what is merely imagined, only what is viewed visually. Beyond this remains the ability to distiguish between what thoughts are in a person's consiousness vs. subconsiousness.

As for consistancy, I'm not sure how reliable bain scanning technology could ultimately become given that the brain can re-wire itself in response to external stimuli. Whereas a brain injury might turn that dog into a three headed monster, If people can subvert lie detector tests, could they not also train themselves to deceive a 'brain scanner"?

Accuracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22662826)

I RTFA (well, skimmed it), and it says they're surprised by how accurate their device works. But to really be impressed, I'm going to need examples, or atleast a description of how accurate it works. A scientist alone stating that he was surprised his invention was so accurate won't cut it.

It is inevitable ... (1)

Sepiraph (1162995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662854)

That full BMI (Brain-machine Interface) will be available to us in this century. There is nothing in physics and biology (as far as we know) that fundamentally limits us to able to some day not only read thoughts (as this study shows, at least in a crude way), but to some day eventually even engineer thoughts.

There are many people who are fearful of new, groundbreaking technologies such as BMI, but I am not one of them. In fact, I'd love to embrace such technologies.

I'd imagine when man first experimented with using fire as a tools, there are many who were fearful too. If we let our fears and ignorance to hold us back, we would still be monkeys today.

Re:It is inevitable ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22663146)

I'd imagine when man first experimented with using fire as a tools, there are many who were fearful too.


For good reason. Plenty of people are still being killed by fire.

Re:It is inevitable ... (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663180)

I work with people with severe disabilities and the interfaces for machine access right now are very crude and difficult to use. This type of thing has tremendous therapeutic potential in addition to the scary Orwellian stuff. Imagine Stephen Hawking being able to lecture in real time instead of either prepared ahead of time or tediously composed one word at a time.

Berzerkely? (1)

gothzilla (676407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22662906)

I'm glad it's Bezerkly doing this and not the Pentagon....oh wait...

And yet.... (1, Interesting)

penguin_dance (536599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663144)

"However the team have warned about potential privacy issues in the future when scanning techniques improve. 'It is possible that decoding brain activity could have serious ethical and privacy implications downstream in, say, the 30 to 50-year time frame,' said Prof Gallant. '[We] believe strongly that no one should be subjected to any form of brain-reading process involuntarily, covertly, or without complete informed consent.'"

And yet they invented it anyway. I guess you could use it to study how the brain processes images, but for the life of me I can't think of a truly beneficial, non-evil application.

David Brain (1)

LabRat007 (765435) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663188)

I believe it was David Brin's book "Sundiver" that made use of this type of technology to separate the human race into safe/unsafe categories. The purpose was keep the unsafe (deemed potentially unstable) people from having interaction with members of alien races. The test worked something like this. You're very quickly shown a series of graphic images containing depictions of violence and peacful scenes at the same time. People who look at violent images more often are considered potential liabilities and secluded from certain roles in society. I wonder who's going to try and copy this technique first...

Good approach? (1)

5n0vv (956144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22663212)

This all brain scanning idea looks similar to measuring heat levels on computer processor in order to find out what it is doing.
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