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Friday, July 27, 2012

Reading brain images

Brain-image technologies that can read your thoughts and allow you to control computer interfaces. A fairly recent development, esp. prominent in assisstive technologies (helping people with severe speech impediments) which now seem to be showing potential for migrating to the more main-stream applications.

Here is the audio link, in case you haven't had a chance to listen to today's "On the Current" on CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2012/06/25/pandoras-box-episode-five/ 

In simple terms, scientists are compiling and cataloguing our (prototypical, flexible) brain responses to images. Such catalogues (or dictionaries) later allow a computer program to identify what a person is actually thinking (i.e., imagining in his or her mind). They appear to work with only concrete object images (apples, trees) for now, and have harder time with abstract ones (trust, love), according to the interviewed scientists.

Fascinating! Where will keyword searching IR be in 5-10 years from now? Imagine other consequences (e.g, in courtrooms or personal relations)?! The ethical and social implication are equally scary... Will there be time when there won't be private thoughts? At the expense of some direly needed convenience, of course...

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