Connect your Brain to the Internet?
2006-12-11 0:00

By Lane Hudson |

Today, the Center for American Progress hosted a panel titled "Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense." CAP Senior Fellow Jonathan Moreno, Ph.D. gave a run down on his book and fellow panelist Jennifer Bard, a law professor at Texas Tech University, gave a legal analysis of advances in neuroscience research as applied to real life situations.

The most shocking comment came from panelist Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D. when he said that it "is realistic that in ten to fifteen years, it could be possible to directly connect the human brain to the internet." He cited current research where neuroscientists are able to bypass lesions in the brain by connecting two sections of the brain by man made circuitry.

Despite such an earth shaking advancement being possibly a decade away, there exists no body of ethical oversight OR laws governing such research. The biggest sponsor of this type of research is the Federal Government, often funding scientific studies through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA.

Techniques currently in development include functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or fMRI. It takes pictures of brain activity in real time and is being used to learn reactions of the brain to figure out if someone is lying, their sexual orientation, if they have racist tendencies, if they are extroverted, and countless other things. It is the closest that we have come to "mind reading."

DARPA is funding an "Enhanced Human Performance" project. Augmenting cognition, or increasing brain function, is one of the goals of this project. This can be accomplished by inserting a chip in a soldier's brain and increasing the bandwidth of brain activity.

The drug Modanafil has also been developed and can keep people awake for days at a time without the need for sleep or calories. This has already been made available in the private sector under the name Provigil.

This barely scratches the surface of an emerging issue about which the Center for American Progress hopes to begin a public discussion. The potential implications of this issue on civil liberties is enormous. It warrants much scrutiny until acceptable legal and ethical standards are created. There should also be a balance between using these new advances for national defense and using it in the private sector where it can be used to improve the lives of everyday Americans.

Article from:

'The Matrix' is a step closer to reality; Neuroscientists break code on sight

In the sci-fi movie "The Matrix," a cable running from a computer into Neo's brain writes in visual perceptions, and Neo's brain can manipulate the computer-created world. In reality, scientists cannot interact directly with the brain because they do not understand enough about how it codes and decodes information.

Image: Neurons in a purely visual brain region called the inferotemporal (IT) cortex respond selectively to different images. As pictures were randomly presented to the monkey during specific intervals (top), neurons at different sites in IT produce distinct patterns of activity to each picture (bottom). For example, neurons at site 1 favor the toy and the yam, while neurons at site 3 prefer the monkey face and the cat. Image courtesy / Poggio/DiCarlo labs

Now, neuroscientists in the McGovern Institute at MIT have been able to decipher a part of the code involved in recognizing visual objects. Practically speaking, computer algorithms used in artificial vision systems might benefit from mimicking these newly uncovered codes.

The study, a collaboration between James DiCarlo's and Tomaso Poggio's labs, appears in the Nov. 4 issue of Science.

"We want to know how the brain works to create intelligence," said Poggio, the Eugene McDermott Professor in Brain Sciences and Human Behavior. "Our ability to recognize objects in the visual world is among the most complex problems the brain must solve. Computationally, it is much harder than reasoning." Yet we take it for granted because it appears to happen automatically and almost unconsciously.

"This work enhances our understanding of how the brain encodes visual information in a useful format for brain regions involved in action, planning and memory," said DiCarlo, an assistant professor of neuroscience.

In a fraction of a second, visual input about an object runs from the retina through increasingly higher levels of the visual stream, continuously reformatting the information until it reaches the highest purely visual level, the inferotemporal (IT) cortex. The IT cortex identifies and categorizes the object and sends that information to other brain regions.

To explore how the IT cortex formats that output, the researchers trained monkeys to recognize different objects grouped into categories, such as faces, toys and vehicles. The images appeared in different sizes and positions in the visual field. Recording the activity of hundreds of IT neurons produced a large database of IT neural patterns generated in response to each object under many different conditions.

Then, the researchers used a computer algorithm, called a classifier, to decipher the code. The classifier was used to associate each object -- say, a monkey's face -- with a particular pattern of neural signals, effectively decoding neural activity. Remarkably, the classifier found that just a split second's worth of the neural signal contained specific enough information to identity and categorize the object, even at positions and sizes the classifier had not previously "seen."

It was quite surprising that so few IT neurons (several hundred out of millions) for such a short period of time contained so much precise information. "If we could record a larger population of neurons simultaneously, we might find even more robust codes hidden in the neural patterns and extract even fuller information," Poggio said.

Article from:

Related Articles
Mind at Light Speed - A New Kind of Intelligence
The Creation of Smarter Than Human Intelligence
The Ubermensch, the Superman and the Posthuman - Technofascism?
Cyborg Superman, Transhumanism and the Nephilim
MIThril, the next generation research platform for context aware wearable computing
Robot Demonstrates Self Awareness
US robot builds copies of itself

Latest News from our Front Page

Catastrophic Fertility Rates
2015-10-14 1:00
YouTube description: Back in February, Reactionary Expat and I recorded a three-and-a-half hour conversation. ... This first instalment sees us discussing worldwide fertility rates. It's bad news everywhere. Source:
Official Working for the Swedish Government: "There Is No Native Swedish Culture."
2015-10-13 23:54
This brave woman, who is just such a counter culture rebel is trying to convince Swedes - yet again - that there isn't such a thing such as a "native Swedish culture." This courageous woman, Ingrid Lomfors, who just happens to be Jewish, has not only been educated in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University. She's also been trained at the Hebrew ...
Whistleblower doctor explains horrific reality dealing with Muslim invaders in Germany
2015-10-14 0:53
This is unbelievable. A Czech doctor, who works in a German hospital, is so disgusted and overwhelmed with the Muslim migrant invaders that she is threatening to leave the country and go back home to the Czech Republic. She explains, via an email letter (because the press is forbidden from reporting on this), how horrific the conditions are in these hospitals, ...
The Final Leaked "Secret" TPP Text is All That We Feared. Top Down Control of the Internet
2015-10-14 0:40
Since we now have the agreed text, we’ll be including some paragraph references that you can cross-reference for yourself—but be aware that some of them contain placeholders like “x” that may change in the cleaned-up text. Also, our analysis here is limited to the copyright and Internet-related provisions of the chapter, but analyses of the impacts of other parts of ...
Jewish leaders say “no” to Syrian refugees on anti-semitism concern - NL Times
2015-10-14 0:14
The Jewish community of Amsterdam-Zuid are concerned about the arrival of a refugee center in Amstelveen-Noord, which local residents were informed about on Monday night. The proposed shelter will house 400 refugees, mostly from Syria and Iraq.  This weekend it was announced that the municipality of Amstelveen intends to shelter refugees in the office building on Laan van Kronenberg – less ...
More News »