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In Afghanistan, some soldiers are said to possess a sixth sense.
These devices exploit what neuroscientists call the P300, a wave of brain activity that signifies an unconscious recognition of a visual object, and is so-named because it occurred about 300 milliseconds after stimulation. The P300 can be thought of as the biological basis of the sixth sense.
The problem is that it may take several seconds for the brain to become conscious of what it’s seen, and in Afghanistan, that brief time can mean the difference between spotting a bomb, and driving over it and setting it off.
But a device known as an electroencephalogram (EEG) can spot that P300 signal. Hooked into a sophisticated computer that can interpret the signal, it can immediately alert a person to a potential threat, taking a short cut through the brain’s normal conscious processing. Combined with advanced optics, it is possible to imagine a Terminator-like vision system that scans an area and immediately identifies and categorises threats.
These goggles represent more than just another gadget: they could well become the first example of military neuro-enhancement using what is called a brain-machine interface
a group of elite scientists who advise the government on national security issues, warned of the “potential for abuses in carrying out such research, as well as serious concerns about where remediation leaves off and changing natural humanity begins.”
Such work, however, is also drawing attention now from scientists concerned that such technology could, for example, allow even more novel use of armed drones. “The ability to control a machine directly with the human brain could, for example, provide the potential to remotely operate robots or unmanned vehicles in hostile territory,” said a recent report by the UK Royal Society.
Jonathan Moreno, a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Mind Wars, says what people find troubling is that, like with drones, such technology expands the battlefield, allowing soldiers to fight remotely. “It’s the projection of human intelligence into a device,” says Moreno. “That’s what it’s about.”
Life Imitating Art: Robot avatar body controlled by thought alone
For the first time, a person lying in an fMRI machine has controlled a robot hundreds of kilometers away using thought alone.
.”The ultimate goal is to create a surrogate, like in Avatar, although that’s a long way off yet,” says Abderrahmane Kheddar, director of the joint robotics laboratory at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan.
To attempt this feat, researchers with the international Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-embodiment project used fMRI to scan the brain of university student Tirosh Shapira as he imagined moving different parts of his body. He attempted to direct a virtual avatar by thinking of moving his left or right hand or his legs.
The scanner works by measuring changes in blood flow to the brain’s primary motor cortex, and using this the team was able to create an algorithm that could distinguish between each thought of movement (see diagram). The commands were then sent via an internet connection to a small robot at the Béziers Technology Institute in France.
The set-up allowed Shapira to control the robot in near real time with his thoughts, while a camera on the robot’s head allowed him to see from the robot’s perspective. When he thought of moving his left or right hand, the robot moved 30 degrees to the left or right. Imagining moving his legs made the robot walk forward.
Well, it is really a pair of special goggles/binoculars - A camera/computer scans a wide range of area and decides on potential threats.. then flashes those pictures infront of the user.. when the computer detects that you have given off the P300 signal, the computer detects that and the user is alerted to focus on that specific image!
Ok, so the preliminary steps into having a thought controlled 'avatar' and the ability to control it in real-time through thought commands! Insane! It is really interesting, however the concerns i have are the safety and the potential for future technology. The combination of these two types of technology sounds like it really won't before we can be even lazier... Reminds me of the move 'Surrogates' with Bruce Willis.. definitely reccomend watching it as it is extremely similar to this.. how superficial our society is and the potential for what this technology could turn us into! Anyone seen this movie?? Thoughts?