Providing us with a delightful glimpse of the future of humanity and bionic implants, Second Sight — the developer of the first bionic eye to receive FDA approval in the US — is currently working on a firmware upgrade that gives users of the Argus II bionic eye better resolution, focus, and image zooming. The software update even provides users with color recognition, even though the original version of the device only provides black and white vision. The Argus II, to give its proper classification, is a retinal prosthesis.
A taste of the future: Bionic eye will receive software updates to enable color vision, increased resolution
Harvard creates brain-to-brain interface, allows humans to control other animals with thoughts alone
Researchers at Harvard University have created the first noninvasive brain-to-brain interface (BBI) between a human… and a rat. Simply by thinking the appropriate thought, the BBI allows the human to control the rat’s tail. This is one of the most important steps towards BBIs that allow for telepathic links between two or more humans — which is a good thing in the case of friends and family, but terrifying if you stop to think about the nefarious possibilities of a fascist dictatorship with mind control tech.
‘Neural dust’ brain implants could revolutionize brain-machine interfaces and allow large-scale data recording
In a potential neuroscience breakthrough, University of California Berkeley scientists have proposed a system that allows for thousands of ultra-tiny “neural dust” chips to be inserted into the brain to monitor neural signals at high resolution and communicate data highly efficiently via ultrasound. The neural dust design promises to overcome a serious limitation of current invasive brain-machine interfaces (BMI): the lack of an implantable neural interface system that remains viable for a lifetime.
The day after President Mohammed Morsi was forcibly removed from office by the military, it appears Egypt’s new leaders are hunting for his Muslim Brotherhood pals and arresting the Islamist political party’s top officials. According to reports from Reuters, the Associated Press and the AFP, Egyptian authorities issued arrest warrants for the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme leader Mohammed Badie, his first deputy Khairat El-Shater, and around 200 other Brotherhood members on Thursday. The Associated Press reports Badie has already been detained in a coastal city close to the Libyan border and is now being flown back to Cairo.
By 2045, humans will achieve digital immortality by uploading their minds to computers — or at least that’s what some futurists believe. This notion formed the basis for the Global Futures 2045 International Congress, a futuristic conference held here June 14-15.
The conference, which is the brainchild of Russian multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov, fell somewhere between hardcore science and science fiction. It featured a diverse cast of speakers, from scientific luminaries like Ray Kurzweil, Peter Diamandis and Marvin Minsky, to Swamis and other spiritual leaders.
A study out today from the University of Minnesota and published in the Journal of Neural Engineering demonstrates that at least five humans/subjects are up to the task of steering a quadcopter through some balloon hoops in a gymnasium using just thoughts. The task is conceptually simple enough, but the team didn’t know if it would work at all. “I was not sure we were even able to do it,” Professor Bin He, the study’s lead author, but I was surprised by the excellent performance we were able to accomplish with this group of subjects.”
In a twist that evokes the dystopian science fiction of writer Philip K. Dick, neuroscientists have found a way to predict whether convicted felons are likely to commit crimes again from looking at their brain scans. Convicts showing low activity in a brain region associated with decision-making and action are more likely to be arrested again, and sooner.The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the prisoners’ brains during computer tasks in which subjects had to make quick decisions and inhibit impulsive reactions.
Electroencephalography, which is widely known as a medical diagnostic test has more potential uses. An EEG device is typically a headset with a small number of electrodes placed on different parts of the skull in order to detect the electrical signals made by your brainwaves.
One company, Government Works Inc., is developing BCI headsets for lie detection and criminal investigations. By measuring a person’s responses to questions and images, the company claims to be able to determine whether that person has knowledge of certain information or events (leading to conclusions, for instance, about whether that person was at a crime scene).
Whether it’s rescue rat-bots or bomb-sniffing beetle drones, electronics are helping us create new beasts of burden, allowing us to conscript creatures into the modern animal workforce. These animals’ brains are being taken hostage, their nervous systems forced to cooperate with our plans. As Maharbiz wrote in an account of his research, “[W]e wanted to be sure we could deliver signals directly into the insect’s own neuromuscular circuitry, so that even if the insect attempted to do something else, we could provide a countercommand. Any insect that could ignore our commands would make for a crummy robot.”
Temporary electronic tattoos could soon help people fly drones with only thought and talk seemingly telepathically without speech over smartphones, researchers say. Commanding machines using the brain is no longer the stuff of science fiction. In recent years, brain implants have enabled people to control robotics using only their minds, raising the prospect that one day patients could overcome disabilities using bionic limbs or mechanical exoskeletons. His team is developing wireless flexible electronics one can apply on the forehead just like temporary tattoos to read brain activity.
Philadelphia Courts Begin Using Computer Forecasts to Predict Future Criminal Behavior, Determine Jail Time
Judges in the Philadelphia court system are now taking advantage of powerful new computer models to help determine how much jail time an offender should get. Computers have been forecasting weather and economic trends for years, but applying algorithms to human behavior is relatively new. University of Pennsylvania professor Richard Berk, a pioneer in the field, his forecasts, which use an algorithm to predict whether someone will offend again, have been used by city probation and parole officers for about three years, to decide how much supervision a defendant needs.
The European Commission has selected the Human Brain Project (HBP) as one of its Future and Emerging Technologies and will send it up to €1.19b over ten years so it can build a supercomputer capable of simulating the human brain.
The HBP wants to build a simulated brain because we don’t know enough about our grey matter. The project’s web site says we lack even a “casual understanding of the way [brain] events … produce cognition and behaviour,” while more than a century of research has yielded little understanding of “how changes in the synapses between neurons help us to remember important events in our past”.
American ammunitions may be the reason behind the mounting number of babies born with birth defects in Iraq, a study revealed. Accounts of children being born with cancer and birth defects have been highlighted in German newspaper Der Spiegel, where Iraqis who were interviewed were not sure of the explanation behind so many dead and deformed newborn babies in the Iraqi city of Basra. “Some had only one eye in the forehead. Or two heads,” Askar Bin Said, an Iraqi graveyard owner, told the newspaper, describing some of the dead newborn babies that are buried in his cemetery.
Each year, IBM releases a set of predictions about where the world of computing will be in just 5 short years. Of course, when it comes to computing, 5 years is really a long time.
According to IBM, these cognitive computers will be able to feel, hear, see and touch and respond accordingly. “One of the most intriguing aspects of this shift is our ability to give machines some of the capabilities of the right side of the human brain,” writes IBM’s chief innovation officer Bernard Meyerson in the company’s blog.
It should be fairly obvious why, all technological considerations aside, there has been much more research into letting machines extract our thoughts, rather than insert them. Mind reading is a scary-enough concept all on its own — but mindwriting? It calls to mind the hacker deities of cyber punk novels; skinny, trench-swathed Neos projecting e-thoughts into the skulls of passing civilians.
Speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, the officer said the Greek state had been fully aware of the activities of Golden Dawn for several years, with the National Intelligence Service and other security agencies monitoring it closely. The officer claimed police chiefs had had the opportunity to isolate and remove these small “pockets of fascism” in the force but decided not to. The state, he said, wanted to keep the fascist elements “in reserve” and use them for its own purposes.
It goes like this: Syria has Russian-made air defense systems. Western institutions don’t know the details of these systems. We are even told that this is the system that helped to down our F-4 plane last June. More critically, since the details of the Syrian air defense systems were not known, NATO could not calculate its losses in a potential operation against Syria.
The team will build models of the systems in the brain that govern a honey bee’s vision and sense of smell. Using this information, the researchers aim to create the first flying robot able to sense and act as autonomously as a bee, rather than just carry out a pre-programmed set of instructions.
If successful, this project will meet one of the major challenges of modern science: building a robot brain that can perform complex tasks as well as the brain of an animal. Tasks the robot will be expected to perform, for example, will include finding the source of particular odours or gases in the same way that a bee can identify particular flowers.
Developed by a team of researchers from HRL Laboratories, Quantum Applied Science and Research, Advanced Brain Monitoring, and the University of California San Diego, the CT2WS system uses a combination of a 120-megapixel wide-field digital video camera, image processing software, and an electroencephalogram (EEG) “cap” that is worn by the operator. Scanning a 120-degree arc with its digital camera, the system presents up to 10 images per second to the sensor operator, monitoring for a specific type of brain activity—the P-300 brainwave
The Substitutional Reality (SR) system, developed by researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute’s Laboratory for Adaptive Intelligence, is made of cheap, commercially available electronic components: a panoramic video camera used for recording, a computer for storing the recorded footage, and a head-mounted visual display that can switch seamlessly between the recorded footage and a live feed captured by a camera and microphone attached to it.
“In a dream, we naturally accept what is happening and hardly doubt its reality, however unrealistic it may seem on reflection.” says Keisuke Suzuki, the lead author of a recent paper describing the SR system. “Our motivation is to explore the cognitive mechanisms underlying our strong conviction in reality. How can people trust what they perceive?
With a chilling hint of the not-so-distant future, researchers at the Usenix Security conference have demonstrated a zero-day vulnerability in your brain. Using a commercial off-the-shelf brain-computer interface, the researchers have shown that it’s possible to hack your brain, forcing you to reveal information that you’d rather keep secret.
In a real-world scenario, the researchers foresee a game that is specially tailored by hackers to extract sensitive information from your brain — or perhaps an attack vector that also uses social engineering to lull you into a false sense of security. It’s harder to extract data from someone who knows they’re being attacked — as interrogators and torturers well know.
A brain in a bot is just a way station to Nirvana, which would ultimately involve downloading the brain’s contents into a computer. That and other tweaks to the technology will take a few decades, Itskov says, which is why he calls his project the2045 Initiative. It held its first meeting in Moscow in February and has just opened an office in San Francisco. It is planning a big meeting in New York’s Lincoln Center in June 2013.
In ages past, those who would cheat Death generally talked of an elixir, but nowadays their line of patter tends to run in a cybernetic vein.
So: want to have Superman-like strength? The military is developing exoskeletons that strap onto soldier’s bodies and do the heavy lifting, literally. Soldiers in the field typically tote upwards of 100 pounds on their backs. Strap-on exoskeletons could make this vastly less stressful while also reducing the back injuries that are endemic in the army. Want to stave off the cognitive deficits caused by too little sleep?
Or how about getting by on four hours a night? Something called transcranial magnetic stimulation can help you do that. Or maybe you’d like to move objects using only the power of your mind? It’s possible – and you don’t have to be Uri Geller. In 2011, the Guinness Book of World Records issued an award to the NeuroSky MindWave, a brainwave reader, for the “heaviest machine moved using a brain control interface.”
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.
Teleoperated robots, those that can be remotely controlled by a human, have been around for decades. Kheddar and his colleagues are going a step further.
Larry Smarr’s large intestine appears to float in the middle of the room, nestled like a stuffed sausage between his other virtual organs.
Smarr, a computer science professor, adjusts the dark-tinted 3D glasses perched on his nose and picks up an electronic pointer. “And this is where the wall of my colon is inflamed,” he says, pointing out a spot where the intestinal walls are indeed noticeably swollen.
A supercomputer combined MRI images of the 63-year-old professor to create the three-dimensional illusion now projected on the wall. It gives the impression that the viewer could go for a stroll inside the researcher’s abdomen.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everybody could look inside their own bodies like that?” asks Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunication and Information Technology (Calit2) in La Jolla, near San Diego.
Brain scans of a small group of people can predict the actions of entire populations, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of Oregon and the University of California at Los Angeles.
The findings are relevant to political advertising, commercial market research and public health campaigns, and broaden the use of brain imaging from a diagnostic to a predictive tool.
It is the most powerful federal agency you’ve never heard of — and lawmakers from both parties on Thursday vowed to keep abreast of its astonishing growth and rein it in, if necessary.
The Office of Financial Research, or OFR, was created by the Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul that President Obama signed into law in July 2010. Technically housed under the Treasury Department, the agency has until now received its funding not from the Congress, but directly from the Federal Reserve.
Starting in July, the OFR Fiscal Year 2013 budget, estimated at $158 million, will be funded entirely through assessments — also known as taxes — on bank-holding firms with consolidated assets worth at least $50 billion.
“The complexity of the brain, with its billions of interconnected neurons, makes it hard for neuroscientists to truly understand how it works. Simulating it will make it much easier – allowing them to manipulate and measure any aspect of the brain,” he said.
Housed at a facility in Dusseldorf in Germany, the ‘brain’ will feature thousands of three-dimensional images built around a semi-circular ‘cockpit’ so scientists can virtually ‘fly’ around different areas and watch how they communicate with each other.
It aims to integrate all the neuroscience research being carried out all over the world – an estimated 60,000 scientific papers every year – into one platform.