Harvard research creates brain-to-brain interface

where human thought controls rat tail movement.

Article here:
http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/162678-harvard-creates-brain-to-brain-interface-allows-humans-to-control-other-animals-with-thoughts-alone

My blog post here:
http://www.thelovingninja.com/2013/08/02/august-1-2013-news-of-the-day-harvard-creates-brain-to-brain-interface-allowing-humans-to-control-other-animals-through-thoughts-alone/

FRAT!

Copy and pasted:

I read an article yesterday titled “Harvard creates brain-to-brain interface, allows humans to control other animals with thoughts alone.” Needless to say I was intrigued and concerned.

I am constantly aware of the progress being made towards thought reading, thought interpreting, thought controlling of machines (thought directing) and controlling of thought technologies. I have written about this topic before in various ways. Last night, while I was thinking about the article for a second time I was faced with the craziness that we, as humans, have come to a point where we now have to honestly, thoroughly and sooner rather than later discuss the morality and ethics of human to brain interaction through thoughts, and human to human mind and thought interactions. I use the word interactions rather than communication as I will argue that I believe this won’t be a form of communication, but rather an intrusive form of control. A loss of sovereignty.

If this is all news to you, please, find the link above on the previous blog post I have written and read that first. It will blow your face off!

Let’s discuss the article and the research reported in it. The scientists have a new technology called focused ultrasound (FUS) which allows them to perform a focused ultrasound (that’s the name!) on a very specific region of the rat brain, thereby stimulating it. Also, they know of a specific area of the brain that makes the tail move when stimulated. So, that is how the rat will move its tail. This part of the experiment, the subject part, or the recipient of thought control is called the CBI- the computer-to-brain interface (it is comforting to know that this technology is so prevalent and commonly spoken of that it warrants an acronym). The only thing that needs to happen is to set up the experiment such that something will initiate the FUS on demand/command.

How the computer (FUS) gets that signal is from a human thought. In this experiment the human was set up with an EEG which measures brain activity. I have had several and several of these; almost always for fight medical tests, but also I had volunteered for a brain study at McGill university. The EEG is just a hat with wires that measure your brain’s electrical activity. So, this guy was sitting in front of a monitor with an EEG recording his brain electrical activity while the monitor flashed images at him. This interface is called a BCI- a brain-to-computer interface.

The way the experiment worked is, the first computer in the BCI (attached to the EEG) has a command. That command is, ‘send a message to the other computer when signal X is recorded’. The other computer is the computer attached to the CBI, the one that controls the focused ultrasound and will stimulate the brain of the rat, and thus the tail. Signal X is pre-programmed by the experimenters, and they make it represent the signals that are produced from the EEG when the human sees a certain series of images on the monitor.

So, it is quite simple. When the human sees a specific thing, which in turn produces a certain thought which biologically speaking is represented by the brain waves produced specifically in relation to the specific thing seen, the EEG picks this up, the computer recognizes the specific thought, and the command to the other computer to use the focused ultrasound occurs, which in turn stimulates the brain of the rat which controls the movement of the tail.

At first glance, one might not see this clearly as thought control. At the onset of the event, the human isn’t willingly thinking a specific thought, but rather is subjected to a stimulus whereby the downstream brain activity which is unwillingly produced is used as the catalyst. What needs to be understood is that this part of the process, the science behind it isn’t the focus of the experiment, as it has already been mastered. The ability for the computer to recognize a specific brain activity (and the corresponding thought associated with it) has already been established. This technology is already in existence and commercially available. The experiment could easily be repeated whereby the human intentionally thinks “move the rat tail now” and the result would still be the same. The computer in the BCI simply needs to be calibrated to the desired thought. That means the person thinks “move the rat tail now” over and over, and the computer records and gets trained to correlate the brain activity specific to that thought.

The biggest limitation in this technology towards achieving any aim is in the CBI, how to stimulate the brain of the receiving human/rat.

Right now this technology is taking advantage of previous knowledge of the 3D physical ‘map’ of the brain as a structure and what physical and/or mental activities and processes occur in specific regions of the brain. Through the physical stimulation of these regions of the brain we have a rough and highly unspecific means for promoting a certain outcome, in this case a rat tail movement.

Of course this method is quite crude and unspecific, as we don’t know if the focused ultrasound stimulated solely the mechanism of movement in the rat tail muscles or rather stimulated intense pain in the rats tail causing the rate to shake it. Or perhaps it was ticklish, or heat, or cold, or who knows. Though the current technologies are crude and unspecific, the mechanisms of science guarantees that the process of research will continue until, inevitably, the desired technology is achieved. This can be assured as science has no master; the practitioners (scientists) answer only to their curiosity and amorally pursue their objectives.

The article and the research is being sold as a step towards telepathy. This is the object of my desire for discussion. I don’t disagree that quite sooner than later people will have thoughts entering their mind purposefully from external sources, as it exists already in some forms. My interest lies in our collective concept of what telepathy is, and if that is congruent with what it actually is and will be.

I don’t believe there is such thing as telepathy. It is portrayed in science fiction media such as Star Trek as some ability to send communication through the ether, in some open channel between the people who are willingly and ethically taking part in this communication.

But this is not what “telepathy” well end up being. What it will be, I believe, will be something much less friendly and ethical. It will simply be mind control.

I do not think that there is a means for a mind to experience another mind (I would say hear, or read, or listen to, but those words don't seem to make sense for this experience), at least by human technologies. I think that the mind will only be able to experience its own mind. As the technology for "telepathy" and other brain-to-computer interfaces are currently working, the brain doesn't "accept" or "receive" a thought, rather it is forced into thinking it. It receives the thought, the command, without sovereignty.

There is no option to turn the "thought" away, or to reject it as it comes intrusively without warning and enslaves your experience to be subjected to whatever the incoming "thought" might be. Even if somehow it was worked out that in your mind first came the thought of "incoming external thought: accept or deny", there was no option but to receive that incoming thought request.

This is a sovereignty en route to being lost.

Some might argue that our minds and thoughts aren't sovereign today. Whether due to external stimuli, social programming and any and all things that have been conditioned (your parents love, systems of beliefs, associations and values). But this is quite different, isn't it?

To have a thought enter your mind, your consciousness, your whatever you want to call it, will be indistinguishable in terms of its origins. Ideas come to me all of the time. I don't know where they come from. My dad, while working on his book, often spoke of things just coming to him, as if he wasn't even the true source of the thoughts. We hear this from artists to scientists time and again: 'It just came to me'.

light-bulb-idea-goofyideabulb



I don't know about you, but I don't really know where my thoughts come from. I don't know where or why a song comes to mind. I sing all day long. Songs just jump into my head. I don't know the source of these thoughts. I think I need to meditate more often.

My point is, what if a thought comes into your mind "I should buy new shoes", "I think I'll order food tonight", "I think I'll vote for this party", "I don't mind working overtime this week", or any thought at all that comes. How would you be able to distinguish and guard yourself from knowing that it came from an external source with nefarious intentions or your own free will? You couldn't.

And that itself isn't even the point! Even if you could perfectly distinguish between your thoughts (whatever, at this point, that even means) and those that are externally generated and experienced by your consciousness, you could never have a choice in receiving these thoughts. To not be able to control your own mind is the total loss of sovereignty. Even when your physical body is imprisoned in totality you are always free to escape and retreat to your final place of solace, your mind, your thoughts.

Now, with the oncoming technologies driven by curiosity and perhaps even 'good intentions', we will be faced with the possibility of losing complete sovereignty.

I really don't take this issue lightly, and it truly does bother and concern me.

I think that technology is moving so incredibly rapidly that our conversations as a global people, as a human race just can't keep up. That, or someone is doing the talking for us. The end result will be power without responsibility. Power will come easily, as technology is the easy part. Responsibility is harder, as it requires difficult conversations. Conversations that need to be had not just once or twice, but constantly. Responsibility can't exist if one doesn't know what one is to be responsible of and for. Responsibility can't exist if one doesn't know what the challenges to responsibility are, and what will be lost if one is not responsible.

These things come from discussions and from careful considerations. These things take time, and time is something that seems to be lacking in most of our lives.

Read about that last week and found it amazing yet somewhat scary at the same time. Phone Post 3.0

tetris - Read about that last week and found it amazing yet somewhat scary at the same time. Phone Post 3.0
I agree.

That is a problem for some areas of science. It is "cool" and "neat" and "fascinating", but that doesn't mean we should do it.

I Phone Post 3.0

cue the military and establishment to take over this "discovery" so they can protect us from our freedoms

t

Times like this make me terrified to think about how clueless our national leaders are when it comes to any kind of science. Phone Post

@ Phone Post 3.0

Nexuscrawlers - Times like this make me terrified to think about how clueless our national leaders are when it comes to any kind of science. Phone Post
Unfortunately, peace is profitless for those mindless minions. Phone Post 3.0

AlexanderTheGOAT -
ndenis -
tetris - Read about that last week and found it amazing yet somewhat scary at the same time. Phone Post 3.0
I agree.

That is a problem for some areas of science. It is "cool" and "neat" and "fascinating", but that doesn't mean we should do it.

I Phone Post 3.0
What could come of it? Can you be sure that whatever can come of this already hasn't? Phone Post 3.0
What can come of this?

That is addressed in my original posts. Loss of sovereignty of mind.

Can I be sure that it already hasn't happened? No, I don't think I can be sure of that.

Does that mean we shouldn't care? Phone Post 3.0

ttt