Jason Palmer, Science and technology reporter, BBC News (January 31, 2012)
"Researchers have demonstrated a striking method to reconstruct words, based on the brain waves of patients thinking of those words.
"The technique reported in PLoS Biology relies on gathering electrical signals directly from patients' brains.
"Based on signals from listening patients, a computer model was used to reconstruct the sounds of words that patients were thinking of.
"The method may in future help comatose and locked-in patients communicate...."
So far, this sounds great. The fascinations of 'pure science' aside, this research could help folks whose brains are in good working order - but who have problems with connections to their bodies.
'What Could Possibly Go Wrong?'"...Several approaches have in recent years suggested that scientists are closing in on methods to tap into our very thoughts; the current study achieved its result by implanting electrodes directly into a part of participants' brains.
"In a 2011 study, participants with electrodes in direct brain contact were able to move a cursor on a screen by simply thinking of vowel sounds.
"A technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging to track blood flow in the brain has shown promise for identifying which words or ideas someone may be thinking about...."
Okay, so let's assume that someone works out a way for a machine to focus on someone's brain, and display what they're thinking: at least give a real-time list of words they're thinking. What could possibly go wrong?
How about Big Brother using a supercomputer to keep track of citizens' thoughts, except the supercomputer develops a mind of its own and takes over the world? Think "1984" meets "The Terminator" on its way to "The Matrix."
It's 'good enough for a movie.' Quite a few, actually.
- "Science Fiction in the Movies: 'The Satan Bug' to 'The Matrix' "
Drifting at the Edge of Time and Space (January 26, 2010)
It's the Lemming's opinion that if this 'brain reading' technology becomes practical: the benefits will outweigh the problems. Also, that someone will be convinced that this newfangled gadget means the end of civilization as we know it.
That cantankerous Luddite will probably be right: and the Lemming thinks we'll all benefit by the change.
- "The Pill That Listens: And Wait'll You See What's Next"
(November 9, 2010)
- "Next-Generation Prosthetic Hand - and Intel Says Direct Neural Interface Brain Chips by 2020"
(December 2, 2009)
- "Glow-in-the-Dark Flashing Tattoos? Prosthetics With Neural Interfaces? They're Coming"
(November 20, 2009)
- "Tofu Turkeys, Genetically Altered Foods, and the Evil Eye"
(November 14, 2009)
- "Brain Backups: Coming Soon?"
(November 14, 2007)