Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Listening to the voices in your head

Mark trying to read his brain waves
(actually, a photo swiped from i eat food)
Several months ago I wrote a post, Projecting the mind's eye, that discussed a group of researchers at Berkley who were working on a means of measuring a person's brain activity, and then using those measurements to recreate an image of what they were seeing in their mind's eye.

Today the BBC, in their article Science decodes 'internal voices', reports on a different group of Berkley researchers led by Dr. Brian Pasley, who have applied the same technique to try to decode a person's internal voices and create an audible 'thought translation' of them.

Quite remarkable stuff. If you follow the link to the BBC article they have an embedded audio clip where you can hear the results of the thought translations. Most can be barely understood even if you know what word is being said, but they're certainly close to being decipherable.

Of course, along with being remarkable, the idea that one day the words and images of your thoughts could be read is also terrifying. Think of the mess it will make of future traffic stops, job interviews and blind dates. I can picture it already....

Interior of restaurant. A couple sips drinks while wearing brain wave reading devices on their noggins.

Woman: "So, what do you do for a living?"
Synthesized woman's voice (SWV): "I'll bet he lives in his parent's basement"
Man: "I'm an independent computer consultant"
SMV: "I play video games. Lots and lots of video games."
Woman: "Hey, is that a mental image of you undressing me?"
SWV: "Ewwww... "
Man: "Uh... no... er... it is from a TSA scanner. They're one of my clients"
SMV: "Rats... I guess the ol' horizontal hula is out of the question tonight."


OMMAG said...

Har ..... BTW ... did you know that the German arty-synth pop group krafterk ... used the wealth from their short careeers to research using direct brain wave control to operate electronic musical instruments??

Sort of an EEG driven theramin........

ambisinistral said...

Well, that certainly sounds like money well spent.

I didn't know that. I went out to YouTube and there seems to be a small corner of the universe where people are fiddling around with alpha waves connected to synthesizers. From the little I listened to it's pretty ghastly stuff.