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phoebusg's avatar

Who else can't wait for a well-working brain input implant?

Asked by phoebusg (5241points) November 26th, 2010

I’m not talking about iffy EEG (and the ERP algorithms) – or the fancier but impossible to carry MEGs. I’m talking about an implant somewhere on your cortex – and training to go with it. That can give you the ability to get reliable output. (Read-only) Reading is done right now in rat models, monkey models etc – how long till the application in humans? And how long till we can use it for reliable output?

I’m tired of typing. Dragon naturally speaking is decent with dictation but not great yet (hopefully that’ll improve soon). I have so much writing to get done but my biggest issue is the actual transfer – the ideas have matured and are swimming around. So long my memory can hold them with some integrity.

How fast would you guess the output speed would be in terms of writing. Or voicing thoughts. Do you think we could create an inter-thought language devoid of language itself?

Lots of other arising questions. Food for thought – discuss :) If you can help it – no one-liners. Or do your one-liner but input something more for the fun of the discussion – cheers.

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17 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Good God NO!

My brain is fast enough as it is.

I’d rather have a weight sensor.

Alarm goes off everytime you gain an ounce. lol

phoebusg's avatar

@Coloma a weight sensor is easy. You can make one with off the shelf electronic parts. Just find an electronic engineer, he’ll make you one in under an hour :)

On another note – I think having a fast output would be very likely to reduce your over-activity. What bugs me the most is not having the thoughts, but not externalizing them – patching them through to some sort of output. When I do, I feel much better and less overloaded mentally.

augustlan's avatar

Having a fast brain myself, I can definitely see the advantage. If I could instantly transfer the ideas I have floating around in my brain (for books, inventions, businesses, etc.) into a usable format, that would be awesome! It would also be great if you could have a ‘trash’ bin of sorts, to dump those ear worms and useless bits into. Being able to ‘download’ the excess and store it elsewhere might just let me get a little peace and quiet in there!

phoebusg's avatar

@augustlan I feel the same way. Although a ‘trash-bin’ function would require writing back to the cortex—and that is a whole other risky business. Not impossible, but it’ll take us much longer. Although similar to my above response. I think if we properly export something our brain would give us a break – and check it off our “mental todo list”.

augustlan's avatar

@phoebusg I know a lot of people swear by using the GTD method for just that reason… getting stuff out of your mind, and on to paper. I’m just not disciplined enough to do it. If there were an automatic way, such as the device you’re suggesting, it really could help us a lot. I’m not an early adopter, though… so I’ll let you go first. I’ll jump in once the bugs are all worked out. :)

phoebusg's avatar

@augustlan makes two of us. What impedes me is the speed of GTD. But I’ve read about it, and considered it—just didn’t follow through :P I’m better off typing it out. Which I need to start doing again soon. Although I do type concise notes of ideas. But that’s like 1 paragraph that could be developed to a chapter.

ratboy's avatar

There is a point in life at which the search engine displaces IO as the central bottleneck.

phoebusg's avatar

@ratboy care to elaborate? Maybe a more concrete example, I can fit a number of systems as the “search engine”. Or are you talking about actual search engines – and computational engines such as wolfram alpha? I’m guessing the SE is the thinking itself? But it doesn’t work that way. It works like a big pattern analysis process that runs non-stop, calculating correlations and statistical power of observations. Often eluding us by insider-power – messages coming from inside the system have higher credibility by default (things we say to ourselves, vs real world feedback).

Zyx's avatar

You’d need to grow another processing centre like the other senses have.
Or you’d have to place this extension on a nerve you don’t use right now.

I will be decades still.

phoebusg's avatar

@Zyx you’d be surprised how good the brain is at reprogramming itself. You just pick an area that’s underused, small enough to not cause hazard. And train the brain to re-purpose it. Any cortical area can be used for more than one function. You can look into many studies through sensory deprivation, substituting what input one is exposed to. But long story short, this is not that far. We just need to design a solution that’s much more accurate at reading a specific cortical region. Run training for both the computer and brain interfacing—and voila.

You can see mini examples of this with just EEG and ERP used. But because they’re more diffuse, the results are also not as cript. Though you can rotate objects, move around, will things to happen and so forth.

Zyx's avatar

@phoebusg Somewhat saw that one coming… I know the brain adapts but the reason it has those specialized processing centres (visual, audio etc.) is because the process itself takes a lot. Now plugging in your brain without it being prepared is probably no more useful than just having a screen.

What you’re suggesting is hooking the brain up, what I’m suggesting is velcroing that mehehfeheh. And I was pretty serious about the decades too, controversy is going to set us back.

phoebusg's avatar

@Zyx – preconceptions are not always helpful because sometimes they blind us to what something may have meant. We’re more likely to see one thing over others.

I would recommend reviewing literature on advancements in neuroscience. Especially the last couple of years. Also, youtube “brain computer interfacing”, stanford has some easy to follow—with proper basics introductions if you don’t have the time for it.

I don’t agree on the time frame. Most neuroscientists agree that we’re 10 years away from actually producing a unified provable and modeled brain theory. As far as reading neuronic activity, we’re doing really well. With animal models (you can see some of that in the stanford talks). The question is, getting it good enough for the purpose of faster output. Controlling a computer-aided input device. You train the user, customize the algorithm to the user – and voila. The current working models use this paradigm as well.

I’m not suggesting the last step, it’s just more fun to type into the question. Actually “linking up” directly to the cortex in read-write mode can be 3 decades away. The reason for that is that we don’t quite understand the system of representation the nervous system ‘runs’ on.

Coloma's avatar

Actually a fast brain in all it’s sometimes non-linear glory is a sign of giftedness in many. ;-)

I have utilized self hypnosis and meditation to help still my thoughts, but I have no issue with the rapid fire, ad lib, verbose and quick response of my little gray universe.

A lot of channeling can be mastered through training the mind as a tool.

I have reached a pretty good balance in my ‘maturity’.

Can tune out and turn on pretty much at will these days.

My biggest issue, if you even want to call it that is my brains tendency towards free association, one thing reminds me of another and another and another, I tend to wander off into the back forty before I get back to the porch and make my points. lol

That’s okay, being able to laugh at oneself is part of a well rounded psyche!

downtide's avatar

Computers are already susceptible enough to viruses, malware, spyware and other nasties put there by less than scrupulous businesses. I wouldn;t want my brain exposed to more of the same. Not to mention how much easier it would be for the government, or corporations, to spy on me. No need for cameras any more when they can read your thoughts. No thanks I’d rather keep my brain implant-free.

Coloma's avatar


I agree, I was already a Stepford wife, for awhile, til I reprogrammed myself! lol

ratboy's avatar

@phoebusg, I referred to the decline of memory with age.

phoebusg's avatar

@downtide yeah – this is a read-only method.
@ratboy all the more reason to do “memory dumps” to preserve knowledge before the inevitable truncation :P

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