Is this research the stuff of nightmares, or the stuff of future ways to understand each other better?
“Although the technology still has some way to go, early work reveals that, in the not too distant future, we may be able to send pictures with our thoughts.”
“If you think your mind is the only safe place left for all your secrets, think again, because scientists are making real steps towards reading your thoughts and putting them on a screen for everyone to see.
A team from the University of Oregon has built a system that can read people’s thoughts via brain scans, and reconstruct the faces they were visualising in their heads. As you’ll soon see, the results were pretty damn creepy.
“We can take someone’s memory – which is typically something internal and private – and we can pull it out from their brains,” one of the team, neuroscientist Brice Kuhl, told Brian Resnick at Vox.
Here’s how it works. The researchers selected 23 volunteers, and compiled a set of 1,000 colour photos of random people’s faces. The volunteers were shown these pictures while hooked up to an fMRI machine, which detects subtle changes in the blood flow of the brain to measure their neurological activity.
Also hooked up to the fMRI machine is an artificial intelligence program that reads the brain activity of the participants, while taking in a mathematical description of each face they were exposed to in real time. The researchers assigned 300 numbers to certain physical features on the faces to help the AI ‘see’ them as code.
Basically, this first phase was a training session for the AI – it needed to learn how certain bursts of neurological activity correlated to certain physical features on the faces…”
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