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Biotech Technology

Remote Control for Humans? 237

FatMacDaddy writes "The SFGate is reporting on a remote control for manipulating humans through electrical stimulation of the inner ear nerves.The author of this article describes his experience with having a "remote control for humans" device used on him. The developers hope to use this with video games and other entertainment, but it might also be used as a weapon to disable people. An interesting read with perhaps some disturbing implications. Better get a second layer on those tinfoil hats!"
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Remote Control for Humans?

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  • Sure... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:29PM (#13877638)
    I guess it could be used as a weapon... if you could convince everyone to wear the required head-gear all the time...
    • Re:Sure... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by thej1nx (763573)
      Don't be so sure. I would imagine that at least in the army, they can definitely make an implant mandatory, citing its use as a disciplinary device.

      • I would imagine that at least in the army, they can definitely make an implant mandatory

        Yeah, they could do it to the soldiers they already have. But, they're having a hard time meeting recruitment goals already - if they did something like that, volunteer rates would drop even lower. They'd have to reinstate the draft.
      • Re:Sure... (Score:3, Insightful)

        This is exactly how an army was controlled in Kurt Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan. A remote controlled helmet would receive signals from a controller that force you to do things like strangle one of you friends, through muscle control. I thought it was really neat that one of his first books (I think it was the first) was actually a science fiction novel, rather than what you normally expect from Vonnegut.
    • Re:Sure... (Score:4, Informative)

      by MrRuslan (767128) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @10:30PM (#13877906)
      Remote Control of Humans and other animals is possible without any implants VIA ELF radiation and other less noticeable means.
      • Re:Sure... (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Remote Control of Humans and other animals is possible without any implants VIA ELF radiation and other less noticeable means.

        Grrrr. Those darn Elves!
      • the only less noticebale means i can think of is plain old psychology using something to get it to em when their not in front of you ( say mabey a phone)

        anyone got some credible proof of these claims?

        a peer reviewed journal article refference would be nice.
      • Re:Sure... (Score:3, Informative)

        by btarval (874919)
        Of course! They're called girlfriends/wives.

        Hmmm. Given the crowd here, perhaps that IS news for Slashdot. ;)
    • Re:Sure... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @10:53PM (#13877977)
      Why don't you wear it voluntarily? It lets us protect you against terrorists. You're not a terrorist, are you?
    • Given that "tinfoil" is really aluminium, it will conduct electricity. If I'm understanding this correctly, won't putting a "second layer on the tinfoil hat" have...ummm...an undesirable outcome? Now, if you were to ground the hat, you might have something. Perhaps if you made sure that you were always standing in a puddle of saltwater?

      As for getting people to wear the "required headware", outfit it so that it will just shove a big mac or a krispy kreme in their mouth at the push of a button. That'll ge
    • Remote control allows for more efficiently slavery.
    • Just pay a few people to wear them on Mtv.
      That would more than convince many people to wear one.
    • In Soviet Russia, YOU control government officials!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:29PM (#13877639)
    they're called breasts.
  • Old news (Score:5, Informative)

    by krautcanman (609042) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:30PM (#13877641)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:30PM (#13877644)
    Obligatory Family Guy quote follows:

    Stewie: Good day, shopkeep.
    Chris: Good day shopkeep, I require a hand-operated buzzsaw capable of cutting through a human sternum.
    Shopkeep: What?
    Chris: It's for a school project, I'm some sort of student sent here for... oh blast what the devil do they study? uh... Latin class.
    Shopkeep: Uhh, sorry kid, I can't sell power tools to minors.
    Chris: Now look here you gore-bellied codpiece. Allow me to purchase the provisions I demand or I'll form your blue collar into a red one and-
    Who the deuce are you? No I don't have any spare change. Where the hell would I keep it? In my diaper? Get out of here you hobo. Oh bloody hell, is this thing still on?
  • by Fermatprime (883412) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:30PM (#13877648)
    "An interesting read with perhaps some disturbing implications." I'll say - what if you lose it?
  • Nothing New (Score:5, Funny)

    by lenmaster (598077) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:33PM (#13877662)
    Wives had had this for their husbands for years now.
  • Wetware hacking?? (Score:3, Informative)

    by yamamushi (903955) <{yamamushi} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:33PM (#13877665) Homepage
    Sounds a little too much like, http://www.hackcanada.com/homegrown/wetware/ [hackcanada.com] to me. However, its not so much remote, you have to be sitting right in front of the device, literally wearing it. But it opens your eyes to the implications.
  • my day (Score:5, Funny)

    by d1a1v1e (843126) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:33PM (#13877667)
    Back in my day we used to use remote controles on cars.
    • Obligatory (mutilated) Futurama:

      Leela: "Didn't you have remote controls in the 20th century?"

      Fry: "Well sure, but not for humans! Only for tv and radio...and stereos...and DVD Players. And for air conditioning, blinds, and toy cars, and Robosapiens, and banana label machines, and Nintendo. But not for humans! No sirree."

  • by jgartin (177959) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:33PM (#13877669) Homepage
    That episode of Star Trek where those aliens steal Spock's brain. Scotty rigs up a remote control for Spock's body and they all beam down to the planet to search for it. Just goes to show you that all important modern tech was first shown on Star Trek.
    • Usually Star Trek, even the original show is not cheesy. Hard sci-fi it ain't but they usually don't give the impression they think their viewers are idiots.

      But "Spock's Brain" is definitely some stinky cheese. Aside from Star Trek V, and the next gen episode where everyone devolves into creatures which, mostly they didn't actually evolve from (so bad I have never looked back to learn the name of the episode).

      Actually, I try to predict the byline on Slashdot stories and I think this is definitely from the
  • My word... (Score:4, Funny)

    by mozingod (738108) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:34PM (#13877673)
    Imagine the implications of this with the adult entertainment industry!

    Now that's entertainment!
  • question (Score:4, Funny)

    by NoGuffCheck (746638) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:34PM (#13877675)
    Does it have a volume control? Can you calobrate it to my girlfriend? How soon can you get it to me? and here's all my money!
  • by saskboy (600063) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:35PM (#13877678) Homepage Journal
    "Better get a second layer on those tinfoil hats!"

    Or just don't put on the headgear that controls you.

    Either way, I'm not going to work at any job that requires me to wear this remote control, unless it's wireless. Wearing headgear all day with a wire attached would probably give me a sore neck by causing restricted head movements.
    • Either way, I'm not going to work at any job that requires me to wear this remote control, unless it's wireless. Wearing headgear all day with a wire attached would probably give me a sore neck by causing restricted head movements.

      I wonder if you could shorten it out with a strand of tinfoil stretching from electrode to electrode.

      Gives a whole new meaning to the term tinfoil hat....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:36PM (#13877681)
    I, for one, welcome our new inner-ear remote-control overlords.
  • by Funakoshi (925826) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:36PM (#13877683)
    A mute button for the folks would have been handy when I was a teenager...I'd be a much better guitar player today...
  • I mean just wait till the BSDM community gets hold of this!
  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:48PM (#13877733) Homepage Journal
    Sony had something similar, but not as capable, as this a year or so back. And it's still vaporware, unless "They're working out bugs."

    Forget the second tinfoil layer, people. Be content in the fact that until you willingly strap a device to your head, you're safe.

    Ignore the fact that I'm drunk right now, but I will *NEVER* put one of these things on my head. I'll stick with "subliminal messages thru sneaky frames included in films.
    • Vapourware indeed. In fact, I hear it is to be included in Duke Nukem Forever.
    • Forget the second tinfoil layer, people. Be content in the fact that until you willingly strap a device to your head, you're safe.

      My feelings exactly, besides, these aren't the droids I was looking for anyways...

    • well, it's not even mind control people, all it does is overide the electrical signal the inner ear sends the brain so you loose your sense of balance... and yeah they're 'working out the bugs' those inner ear nerves control vomiting and sea/car sickness duh, great, a product that makes video games so fun you'll puke wow... that's one hell of a bug and i don't think they can engineer it away completely, just weaken the current til most people don't get nasious... it would work neat for theme park rides, in
  • Consider the effects of a gun at your back, or even the slave driver's whip :-/

    • But you could choose to defy the gun or the whip (albeit with potentially dire consequences; nonetheless, the choice still exists). You might not be physically *able* to defy this gizmo.

      If such a device were available in a high-powered, long-range model (defined as a few hundred metres) then crowd control might be possible whether the crowd consented to be controlled or not -- just make them all wobble off in the desired direction.

      Warfare becomes a matter of "He with the strongest broadcast, and/or the best
  • Related Article (Score:3, Informative)

    by SpaceAdmiral (869318) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @09:53PM (#13877752) Homepage
    Scientific American had a very interesting article on the history of this sort of thing [scientificamerican.com]. Unfortunately, you probably have to pay for that article if you don't already subscribe.
  • Wha--?! (Score:2, Funny)

    by werewolf1031 (869837)
    Daaaamn, and here I thought I was simply drunk and listening to headphones...

    You mean that's NOT Corrosion of Conformity in my head?!
  • by EngMedic (604629) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @10:01PM (#13877785) Homepage
    in order to weaponize this system, you'd have to figure out how to attatch electrodes behind the lobes of someone's ears at range -- and i challenge anyone to figure out how to do THAT. As it stands, vestibular stim is a cool new idea on how to improve balance control in risky environments (high iron construction workers faced with strong winds?), or the elderly and people with some form of vestibular impairment. I know of at least once case of essentially permanent dizziness, in which the patient suffered an accident that took out half of the vestibular system, so he is only getting feedback from one side of his body.

    As a student at one of the big universities where balance control and vestibular control is studied -- let me be the first to say that all of this is HIGHLY alpha. At best, it's proof-of-concept only. I wouldn't be worried about being "remote controlled" -- but hey, add this to a VR sim and things might get better than the crappy sim software/hardware that we've had since the mid90's -- or do some of the stuff i mentioned above.
    • It might not be usable as a weapon really, but it could conceivably be used on prisoners, for example. Or, for that matter, on suspects who're not willing to cooperate during an interrogation.

      I'm not sure about you, but I feel distinctly uncomfortable with both these scenarios.
      • You realize all this does is mess with your balance by stimulating the nerves for your inner ear, Right? This isn't mind control. I don't think you'd get much from an interrogation with something like "Tell us what we want to know or we'll make you lean to one side"
    • We can barely get robots that we can fully control to do anything more than a shuffle, the only running robot I have ever seen can only do so on a flat surface with no obsticles and no wind. I sure as hell wouldn't want any balance "help" from a computer.
    • ... you'd have to figure out how to attatch electrodes behind the lobes of someone's ears ...

      Duh! Everyone knows in the 23rd century The Law regulators are installed at birth.
    • You wrote: "you'd have to figure out how to attatch electrodes behind the lobes of someone's ears at range".

      What do you think those Ipod headphones are really for?
  • ...a remote control for manipulating humans through electrical stimulation of the inner ear nerves.

    Women have used a similar technique to control men for thousands of years, but they don't focus on the ears.

  • Remote Control? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by faqmaster (172770) <jones.tm@NOSpAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @10:02PM (#13877790) Homepage Journal
    We should get the whole 'local control' thing down first.

    Aria Giovanni for President! [cafepress.com]
  • My question is this. Will it run on my boss?
  • ...in the silhouette iPod ads. 'Course the shipping earpods have that feature turned off. Most of those people are Quickie Mart clerks with no dancing skills at all.
  • This was demoed at Siggraph in Los Angeles in the Emerging Technologies booth. It really appeared it worked, people wearing it stumbled around like they were drunk, but could really be made to stumble in a desired direction. I did not get to try it, there was a very long line. But surely there is somebody reading Slashdot who did.
  • by wbattestilli (218782) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @10:38PM (#13877934)
    Didn't try it because of the really long line. It was probably the coolest thing in the Emerging Technologies area. Anyway...basically it can make you drift left or right while walking by messing with your sense of balance ( inner ear ). People were dramatically affected at first but many people were able to compensate after only a few seconds. While cool, it is hardly as dramatic as the article would suggest.
  • by apt_user (812814) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @10:55PM (#13877984)
    Please, I beg you all, stop making sarcastic remarks about the healthful benefits of alluminum foil headwear. Such devices are proven to be effective protection against a variety of stressors - both theoretical and non - which could cause irreversible damage to our inner cortexes, including but not limited to: electrostatic radiation, photonic radiation (both below and above the visible spectrum), direct sunlight, sonic intonations, unvoiced alveolar fricatives, exosolar radiation, sublunar electrostaticity, supraterrestrial automotive frustration, undefined free radicals, affective spherical earth rhetoric, ectoplasmic goo, artificial nonterrestrial mental affectae, habeus corpus, quantum relativity, venetian sausage, psychological longitudinal surveys, cathode ray tube emissions (both dynamic and static), retrograde motion, reversed cognitive flotation, vulcan mind melds, social mobility, dyslexic antithetical mythology, imablance of the four humors, dentistry, meeting the love of your life, recieving a darwin award, overseasonned exotic foods, strongbad's email, end-user liscence aggreements, and ketchup.

    Please take the time to consider these and other reasons to treat alluminum foil as a reasonable, effective form of alternative preventitive medicine for everyone's mental well-being.


    "medieval students were no less manic-depressive, riot-prone, or financially indignant than their modern counterparts"

  • by fireman sam (662213) on Tuesday October 25, 2005 @11:02PM (#13878009) Homepage Journal
    You just need to fashon a tinfoil had that has those very attractive ear flaps.
  • What would be even more insidious is the idea of some kind of intelligence amplified so greatly verses your own that you could be just going about your merry way doing every thing of your own free will but in a human imperceivable way completely controlled by said super-intelligence.

    See the Empire Ship [orionsarm.com] entry on Orion's Arm for a snippet that refers to the idea.
    That kind of remote control would really suck.
  • by Temporal (96070) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @12:07AM (#13878273) Journal
    Research done at MIT [mit.edu] shows that tinfoil hats actually amplify government mind control beams. Because they are not fully enclosed, they actually end up acting as a sort of antenna. Yes, that's right: Wearing a tinfoil hat is exactly what the shadow government wants you to do!
  • by ehrichweiss (706417) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @12:11AM (#13878297)
    no seriously...I do. Back a few years ago there was an invention that was released called MotionWare aka Virtual Motion. It worked with 3 electrodes: one on your forehead and 2 on the mastoid process, that boney region behind your ears(sound familiar?). It affects the inner ear. Forward, backward, left, right, and if the visuals were good, up and down. There were apparently less than 100 prototypes built...I have one. Often thought of selling it to someone who would use it better than I since my original plan fell through. I might be glad I kept it.

    I did get an interesting effect from it: due to the high resistance of my skin I have to turn the device WAY up to get any response and during the strongest pulses, I saw flashes of light that were not present outside of my optic nerve(it wasn't arcing in other words).

    Anyway, as I read the article, it's less about remote control humans and more about being able to affect what they are feeling which is scary but with this version they'd have to sneak up on you and covertly put these things on your skull...with good electrode contact..and probably lube to prevent burning. If it does use the same technology as what I have then you need to know that there are 3 different ways(at least) that we sense motion and the inner ear is only one. The other two are visual and the type of feeling you get in your joints when you accelerate on, say, a bus; this is aka proprioceptive I think. If they didn't have something that would give you a slightly harder time to keep your balance(we used the Tempurpedic(tm) memory foam because it shifts acording to the weight and temperature. Without this, you don't feel any shift in your joints so if your visual environment didn't move either, you'd mostly discard the signal. It's because of the "rule" of 'virtual reality': you have to fool 2 of the 3 ways we sense motion for the brain to accept it as real. And despite all this, with a slight amount of concentration, you can see through the illusion. Maybe what they have is different..I'll have to research to find out now.

  • movie (Score:3, Informative)

    by defMan (175410) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @02:04AM (#13878708)
    I saw this some time ago (august 5) on Engadget [engadget.com]. That story [engadget.com] also linked to a movie of a remote controlled girl [forbes.com].

  • Most anyone (here (I'd hope)) can build a working galvanic vestibulator in their home for under $5. It's just a 0.1hz~70hz squarewave sinking ~20 milliamps of current through your neck. You can easily do that with a 555 in astable mode [csgnetwork.com] (R1=2kOhm,R2=26kOhm,C=.1uF--it'll have a frequency of about 27hz and a duty cycle near %50), a 9v battery or two, some pennies, cotton, and a bit of saltwater. Place the ghetto electrodes beind your ears. Play with the frequency in the above range by using knob potentiometers
  • The developers hope to use this with video games and other entertainment

    Did anybody ever play ''Syndacate wars''?

  • by payndz (589033) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @02:51AM (#13878854)
    Everyone laughed at the Star Trek episode 'Spock's Brain' for its claim that you could control a person's body with nothing more than electronic headgear and a remote control.

    Who's laughing now? [Tick... tick... tick...]

  • Whats so disturbing about being able to put people off balance (which
    is all it really is)? You can do that now with various forms of gas
    or if you really want to control a crowd , you can use bullets. If
    I had the choice between some inner ear stimulation and a bullet in
    my chest or breathing in some form of nerve gas I know which I'd
  • No, of course you won't do this out of your own free will.
    But once you get arrested for something you've never heard of (probably whistling a copyrighted tune), the cops will put this thing on your head and place you in a cell.
    See, knowing that torture is now legal in the USA, they're well aware that you'd *seriously* try to get away - and using this thing, you'll docily do exactly as you're told.

    Have fun living in the USA, home of the free. I won't.
  • by The I Shing (700142) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @05:52AM (#13879304) Journal
    Just as long as no-one uses this technology to make me do something gross, like eat a tarantula (a la Red Dwarf...)

"I've finally learned what `upward compatible' means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes." -- Dennie van Tassel