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Controlling Computers With the Brain 253

Killam0n takes note of a story in CNN Money on progress in controlling computers via brainwaves. From an aspirin-sized implant a quadriplegic is now using to play computer games, the article extrapolates out to a near future in which we will all be wearing headband computers and IM'ing one another as if telepathically. "Two years ago, a quadriplegic man started playing video games using his brain as a controller. That may just sound like fun and games for the unfortunate, but really, it spells the beginning of a radical change in how we interact with computers — and business will never be the same. Someday, keyboards and computer mice will be remembered only as medieval-style torture devices for the wrists. All work — emails, spreadsheets, and Google searches — will be performed by mind control."
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Controlling Computers With the Brain

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  • by steveo777 ( 183629 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:42PM (#19402911) Homepage Journal
    This is where we get into big trouble. At one point or another, everyone wants a phone that can listen in to the other line a few seconds after the call is ended. Just to hear what the jack ass on the other line really thinks. With thoughts 'controlling' your keyboards these kinds of things will happen. With this kind of stuff around, we'll be accidentally IMing the wrong thought at the wrong time to the wrong person.

    The next step will be mind-controlled Gundam-style robots for everyone. What's this world coming to?!

  • by chatgris ( 735079 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:42PM (#19402923) Homepage
    Until we find out what kind of torture this imparts on the BRAIN.

    Personally, I'd take the risks from straining my wrists due to mechanical motion over implanting a chip (along with unknown stressors) in my brain any day. If I'm going to potentionally cause harm to one part of my body, it'll be my wrists over my brain.

    I'm not a luddite, really! But my brain is just too vital to me to start tossing implants into it.
  • by FlyByPC ( 841016 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:46PM (#19403009) Homepage
    Outdated? Slashdot?
    You must be new here.
  • by FlyByPC ( 841016 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:55PM (#19403167) Homepage
    Meh. It depends on the interface. I'd use an EEG-style system, which noninvasively reads electrical impulses. I'll be damned if I'll let them implant anything, though. Even LASIK is still way too radical for me.

    As far as effectiveness -- and it replacing a keyboard and mouse? Talk to me about bandwidth. Can I fly a plane (Flight Sim) better with mind control? Well, maybe. Can I type up a report faster and with fewer errors than using my Model M []? Perhaps someday.

    I think the bottom line is that they are making progress -- but then again, I remember getting a voice-controlled Verbot [] back in the day. It would do the correct command about 30% of the time, as I remember. Speech recognition has improved, but we're still by and large not dictating our compositions to our PCs, even with three orders of magnitude more memory and CPU speed. Somehow, I think mind-control will take just as much work.

    Then again, I hope they prove me wrong. Just on the coolness factor alone.
  • If we can determine what people are thinking, we can certainly determine whether they're in a fully conscious state while they're doing it. With proper precautions, I don't think that's an issue.
  • by zooblethorpe ( 686757 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @05:04PM (#19403343)

    "All work -- emails, spreadsheets, and Google searches -- will be performed by mind control."

    Hell, it already is -- somehow my boss's very whims turn into tasks for me to perform. No real difference here... :-P

  • uh Sure... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by makoffee ( 145275 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @05:31PM (#19403749) Homepage Journal
    That all sounds great but can you imagine trying to tech support that? "You say you can't get to your email? Have you tried thinking about it?" In reality the learning curve of your average desktop user may never allow this.

    At best I see something like this working just about as well as current voice recognition software.

  • So What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by twitter ( 104583 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @05:35PM (#19403803) Homepage Journal

    Twitter, read "Reflections on Trusting Trust" [no link provided]. Now. Free software doesn't provide full protection.

    Thanks, I have read that [] before. So what? The point of free software is that you don't have to trust, you can see and verify for yourself. The learning compiler example is disturbing but not very. If you are really paranoid, you can start from scratch and toggle switches yourself. A less crazy method is to cross up distributions. Compile things from one distribution with another. Finally, you can simply trust the people at and everyone using the tool chain that has not noticed problems. At the end of the day, free software still wins. You have every ability non free does and many more to validate what you think you have. People in the non free world are stuck trusting people who have violated that trust again and again.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @06:07PM (#19404163) Homepage Journal
    " I'll be damned if I'll let them implant anything, though. Even LASIK is still way too radical for me."

    Well, I'm hesitant to have LASIK, 'cause I notice that pretty much all the doctors performing the procedure are all wearing glasses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @07:04PM (#19404747)
    incorrect use of keyboards!

    Get touch-typing lessons. Yes, lessons. Or that awful "mavis beacon" program. There is a right way and a wrong way to type. One key indicator (as pointed out in a recent emacs thread): if you use the same hand to press a key and hold down a modifier, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. There is a reason you have two shifts, two ctrls, two alts - it's so that you can press shift with your right hand when typing a "left hand letter", and shift with your left hand when typing a "right hand letter". And so on.

    This means that your wrists are pretty much straight at all times. And if you've small hands, and need to "stretch" to reach a key - don't! Move your arm instead. And your wrists should never touch the table - holding your hands tilted upward and moving your fingers is just idiotic, keepy your fingers after the first nuckle somewhat below wrist level at all times when typing. Wrist "rests" are extremely damaging, unless you're actually just resting against them in between bursts of typing. I've seen people lean their wrists on the rests and type -that will knacker your wrists in a matter of months.

    The trouble is, "playing" the keyboard correctly, like playing the piano correctly, is highly unlikely to be the "natural" way your body will seize upon to do it if you just sit down and start pressing stuff. It may feel very unnatural, but I was taught to type properly in school (the only boy in a secretarial class...), and I've been typing for 20 YEARS without any pain.

    Helps to buy quality keyboards too - nowadays see e.g. [] or []

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!