The Weaponization of Neuroscience

Jon Bardin wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education on how science can be weaponized, even decades after it’s conducted. For example, this DARPA project is based on unrelated research from the 1960s:

In a small, anonymous office in the Trump Tower, 28 floors above Wall Street, a man sits in front of a computer screen sifting through satellite images of a foreign desert. The images depict a vast, sandy emptiness, marked every so often by dunes and hills. He is searching for man-made structures: houses, compounds, airfields, any sign of civilization that might be visible from the sky. The images flash at a rate of 20 per second, so fast that before he can truly perceive the details of each landscape, it is gone. He pushes no buttons, takes no notes. His performance is near perfect.

Or rather, his brain’s performance is near perfect. The man has a machine strapped to his head, an array of electrodes called an electroencephalogram, or EEG, which is recording his brain activity as each image skips by. It then sends the brain-activity data wirelessly to a large computer. The computer has learned what the man’s brain activity looks like when he sees one of the visual targets, and, based on that information, it quickly reshuffles the images. When the man sorts back through the hundreds of images—most without structures, but some with—almost all the ones with buildings in them pop to the front of the pack. His brain and the computer have done good work.

Chronicles of Higher Education: From Bench to Bunker

(Thanks Justin!)

World premiere of brain orchestra

brain orchestra

Two of the performers were given a task to watch a screen in front of them, with flashing rows and columns of letters, and told to look for a particular letter.

When expectation is fulfilled, 300 thousandths of a second later, a signal known as the P300 appears in the EEG.

A similar strategy has been employed by Mick Grierson at Goldsmiths, University of London to generate individual notes.

In the Multimodal Brain Orchestra, the P300 signal is registered – with a dot demarcating it on the EEG trace projected to the audience, so that they can see the effect of the performer’s thought – in turn launching a sound or recorded instrument. […]

Adjacent to the EEG-capped players, the “emotional conductor” sits comfortably, wearing a pair of virtual reality glasses.

She is being shown images from a series created by artist Behdad Rezazadeh while her heart rate and skin conductance are being measured. Her heart rate is plotted along with the EEG traces.

As her mood changes, so does the visual experience – Rezazadeh’s images are blurred and changed in line with the changing biological measures of the conductor.

BBC: World premiere of brain orchestra

(Thanks Wade)

See also Ikipr’s EEG workshop at Esozone: the Other Tomorrow.

Encrypt your brain now, before it’s too late

Will high tech brain hacking become the newest info war? Wired News reports this Clockwork Orange-esque mind snooping device. Meanwhile, it seems everyone is talking about The Register‘s coverage of InfoSeek founder Steve Kirch’s mental intrusion scheme to detect “bad” thoughts.

Someone needs to come up with a way to steganograph thoughts.

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