Straight from science-fiction tales of horror, our current day scientists are stumbling into new areas of the mind, and it’s as scary as it is fascinating. While we can all hope that this new technology will serve useful purposes, but we can’t help but question: what are the possibilities?
The new technology mentioned here is an algorithm. An algorithm is a calculation or method of problem-solving, but when this algorithm is put into use, it deciphers data from your brainwaves to recreate what you saw.
Is This The First Time Scientists Have Read Your Mind?
No. Scientists have conducted many studies into brain scans, and brain waves to understand thoughts and recreate what a person saw at the time.
The defining difference that separates the new algorithm from previous studies is that there isn’t a huge room you step into, instead, an EEG cap reads your brainwaves. In previous studies, a volunteer would go into a large chamber or machine and would lay there for a few minutes, and then the algorithm would analyze your brainwaves.
Now, this EEG (electroencephalogram) cap goes right onto your head and reads your brainwaves almost instantly. This cap that looks like something from a bad science fiction movie captures more significant volumes of more detailed data than the previous machines used for brainwave analyzation.
What Does The EEG Equipment Do?
Beyond the brainwave analytics, the EEG cap only plays a small roll in how technology will soon be able to recreate images from your mind. First, you must see an image while wearing the EEG equipment and then the data will stream through the algorithm mentioned earlier. The EEG equipment only serves the purpose of copying the data from internal storage in your brain, to external storage on a computer.
This equipment is a sophisticated jump from what these studies were using a few years ago. It’s outstanding what science is becoming capable of, and what happens after the EEG equipment transports the data from your brain to a computer is even more unbelievable.
What’s The Goal Of This Algorithm?
Although the studies now show blurred depictions of whatever the volunteer is looking at, this algorithm wasn’t meant for real-time use. Ideally, scientists will be able to use this technology for law enforcement purposes visually reconstructing images from memory.
One of the primary objectives is to establish a method of communication for people who cannot communicate verbally. This goal may include those who experienced various disabilities rendering them without speech or any number of other scenarios. Giving these people a chance to express their feelings and emotions through thought will be groundbreaking.
This goal is probably still a few years off, but the law-enforcement angle of this new algorithm that can recreate what you see is nearer to the current day.
Rather than asking victims to recreate a scene with any variety of vocabulary, they can recreate a face or the image of an environment from their memory. The elements of facial recognition are the primary basis of the image reconstruction software.
How Do You Recreate Facial Images?
We all seem so different when lined up side-by-side, but in truth, we share many identifying facial markers. These commonalities among most humans make recreating facial images easier than recreating full environments. The ease of recreating facial elements is one of the reasons why it’s more likely that this software will be useful to law enforcement long before the non-speaking communities.
While using the EEG equipment and the algorithm to read your thoughts, the software will utilize specific parts of your brainwaves to detect the data associated with facial recognition.
The consistency currently between the visual reconstruction of a face and the person posing for the volunteer may not be enough to use in courts or law enforcement capacities. But, these blurry pictures are a great way to begin exploring how this type of data manipulation could benefit the public’s safety.
What Is The Stimuli And How Are Scientists Testing it?
From above, the initial testing with the EEG equipment started with a volunteer looking at another person who would smile, or keep their face in neutral during the experiment. Then the EEG would transmit that information to the computer, the algorithm would process the data, and the computer would produce a visual recreation of the face of the person the volunteer was looking at during testing.
The stimuli in this research are the person who is sitting in front of the volunteer making faces. The volunteer acts as the conduit for information and has minimal effect on the experiment itself.
The purpose of studying the effectiveness of this technology with facial recognition relies on having a predetermined and completely controllable stimulus. The stimuli being a person’s face isn’t going to change without significant age, a severe physical injury or medical intervention.
It is far easier to compare the computer’s visual recreation to a photograph and examine it for key facial markers than it is to compare an environment that may have several hundred components to monitor.
How This Lays The Framework For Communications
Although law enforcement and the justice system would benefit from this algorithm, the goal of increasing the abilities of communications starts with facial recognition because it’s one of the first skills we learn out of the womb.
Infants will regularly identify, catalog and eventually recall hundreds of faces over a very short time frame. The ability to quickly recognize faces is a sign of cognitive complexity. The brain works to identify faces in a very sophisticated way using face patches and many small regions of the temporal lobe.
Facial recognition is only the first step to creating a system that can completely recreate a scene or experience from a person’s memory.
Over time scientists hope to fine-tune the algorithm and learn more about transmitting data from memories into a similar system. The entire process is very similar to turning the dials on a radio searching for a clear channel.