stupidcar 10 months ago

Never mind a swarm, what about controlling just a single drone? There are people in persistent vegetative states who can be communicated with via MRI scanners and appear to be essentially conscious but locked into their body. What if, with consent gained via MRI, you implanted this chip into them, and trained them to remotely control an always-on drone, which had visual and audio sensors streaming to a VR HUD and headphones on the vegetative person?

Could this let these people continue their lives in a new, drone body? How would society deal with that? Over time, it would be difficult to deny these drone avatars the same kinds of rights we award to physical citizens, e.g. to travel freely and not to be unduly harmed. Could the same be done with people suffering full-body paralysis? Or by people in wheelchairs to go to places otherwise inaccessible?

Once society became accustomed to drone avatars interacting with physical humans, might rich-enough, able-bodied people start to also use them in some circumstances. After all, there are advantages, not least the safety factory of not putting your physical body and mind at risk. Eventually, could this lead to a class of citizens who interact only via drone avatars?

leggomylibro 10 months ago

I think it's important to note the, "A person with a brain chip" part of the article.

Don't get me wrong, if I had a condition that required brain surgery I'd jump at the chance to get an electrode mat placed on my brain. But it's a very invasive procedure, similar to deep-brain stimulation; it sounds like we're still a ways from high-quality transcranial BCI despite the article's header image.

entwife 10 months ago

Perhaps the only advantage of being paralyzed is that these a surgically implanted direct brain interface is ethical. It's an invasive and risky surgery, but with rewards if the individual can then operate a prosthetic hand.

  • sitkack 10 months ago

    Epilepsy patients with in brain electrodes are a hot commodity. Maybe try being a postdoc or grad student in China?

    • brennebeck 10 months ago

      Even as an epileptic I am not aware how common this is? Though, it also seems primarily related to EEG capabilities rather than seizure-control.

      Edit: minor grammar/tense

      • a-dub 10 months ago

        At the very least it is part of the standard treatment protocol for those who have surgical resection. (implant electrodes, remove drugs, wait for seizure, use recording to guide resection).

        Although it seems that the typical grids, strips and laminar electrodes that are good for research are disappearing in favor of stereo-eeg which is much less invasive.

jcelerier 10 months ago

why the hell are we still searching for aliens when we are clearly the freakin aliens of every SF book

  • serversystem 10 months ago

    Don't forget, all our books are written in our image

  • 3chelon 10 months ago

    Isn't that one of the main points of sci fi?

rebuilder 10 months ago

No mention of what type of operation this enables, what kind of input the user is able to experience etc. In other words, I wouldn't take this article very seriously.

foobarbecue 10 months ago

How's the TX link back into the brain supposed to work then?

  • FLUX-YOU 10 months ago

    Probably a raw feeling in the brain instead of something intuitive like having a HUD with green numbers representing pitch/yaw/roll/velocity/etc. suddenly painted over your field of vision.

    There's likely an encoding step that you have to teach the person before you can interpret the signals from the aircraft. I bet the process is similar to learning Morse code, but with tingling feelings instead of beeps.

    Even the idea of transmitting strings to a person's brain is a massive step forward. We're likely dealing with "is this a 1 or 0?" and it takes seconds to decide that. Bandwidth is likely really low still.

  • crooked-v 10 months ago

    Very carefully, of course.

childintime 10 months ago

One might say the device only does "signal inference", as opposed to telepathy. But interestingly, maybe a telepath does the same thing (thus requiring ability), but at a distance, and via a different (as yet unqualified) medium.

anta40 10 months ago

Imagine controlling weaponized drone swarm with this. Probably something like Magneto would do.

Scary? :D

  • A2017U1 10 months ago

    Given the state of computing, no. I'd be more worried about my brain chip having poorly implemented crypto with legally mandated backdoors from 7 different countries and security updates requiring surgery.

    A simple radio transceiver will probably hold it's own for the near future.

    Weaponised drones wielded by violent individuals scares the shit out of me.

    • freshhawk 10 months ago

      Never mind that I can perform fast and accurate manipulations with my hands better than anyone will be able to learn to manipulate their brain chip any time soon.

      Hell, I'd put money on someone using their feet to operate a radio transmitter over the brain chip given equal amounts of time to practice. And I think I would win that bet for the rest of my life at least.

      Of course, we all agree there is definitely a coolness factor at play. It is undeniably cool.

jpalomaki 10 months ago

Interesting if you could feed information from drones and various other sensors directly into soldiers brain. Maybe this information, with enough practise, could merge in brains with data from your own senses.

cx_in_the_chat_ 10 months ago

Avatar from 2009 anyone? Seems like James Cameron keeps getting things right again and again. Events from the Terminator are also right behind the corner from taking place.

  • DoreenMichele 10 months ago

    Before humans actually set foot on the moon, we first wrote stories about traveling to the moon. We did this for a couple hundred years or more before making it a reality.

    We dream the future into existence. Solution: We need better dreams, because these outcomes aren't inevitable.

xrayzerone 10 months ago

"Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." - Ian Malcolm

  • TomMarius 10 months ago

    They definitely should, though. There are many uses for this technology, and research is necessary.

tempodox 10 months ago

I'm curious to see how long it will take us to go full Deus Ex from here.

  • 3chelon 10 months ago

    I reckon quite a while.

bitwize 10 months ago

The Microbots from Big Hero 6 sprang immediately to mind.

mullikine 10 months ago

I got my EEG to run emacs commands a couple years ago. Long story short, the company I worked for was full of people with no faith or imagination -- automatons. Imagining the future and acting in faith is not easy. You'll be ostracised by your friends and collegues. It is the most frustrating feeling seeing someone else invent the thing you imagined a couple years ago. Too many time-burgelars and traffic lights in this world

  • ridgeguy 10 months ago

    EEG to machine interface has a long history.

    Here's a brief article about a 1975 DARPA/SRI program that used EMG and EEG to identify words human subjects were thinking. [1] Computers were a CDC6400 and a LINC-8. The article has a link at the end to the original report (.doc download warning).


    • jsjohnst 10 months ago

      Here’s[0] a toy from the late 80s or early 90s that used an EEG like interface to let you control moving a foam ball around an obstacle course. You can see it over in Oakland at MADE.


    • reaperducer 10 months ago

      Probably a better method than the Atari 2600 version, which gave game testers headaches, so it was cancelled.

      • exikyut 10 months ago

        Apparently because of the shape of the headband and not any ill effects of the techniques the device used (just voltage analysis).

  • tomcam 10 months ago

    I learned working at Microsoft that it's not enough to be ahead of things. You also have to be good at pushing your agenda (I was terrible at it while there).

    I've decided it's a little like running for political office. Popularity contest? Sure. But it also means that your ideas have to run a gauntlet. You have to defend and reshape them in sometimes-hostile circumstances.

    Not a bad thing, I now feel.

  • anonytrary 10 months ago

    People have been thinking about using EEG signals to control computers for decades. The problem with EEGs is that their bitrate is too low. The skull destroys a ton of high frequency information that prevents EEGs from relaying little more than an "up, down, left, right" level of complexity.

  • comboy 10 months ago

    What hardware did you use as an inferface? How many different commands where you able to call and how long did it take to execute them?

    > It is the most frustrating feeling seeing someone else invent the thing you imagined a couple years ago

    Don't be. Even in much less connected world it was already obvious that inventions are based on what's already out there and are usually not all that unique. This one has documented research from before 1975.

  • antt 10 months ago

    1). That very cool.

    2). There is a huge difference between a prototype that works with the inventor around and several industry experts babysitting it and a working mass market device.

    Did you ever put up your code?

  • brennebeck 10 months ago

    Do you mean, essentially, running different commands/runbooks based on the wavelength readings? Am I understanding correctly?

  • DoreenMichele 10 months ago

    Yup. And I'm given hell for getting healthier because that's Verboten and crazy-talk.

    No clue how one gets past that nonsense.

    • laserBro13Fcali 10 months ago

      I quit a six figure job, and that was a tough decision, but paycheck or no, I look back on what would have been, and this month of unemployment is miles, and miles, and miles happier than the same amount of time that would have been spent in service to a machine of cognitive dissonance, cowering at the feet of scrum master goons, boot-licking their rituals like a servile worm.

      I spent a few weeks kicking myself, because I have to loot various sources of static savings accounts, to make ends meet, until they run dry, and I have no idea what happens after that.

      But I dug up some old email chains, and they had some videos of the recorded planning sessions, retrospectives, dailies, and conference calls, and it all came flooding back. With every fiber of my being, I know for sure that quitting was the right thing to do. No matter what kind of hell I catch for it.

      Die on your feet. Never serve on your knees.

      • piazz 10 months ago

        cowering at the feet of scrum master goons, boot-licking their rituals like a servile worm

        Truly cinematic imagery, bravo

      • DoreenMichele 10 months ago

        In my quest to get well, I walked away from a corporate job and slept in a tent for nearly six years. Rest assured, I've got the "die on your feet" part down pat.

        That in no way gives me a path forward for figuring out how to effectively communicate in a meaty way about health topics with knowledgeable people.

        Though, as others have noted: Wonderfully entertaining comment.

        • laserBro13Fcali 10 months ago

          Well, honestly, I think the wall you're encountering might be the one that guards the powers vested in those who enjoy authority.

          So, to express awareness as a peer tampers with someone's will to power. Would that you place yourself at eye level with royalty, still choose to do so, knowing it be treason that criminals are broken upon the wheel for toying with?

          This is an abyss with no bottom, you must almost half-realize. I mean, somewhere in all this, the true cost behind any doctor's bill (above and beyond funding their mortgage and BMW) is malpractice. Someone catches bell's palsy after a chiropractic procedure, and before it resolves itself, BMW doc's former college roommate gets professionally ruined by an ambulance chaser. Nevermind he was a chiropractor, not even a real doctor, and flunked out because organic chem.

          This horror story fuels every bill for every surgery, and every insurance company is really just an endless phalanx of lawyers suing institutions as busy work, looking to extract every spare penny that didn't get blown on lost keys fobs for luxury sedans, as if it were spare time spent folding clothes at The Gap outlet.

          If your herbal tea cured your rickets, how can anyone replace your knees with titanium hinges? You didn't even take the MCAT.

          • DoreenMichele 10 months ago

            Would that you place yourself at eye level with royalty, still choose to do so, knowing it be treason that criminals are broken upon the wheel for toying with?

            My sons tell me that, historically, the world couldn't afford to support prisoners long term in subsistence societies. So one thing they did: During war, they offered poisoners the chance to become landed nobility. All they had to do was be part of the first assault wave attacking a castle and survive the assault because the death rate for that first wave was ridiculously high.

            The world is dealing with crises our current models cannot solve. Preserving the current order to jealously guard their authority and wealth is heading towards a burned out, barren land, like the lands ruled by the hyenas in The Lion King.

            There will be nothing left to rule. They know that, it's why we have billionaire preppers with compounds in New Zealand and bug out bags to get them to their special plane in Nevada for a straight flight to NZ.

            They jealously guard a dystopian future and hope against hope that UBI will somehow keep the zombie hoards from their door while feeling in their bones that it won't and failing to come up with real solutions.

            Because god forbid anyone should listen to a woman. A poor person. A former homemaker.

            Obviously, she must be crazy. Let's go with that.

            PS I'm descended from German nobility, just a mere two generations removed. It wouldn't be that hard to clean up my public image and frame me as socially acceptable -- A story of a lost lamb returned to the fold or the prodigal son come home again.

      • mingee 10 months ago

        A little cynical, but I enjoyed reading this lmao

  • mullikine 10 months ago

    Damn. So many hates. Well, very few people will be able to relate to this post I made. I hope I garnered some respect from those clone-humans for people who actually provide entropy to the world though. New information is important

    • titzer 10 months ago

      I'm exaggerating; don't take this personally, but you're likely being downvoted because one reading of your comment is that is simultaneously content-free, self-aggrandizing, and disparaging of others. If you want to contribute positively to the discussion, "been there, done that, everybody hates me, but you're all idiots" comments aren't the way.

    • tjr225 10 months ago

      I wouldn't be too concerned with what other people think. Be honest and move on. I read it, after all.

    • tomhoward 10 months ago

      I mostly liked your comment and certainly related to it (and I didn't downvote it).

      But after years of feeling resentful and contemptuous towards "everyone else", I've recently come to learn how unnecessary and counter-productive that is.

      On an evolutionary level, there are important reasons why disruptive new ideas face resistance, and our task is to figure out how to communicate our insights in a way that can be understood and embraced by others.

      In order to do that, one must have respect and compassion for their audience and their community.

      You'll do be better to find a way to share your ideas with humility and warmth. At worst, even if others don't listen, you'll still feel happier.

    • anonytrary 10 months ago

      Your holier-than-thou attitude probably put off people who read your comments.

    • laserBro13Fcali 10 months ago

      Well, the unfortunate aspect of HN's ranking system, is that downvotes aren't actually an expression of hate, or even reproach.

      The reality is, that the motive for any given vote is that of a sort algorithm.

      Which, you may recognize as:

        Object.sort(function(a, b){
          return (a - b);
      So, what people are really doing is moving things around, strictly with respect to the contents of the thread, as applicable to the conversation at hand.

      So, even if you are on topic, within some threshold, if you are not the most relevant response, but you're pinned to the top by default, people with the option to move you downward will do so. This is purely a function of rearrangement, in the minds of the downvoters, not unlike moving icons around on the desktop.

      But of course, for you, the icon in question, to be brushed aside like this, is most certainly an emotional event.


    • DoreenMichele 10 months ago

      Oh, I got downvoted for replying sympathetically and I think mine was the first reply. I sincerely would be interested in discussion of how one gets past that. I don't know how that's done. I meant that.

      But it doesn't look like sincere interest in having a meaty discussion. It looks like low substance whining.

      On HN, if you don't know the right question to move forward, you can get ROFLstomped for opening your mouth at all. Sometimes, you find the right question by trying to talk about it anyway and accepting some downvotes in the process.