10 July 2004

It's easier than reaching...

Fascinating and terrifying research being done to use conscious brain activity to control machines. From the Forbes article:

Then, the monkeys learned to get rewards by mentally controlling a cursor on the computer screen instead of physically reaching. The cursor moved in response to the brain patterns indicating a desire. "They like it because it's easier than reaching," Andersen said.

Gah. Is this the first step to some dystopia of atrophied bodies? On the other hand, I'm reminded of the patients in Oliver Sacks's book Awakenings. In it, Sacks writes of the patients who have succumbed to a sleeping-sickness that left them completely paralyzed. I have fond memories of the movie and remember a very moving quote. Two doctors discuss whether the paralyzed individuals are conscious of their environment. The older doctor is positive they aren't and when the younger one asks why he replies that the alternative is unthinkable. He couldn't imagine the horror of having no way to communicate and affect the world and yet still be alive.

[ posted by sstrader on 10 July 2004 at 2:37:18 PM in Science & Technology ]