By Jon Clinkenbeard. October 14, 2011, 11:09 AM CDT
I’ve always thought about mind control in such an abstract and magical way, but it’s really quite simple. The more we analyze the patterns of the human brain, the more easily we can aggregate that data and turn it into simple, then gradually more complex, input. To get started, we just have to collect that data. What’s that? We’ve already been doing it for years? And we’re already mind-controlling lots of things? AWESOME.
Australian company Emotiv has implemented this “fauxlekinesis” for controlling video games, remote-controlled cars, light switches, and televisions. All of these are somewhat simple object interactions, but now the company has set their sights on helping the physically handicapped, a more complicated endeavor. Using IBM middleware, the company has already helped one paralyzed patient use a computer so far, and Emotiv isn’t alone. Swiss company Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) has also applied this brain control to wheelchairs and robots. Ahem, ROBOTS.
Their idea is that patients who can’t move or otherwise participate in social activities can instead control a robot to participate for them. About 10 percent of that idea seems good. The other 90 percent seems like they don’t realize mind-controlled robost are just a bad fucking idea. Not to mention that sending a surrogate robot around to pretend to be you could actually do more to distance you from your family than if they were forced to come to your bedside more often and actually spend time with you, the fellow human being. That all said, I’m a complete hypocrite and would buy a mind-controlled robot in a heartbeat.
Also (and I really love this sentence, btw), the Japanese company Cyberdyne is helping people regain their ability to walk with a full-body exoskeleton called HAL. HAL tries to murder Dave uses microsensors embedded in the patient’s limbs to detect their intention to move and translates that into actual physical movement on the part of the exoskeleton.
Between the dangers of flipping a light on and off and mind-controlled murderbots is the much more manageable danger of mind-controlled cars. Nissan is researching an intelligent car that can use brainwave data to anticipate the owner’s intentions and then act before the owner actually needs to physically perform the action. If the car can anticipate both my quick turn and my emergency braking (because I didn’t see that car speeding down the opposite lane), this might not be too scary.
When all is said and done, I just hope this technology progresses to the point where it’s awe-inspiring, but not to the point where it’s mind-blowing.
About Jon Clinkenbeard
In addition to being Techcitement's Gaming Editor, Jon Clinkenbeard is also an actor and comedian living in New York. He's the founder of Chew York and Dark Little Stories, and he's co-author of The Pirate Treasure of the Himalayas. Jon regularly performs improvised theater around town and you've probably seen him on that show you watch.