Human to Human Brain Interface a Success; Now Guess What they Did With it
by Amy White
Three days ago, University of Washington reported that humans have again accomplished something really cool, already written about in Sci-Fi, and borderline unsettling:
"University of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher."
That's right - by donning some fancy hats that bear a striking reselmblance to swim caps (okay fine... They are in fact modified swim caps), humans can now send signals directly to another human brain, causing the recipient to perform physical activities.
What Did Researchers Choose as the First Activity to Perform Through another Person's Brain?
Bashing out a classical piano performance?
Painting a picture?
Saying "Look at me, I'm controlling your brain" in sign language?
“The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains,” Stocco said. “We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain.”
Researchers Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco used the Internet to carry a signal between their brains, and play a computer game.
The simple game actually provided an excellent method to prove their experiment a success.
Rao watched the screen, and waited until he was supposed to fire a cannon at a virtual target. Instead of moving his right hand to hit the appropriate key, he imagined moving his hand.
Across campus, Stocco was wearing earplugs and unable to see the screen, but his brain reacted to the impulse sent by Rao to hit the key and he fired the cannon.He described the sensation as simmilar to 'a nervous tic.'
(Minute 1:03 in the video will let you skip to seeing the big moment.)
New Technology, New Possibilities, New Problems
The researchers were careful to point out that this technology only reads simple brain signals, not thoughts. Their next experiment is aimed at transferring more complex information, and if that goes well they'll expand to research with a wider range of subjects. Said Rao:
"It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain. This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains.”
If we're going to use the Internet to download information and impulses directly to our brains, who's going to make the antivirus software?
Years from now, Stocco sees a potential for the technology to help people complete critical tasks for which they've not been trained, like landing a plane in the event of an incapacitated pilot.
All of which raises the question, if we're going to be using the Internet to download information directly to our brains, who's going to make the antivirus software?Originally Published Aug. 30th 2013