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Infiniti Synaptiq – Drive With Your Mind

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Infiniti, the luxury vehicle division of Japanese automaker Nissan, came up with a breathtaking concept for the car of the future – the Infiniti Synaptiq, a wearable flying racecar that you can control with your mind, Neurogadget reports.

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The  Synaptiq concept was submitted to a design challenge at the 2014 LA Auto Show about “Sensing the future.” The competitors were also asked, “How will cars interact with us in 2029?”

The Synaptiq is less a car and more of a set of interlocking pieces. The car integrates augmented reality, 3D hologram and wearable technologies as part of the futuristic everyday driving experience. The Synaptiq’s Sym-biotic User Interface Technology (SUIT) is designed to connect to the driver to the machine via a spinal lock attachment, which suspends the driver into the driving position and connects the driver’s thoughts to the machine. A liquid crystal canopy with an augmented reality system would display information to the driver.

John Sahs, interior design manager at Infiniti, and leader of the Synaptiq team, said:

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Our designers loved participating in the LA Auto Show Design Challenge, conceptualizing how Infiniti drivers could interact with their vehicle in the coming decades. It’s extremely gratifying for the public to also dream a bit with us and identify with such ideas that may seem a bit futuristic, but may just not be that far away from reality.

Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) are, indeed, an apparently futuristic and weird technology that is fast becoming reality. The first medical applications of BCI technology to improving the life of severely disabled patients are more than a decade old. Today, there are commercial companies such as Emotiv Inc. that sell consumer BCI devices. Emotiv’s Epoc headsets can capture the user’s brainwaves in real-time and translate them into, for example, cursor movements on a screen or action commands that a suitably modified videogame can understand.

Awesome Applications of BCI and Neurotechnology

InfinitiIn related BCI news, Duke University neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis recently presented his latest research on two rhesus monkeys that had electrodes implanted deep in their brains. The electrodes allowed the monkeys to steer a wheelchair using thought alone. Signals from deep in the brain are much easier for devices to read than ones picked up by electrical skin sensors on patient’s skulls, but of course this more invasive approach is not yet implemented in consumer devices.

BCI research has already permitted apparently “magic” demonstrations of the power of advanced neurotechnology. For example, researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago. In the newly published study, which involved six people, researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person’s brain over the Internet and use these signals to control the hand motions of another person within a split second of sending that signal.

BCI research is picking up speed – and significant funding. All seems to indicate that the next decade will see the beginning of a Golden Age of neurotechnology, with breathtaking implications. We may be able to drive our car by thought alone as foreseen by the Nissan researchers and develop artificial telepathy between persons far away. Like today’s cell phones – but implanted in the brain.

Images from Infiniti.

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  1. Rick Mac Gillis

    December 12, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Someday there will be a service that allows you to body swap with other people, either for their body, or their life. I could see some nice money in a service for that. Sex would be more interesting as you’ll be able to see what your partner experiences. The dark side? The dark side is that if you can be controlled, you will be. It’s just a matter of who will be controlling you… Is the risk worth the gratification?

    • Giulio Prisco

      December 13, 2014 at 6:24 am

      I guess there will be a market for mental firewalls, privacy and antivirus software for brain implants, and somebody will make a lot of money with that.

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Medicine

Elon Musk Hints at Advances in ‘Neural Lace’ Brain Hacking Tech

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Visionary and sometimes controversial entrepreneur Elon Musk hinted at advances in next-generation brain hacking. Recent research results promise future “neural lace” technology that could enhance our brains and connect them to the cloud.

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Artificial Intelligence

The Possibilities and the Future of Brain Hacking

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For all of man’s scientific and technological advances, the human brain largely remains a mystery. A new Vimeo video, “Master/Mind,” examines the state of research on the human mind and the questions that scientists, ethicists, futurists and others are asking in light of what we’re learning about the mind. The video, a Vimeo Staff Pick, consists of a series of comments from scientists, technologist, futurists and ethicists.

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Automation, robotics and artificial intelligence are developing so rapidly that many people are wondering if some day, man will no longer harness science but rather be controlled by it. As this question weighs heavily on peoples’ mind, there has been a focus on understanding the human brain.

The central issue the video explores is: New technologies are beginning to unlock the brain’s true potential, but at what cost to our humanity?

“We can identify galaxies light years away, but we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears,” President Obama states at the outset of the video’s journey.

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The video shows a recent news report that scientists are seeing neurons change in real-time as events are “recorded” in the brain.

An Organ Of Surreal Complexity

“This is an organ of surreal complexity, and we are just beginning to understand how to even study it,” says Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

Sebastian Seung, Ph.D., Princeton Neuroscience Institute professor of computer science, says scientists have speculated that human memories, “the information that makes you, you,” are stored in the connections between the brain’s neurons.

The video examines various approaches to the study of the brain, from the universities to self-taught technology geeks.

The brain consists of 86 billion neurons and the neurons are connected via synapses and other matter. It’s a vast network of connections.

Scientists think synapses record what happens when someone learns something. The video shows what appear to be synapse images.

EEG Detects Brain’s Electrical Activity

Joel Murphy, co-founder of a technology consultancy called OpenBCI, sought to create a low-cost, open source electroencephalography (EEG) system that detects electrical activity in the brain. His partner, Conor Russomanno, found a “how to hack EEG’s” tutorial and was able to do it in one day. “I think everybody is interested in the brain these days,” Russomanno says. Technologies are emerging allowing us to tap in and “figure out what’s going on in there.”

The video examines the laboratory research using electrodes that attach to the human body and allow scientists to monitor fluctuations in electrical activity. Scientists are trying to understand the meaning of these frequencies and relate them to things that people perceive or experience in their everyday lives.

“I think brain computer interfaces are going to be instrumental in human evolution,” Russomanno says.

“Conceivably you could image your brain every two weeks and you would never lose more than two weeks of your experience,” says Russell Hanson, Ph.D., founder of a firm called Brain Backups.

Science Versus Ethics

The video also explores the tension between ethics and science.

Arthur Caplan, Ph.D., director of New York University (NYU) division of medical ethics, says myths throughout history are cautionary about going too far with human knowledge. But in modern times, people have been wondering about controlling new power, be it medical or physics. If we talk about modifying the brain, people worry about losing their identities, Caplan says.

In recent years, science has considered how technology can enhance human capability, such as wearable technology.

Futurist and inventor Raymond Kurzweil says thinking will be a hybrid, biological and non-biological.

Nick Bostrom, Ph.D., author and philosopher, says machine intelligence is the last invention that will need to be made. Machines will eventually be better at inventing than humans. “Once there is super intelligence, the fate of humanity may depend on what this super-intelligence does,” he says.

“Once they go in there (the brain) and tinker, what they are eventually going to do is very crude control and mostly destruction,” says Peter Breggin, M.D., a psychiatrist. “It’s the seat of our humanity, and that’s what they’re tampering with.”

Also read: Research Priorities for Artificial Intelligence — open letter

What Makes Us Human?

A narrator notes near the end of the video that man does not have the ability to do what he is doing if it wasn’t intended in the first place. From the beginning of time, man has worked to control the environment.

“We develop technology to improve the human experience,” Russomanno says. “Whatever we turn into or whatever we become, we need to make sure that we’re still human.”

“It seems to me the brain alterations are closer to changing who we are, so we have to be careful about what we want to be,” Caplan of NYU says.

“What is it about the human brain that could potentially never be replicated artificially?” asks Lydia Fazzio, M.D., founder of biohackers NYC. “To be human is to incorporate a bit of the erratic, of the unpredictable, and that is what I hope continues.”

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Neurotech

Researchers Link Human Brains for Questions and Answers Game

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University of Washington researchers used a direct brain-to-brain connection to enable pairs of participants to play a question-and-answer game by transmitting signals from one brain to the other over the Internet. The experiment is thought to be the first to show that two brains can be directly linked to allow one person to guess what’s on another person’s mind.

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