back to article Neuroscientist used brainhack. It's super effective! Oh, and disturbingly easy

In one of the most disturbing talks in all 10 years of Bsides Las Vegas, neuroscientists have warned that not only is hacking the brain possible right now, but it's also a lot easier than you may think. Two boffins from Laboratory for Autonomy-Brain Exchange (LabX) have been working on brain/machine interfaces. The technology …

  1. sabroni Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Tin foil helmet

    not looking so stupid now!

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Tin foil helmet

      All those companies making lined wallets to protect credit cards will soon be expanding to make lined hats.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tin foil helmet

        I'm trying to picture crowds wearing lined wallets on their heads.

        No, wait ..

        :)

    2. Psmo Bronze badge
      Coat

      Re: Tin foil helmet

      Scramble suits have been talked about in Philip K. Dick and Harry Harrison (and probably others) to counteract camera and visual recording.

      There may well be a market for an audio and radio-frequency equivalent before too long.

      Maybe something to make the signal so diffuse that it merges into background ?

    3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: Tin foil helmet

      Being down with d' kidz, I use a tin-foil hoodie.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Tin foil helmet

        Being down with the young adults (kids with beards), I use a tinfoil Trilby

        1. sbt

          Re: Tin foil helmet

          Pfft. Get a load of my lead fedora. Yes, I have always been this height.

          1. Schultz
            Boffin

            Let me be the first to call this over hypes BS

            ... You won't need that tinfoil hat anytime soon. The reasons are: (1) we don't yet understand how the brain works, (2) we don't yet know how to accurately affect the brain (the cited research is the equivalent of a caveman interpreting Ogg yelling 'Ukgh').

            I predict that proper 'brain hacking' technology is more than 100 years out. Up vote / down vote me if you think it'll take more / less than 100 years and don't forget to check your prediction in some 80 years time. And Cochlear implants don't count, unless you want to put the Google glass and your phones vibration function into the brain control category (it offers sensory input, not brain control).

            1. JLV Silver badge

              Re: Let me be the first to call this over hypes BS

              It’s hard to say. tech is full of moving very quickly from concept to useful: http/html n Wright Bros ‘03 to Bleriot/Sopwith Camel @ ‘11/‘16. Dudes waiting with a bucket of fission retardants in ‘42 to Trinity ‘45.

              Then again you have fusion and full AI (both of which, btw, have heavy computing components) and have been 25 yr-imminent for 50-70 yrs.

              Stay tuned (but I suspect you might be right)

              1. Teiwaz Silver badge

                Re: Let me be the first to call this over hypes BS

                It’s hard to say. tech is full of moving very quickly from concept to useful

                Considering deepfakes/deepnudes/deepthroat, it's more like moving from concept to scandal.

            2. illuminatus

              Re: Let me be the first to call this over hypes BS

              "we don't yet understand how the brain works"

              From a purely practical standpoint, as long as you can replicate the perceived behaviour, you don't need to know how the process works at a deep level. That's why it's so very dangerous.

              1. M.V. Lipvig

                Re: Let me be the first to call this over hypes BS

                Correct. They don't even know how aspirin works, and it's been around since the village witch had you chew willow bark to dispel the evil spirits in your head causing it to hurt. Look at the technical description of most any drug, and it say something along the lines of "How this drug affects the body is not understood, but empirical evidence suggests..."

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tin foil helmet

          I favour the tinfoil-covered pith helmet

          1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

            Re: Tin foil helmet

            I prefer the look and feel of raw metal meself - getting as close to nature as I can

            1. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
              Holmes

              Re: Tin foil helmet

              Tin foil deerstalker Holmes?

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Tin foil helmet

      the tin foil helmet might protect you from the electrical signals, but they won't protect US from THEM, i.e. those who want to CONTROL, or HOLD US BACK "for our own good", yotta yotta yotta.

      It's getting worse, but not the way people might think. At some point "THEY" will be given TOO MUCH AUTHORITY over OUR LIVES, in the name of "for our own good". It's already being done in the SMALL things. There's a LOT to be said for FREEDOM and SELF-DEFENSE, and *NOT* being a "sheeple".

      1. harmjschoonhoven

        Re: Tin foil helmet

        I have a vision of German cockroaches with tiny tinfoil hats.

        Lots of them.

    5. Neiljohnuk

      Re: Tin foil helmet

      Should be standard issue in US embassies perhaps?

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Terminator

    Facebook with brain hacking capability ? Run for the hills.

    Things are much worse than I thought. This is the beginning of the end. The Rise of the Thought Machines is nigh, and they will have FaceBook's logo on the side.

    That is a terrifying concept.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Facebook with brain hacking capability ? Run for the hills.

      Run for the hills? Certainly. But before I do I just have to vote for President for Life Mark Zuckerberg.

    2. Blackbird74

      Re: Facebook with brain hacking capability ? Run for the hills.

      Facebook? I think you need to look to the future, when they re-brand as Mindbook!

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Facebook with brain hacking capability ? Run for the hills.

        @Blackbird74: "Facebook? I think you need to look to the future, when they re-brand as Mindbook!"

        Yeah, they'll cut your Face off just before they stick your brain in a jar.

    3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Facebook with brain hacking capability ? Run for the hills.

      That is a terrifying concept.

      Nah, I'm not that worried. Once you have those interfaces, you also have the means to develop training in counter strategies - after all, that's the very concept behind neurofeedback and the brain is quite plastic when it comes to adaptation to new circumstances.

      Yes, it's another arms race, but I for one don't tend to give up without a fight. With my very twisted and dark sense of humour, giving any AI access to my neurons will most likely render it suicidal.

      Or addicted :).

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Facebook with brain hacking capability ? Run for the hills.

        Giving an AI access to my neurons would render it quite mad...

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Facebook with brain hacking capability ? Run for the hills.

        But in any given siege situation (snd this would count as one), the attacker usually has the advantage.

        1. Toni the terrible

          Re: Facebook with brain hacking capability ? Run for the hills.

          the iniative only in the begining and only if the defender is not prepared

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Facebook with brain hacking capability ? Run for the hills.

            Even if the defender is prepared, they're in a fixed spot and cannot resupply. The attacker still has access to reinforcements and can be patient to find other ways in (like Alexander at Tyre).

      3. Denarius
        Childcatcher

        Re: Facebook with brain hacking capability ? Run for the hills.

        See Marvin the Paranoid Android and interface with some cops spaceship.

        IMNSHO, skepticism is appropriate. I for one wonder how well AI handles information hidden in ambiguities aka sarcasm. Context can help but also obscure. I fear nannyism far more as well as the OMGWAAGTD mobs of all kinds

      4. M.V. Lipvig
        Mushroom

        Re: Facebook with brain hacking capability ? Run for the hills.

        And you won't be worried after Mindbook gets its hooks in your brain, either. So far as countering strategies, you'll wonder why you needed such a silly thing as that. Do as Mindbook wants and you get the finest orgasmic feeling, donas Mindbook doesn't want and your nads feel as though they are roasting in a lake of Hellfire.

        Fireball, because there go my nads...

  3. seven of five

    Sod it, wheres my datajack?

    With eyes and arms failing, a set of datajacks is just what I need. Cyber me up.

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Sod it, wheres my datajack?

      I always found the concept of microsofts fascinating, both tempting and repelling at the same time.

      Funny, I was just reading Neuromancer again the other week.

      I'm jacked in... I'm jacked in...

      1. Citizens untied

        Re: Sod it, wheres my datajack?

        Waiting for Simstim. Jacking in is fine, but I want to know what it feels like to be Molly. Gonna be a while, I think.

    2. Psmo Bronze badge
      Coat

      Re: Sod it, wheres my datajack?

      Good news:

      • it's all available for a low low price, and the doctor will see you now

      Bad news:

      • no IOUs
      • your jack connectors will be obsolete in a few so you'll have to do the operation again
      • the data is subscription only
      • let me just get my smock...

  4. Hemmels
    Coat

    ECGs from 200m

    Well i've learned something today.

    Mine's the one lined with bismuth.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: ECGs from 200m

      Time for some foil.

      1. Kapsalon
        Angel

        Re: ECGs from 200m

        Weird Al must be a messenger from the future!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ECGs from 200m

      > Well i've learned something today.

      Probably not, unless someone can link the thing they're referring to.

    4. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: ECGs from 200m

      FWIW, that 200-metre claim was from the conference speakers. We're working to clarify it.

      C.

  5. b0llchit
    Devil

    Let them dopamine themselves to death

    I think we should allow dopamine junkies to be dopamine junkies like the rats. They die fairly quickly, give or take three to four days, with a good and wide smile on their face. What is wrong with that? Would you rather have them suffer? It is the Darwinian way of survival. Those who can resist the dopamine will survive. And, it will reduce the population to manageable size too. How is that not a win-win situation?

    1. not.known@this.address

      Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

      Scene: interior of The Maidenhead, a bar on the planet Beaumond. A young woman stands watching an advert for Fruity Oaty Bars before whispering one word: "Miranda". Remember how that turned out?

      Or find a copy of Frederik Pohl's "What To Do Until The Analyst Comes" for a Golden Age of Science Fiction reason why the rats wouldn't be the only ones.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

      I think you underestimate the power of hormones on the brain.

    3. sabroni Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

      Them? Are you a computer?

    4. Psmo Bronze badge
      Flame

      Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

      How is that not a win-win situation?

      While it's not your loved-ones involved, sure.

      We would also be making sure all the exciting people never reproduce.

      Basically the future sounds like Coldplay.

    5. ed 22

      Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

      This may be a major step in evolution (biologicial vice AI) At least as a social organism, we may have to control this to maintain our society.

      1. anonymousI

        Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

        No problem - given the ease with which our beloved politicians create new/more imposts, there would be some punitive taxes involved before you could say Democracy.

    6. flec

      Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

      You appear to have forgotten the story of the Golgafrinchans, and Ark Ship B.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

        I see your Ark Ship B and raise you one Captain Peter Peachfuzz.

    7. ma1010 Silver badge

      Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

      There is some truth in what you say in that if people knowingly expose themselves to something addictive (like meth or heroin, for example), there's really little society can do about it. We could have a "war on dopamine-inducing tech," and I predict it will be as effective as the "war on drugs" has been, which is to say not at all. If such tech is criminalized, criminals will step in and supply the demand, at a high price, just as they do now with drugs.

      On the other hand, educating people as to what to expect if they go down that road would at least give them a chance of survival. You'll certainly have a lot who do take that road to perdition and suffer the consequences, but hopefully, most folks will avoid it. Hopefully techniques can be developed to help cure such addiction.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death - on the other hand

        A response in three Quotes:

        "This has been a novel about some people who were punished entirely too much for what they did. They wanted to have a good time, but they were like children playing in the street; they could see one after another of them being killed—run over, maimed, destroyed—but they continued to play anyhow. We really all were very happy for a while, sitting around not toiling but just bullshitting and playing, but it was for such a terrible brief time, and then the punishment was beyond belief: even when we could see it, we could not believe it…. For a while I myself was one of these children playing in the street; I was, like the rest of them, trying to play instead of being grown up, and I was punished. I am on the list below, which is a list of those to whom this novel is dedicated, and what became of each."

        -Phillip K. Dick

        "We're all wired into a survival trip now... no more of the speed that fueled the 60's. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary's trip. He crashed around America selling consciousness expansion, without ever giving a thought to the grim meathook realities that were lying in wait for all those peoples who took him seriously. All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy peace and understanding for three bucks a hit. but their loss, and failure, is ours too. What Leary took down with him was that the central illusion of a whole lifestyle that he helped create... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old mystic fallacy of the acid culture. The desperate assumption that somebody, or at least some force, is tending the light at the end of the tunnel." H.S.T

        Hope is a poor substitute for preventative action. There is a reason this 1950s technology never made it onto the open market, it was stopped. Stopped by barring human research subject approvals, economic sanctions, and criminal prosecutions. Stopped by the threat of ending your academic, medical or scientific career on a blacklist, and of being unemployable. It might not hold forever, but it bought us 70 years so far. Hunter and Dick both fell prey to the same trap, and in their own ways also played typhoid mary in spreading the problem as well. The hope is not the hollow hope of Archer shambling off to New Path, it's nipping the bud before the epidemic starts. Libertarian hand waving sounds much better when your not armpits deep in the consequences.

        and at the last you learn what only could have helped you at the beginning:

        "An interesting game professor Falken, the only winning move it not to play" -Wargames

      2. LewisRage

        Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

        You miss the point though, people aren't going to get into situation where they all get together and say "Lets do a load of dopamine and get high!" they'll be fed interfaces and systems that addict them to the dopamine rush to keep them hooked on whatever platform that they are interacting with...

        ...which has of course already happened with social media and the flashing beeping device in our pocket that has people already in the throes of serious addiction.

        What society can do about it, by legislating, is recognising that the corporations are using this to their advantage and to regulate them away from doing so now, and doing it worse in the future ("Come to Primark to experience the Pleasure Signal as you shop" and that assuming that they do it overtly, and not just secretly broadcasting euphoric signals within the confines of their premises on the quiet).

        Even if criminals are offering dopamine 'drugs' the people who get involved with that have to make a positive decision to get involved, this 'war on dopamine tech' stops the entire populace from getting (further) caught up without even realising.

        It's the difference between your water supplier being allowed to be able to put cocaine in your water or not.

    8. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

      It is the Darwinian way of survival. Those who can resist the dopamine will survive. And, it will reduce the population to manageable size too. How is that not a win-win situation?

      If'n it's combined with the 'f' logo people, we're looking at the fall of civilisation. Given their will to experiment with the population willy-nilly, deceitful nature, sheer greed and the populations willingness to ignore all that and continue to use it.

    9. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

      Darwinian survival doesn't lead to 'better' it leads to 'better able to reproduce'. Evolving resistance to directly tweaking the parts of your brain that let you learn what's good and bad for you is evolving resistance to learning (and probably to the ability to be genuinely happy at the same time).

    10. illuminatus

      Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

      You are Thomas Malthus, and I claim my £5.

    11. Toni the terrible

      Re: Let them dopamine themselves to death

      It's better than most forms of execution, in that there is no suffering....

  6. Peter Prof Fox
    Alert

    Gaydar and 'therapy'

    Is only one use the people who need it most (ie politically powerful) will fund. But don't worry, it will be as effective and well-regulated, as police face recognition.

  7. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

    So I guess VR was just a blip in history

    It clearly won't be long until this can give tactile feedback anywhere on the body(letting you feel the wind, blow of the axe or the... special... touch of the skin) and probably not much longer for it to let you command using the normal motor signals without having to have a padded room to keep you from hurting yourself. Now we just have to make sure we don't accidentally start making games that kill you in real life and the VR of today will be superseded before it can catch on.

    1. EricM

      Yep: Think Otherland instead of Ringworld

      OK, the Ringworld reference was quite obvious from the Rat's "optimization" of behavior.

      However, maybe Tad Williams' novel "Otherland" might offer a not quite so frightening scenario on how to use/abuse such tech, if it should become available and really reach that level of tactile and visual sensoric input.

      1. stiine Bronze badge

        Re: Yep: Think Otherland instead of Ringworld

        IIRC, Niven's take was that you legalized is and in a few generations, all of the weak ones will have bread themselves out of the gene pool.

        Now I've got to put the tales of Louis Wu back onto my reading list, along with Gil the ARM, and hell, I just need to put all of the Niven books back into the queue.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yep: Think Otherland instead of Ringworld

          As "fun" as such a story sounds. It did not work for opium.

        2. Hazmoid

          Re: Yep: Think Otherland instead of Ringworld

          The other thing was that when it was legalized, it reduced the drug problem to very low, as this was a pay up front and then you are independent of your dealer. i.e. the money was in the implant, and not a continuing revenue stream because it just used electricity to power the droud. Hell with today's battery tech you could walk around getting the pleasure centre tickled whilst hooked up to your external power pack.

          However, if the experience is more of a VR type experience, then there will be scope for all sorts of kinky stuff (let's face it, technology is driven by porn) and bootleg experiences, which will be gladly supplied by your local dealer.

          1. Long John Brass Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Yep: Think Otherland instead of Ringworld

            Strange days indeed

        3. dkjd

          Re: Yep: Think Otherland instead of Ringworld

          stiine: the weak ones will be toast?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So I guess VR was just a blip in history

      Theoretically already possible. While we joke about a little alcohol causing rose tinted glasses, the brain can fill in gaps if given the tools and incentive to.

      This coming from someone who lucid dreams, and kinda wishes they never gained that ability. Especially now that my dream self is behind on those dream repayments on that dream car they purchased.

    3. veti Silver badge

      Re: So I guess VR was just a blip in history

      Today's "VR" is like gaslight, circa 1860: it's a crude technology that clearly has much better alternatives, and will be replaced just as soon as those are up and running properly, but in the meantime - here and now - there's money to be made from it.

      It's easy enough to combine the sensory input with paralysing the body so that it can't hurt itself, even though the brain still thinks the body is responding. That happens to us every night.

  8. naive

    Something new is not always bad

    Technology that started as a nuclear bomb in WW2, ended up making C02 neutral energy and saved the lives of countless millions being used in radiation therapy.

    Nobody wants, and would allow, Marc's his greedy hands in ones brain, it could perhaps replace classic chemical medication for people with mental issues.

    It could allow fast learning in a world where things get more complicated everyday, allowing people to do work they otherwise couldn't.

    Maybe one day it even simplifies the whole learning process, so people do not have to sit the first 25 years of their lives in school benches to acquire the skills necessary to perform in this society.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: Something new is not always bad

      It's like you only post to prove your handle is apt.

    2. John Doe 12

      Re: Something new is not always bad

      First rule about any enemy in life - learn how to spell their name!

      Secondly while what you say sounds wonderful in an ideal world - we are far from living in one. Trump, Putin, Kim Jong-un etc would have orgasms at the idea of such technologies being ready for use.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Something new is not always bad

      Right. Except people with power want more power so they will control this and there's a large segment of society that would allow this because "everything now feels good". Walk into a store and suddenly you're buying stuff because the brain waves tell you to. Or we set this up to control our militaries.

      Sorry but this tech should scare the crap of anyone with a rational functioning brain.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: and suddenly you're buying stuff because the brain waves tell you to.

        You wouldn't happen to have a Mokie-Coke would you?

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Something new is not always bad

        Sorry but this tech should scare the crap of anyone with a rational functioning brain.

        Unfortunately (or thankfully for some), those are in short supply.

        The product quality control was never any good, non-existent returns policy, extremely poor warranty and repair little better than retro phrenology.

    4. Long John Brass Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Something new is not always bad

      Maybe one day it even simplifies the whole learning process, so people do not have to sit the first 25 years of their lives in school benches to acquire the skills necessary to perform in this society.

      Part of what the education system does is corral youngsters in one place while their brain develops. You can just upload Shakespeare and expect the to be "adults". Quite a lot goes on in human brains during our first 20 years.

      "I know kung-fu"

  9. Chris G Silver badge

    Up next

    My search for an Ad blocking implant.

    " Ah! Thinking about your mother in law's birthday. Perhaps you would like these suggestions..."

    Ads for Rat killer follow.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Up next

      "Ah! Thinking about your mother in law's..."

      A hippopotamus image immediately sprang into my mind...

      /Reginald Perrin.

    2. M.V. Lipvig

      Re: Up next

      Yuh huh, next thing you know the plod are knocking on the door to charge you with conspiracy to commit murder.

      Brain implants will be bidirectional so as to grab your banking details and complete the purchase.

  10. Sureo

    After reading this article I am feeling profoundly depressed. I hope they create a device that makes me feel good again.

  11. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

    So Brainstorm hit reality soon...

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085271/ IMHO underrated on IMDB.

    There are quite a few things I like about that movie, besides the record-and-play of impressions...

    The device starts as big and clunky and gets portable and smaller throughout the movie.

    They squeeze the data through a phone line. Not so far from today... As long as you don't have the German Telekom monopolizing around and effectively preventing good connections. Making Germany a very slow internet nation within Europe.

    And then conditioning, connecting to this news from today: When Gordy records having sex including the orgasm, and the Alex plays that two seconds with the orgasm back in a loop over hours...

    Then the military abuse of the technology, to play back a nightmare into one persons mind, is included in that movie as well.

    And it is the last movie with Natalie Wood.

    1. stiine Bronze badge

      Re: So Brainstorm hit reality soon...

      There's a link to the past. I haven't seen that movie since I last owned a black and white tv.

      What do you they they'd charge for a medice bottle of those tears today?

      1. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

        Re: So Brainstorm hit reality soon...

        Well, I re-watched it recently in 1080p. Making the difference between the normal schots and those extra wide "brain-view" shots clearly visible. Including the higher saturation of those special wide shots.

    2. Lomax
      Thumb Up

      Re: So Brainstorm hit reality soon...

      See also: Kathryn Bigelow's* 1999 firecracker Strange Days

      *) No relation to the orbital hotelier UFO nut.

      1. Lomax

        Re: So Brainstorm hit reality soon...

        >cough< 1995 >cough<

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So Brainstorm hit reality soon...

          "Sorry Lemmy, we tried to find a smaller girl to beat the crap outta ya!"

  12. Phil Bennett

    Really?

    "possible to take an electrocardiogram reading of the heart from up to 200 meters away"

    I can't find any info on this - is my Google-fu weak or is this some kind of barely theorised idea? Normally you need 10 electrodes on the body, many in spots that are likely to be under clothes, so this seems unlikely to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      I don't know, but I'd guess they're looking at your eye as it expands like a balloon with every heartbeat. Or it could be a futher development of the baby temperature gun.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      There was the military heartbeat radar which was around 200m. So perhaps extrapolating to possible tech, rather than existing tech. But still close on the horizon.

    3. Lomax
      Coat

      Re: Really?

      Detecting heart rate seems reasonable, but acquiring a usable ECG at that distance sounds far fetched.

      (I'll get my coat - it's the one with a Yagi in the pocket).

    4. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      The suggestion that brain scanning is coming along similarly to this is what really had me rolling on the floor.

      Though that could have been the TMS.

    5. LewisRage

      Re: Really?

      I'm reasonably sure that someone demonstrated detecting heart rate using nothing more than the Kinnect camera from an xbox.

      Found here... https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/kinectforwindows/2015/06/12/detecting-heart-rate-with-kinect/

      So yeah, it's almost certainly not as detailed or accurate as an ecg with electrodes stuck to your body but feasible. And as always with these things, if you can do it on £100 consumer hardware you can be sure there is/was a DARPA or equivalent version that works *much* better on £100,000 hardware.

      Of course that's a completely different process to an EEG which is so sensitive that the blinking of an eye or an IV drip will disrupt the output. How you'd measure that remotely (as suggested to be 'not far behind' ECG technology in the article) I have no idea.

    6. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      The 200m claim was from the conference speakers. We're trying to clarify it.

      C.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eternal life is thus possibly within reach

    Sounds like a great ton of fun! I use a weird interface with my computer for work: ten fingers that sometimes align and two eyes with lenses on them because they're not good enough. I could take out the part of my brain that does some actual work and put it in a jar and let it work for me, while I hook up to some CGI with all my fantasies and desires played out, for eternity, because the body is no longer needed. And if I get bored? Well, just reboot and start again. On second thought, maybe I take the brain from someone smarter but weaker and hook that up to a machine. Just one question remains, how do I encrypt my brain to protect myself from other evil brains? Where's that alu hat?

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Eternal life is thus possibly within reach

      You are CGP Grey and I claim my £5.

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Eternal life is thus possibly within reach

      "while I hook up to some CGI with all my fantasies and desires played out"

      Knowing my luck my fantasies and desires will only be played out in gloriously blocky 4-colour CGA.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eternal life is thus possibly within reach

        So you reckon they start with Tetris?

        :)

        1. DiViDeD Silver badge

          Re: Eternal life is thus possibly within reach

          "So you reckon they start with Tetris?

          Doesn't everything?

          Just me then?

          1. sbt

            Re: Eternal life is thus possibly within reach

            Just you. There's nothing remotely satisfying about sliding a "long" deep into four otherwise complete rows.

            1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

              Re: Eternal life is thus possibly within reach

              There's nothing remotely satisfying about sliding a "long" deep into four otherwise complete rows.

              Doctor Freud called and wants his symbolism back.

          2. hplasm Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Eternal life is thus possibly within reach

            "So you reckon they start with Tetris?

            >"Doesn't everything?"

            Well, Flesh Tetris, certainly...

            Paris knows.

  14. xperroni
    Facepalm

    Yeah, good luck on that

    But the dangers of brain hacking mean that society needs to come up with a set of ethical guidelines to make sure the technology doesn't get out of control.

    Yes, remember when society came up with a set of ethical guidelines for drugs, and as a result the pharma-sponsored opioid abuse epidemic stopped dead on its tracks? I bet it will be just like that with brain devices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah, good luck on that

      same ethical guidance as those developed round a machine gun (never aim at people you like). Same with nuclear energy, etc. Technology developments are almost always, it seems driven by human urge to get an upper hand over other humans, either by making money off them or by killing them. But, there's always hope the new mind-bending technologies will be used ONLY for the good. Can't wait.

      1. LewisRage

        Re: Yeah, good luck on that

        As a counterpoint - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Petersburg_Declaration_of_1868

        The Russians developed exploding musket balls, realised they were both unnecessary and terrifying and brought everyone together to create a treaty to ban them that still stands today.

        Not that I disagree with your point but it's worth remembering that there have been examples of the global community coming together for an ethical agreement, it can happen again.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Yeah, good luck on that

          Does it still stand because people actively honor it or simply because it ended up obsolete soon after it was ratified (with the rapid ubiquity of metallic casings and from that self-contained cartridges and eventually machine guns)?

          Unnecessary and terrifying? No Man's Land seems to indicate that it wasn't really that much of an obstacle.

  15. mathew42
    Black Helicopters

    Survelliance state implications?

    How far are we from being able to scan people on the street to determine their emotional state / thoughts and either take overt action or used a focused beam to alter the person's mood.

    For example there is a protest scheduled in town today, so authorities scan people entering train stations, identify potential participants and based on personality profiles induce fear, despair, tiredness as appropriate,

    Alternatively imagine queuing at the airport, your emotional state being analysed, a few more questions asked and being shuffled into a room for a more invasive discussion.

    I'd suggest that preserving the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judiciary becomes increasingly important to prevent totalitarian regimes. Add to this free speech as vitally important even if I disagree vehemently with your opinion.

    1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: Survelliance state implications?

      "Full-brain encryption protects criminals against legitimate police investigations. Now, what we're proposing isn't in any sense a 'back door into brains', and would, in any case, only be used under proper legal oversight..."

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Survelliance state implications?

        Unlicenced brain encrypters just use a Black and Decker and an Egg Whisk.

    2. LewisRage

      Re: Survelliance state implications?

      I would imagine that before we get as far as you suggest we'll already be generating 'fingerprints' of people as they go past, much like already happens with mobile phone radiation.

      The authorities might not know what you are thinking or your emotional state but they have incontrovertible proof that you were there and a unique ID that can track and correlate your position, and unlike your mobile phone you can't leave your brain at home or pick up a burner from cash converters.

      1. mathew42

        Re: Survelliance state implications?

        I'd be fairly confident that facial recognition has advanced to the point that peoples movements are already being tracked and if you don't match a known identity then a flag is raised and depending on criteria prioritised for investigation.

  16. tiggity Silver badge

    Beware flashing lights

    For a bit of extra fun..

    Not just electrical stimulation you need to worry about.

    Other stuff such as appropriate frequencies of light can also trigger brain activity (and magnetic fields can as you would guess if you know about the issues to be had with strong magnetic fields affecting certain electrical devices)

    I get the New Scientist (as well as dead tree version you also get various mailouts of science stuff and access to online NS), if you are lucky you may find a library, and if luckier still it stocks a few magazines too) - good for easy to read (i.e. a lot less hassle than "proper" journal articles) science articles that give you a broad feel for whats up and coming in different areas of science (albeit a tad too over focused on theoretical physics, but maybe that's just me being a fan of things that are readily testable)

    They have had a few good neuroscience articles recently (I read one on Ed Boyden at the weekend , that copy may still be lurking around in the shops (though my magazines do sometimes hang around a while before I am in the mood for (non light) reading so could be older than last week))

    Note I am not employed by New Scientist (nothing to do with them at all), just a (reasonably) satisfied reader of it & so happy to recommend it.

    1. Esme

      Re: Beware flashing lights

      I tend to check the Science Daily website (https://www.sciencedaily.com/) most days to give me an overview of what's happening across the sciences. The standard of articles is similar to that of NS. NB: it's still always worth checking sources on anything particularly surprising that you spot at SD or in NS, as occasionally their articles can give a false impression or be a tad uncritical. But they generally give a pretty good laymans overview of what's going on in the sciences.

  17. herman Silver badge

    The rise of the thought police...

  18. theOtherJT

    This weapon...

    ...I'm pretty sure it was called a Tasp.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: This weapon...

      Yep, it superseded the droud. No need for surgery with a tasp.

      1. TSM

        Re: This weapon...

        It didn't supersede the droud. Wu got his droud installed after being hit with a tasp.

        The tasp is a one-off shot. The droud allows continuous use for a set period of time.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: This weapon...

          SPOILERS!

          ;

          ;

          ;

          ;

          ;

          ;

          ;

          ;

          ;

          ;

          The one embedded in one of Nessus' heads wasn't "one shot" and nowhere is that implied in any of the stories I've read that mention Tasps, certainly not in Teela Brown's infodump in Ringworld.

          Neither did a droud necessarily automatically shut down. There's a Gil Hamilton story that hinges on that very (fictitious) fact, the story that everyone is referencing when reading this one about the rats in point of fact.

  19. Blackjack

    You know...

    I never thought the fact I suck at remembering names, phone numbers and passwords would be an advantage, but is not possible to get information that's not there, right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You know...

      I'm more worried about pushing information in that wasn't there in the first place.

      You could end up remember crimes you never committed, and God help us if any of those lovely totalitarian regimes get their hands on it for "re-education".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You know...

      Blackjack,

      "I never thought the fact I suck at remembering names, phone numbers and passwords would be an advantage, but is not possible to get information that's not there, right?"

      I have the same problem with names *BUT* the real issue is that the information *is* there you just cannot retrieve the data on-demand !!! :)

      I can struggle to remember a name but it will appear at some random time later !!!

      I bet you suddenly remember someones name hours or days later !!!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quelle Surprise !!!

    In a nutshell, any technology that can be abused and misused ...... will be !!!

    1st by Govts and their various 'Security' depts

    2nd by 'select' people with special access to item 1.

    3rd by Criminal groups

    4th by Religions.

    5th by 'Joe/Joanna Public' to escape all the previous !!!

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: Quelle Surprise !!!

      Can you propose some rules or criteria by which we could tell when the technology was being "misused and abused"? (Are those the same thing, by the way, or two different things?)

      If you can do that, then we might be able to suggest ways of monitoring or even policing the use. But if you can't, if you're just relying on "I know it when I see it", then you've got nothing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quelle Surprise !!!

        veti,

        To assist in your understanding, I would suggest the following:

        Abuse: relates to using technology in a way it was not designed for or against its intended original purpose. (In and of itself not necessarily 'Bad')

        Misuse: relates to the impact on society, if the impact is negative it is a 'misuse'

        [Assumption is that the technology did not have a 'negative' purpose to begin with !!!]

        In terms of rules, you are more or less correct with the "I know it when I see it" *but* just as we are doing you can anticipate the 'negative' uses quite easily.

        Anticipation does not mean that there will be any 'monitoring/policing' as that only follows if the 'negative' impact is accepted as such and there is a political will to do something about it *before* it is too late.

        Hope that helps.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Quelle Surprise !!!

          So... "abuse" depends on sure and definitive knowledge of the technology creators' purpose. OK, then we need to get everyone who invents or markets anything to state clearly what it's intended to be used for.

          "Misuse" is when the impact on society is negative. Setting aside the difficulty of defining "impact", or even "society" for that matter, who decides whether it's "negative"? One person's "negative impact" is another's "long-overdue correction". And often, negative and positive consequences are inseparable from one another. For example, Google spam filtering has all but eliminated spam from most Gmail users' inboxes - but at a cost of an increasingly non-trivial number of false positives, stopping a lot of legit mail from getting through. Is that a net negative or positive? - how do we decide?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Quelle Surprise !!!

            veti,

            (I see that you have introduced Semantics into the discussion, which 'by definition'* will make communication somewhat 'Long winded' and go 'off-topic' very quickly. To obviate that, please assume that all words 'mean' whatever is their definition as in the current OED.) [* Joke :)]

            'So... "abuse" depends on sure and definitive knowledge of the technology creators' purpose.'

            No, not correct.

            I am sure that *some* definition is made of the purpose of an invention or technology otherwise it cannot be communicated to anyone else !!! It does not need to be definitive in any absolute sense as everything evolves with time, so the purpose will also. An understanding will be made of its purpose, based on available information, and this will also evolve.

            This, of course, means that decisions will be reassessed when new information is available. It also means that errors will need to be acknowledged and corrected. (Something that people/groups/'society in general' is not good at !!!)

            i.e. The 1st laser was invented 1959-60 and was seen by many to be a 'Solution looking for a problem'. It was not seen as something to fear (other than 'Ray Gun' stories in the press of the time.) As lasers evolved and knowledge was gained 'real' products were created for use in science & industry. Our definition of what a laser is and its purpose would have evolved over this time. Lasers became beneficial to society from Industrial processes to Laser Eye Surgery. Many would see the attempts to create laser weapons a la 'Star Wars' as an 'Abuse', according to my definition.

            '"Misuse" is when the impact on society is negative. Setting aside the difficulty of defining "impact", or even "society" for that matter, who decides whether it's "negative"? One person's "negative impact" is another's "long-overdue correction". And often, negative and positive consequences are inseparable from one another.'

            In regard to 'Misuse' your points debating the ability to define what is 'Misuse' do not carry water.

            If my definition of 'Misuse' is looked at it simply what already happens everyday across the world.

            Decisions are made to allow or disallow things all the time based on whether society is perceived to gain or lose as a consequence.

            (You can debate the correctness of the decisions or the processes used or the people tasked with answering the questions and even who influences the outcome. These are all a separate set of questions and does not invalidate the need to police what is and is not allowed particularly if it impacts the population at large.)

            i.e. Drones, legalising Drugs, ability to obtain military grade arms, level of surveillance of the populace, rights to privacy and what this means.

            So 'Impact on Society' is already being done !!!

            It may not be to your liking and the decisions may be 'wrong' as far as you are concerned but that is what we have.

            If you want me to fix 'those' problems it is available only when I am being paid by the hour on an 'Open-ended' contract and my hourly rate is 'Very high'. :)

    2. Jake Maverick

      Re: Quelle Surprise !!!

      they already have been and have been doing so for decades! this isn't 'new' tech.....it's just finally being talked about publically. it's been ongoing since the 60s at least....

      1. Scorchio!!

        Re: Quelle Surprise !!!

        Yes it goes back at least as far as Olds and Milner in the 1950s.

  21. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

    ECG

    The reason why ECG can be read at a distance has to do with advances in sensors.

    ECG can also be extrapolated from any number of sources such as facial capillaries with time delay.

    EEG on the other hand is limited, the sort of signal strengths available are an order of magnitude less.

    MEG again is very limited due to interference barring some fantastic advance in room temp SQUIDs.

    I have all the parts to make an EEG machine but the problem is finding useful data: yes you can get a

    form of control at least by concentrating but nowhere near the fidelity of a direct connection.

    Incidentally its possible that human consciousness itself could be something we can one day control

    and manipulate with relatively small electric currents and the correct feedback methods.

    Work has been done with Xenon (Xe) anaesthesia and it has been said that this could be the key to

    human hibernation if as some research shows Xe is neuroprotective.

    1. Mike 137 Bronze badge

      Re: ECG - EEG - signals

      I did some work on this (admittedly a couple of decades back) and the biggest problem I encountered was signal disruption by other physiological processes. Not least, each time the subject blinks or twitches the EEG gets momentarily disrupted. So the question of continuous signal reliability is probably a limiting factor.

      1. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

        Re: ECG - EEG - signals

        Hmm.. maybe use a camera to feed back twitches into the system and offset with known information?

  22. vaporland

    human race extinction

    hopefully soon now.

    1. Toni the terrible

      Re: human race extinction

      The Human race is extinct, there are just a number of relict brains in jars; this is just another matrix to keep them 'happy'

  23. leenex
    Angel

    Tripleplusexcellent

    When people wake up in the morning, the implant will fill them with euphoria if, and only if, they skip eggs, bacon and bangers, do their morning exercise and perform all those other morning chores.

    If they don't they will feel sad, depressed, heartbroken, worse and worse until they're withdrawing from heroin.

    Get up, take out the trash, and you'll feel like you're on E for the first time in your life.

    Fix the washing machine, and watching it run will give you an orgasm. Yes, literally.

    Ask for a raise, and you'll feel like you're committing treason.

    Pay your bills. Consume. Obey. And be happy.

    What do you need a family for? You're absolutely ecstatic here in the container with your brethren.

  24. Steve Crook

    Upside

    In other developments, people report that vegan sausages, bacon and cheese have, overnight, become better tasting than the meaty originals...

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Upside

      Hmm, did you also get the news about Burger King launching the Impossible Burger nationwide this week?

      PS. Yes, this news is real, and no synthetic reality may be required to create a vegan burger that tastes better than one made from cows.

    2. Esme

      Re: Upside

      @Steve Crook. (Laughing) Quite a number of years ago, out of curiosity, I looked into how good a product called "Sosmix" is. Discovering that there was also "vegetarian pre-made pastry" available, I bought some of that, too, and used my purchases to make some sausage rolls to take to a party. Funniest conversation of the evening proved to be a guy arguing with me over the content of the sausage rolls. Despite the fact that I had made them, and knew that they were free of any animal products whatsoever, he continued to insist that there was meat in them. I have never made real meat sausage rolls in my life (Why bother? they've always been so easy to buy!)

      Being aware that ecologically too much meat and dairy production is problematic (NB: Note that "too much". There's nothing wrong with some meat production in areas that cant sustain crop plants), I continued to keep an eye on "substitute" products. For a long while, most did indeed seem not terribly good to me, but over the years they have improved immensely.

      Nowadays, I tend to prefer fake burgers to the real thing, although be it noted that taste and mouth-feel can vary quite a bit from brand to brand. Interestingly, those that mimic real meat most accurately (including plant-produce heme for that slighly bloody look) aren't my favourites. I find the substitute cheeses perfectly acceptable these days, although IMO they'd be better off giving them new names rather than saying thing like "cheddar-like" or "mozarella-like", as IMO they tend to be different enough to the real specifically named cheese to cause minor annoyance, but absent that, taste like perfectly acceptable cheeses. Good for cheese on toast and to construct a cheeseburger with, too! And off on a tangent, I have encountered vegan cheesecake that was simply wonderful!

      Whilst nowadays I eat very little meat, I don't lose any sleep over eating some now and then. The main animal product that I can find no good substitute for is cow's milk. Sure, there are plant-based milks that I can tolerate drinking like I do cows milk, but none of them, in my opinion, is any good in tea, and that is where I draw my personal line in the sand. The taste of English Breakfast tea with cow's milk is one of the great pleasures in life for me, and until they can crack artificial milk that makes good tasting tea, I shall continue to purchase cow's milk.

      The day they come up with a non-dairy milk that tastes good in tea is the day that I could potentially go full-on vegan insofar as my diet is concerned. I almost certainly won't though, because I don't have any objection to the eating of meat per se - my concern is more with food security and the efficiency of food production, given what the near future likely holds for us all. Plus at my age, and with tablet-controlled high blood pressure, corned beef and spam really aren't good things for me to consume nowadays, not as a regular thing, anyway (I had psychological problems with eating meat off the bone - hence i tende d to eat processed meats). Ditto dairy cheese (DEEP sigh. :-} ) I'm looking forward to trying cricket flour one day, I've heard good things of it.

  25. Mike 137 Bronze badge
    Stop

    References please

    "You don't even need close contact over wires. It's already possible to take an electrocardiogram reading of the heart from up to 200 meters away and brain scanning is advancing at a similar pace. It's already possible to divine a PIN code by monitoring brain activity"

    Are these just wild assertions or can they be backed by citations to refereed research?

    1. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

      Re: References please

      Found https://www.electronicdesign.com/components/sensor-performs-non-contact-ecg-measurements in a few seconds of Googleage.

      also https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3540983/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: References please

        Both of those still need to be on the patient, just not directly coupled to the skin. e.g. they can work through maybe a layer of clothing at best.

  26. HKmk23

    Its all fake news

    Even now I cannot buy a pocket device that will take a spoken memo or letter and ACCURATELY transcribe it WITHOUT being connected to the web, so it can subsequently be emailed/printed .

    So reading pin numbers or passwords at 200 metres or whatever is puff, when they cannot even transcribe my shopping list!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Its all fake news

      I don't know about that. Direct brain scanning could perhaps get past the one main obstacle to speech recognition: translation (as in things getting lost in translation). Sort of like how reading a text file directly is more accurate than printing it out and then OCR'ing it.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Playing loud repetitive noises to prisoners is already used in interrogation,

    er, what?!

    1. Toni the terrible

      Re: Playing loud repetitive noises to prisoners is already used in interrogation,

      HE SAID THEY ARE PLAYING REPEATED LOUD NOISES TO YOU, where is his coclear implant?

  28. Jake Maverick

    anybody who has been speaking about this over the past 20 years has been automatically interned in mental prisons and reported to the 'security services' though, so why are you allowed to talk about this now?

    um...all these wifi, smart arsed metres and these little blue triangle appearing on lamposts everywhere you look are starting to make much more sense now....don't worry Picard will save us, but we just have to wait/ hang on until next year.....

    1. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

      Smart meters and 5G

      TBH these are more scare tactics. The only major problem with 5G is the £xpen$e, downloading that film on Netflix may be "free" but go over your data limit and it will cost.

      In actual fact good old mundane inverse square law will mess up your day, I've had nothing but problems with 4G here due to the higher frequencies being more likely to be blocked/attenuated by windows and building materials.

      Smart meters actually work well most of the time though are known to cause phone interference when malfunctioning. For some reason this was missed from the rollout information.

      https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5467612

      I had to resort to measurements with my SDR to sort this out.

  29. Scorchio!!

    ICSS and other studies

    This is not new. Canadian neurosurgeons/neuroscientists tested brain function by physical stimulation of the cortex in the 1950s, Olds and Milner developed intracranial self stimulation (ICSS) in rats in the 1950s; rats pressed levers to stimulate the brain and this was found to be rewarding in itself. This was parodied in the Hitch hiker's guide to the galaxy in the 1970s. In the 80s and 90s research using sawtooth currents was used on the nucleus accumbens of male rats in the presence of female rats in oestrus, to measure levels of excitement before and after release into the female's half of the cage, and so on. In patients with Parkinsonism digital implants are now old hat and infinitely superior to the use of nerve growth factor (NGF). It is not new.

  30. JoeySter

    Unprepared

    The biggest problem with the growth of technology that if applied appropriately could completely subjugate freedom is that there's no absolute protection for free will at all.

    You might find that strange if you believe in things such as rights but the problem is all of those more and legal frameworks lack a solid foundation and can be overridden at will. Even if they has a foundation there's no stopping might makes right.

    We this with AI. We have a big problem because at what point do they earn rights? You might say at the point they feel.

    The problem is, no matter how advanced we make AI it's impossible to introduce feeling or prove that it exists. You can simulate human behaviour down to a tee but that's merely a simulation.

    The problem with this is that if theirs no way to give AI rights then the same applies to humans which are no more than naturally occurring misbehaving AI.

    If you consider how often politicians say that some kind of thinking is out dated and should have disappeared then you can consider that there is a very real desire to control the minds of the masses, a notion that's normalised, no one bats an eyelid when a politician says something like that but when everyone carries a mobile, then a headset, then a brain chip then we'd better make sure first what our governments intentions are.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Unprepared

      "The problem is, no matter how advanced we make AI it's impossible to introduce feeling or prove that it exists."

      Is there a formal disproof of this? Curious.

  31. Justin Clift

    BSides LV Video is now online

    Didn't see a link to the video itself in the article, but it seems to be online now:

    https://youtu.be/nEgb-BpYbRw?t=19257

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