[ExI] Future Movie Quality Benchmarks?

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Sun Jun 5 20:26:18 UTC 2011

On Mon, May 30, 2011 at 1:18 PM, Brent Allsop
<brent.allsop at canonizer.com> wrote:
> I also originally asked for when people think we'll start interfacing
> directly with  neurons.  I'm sure we are making much more progress in this
> area than most of us hear about.  You occasionally hear rumors of artificial
> cochleas, artificial retinas, and they occasionally  the direct stimulation
> of the primary visual cortex.  (Which last I heard only produces 'sprites'
> or sparks of white light that can be organized in a very low resolution 2D
> image.)
> How much progress are we making with this?

Little, but not none.  The two main problems I see are:

1) Researchers keep trying to skip on the number and density
of electrodes.  A 100*100 display is not a 1680*1050 display
(either for outputting to neurons - say, the retina - or reading from
neurons), and the time and money people keep spending trying to
make the former into the latter could instead be spent just using
the latter and getting better results.

2) It's one thing to do sensory I/O, and great results can be had
from just that.  A lot of what sci-fi authors have envisioned
requires a deeper connection, figuring out where memory sits
and how to read images that are being visualized.  Most likely,
this kind of interface will require training to use - when much of
the desire is for a way to gain some skill or capability without
training time.  (Sure, one could in theory upload the training
directly - but it will have to mesh with every individual's slightly
unique brain map.  Automating that will inevitably come hand in
hand with advances in artificial intelligence; whether it yields or
requires depends on which comes first.)

> How do you follow this field
> better, and how much longer before direct neural stimulation becomes common
> place, or something someone that wasn't blind, for example, might be
> interested in?

"Wasn't blind, deaf, paralyzed, etc." - there's more than just
sight that's being stimulated.

But outside of that, the best currently available products for the
general public are "biofeedback": extremely limited outputs from
the brain, limited mainly because they do not pierce the skin.
(Neurosky is perhaps the best example of this.)

Part of the problem is, almost anyone with the skill and
equipment to do direct neural stimulation is scared away* from cases
where they can't absolutely establish medical
necessity, such as for the blind et al.  The few people who aren't,
don't know how to scale it up - that is, how to consider
requirements and desires of a large portion of the general public,
which you'd need to make a business of it and start doing this
for any significant number of people.

* Not entirely without reason, and only some of those reasons
are legal.  But the reasons can be overcome; many of them
vanish entirely if you have fully informed, consenting customers
(and don't refer to or think of them as "patients") and automate
most of the installation.

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