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A mind reading device is almost ready

It’s hard to believe, but it seems that the world will soon cease to be the same. Everything that we saw in science fiction films and thought that this was pure invention – begins to come into our lives.

For example, the other day, an amazing article was published in the scientific journal Nature, judging by which humanity has come close to reading each other’s thoughts. And although the device is not yet ready for everyday use, everything goes to the fact that soon it will cease to be fiction. And although it may seem that the introduction is greatly exaggerated, in fact this is not so. So what is this device, and how does it work? Let’s get it right.

So, for starters, we need an ECoG device. It is almost like an EEG (when a “cap” with electrodes is put on the head), with the only difference being that the electrodes are placed directly on the cerebral cortex. To do this, you need to drill holes in the skull or make a trepanation. It sounds creepy, but this way the accuracy of measurements increases significantly. Using this device, scientists read brain waves during an experiment.

This is how the EEG looks. 
In ECoG, electrodes are connected directly to the brain, but we will not show it to you.

What was the essence of the experiment: before the start, four subjects were asked to read aloud or to themselves about 50 sentences, which consisted of a certain number of words. This was necessary in order for the algorithm that read brain waves to clearly understand and catch repeating words. Similar brain activity was perceived by the algorithm as a specific word. At this stage of the experiments, such a restriction is necessary, but in the future it, of course, will not be.

Based on the data obtained, the algorithm compiled graphs and translated them into computer-friendly machine code. Then this code was passed on and the system converted the data stream into ordinary words. Thus, the system was trained and compared the signals of brain waves with the words familiar to us.

This is what ECOG readings look like, which are then converted into a digital code

At the second stage of the experiment, when the algorithm was already trained in a certain set of words, the subject had to come up with a phrase using the same words and read them aloud or to himself.

Further, the system read and analyzed brain waves and produced the phrase that the subject was conceived. Agree, this is something fantastic!
True, it is worth noting that at first the error in the system was quite high, but over time it was able to significantly reduce. So, for example, in one of the 4 people who took part in the experiment, it was only 3%.

This is perhaps even higher than that of modern voice assistants. Another interesting observation was that the error depends on a particular person. Apparently, someone formulates their thoughts more clearly, while someone does not. How our brains and human thoughts work is still a mystery behind seven seals, but such experiments clearly push us closer to the answer.

In their report, scientists noted that similar systems existed before, but they were able to recognize only fragments of words, while their invention could cope with 50 sentences, albeit with a limited vocabulary. Since the system is based on artificial intelligence algorithms, over time, the vocabulary base will expand. Scientists also believe that they will be able to teach the system and words that were not previously learned by their algorithm. This will be possible by adding to the analysis of the laws of the English language.

Thus, today we already have a device that can read clearly formulated thoughts. But it is worth noting that for an accurate decoding, it is better for a person to pronounce words and sentences out loud. Apparently, in this way the brain is more focused on the phrase and delivers clearer signals that the ECoG device captures. Over time, the algorithms will probably learn the high efficiency of reading thoughts, even if they are not spoken aloud.

Today, the experiment has exclusively theoretical benefits, since its use involves connecting the electrodes directly to the brain, but over time, the sensitivity of devices and the development of algorithms based on artificial intelligence will overcome this obstacle. And the fact that today scientists have managed to read what we do not say out loud is truly fantastic!

PS Although you know what? If I were asked to come up with an incredible situation in which such a device could be used today, I would easily cope with such a task. Let’s imagine a person who was paralyzed as a result of a car accident or attack, but at the same time has important information that will help find the culprit or the culprit of the accident. He cannot move and speak, but his brain and hearing work fine. In this case, the use of such a device could well be useful, don’t you? However, there are other ways to learn something from a paralyzed person, but this will be a completely different story …

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Science & Technology

A picture from the Internet killed Samsung smartphones

The image from the network led to the breakdown of Samsung smartphones. The image was shared by an insider of Ice Universe on his Twitter.

“Never set this picture as wallpaper, especially on Samsung smartphones,” said the blogger, emphasizing that the image from the Internet can break the device. Despite the warning, Ice Universe made a link to the landscape with an image of a flooded island in the setting sun “for enthusiasts.”

Users of Samsung smartphones in the comments confirmed that the mysterious image can really “kill” the device. In particular, after setting the picture as wallpaper, the phone may reboot or turn off, which is fraught with data loss. The comments explained that the cause of the failure could be an incorrect color profile of the file that the system cannot process.

The author later clarified that Samsung was aware of the problem and had already released a special update. The blogger also published a landscape breaking smartphones on the Chinese Weibo service, noting that when loading the social network automatically changes the color profile of the picture.

Samsung device owners who set the image as wallpaper were advised to remove it through safe mode. If the device does not boot in the selected mode, then a clean installation of Android should be performed on the smartphone.

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Science & Technology

The first ever SpaceX rocket launch with crew will be shown online

May 27, 2020 may go down in the history of astronautics as the day when people first reached the orbit of the Earth on aircraft, fully developed by a private company and owned by it. Previously, without the participation of state organizations, people were only launched into suborbital flights.

The SpaceX-created by Elon Mask, a partially reusable heavy Falcon 9 booster rocket and the Crew Dragon passenger ship, should launch today from the launch site at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The task – to deliver to the International Space Station two NASA astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Benken.

Elon Musk tweeted a photograph of the launch site this early morning:

The live broadcast of the launch, which is tentatively scheduled for 16:33 by the east coast of the United States, can be viewed on the official NASA YouTube channel:

As confirmed by CBS News in the press service of the White House, President Donald Trump, despite the ongoing epidemic of COVID-19, decided to personally attend the historic launch and will arrive at Cape Canaveral. Last week, Trump said he was “thinking” about visiting the cosmodrome and added that he would gladly send journalists on a rocket into space to get rid of them for a while. 

True, the start may still be postponed due to bad weather. If the conditions prove to be unfavorable, it will be postponed to the 30th or 31st of May.

The first SpaceX passenger ship, the Crew Dragon, is an evolution of the Dragon transporter, which has recently made several deliveries to the ISS. In total, it can take on board up to 7 crew members, but this time only two will fly, and the rest of the space will be taken by cargo.

The interior of the ship reminds of sci-fi films, and touch screens are used for control, as in electric cars of another company Ilona Mask, Tesla.

The last time the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched its astronauts from the United States on an American spacecraft in July 2011. After the crash of the “space shuttle” Columbia in 2003, it was decided to gradually phase out the shuttle program and focus on developing a new ship that would also be suitable for traveling to the moon.

The first manned space flight, organized by a private company, took place back in 2004 – the SpaceShipOne rocket plane with pilot Brian Bonnie on board, reached a height of 100 km above the surface in a suborbital flight and successfully returned to Earth. For comparison, the altitude of the orbit of the ISS, where the Crew Dragon astronauts go, exceeds 400 km. 

SpaceShipOne was developed and launched by Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a joint venture between Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and engineer Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites.

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Science & Technology

Scientists have created a robotic eye that is completely similar to human

The developers plan to make it completely autonomous due to power from sunlight.

Scientists have created an artificial eye, the device of which almost completely copies the structure of the human organ of vision. Its diameter is about two centimeters, it has a retina made of nanowires and a lens for focusing light instead of the lens. The article describing the development was published by the scientific journal Nature.

We can see due to the fact that the light that enters the eyes passes inside them through the lens system and enters the photoreceptors in the retina. They convert particles of light into signals that are transmitted to the brain. Scientists have long been trying to reconstruct this complex system to create robots or in order to try to restore lost vision to people.

Another and relatively successful attempt to achieve this was made by scientists led by Zhiyong Fang of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The artificial eye that they created looks like a ball about two centimeters in diameter, filled with a fluid that conducts electric current. The eye of an adult is about the same size, inside it is also filled with a jelly-like liquid.

The device can see thanks to an artificial retina made of photosensitive nanowires. They are made on the basis of perovskite – a hybrid material, which due to its unique structure is now widely used in solar panels. Nanowires react to light and transmit a signal about it further like the photoreceptors of the human eye.

To test whether this eye can see, scientists projected images of several letters onto it. The device successfully recognized the letters I, E, and Y. However, while it creates an image of rather poor quality – about 100 pixels, compared with 120-140 megapixels of the human eye.

For operation, the device needs an external power source. However, scientists plan to make the artificial eye self-contained so that the device works like a small solar cell.

Among other plans of scientists – to check whether it is possible to subculture these nanowires to the human optical nerve. In addition, the developers hope to increase the quality of the picture to the level of the human eye and even surpass it by an order of magnitude.

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