RE: mind reading computers
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A computer can, in a very real sense, read human minds. Although the dot's gyrations are directed by a computer, the machine was only carrying out the orders of the test subject.
The computer mind-reading technique is far more than a laboratory stunt. Though computers can solve extraordinarily complex problems with incredible speed, the information they digest is fed to them by such slow, cumbersome tools as typewriter keyboards or punched tapes.
The key to his scheme: the electroencephalograph, a device used by medical researchers to pick up electrical currents from various parts of the brain. If we could learn to identify brain waves generated by specific thoughts or commands, we might be able to teach the same skill to a computer. The machine might even be able to react to those
commands by, say, moving a dot across a TV screen
. So far the S.R.I, computer has been taught to recognize seven different commands—up, down, left, right, slow, fast and stop.
People express their mental states, including emotions, thoughts, and desires, all the time through facial expressions, vocal nuances and gestures. This is true even when they are interacting with machines. Our mental states shape the decisions that we make, govern how we communicate with others, and affect our performance. The ability to attribute mental states to others from their behavior and to use that knowledge to guide our own actions and predict those of others is known as theory of mind or mind-reading.
Existing human-computer interfaces are mind-blind — oblivious to the user’s mental states and intentions. A computer may wait indefinitely for input from a user who is no longer there, or decide to do irrelevant tasks while a user is frantically working towards an imminent deadline. As a result, existing computer technologies often frustrate the user, have little persuasive power and cannot initiate interactions with the user. Even if they do take the initiative, like the now retired Microsoft Paperclip, they are often misguided and irrelevant, and simply frustrate the user. With the increasing complexity of computer technologies and the ubiquity of mobile and wearable devices, there is a need for machines that are aware of the user’s mental state and that adaptively respond to these mental states.
What is mind reading?
A computational model of mind-reading
Drawing inspiration from psychology, computer vision and machine learning, the team in the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge has developed mind-reading machines — computers that implement a computational model of mind-reading to infer mental states of people from their facial signals. The goal is to enhance human-computer interaction through empathic responses, to improve the productivity of the user and to enable applications to initiate interactions with and on behalf of the user, without waiting for explicit input from that user. There are difficult challenges:
Processing stages in the mind-reading system
Using a digital video camera, the mind-reading computer system analyzes a person’s facial expressions in real time and infers that person’s underlying mental state, such as whether he or she is agreeing or disagreeing, interested or bored, thinking or confused.
Prior knowledge of how particular mental states are expressed in the face is combined with analysis of facial expressions and head gestures occurring in real time. The model represents these at different granularities, starting with face and head movements and building those in time and in space to form a clearer model of what mental state is being represented. Software from Nevenvision identifies 24 feature points on the face and tracks them in real time. Movement, shape and colour are then analyzed to identify gestures like a smile or eyebrows being raised. Combinations of these occurring over time indicate mental states. For example, a combination of a head nod, with a smile and eyebrows raised might mean interest. The relationship between observable head and facial displays and the corresponding hidden mental states over time is modeled using Dynamic Bayesian Networks.
Why mind reading?
The mind-reading computer system presents information about your mental state as easily as a keyboard and mouse present text and commands. Imagine a future where we are surrounded with mobile phones, cars and online services that can read our minds and react to our moods. How would that change our use of technology and our lives? We are working with a major car manufacturer to implement this system in cars to detect driver mental states such as drowsiness, distraction and anger.
Current projects in Cambridge are considering further inputs such as body posture and gestures to improve the inference. We can then use the same models to control the animation of cartoon avatars. We are also looking at the use of mind-reading to support on-line shopping and learning systems.
The mind-reading computer system may also be used to monitor and suggest improvements in human-human interaction. The Affective Computing Group at the MIT Media Laboratory is developing an emotional-social intelligence prosthesis that explores new technologies to augment and improve people’s social interactions and communication skills.
How does it work?
The mind reading actually involves measuring the volume and oxygen level of the blood around the subject's brain, using technology called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS).