Mind Reading, here’s the thing. It’s impossible. We need to distinguish between 2 different kinds of “Impossible”. Phillosophers use the worD impossible in 2 ways. There’s “Physical Impossiblity” and “Logical impossibility”. Physically impossible is things like bench pressing an aircraft carrier or leaping a buildin in a single jump. But logical impossibility is a stronger impossible, things that are logically impossible contain a contradiction, like square circle or married bachelor, things that are impossible by definition alone. Physcially impossible things don’t happen, while logically impossible things CANNOT happen, no matter what. in a way, logically impossible things don’t even make sense, like what would a square tirangle even be, that’s just nonsense, the words dont mean anything. Mind-reading is LOGICALLY impossible, it CANNOT happen, and here’s why. So I have thoughts and you have thoughts, and they’re seperate. But your thoughts don’t have any special feature that marks them out as being yours, except for the fact that you are the only person having them. Your thoughts are a different color, flavor or size, the only way we tell them apart is that your thoughts are had by you and my thoughts are had by me. If I were to read your thoughts you’d not longer be the only person having, i.e they would lose the only feature that makes them yours in the first place. So in reading your thoughts, I would make them not your thoughts, so I can’t be reading your thoughts, so we have a contradiction, so mind reading must be impossible. So we’ve shown that mind reading is logically impossible, but that doesnt necessarily mean you can’t tell what other people are thinking. You tell what they’re thiniikng all the time, by looking at their faces or their behavior. If scientists built a brain scanner and knew which neurons correlated with which thoughts they could scan your brains and say “these neurons here are acting up and they’re always associated with x, so they must be thinking about x”. Maybe you could build a computer that would decode your brain activity into words and then send those words to someone else, like an ESP SMS. But that’s not reading someone’s mind, the brain is not the mind, the brain is part of your body, that’s just a really a very sophisticated version of reading body language, brain patterns are still body. Your thoughts are what philosophers call “logically private”, no matter what, they will only ever be directly accessible by you. So mind reading is impossible, it would be better to call it “Mind sharing instead”, because when we read each other’s thoughts we are actually sharing our extended mind. According to David Chalmer’s extended mind thesis, your brain would become part of my extended mind and vice versa
In the sci fi movie “Extracted”, scientists develop a device that allows them to peer into the minds of criminals. Our minds store our entire lives, our memories, our talents, our deepedst desires. Tell no one, and our thoughts remain our own. But that might be about to change. Our brains are biological computers vulnerable to data theft, computer hackers can read our email, brain hackerds mauy some day read our minds, and even rewrite our thoughts. Can our minds be hacked? We live in a world of data, we all know how vital it is to protect our personal information, but what if hackers learned to tamper with our most precious store of data, the contents of our minds, can the brain be hacked like a computer? The data in our brain is not stored as simple ones and zeros, hacking into our thoughts requires decoding the logic of our neurons. Science, is getting close to achieving that goal. One day soon, our inner most thoughts may no longer be our own. Some neuroscientists are already translating the language of the brain into plain english. Neuroscientist Jack Galant is on a mission to translate the flurry of activity inside our heads into plain english. You might say, he’s writing the book of it. You can think of each part of the brain as translating between the world and whatever the brain activity is in that part of the brain, so there’s some sort of language you can think of that’s going to mediate between the world and the brain, and if you had some sort of language you can think of that’s going to mediate between the world and the brain, and if you had a list of all the things that related the world to the brain you’d essentially hadve a dictionary, the first brain dictionary Jack set out to build was for the language of sight. There are 50 to 70 arreas of the brain devoted to vision, so there’s 50-70 different dictionaries we’re gonna have to build, one for each region of the brain, it’s gonna be a big dictionary because the number of things you can see in the world is a really really large number. To build a brain dictionary, Jack and his colleagues, Shinji Nishimoto and Alex Hoove use an fMRI scanner to measure exactly how the brain respondes to a long series of video clips. So he has a viewr that allos him to visualize the brain while the movie plays. We must understand what the relationship is between each individual point in this brain and these movies. but as they compile thousands of scans of brains reacting to thosands of frames of video, Jack and his team found that certain objects triggered predictable patterns of blood flow and they began to build a dictionary of objects in the world defined as particular patterns of blood flow in the brain. Once we have this world brain dictionary, we can take it and run it backwards and create a brain world dictionary. To test that dictionary, they send the test subjects back to the fMRI to watch movies, except this time they don’t see what the subjects sees, Jack and his team have to guess using only the raw data from the brain scans and an advanced computer algorithm. So there’s probably say 10,000 points on the brain, 5000 used in this model and each point in the brain has a predicted brain activity that it generates when you stick an image throguh it, then we add information accross all those 10,000 points to come up with the best prediction. This is the image that only the subject could see, these are the top chouices the computer selects from the brain world dictionary, and this is the composite average. No matter what the subject sees in the world, the brain world dictionary can produce a rough copy. But this algorithm does more than just guessnwhat images people are watching, it can also guess what they are thinking about those images. Here’es the movie the subjects saw and on the right you can see 2000 nouns and verbs, the size of the word indicates the probability of the concept appearing in the video at that time. These are accurate semantic decodings, Jack’s team has built a dictionary of 2000 emotionally neutral concepts people might think when they watch their series of video, calibrating their computers to decode more personal meanings is only a matter of time and increasing the level of detail in the brain scans. We’re constantly suprised by how much information we can recover since the measurements we’re taking of the brain are really primitive, it raises a caution flag that i think we’re gonna have to deal with these eethical issues involving brain decoding sooner rather than later because we don’t know how fast this tech is gonna progress. What will it be used for and how can it be used?
Our story begins In California in the late 90s, where a group of scientists got a group of cats to watch a movie. The cats had electrodes attached to the visual areas of their brains. The researchers saw how the cats experienced the outside world by hacking into and recording what their brain cells were communicating. With these bits of informations they rebuilt iumages from the movies as seen by the cats. In this case, tree trunks, branches, and a man’s face. Understanding how our brains encode inforation and how it can crack the code, could make super powers like telepathy a reality. While it seems like science fiction, telepathy or mind reading has a scientific name “Brain to Brain communication”. But it’s not directly brain to brain, between the thoughts there is a brain computer interface that decodes our thoughts then communicates and encodes them into another brain. In one study people’s thoughts were able to control the movement of a rat’s tail. A human participant and a rat’s brain were both connected to a brain computer interface. When the participant thought about moving the rat’s tail, their intentions were captured by the computer, converted to electrical pulses and delivered to the motor cortex of the rat, and the tail flickered. A recent study achieved brain to brain communication between humans for the first time. A message was encoded by the sender while an EEG recorded their brain’s electrical activity. The message was emailed from India to france and was delivered to the reciever’s brain using magnetic stimulation and flashes of light. all this for a message that was a one word email, “hello”. It does show that brain to brain communication is possible, right now it just involves a computer, fancy apparatus, and a really slow transmission speeds. Its clunky compared to the elegant telepathy of Jedi minds. Telephathy doesn’t quite exist as it would in hollywood. But advances in tehcnology are bringing it closer to reality. We still need a computer interface between our brains, so it’s not as cool as star wars. If you could wear tech and communicate with a thought rather than using texts messages and speech or emotions, would you? Just when you thought you had even the tiniest bit of privacy, scientists are trying to see inside your brain. In 2012 at Berkely, Using functional MRI imaging, which is basically just a fancy MRI, a team a t Berkely has come up with a system that can capture the images our brains are seeing as we’re thinking them. Here’s what they did. Bascially, They stuck somebody in the fMRI for a very long time and showed them movie trailers, the person watched the movie trailers while they recorded all the activity of their brain. This information was fed into a crazy computer program that compares brain waves with the images that the brain was seeing, and then using that information is able to decode brain waves back into images, and then voila, the contents of your brain uploaded to youtube. And I mean this literally, they actually uploaded it to youtube. This is the video from the berkely lab, the images on the left are movie quotes that the subject was given to watch and the garbled colored stuff on the right represent the reconstructions of what the computer THINKS the people were seeing, based on the electronic pulses from their brain was making as they watched the clips. Now check this out. the picture in the top left corner is what the subjects were shown, scientists recorded how their brain waves responeded to those images and then applied those patterns against an enormous batch of totally random youtube clips that the subject had not seen. The computer then gave its closest guesses about what the person was watching, and that’s what you see in the 3 rows down. You should be freaked out, scientists are now peering into our brain and reconstruct the visual images of what we are thinking as we think them. And this is just the first attempt, we won’t be reading each others minds with this tech anytime in the next few years, but the scientists who developed it think we’re only 20 years away from being able to record our own dreams and then watch them when they’re awake. Something I’d really like to do to my dog so I know what he’s chasing. But of course, the primary use of this technology will be to communicate with people who’ve had strokes, in comas, and others medical applications. We live in a world where you can lose your job or have your friends and family savagely beaten just for sharing an image on facebook. Imagine what will happen when they can peer into your minds. Hopefully we will use this technology to understand each other rather than nitpick things to be offended about. Scientists in Japan 2016 are developing technology that will allow them to see inside your mind. And actually reproduce what youn are thinking onto a screen before you act. Science ficiton is gradually becoming reality. Previously scientists have been able to using MRI scans to read lies in a person’s brain, and also emotional states. but now we can read individual images and letters of the alphabet as you watch them. Within 10 years, we may have a dictionary of thought. Certain brain patterns correspond to certain thoughts, a dictionary of thinking. In Japan they’re saying they show individuals certain images and then detect their blood flow to see what they’re thinking. To do this the MRI scan picks up chemicals that are inside the blood, so as you think about something, blood concentrates in certain areas and computers can recognize that pattern and tell you what you’re thinking. The implications are enourmous. Think Minority report. think Guantanamo bay, the question oif interrogating terrosists, we can now think about reading a terrorist’s mind without using coercive tactics. Or think of the scandals on wall street where ponzi scemes rip off billions in assets. We’ll be able to look inside a person’s brain, perhaps even in a decade or two, to decipher lies, emotional states, and perhaps even individual ideas. This is different from a lie detector, which only measures stress and is incredibly inaccurate to the point where they are useless. They only measure sweating skin, increased pulse rate, increase breathing rate, you can fake that, pathological liars can fake stress. But thinking, you can’t fake that, because if you tell a lie you have to know both the truth and cover up, all of that can be measured by blood flow in the brain. A dictionary of thought, a one to one pattern between certain patterns of the brain, corresponding to the accumulation of blood and certain emotional states, certain letters of the alphabet, even certain words and ideas that circulate within the brain, all of that looks at blood flow in the brain, because blood flow corresponds to electrical activity and thought. BUT we still have to make the resolution oif the MRI scan even better, right now one dot on a MRI scan may correspond to a million neurons, however the word “the” may correspond to a few hundred neurons, so we need more resolution to get 100 neurons rather than a million neurons per pixel on the screen. Researchers in 2013 at the stanford university school of medicine figured out how to read signals from the brain to find out what people are thinking of the right answers to simple math problems in their heads. There’s a part of the brain called the intraparietal Sulcus. It’s a crucial bit for attention and hand-eye motion, previous studies pointed to it being useful in numerocity, which is like literacy but for math. Using a technique called “Intracranial recording”, allowed the researchers to monitor subjects as they sat at a laptop answering true or false questions and questions that require simple calculations like does 2+2 = 5 and recorded the intraparietal sulcus’ activity. Then they looked at the data and were able to pinpoint when the patient was thinking about a math question, not just doing calculations, but thinking about quantitative stuff, like “many” or “this is more than”, and the intraparietal sulcus did not fire during any other thoughts, leading the researchers to believe that a lot of specific types of thought could be traced to very specific parts of the brain. Ok so it’s not reading your innermost deepest secrets, and its not exactly something thats done easily either. Intracranial recording 2 step insulation process begins with removing a portion of the skull and ends with placing electrodes against the exposed parts of the brain. But its a very important first step, and a potentially very useful one. The more we can pinpoint types of thought to different parts of the brain, the closer we get to actual thought reading. And just in this simple state, a patient suffering from limited ability to speak, stroke paralysis, etc. could potentially communicate their needs to a medical staff or loved ones, using intracranial recordings. This is a very big baby step. Another was earlier in 2013 in cornell, they used an fMRI to do a similar experiment. They gave their subjects details about the personality traits of 4 imaginary people and monitored the brain activity the descriptions caused. Then they asked each subject to imagine having a conversation with any of the 4 people at random, and they could accurately predict which imaginary friend they were thinking about everytime, just based on patterns of activity in the prefrontal cortex. And just this month, Chicago university researchers were able to attach a robotic arm to rhesus monkeys that actually sent signals back to their brains to simulate a sense of touch. 2 way brain communication is becoming a thing here people. It is amazing.
So we’ve established that the mind can be stored outside the brain via Extended Mind thesis, We’ve also proven that Mind-Sharing is true rather than mind reading. So if We put our thoughts out there for everyone to read, will we all read each others thoughts? And if so, our thoughts would cease to be ours and we would share our brain with others. What will this mean for global intelligence? Will we Become a hive mind, well, we’ll discuss that tomorrow with borganisms.