'Reading' Through Human Thoughts, AI Did It

‘Reading’ Through Human Thoughts, AI Did It

'Reading' through human thoughts, AI did it - Photo 1.

MRI uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to capture detailed images of the brain – Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

This discovery allows researchers at the University of Texas at Austin to “read” someone’s mind as a continuous stream of text, based on what they are hearing, imagining or watching.

Participants in the University of Texas study were asked to listen to audiobooks for 16 hours while inside a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner.

At the same time, a computer “learned” to associate the MRI machine’s brain activity with what they were hearing.

Once trained, the decoder can generate text from someone’s thoughts while listening to a new story or imagining a story of its own.

According to the researchers, the process is laborious and, at first, the computer can only capture the essence of what someone is thinking.

However, these discoveries still represent an important advance in the field of brain-machine interfaces.

Here is an example of what one of the study participants heard from an audiobook:

“I got up off the air mattress and pressed my face against the glass of my bedroom window, expecting to see eyes staring back at me, but instead I saw only darkness.”

And here is what the computer “reads” from the person’s brain activity:

“I kept going to the window and opened the window. I tiptoed over, couldn’t see anything and looked up again, couldn’t see anything.”

Researchers have been working for decades on brain-machine interfaces that can recognize someone’s thoughts and turn them into text or images. But too often, studies focus on medical implants, with a focus on helping people with disabilities speak for themselves.

Neuralink, the neurotechnology company founded by billionaire Elon Musk, is also developing a medical implant that could “allow you to control your computer or mobile device from anywhere”. But users have to have surgery to implant the device in the brain, and that’s a barrier.

Meanwhile, the new technology does not require invasive surgery, but its price is quite high. MRI machines alone currently cost between $150,000 and $1 million.

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TTCT – Great community participation in artificial intelligence experiments can help “unlock” potential AI applications and capabilities that researchers never thought of or discovered before.

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Written by Esme Dominguez

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