Brain Hacking Is Having Incredible Effects And It's Just Getting Started. A Breakthrough in the Checkered History Of Brain Hacking. Our Brains Will Be Hacked, Tracked and Data-Mined. In the near future, companies, hell even the NSA, could be mining our brainwaves for data.
It’s bad enough the private details about our lives that are revealed in hoovered up emails and phone calls; imagine if Big Brother was literally reading our minds? That’s some dystopian shit. We're heading in that direction. Brainwave-tracking is becoming increasingly common in the consumer market, with the gaming industry at the forefront of the trend. “Neurogames” use brain-computer interfaces and electroencephalographic (EEG) gadgets like the Emotiv headset to read brain signals and map them to in-game actions, basically giving the player virtual psychic superpowers.
Now there’s a fear that we’re not doing enough to protect our raw thoughts from getting hacked with "brain spyware" or being tracked and gathered like the rest of our personal data. “We may wake up in a few years and say, ‘Oh, we should have done something. How can we stop this kind of invasive mining of our minds? Brain stimulation: The military’s mind-zapping project.
Shocking the brain with mild electrical current was once a controversial treatment for the mentally ill.
Now evidence is emerging that it could quicken learning and improve attention, and as Emma Young discovers, the US military is very interested in its potential. An unusual trial is underway at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio. An airman sits at a monitor in a laboratory, wired up with electrodes, his jacket slung over the back of his chair. Plane-shaped icons keep entering his airspace. He has to decide whether each incoming plane is a friend or a foe. The Wright-Patterson base is rich in aviation history. The aim of the trial today is to investigate whether stimulating the brain with a mild electrical current can improve the performance of military personnel. Trans-cranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been investigated as a possible treatment in healthcare for decades.
That’s why airmen are being tested today, watching for planes on a screen. Hackers backdoor the human brain, successfully extract sensitive data. With a chilling hint of the not-so-distant future, researchers at the Usenix Security conference have demonstrated a zero-day vulnerability in your brain.
Using a commercial off-the-shelf brain-computer interface, the researchers have shown that it’s possible to hack your brain, forcing you to reveal information that you’d rather keep secret. As we’ve covered in the past, a brain-computer interface is a two-part device: There’s the hardware — which is usually a headset (an EEG; an electroencephalograph) with sensors that rest on your scalp — and software, which processes your brain activity and tries to work out what you’re trying to do (turn left, double click, open box, etc.)
BCIs are generally used in a medical setting with very expensive equipment, but in the last few years cheaper, commercial offerings have emerged. For $200-300, you can buy an Emotiv (pictured above) or Neurosky BCI, go through a short training process, and begin mind controlling your computer. Scientists Hacked Monkey Brains to Electronically Control Their Decisions. While your brain should still be safe from hackers for some time yet, a new study, in which macaques had their choices controlled by electrical impulses, adds to a growing body of work that suggests brains can be manipulated with a surprising degree of precision.
The study, conducted by a joint team from KU Leuven in Belgium, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, consisted first of an A/B test in which macaques were shown a pair of images, and their preference for one or the other recorded. Some monkeys might prefer a picture of a ball, others a star, but in any case, the research team was able to glean a baseline preference for each individual. Then came the big test: Could electrical microstimulation affect the results? Indeed, by applying small, regular electrical impulses to the VTA, the team "was capable of selectively reinforcing and motivating behavior during operant and Pavlovian conditioning paradigms.
" Brain-Controlled Flight Is a Thing Now. As a kid, I had a short and ill-advised stint in the Air Cadets that left me with a bad haircut and the knowledge that I’ll never be a pilot, because flying a plane is really hard.
Mind-controlled flight could change that, and in fact make it easier to pilot an airplane by using only your brain. Researchers at the Technische Univerität München (TUM) recently demonstrated how pilots can control a plane with just their thoughts. They hooked seven subjects up to EEG headsets—a device that measures electrical currents in the brain and maps them to a control output—and ran them through a flight simulation.
The headsets allowed the subjects to control the simulation by merely thinking flight commands, and with a high degree of accuracy—including one person who had no flight experience at all. Electroencephalography often gets confused with mind control. EEG has been used to enable people without the use of their limbs to paint and type again, and now scientists want to do the same with flight.