A team of scientists at the University of Texas recently developed an artificial intelligence-based decoder that can read thoughts without the need for surgery.
The decoder works with fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans and uses AI modeling to reconstruct individuals' thoughts. The potential applications of the device are broad, ranging from restoring speech for patients with stroke or motor neuron disease to understanding neuropsychiatric disorders or autism spectrum disorders.
The researchers worked with three volunteers, who listened to podcasts for 16 hours in an fMRI scanner. During this time, the decoder associated each individual's brain activity with the meaning of what was heard using the GPT-1 AI model. The same participants were then scanned while listening to a new story or imagining one, and the decoder was used to generate text from the brain activity alone. In half the cases, the resulting text was very close to the original meaning of the words. The decoder was also used to accurately describe parts of silent videos that the volunteers watched during the test.
Ethical improvements and risks
Although the device shows great promise, several improvements are still needed. For example, the decoder had difficulty with certain elements of language, such as pronouns. In addition, the system was designed for a specific person, requiring a different configuration for each individual. The researchers also warned of some ethical risks, especially in terms of using the technology for malicious purposes. They said they are working to avoid this and ensure that the use of this technology is always beneficial to the individuals involved.
Ultimately, this advance in neuroscience and artificial intelligence raises important questions about the technological capabilities and unexplored potential of science. While some improvements are still needed to fully realize the potential of this technology, this innovation could radically change the way we interact with the world around us.
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