Science Faction *

(*OMG! Did I just use that awful portmanteau word “faction”? Shoot me now!)

This news, hot off the Japanese press:

Images read from human brain

From The Yomiuri Shimbun

OSAKA–In a world first, a research group in Kyoto Prefecture has succeeded in processing and displaying optically received images directly from the human brain.

The group of researchers at Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, including Yukiyasu Kamitani and Yoichi Miyawaki, from its NeuroInformatics Department, said about 100 million images can be read, adding that dreams as well as mental images are likely to be visualized in the future in the same manner.

The research group… measured the visual cortexes of the two people who were looking at the word “neuron” and five geometric figures such as a square and a cross. Based on the stored brain patterns, the research group analyzed the brain activities and reconstructed the images of Roman letters and other figures, succeeding in recreating optically received images.

Am I the only person getting flashbacks to Kathryn Bigelow’s oft-forgotten classic Strange Days? Surely not.

As I recall, the original inspiration for the movie’s Maguffin – the S.Q.U.I.D. mind-reading device – came from Producer James Cameron’s brother who used to work for DARPA, where they’ve been tested as possible control systems for fighter-planes.

And wasn’t that something they cribbed off the Clint Eastwood movie Firefox? Am I the only one here old enough to remember that flick? Meh – whatevs.

Anyhoo, today’s strangely thrilling news got me thinking of all the other awesome bits of futurology that James Cameron has given us.  The news has been full of snippets in the last few months.   So here’s a slightly different “Here’s is the News” posting.

The oxygenated perfluorocarbon that’s breathed in The Abyss is old-news, but recent footage of an unusual benthic creature is worthy of a flashback to that movie.

from National Geographic:

A mile and a half underwater, a remote control submersible’s camera has captured an eerie surprise: an alien-like, long-armed, and—strangest of all—”elbowed” Magnapinna squid.

In a brief video from the dive recently obtained by National Geographic News, one of the rarely seen squid loiters above the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico on November 11, 2007.

And now, in strange homage to one of the greatest movies ever made, here’s a company called Cyberdyne, making a robot suit called HAL – I kid you not.

That’s 2 classic movies for the price of one.


CYBERDYNE Inc. is a venture firm aiming to utilize accomplishments by Prof. Sankai and his laboratory at University of Tsukuba.


We strongly believe that technologies should be designed for the benefits of humankind. We will be focusing on strong R&D and will introduce very new products and services to the society.

Benefit of humankind? That’s so reassuring…

And if that’s not enough of a Terminator moment for you, how about Skynet going online? It’s around this point in the article that I’ll leave you for a moment and go make myself a tinfoil helmet.

from BBC news

Final Skynet satellite launched

An advanced satellite that will improve greatly the ability of UK military forces to communicate around the globe has been launched into space.

“Skynet 5 is about two-and-a-half-times more capable than the previous system, and it also gives us the ability to use not just voice communication but also data communication,” explains Patrick Wood from spacecraft manufacturer EADS Astrium. “So, computers can talk directly to computers…”

The spacecraft have also been “hardened” to withstand any interference – attempts to disable or take control of the satellites – and any efforts to eavesdrop on their sensitive communications.

Yeah, I edit for dramatic effect, but… come on!

So, when these computers are talking with other computers, who will they be relaying their binary orders to?

These guys, of course!

From New Scientist:

‘Robot arms race’ underway, expert warns

Governments around the world are rushing to develop military robots capable of killing autonomously without considering the legal and moral implications, warns a leading roboticist. But another robotics expert argues that robotic soldiers could perhaps be made more ethical than human ones.


Over 4000 semi-autonomous robots are already deployed by the US in Iraq, says Sharkey, and other countries – including several European nations, Canada, South Korea, South Africa, Singapore and Israel – are developing similar technologies.

In December 2007, the US Department of Defense (DoD) published an “Unmanned systems roadmap” proposing to spend about $4 billion by 2010 on robotic weapons, a figure that will later rising to about $24 bn.

But never fear! There’s someone aboard the International Space Station who can protect us. A real hero who’ll go the distance for his friends. In fact, a bit past that distance. All the way to infinity, and then a bit…


~ by mchawk on 13 December, 2008.

One Response to “Science Faction *”

  1. Love all your weird and wonderful connections- just what I like to do sometimes!! Intriguing that brain imagery thing- like the neuro people in Australia who have got artificial eyes working a bit already… great translation of analog info to digital and modulated and things and stuff… I was always fascinated by the differences in the ways the ears vs. the eyes translated analog environmental info into digital and back again via their specialised receptors and the brain…blah blah blah

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