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A Mind-Reading Technology – Answer to Help Paralyzed Patients?

a cartoon of a paralyzed man who is using mind-reading technology with a robot trying to understand the text in a paper
This bold idea is a breakthrough in the medical field, but the “mind-reading technology” machine could unwittingly give people’s secrets away.

Scientists Make Advancements in “Mind Reading” Technology

A mind reading technology emerges, would you allow a machine to read your mind?

Researchers from the University of California have developed a machine that is said to be capable of reading minds. The device works by interpreting consonants and vowels in the human brain and displaying it as text.

David Moses, who leads the team of researchers, says the machine is 90% accurate. The team hopes that their technology will be able to help paralyzed patients, as well as those who suffered various conditions where they are unable to move or speak.

Artificial Intelligence and Neural Signals

The research was published in the Journal of Neural Engineering. The machines works by reading electrodes which have been implanted in the brain. The system is connected to a computer which translates the electrical signals which are later interpreted and appear as words in the computer screen.

Moses was quoted in an interview with the Sun: “The machine registers and analyses the combination of vowels and consonants that we use when constructing a sentence in our brains. It interprets these sentences based on neural signals and can translate them into text in real time.”

Apart from predictive text, the machine also uses highly advanced artificial intelligence (AI) allows it to interpret words that are not in its database.

“No published work has demonstrated real-time classification of sentences from neural signals. Given the performance exhibited by [the machine] in this work and its capacity for expansion, we are confident in its ability to serve as a platform for the proposed speech prosthetic device,” Moses said in the same article.

Stephen Hawking’s Awesome Machine

The closest working example to a “mind reading machine” was the system used by the late physicist Stephen Hawking to communicate. Although it did not really read his mind, it relied on predictive text and the slightest cheek movements to come up with a series of words.

Prof. Hawking, considered as one of the most brilliant minds of this century, was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, more popularly known in the US as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

His speech system was developed by Intel and the company had released it as an open-source code in the hope that it can be modified and expanded to assist patients with other disabilities.

Hawking’s machine is composed of three parts. There’s the input from an infrared sensor or webcam that reads and detects the slightest facial movements. The developers initially tried to use eye movements but it didn’t work since Hawking’s eyes were already droopy. Then there’s the interface that chooses and predicts letters to form words, and finally, the auto-complete software that predicts what he is typing.

The professor then uses a separate synthesizer to lend a voice to his words. This was how he was able to give interviews, lectures, and even talks during conventions and gatherings.

The new machine developed at the University of California appears to be more advanced since it directly taps into brain electrodes. It could also be enhanced further and hooked to a synthesizer to add a voice to the words read from the patient’s brain.

While the bold idea is seen as a breakthrough in the medical field where it could have a myriad of applications, the downside is that the “mind reading technology” machine could unwittingly give people’s secrets away.

Let’s hope privacy issues don’t get in the way of bold innovations.

Laying the Groundwork for the City of the Future

Over 3,500 participants, 50 speakers and 257 exhibitors attended the recently concluded Synapse Innovation Summit 2018 at the Amalie Arena in Downtown Tampa on March 28 and 29. The event successfully brought together innovators, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and influencers to reinvigorate and connect Tampa Bay’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Markedly, the area is being primed to become a central hub for innovation and technology over the next 20 years. The ultimate goal is to make Tampa Bay America’s new Silicon Valley—a place where startups go because of a well-developed virtual support system for businesses big and small.

The Synapse Innovation Summit 2018 included 15 hours of programs and 55 breakout sessions where participants eagerly interacted with speakers and industry thought leaders. Attendees also connected with fellow entrepreneurs to share experiences and find out how they can come together to help the cause.

Synapse—which brought about the recent Synapse Innovation Summit 2018 —is led by a number of respected entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial service providers, and investors from Tampa Bay. Synapse wants to connect what they refer to as eight personas: investors, entrepreneurs, talents, educational institutions, innovation enablers, entrepreneur support organizations, corporations and the government. Through Synapse’s online platform, these key personas can log in and identify attributes or elements regarding their skills and experiences, as well as what their goals are and how they want to make them a reality.

The bold idea found in the Synapse Innovation Summit 2018 offers startups and entrepreneurs the ability to find the people and companies, mentors and talent, all within one integrated circle.

On Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay is on its way to becoming the city of the future. It is poised for a massive uplift thanks to a $3 billion project spearheaded by Bill Gates and local businessman Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In a recent interview with Bold Business, Vinik stressed that the challenge is to bridge the gap and bring innovation to a higher level. “The Tampa Bay region is going to be the fastest-growing area of the country in the next 20 years,” he said, adding that Tampa can lead Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in five to 10 years.

In addition, Arnie Bellini, CEO of Tampa-based Connectwise said Synapse “would become a tipping point for connecting all that needs to be connected here in Tampa Bay and hopefully Florida to create the next Silicon Valley”. Also, Mayor Bob Buckhorn believes that bringing together all the components will create a magical mix that will drive Tampa’s economy.

“This is our future. Synapse represents for me what Tampa’s next chapter looks like,” Buckhorn said.

Developments and Innovations

Tampa Bay already has plenty of these two ingredients: an entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of community. The enthusiasm and eagerness of the business community are matched by the willingness of established businesses to share knowledge and create the infrastructure that will help startups grow.

For Tampa, transportation is a key player and companies along with the government are working hard on a solution. Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of Hyperloop Technologies, talked about the promising future of transportation in the area. The multi-million dollar company is turning the idea of ‘traveling in tubes at the speed of sound’ a reality. The technology is powered by magnets and sunlight and will radically change how people travel over the next few years. “We’re in 2018. We have a lot of technology. We are innovating daily. I feel that entrepreneurship can bring a lot of these solutions,” Ahlborn said.

Synapse spokesman Cesar Hernandez added that there have been exploratory talks on having a Hyperloop system built in Tampa, but they would need to look at the feasibility of such a massive project.

Synapse Innovation Summit 2018 — Stronger Networks, Closer Ties

Having concluded its second year, Synapse is drumming even more support from the business community. Sara Margulis, CEO, and Co-Founder of Honeyfund said the event was “an amazing opportunity to network and hear about all of the efforts and all of the different organizations and groups that are contributing to a really burgeoning technology scene here”.

Indeed, the event brought together people from various backgrounds to create a living, breathing ecosystem for business in Tampa and ultimately all of Florida. “I’m really excited to see this much effort and this many people in one place all focused on entrepreneurship and technology,” said Kasra Moshkani, General Manager Southeast U.S. region for Uber Technologies.

In truth, the annual Synapse Innovation Summit continually kicks off its bold advocacy of empowering Tampa’s innovation ecosystem and ensuring the future of its business community. And Tampa Bay’s potential of becoming the next silicon valley will continue to be worked on a daily basis going forward.