DARPA’s Mentats: EEG Data Used for Threat Detection

September 20th, 2012

During a recent email conversation about a related technology with a friend of mine, who, shall we say, knows more than a little about this subject, he wrote something that you might find interesting:

Interesting approach. It sounds like they’ve given up on computers processing images and instead they’re trying to create a mentat. Maybe they should try giving the guy some spice and see if his performance improves?

This is kind of interesting because in the Dune series the mentats were created because the empire couldn’t trust AI machines. The AI machines almost took over during this war called the Butlerian Jihad. After that, they said forget this we’re going to just improve human calculating ability to the point where it can compete with a computer. So, they used the drug called spice to create the mentat. At that point, they didn’t have to rely on AI computers anymore. The mentat could do the same thing and was more controllable.

I wonder if the current empire is thinking along the same lines. Eventually there will be no humans on the battlefield. The DoD has a goal to do that by 2034. Everyone will be remote controlling robots or drones. But the problem with using a normal human pilot is there will still be a 1-to-1 ratio between robots and humans. What they really need is a mentat that can guide a thousand robots simultaneously. Then it won’t be the 0.01% that rule the world, it’ll just be one power-mad PHB with his bunker full of mentats controlling semi-automated swarms of drones. What a paradise that sounds like.

Have a nice day!

Via: ExtremeTech:

After more than four years of research, DARPA has created a system that successfully combines soldiers, EEG brainwave scanners, 120-megapixel cameras, and multiple computers running cognitive visual processing algorithms into a cybernetic hivemind. Called the Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (CT2WS), it will be used in a combat setting to significantly improve the US Army’s threat detection capabilities.

There are two discrete parts to the system: The 120-megapixel camera, which is tripod-mounted and looks over the battlefield (pictured below); and the computer system, where a soldier sits in front of a computer monitor with an EEG strapped to his head (pictured above). Images from the camera are fed into the computer system, which runs cognitive visual processing algorithms to detect possible threats (enemy combatants, sniper nests, IEDs). These possible threats are then shown to a soldier whose brain then works out if they’re real threats — or a false alarm (a tree branch, a shadow thrown by an overheard bird).

The soldier is linked into the computer system via an EEG (electroencephalogram) brain-computer interface that continually scans his brains for P300 responses. As we’ve discussed previously (see: Hackers backdoor the human brain), a P300 response is triggered when your brain recognizes something important. This might be a face of someone you know or the glint of a sniper scope — it doesn’t matter. P300 responses are very reliable and can even be triggered subconsciously.

In short, CT2WS taps the human brain’s unsurpassed ability to recognize objects. In testing, the 120-megapixel camera, combined with the computer vision algorithms, generated 810 false alarms per hour; with a human operator strapped into the EEG, that drops down to just five false alarms per hour. The human brain is surprisingly fast, too: According to DARPA, CT2WS display 10 images per second to the human operator — and yet that doesn’t seem to affect accuracy. The total overall accuracy of the system is 91% — but that will improve as DARPA moves beyond the prototype stage.

Related: Dune by Frank Herbert

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