Washington University’s Punk-Rock Skeleton

Sometimes there’s not all that much more to say than “Punk Rock Skeleton Demos Mind-Control System,” which is how New Scientist‘s MacGregor Campbell put it over at a blog post showcasing this video.

I once again voice my disgust, however, that the scientific and tech communities seem to have decided that controlling devices by one’s mind is called “mind control.” It’s not. “Mind control” is what the EU does to you by dosing your corn flakes with Belgian-built nanobots. “Mind control” is what the Bilderberg group is doing to Ghaddafi this week to make him say even more whack-ass shit than usual. “Mind control” is what the spectral invaders from Alpha Centauri are doing to your cat when it chases fluffies around the living room (the Centaurans love astral mice, and hey, can you blame ’em? Your cat’s great at catching them.) “Mind control” is what the CIA does to its sex slaves.

What the video discusses here is a “brain-tech interface,” so claiming that “mind control” sounds cooler is just nuts. What could sound cooler than “brain-tech interface?” Anyway, here’s how it’s described at New Scientist:

The yellow spikes radiating from the skeleton’s head represent the firing of motor neurons in the brain. Each neuron is tuned to recognise a different direction in space, so as the arm moves, the spikes change to reflect the changing direction. By adding together the output of all the neurons, the direction of the arm’s movement – represented by the blue arrow – can be predicted.

Developed by Daniel Moran at the Moran Lab of St. Louis, Missouri’s Washington University, this device uses electrodes inserted between the skull and the brain, “less invasive than probes inserted into the brain itself,” which have been used in other experiments.

Today’s commercially-available “civilian” devices, obviously, don’t implant SQUAT — you just spank ’em on your head and next thing you know, you’re piloting Firefox. Well…at least, that’s the idea. More likely, you’re making a ball move around a cube, but that’s why it’s called “in development.”

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