Carnegie Mellon University trains computer to ‘read’ minds

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Pittsburgh (PA) – Carnegie Mellon University researchers have trained a computer to literally read what people are thinking about.  Nine student volunteers signed up to lie inside a magnetic resonance imaging machine while being told to think about various words.  A computer averaged out the results and can now accurately guess what words the volunteers are thinking about.

The research was published in the journal of Science and shows that people have similar brain patterns when thinking about the same words.  Tom Mitchell of the Machine Learning Department at CMU asked the volunteers to think of the properties of 58 different words while being scanned by the MRI machine.  The brain maps of the volunteers were then fed into a computer for training.

The volunteers where then given two new words and the computer was able to guess the brain map that corresponded to the word. While this sounds scary, you have to realize that the volunteers had to lie motionless in a huge MRI machine and that the computer had to be trained with several hundred various brainmaps before being able to guess between two words.  However, the researchers say they will now work on developing a computer that can distinguish between phrases and sentences.

Read more … Reuters via Yahoo.