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Facebook的非植入式脑机接口,看穿你的心 2019-08-26 10:14:06



 

In 2017, Facebook announced that it wanted to create a headband that would let people type at a speed of 100 words per minute, just by thinking.

 

2017年,Facebook宣称要开发一个能以每分钟100字的速度从人脑向外传输语言的 “帽子”。

 

Now, a little over two years later, the social-media giant is revealing that it has been financing extensive university research on human volunteers.

 

Facebook表示,目前已经资助加州大学旧金山分校(UCSF)对志愿者大脑展开深入研究。

 

Today, some of that research was described in a scientific paper from the University of California, San Francisco, where researchers have been developing “speech decoders” able to determine what people are trying to say by analyzing their brain signals.

 

UCSF发表的论文提到了脑机接口的最新进展,研究人员一直致力于“语言解码器”的开发,它可以通过分析大脑信号来判断人们想说的内容。

 

The research is important because it could help show whether a wearable brain-control device is feasible and because it is an early example of a giant tech company being involved in getting hold of data directly from people’s minds. 

 

这项研究非常重要,它可以判断这种非侵入式可穿戴脑控设备是不是真的可行,这也是大型科技公司从人脑中直接获取数据的先例。

 

To some neuro-ethicists, that means we are going to need some rules, and fast, about how brain data is collected, stored, and used.

 

一些神经伦理学家认为,我们要先制定规则并快速掌握搜集、储存和使用大脑数据的方法。

 

In the report published today in Nature Communications, UCSF researchers led by neuroscientist Edward Chang used sheets of electrodes, called ECoG arrays, that were placed directly on the brains of volunteers.

 

《自然·通讯》杂志的论文中提到,以神经科学家Edward Chang为首的UCSF研究人员将ECoG电极阵列直接植入到志愿者大脑中。

 

The scientists were able to listen in in real time as three subjects heard questions read from a list and spoke simple answers. One question was “From 0 to 10, how much pain are you in?” The system was able to detect both the question and the response of 0 to 10 far better than chance. 

 

科学家可以实时收听到三个志愿者听到的问题及其简短回答。其中一个问题是“痛感分为0-10级,你在几级?”系统可以准确检测到问题和答案。

 

Another question asked was which musical instrument they preferred, and the volunteers were able to answer “piano” and “violin.” The volunteers were undergoing brain surgery for epilepsy.

 

另一个问题是他们喜欢哪种乐器,虽然刚做完癫痫手术,这三个志愿者还是可以回答出“钢琴”和“小提琴”。

 

Facebook says the research project is ongoing, and that is it now funding UCSF in efforts to try to restore the ability to communicate to a disabled person with a speech impairment.

 

Facebook表示,该研究目前正在进行,UCSF主要致力于帮助有语言障碍的残疾人恢复沟通能力。

 

Eventually, Facebook wants to create a wearable headset that lets users control music or interact in virtual reality using their thoughts.

 

最终,Facebook希望开发出一种非侵入式可穿戴设备,帮助用户利用大脑调节音乐和VR交互。

 

To that end, Facebook has also been funding work on systems that listen in on the brain from outside the skull, using fiber optics or lasers to measure changes in blood flow, similar to an MRI machine.

 

为此,Facebook也投资开发了脑外信号接收系统,它与核磁共振机(MRI)相似,可以使用光纤或激光来测量脑血流的变化。

 

Such blood-flow patterns represent only a small part of what’s going on in the brain, but they could be enough to distinguish between a limited set of commands.

 

脑血流模式只能描述一小部分大脑活动,不过这已经足以区分有限的指令。

 

“Being able to recognize even a handful of imagined commands, like ‘home,’ ‘select,’ and ‘delete,’ would provide entirely new ways of interacting with today's VR systems—and tomorrow's AR glasses,” Facebook wrote in a blog post.

 

Facebook在官方博客中表示,“它可以识别出‘家’、‘选择’和‘删除’等一系列虚拟指令,这也为如今的VR系统和未来的AR眼镜提供了全新的交互途径。”

 

Facebook has plans to demonstrate a prototype portable system by the end of the year, although the company didn’t say what it would be capable of, or how it would measure the brain.

 

Facebook计划在年底之前公布一个便携的系统原型,但并未透露它是用来做什么的,也没有解释它如何测量大脑信号。

 

【Privacy question】

 

【隐私问题】

 

Research on brain-computer interfaces has been speeding up as rich tech companies jump in. On July 16, Neuralink, a brain interface company formed by SpaceX founder Elon Musk, said it hoped to implant electrodes into the brains of paralyzed volunteers within two years.

 

科技公司已经竞相展现了对脑机接口的兴趣,相关的科研进展也加快了脚步。7月16日,SpaceX创始人马斯克创办的脑机接口公司Neuralink表示,希望能在两年内将电极植入到瘫痪志愿者的大脑。

 

However, the public has reason to doubt whether tech companies can be trusted with a window into their brains. Last month, for example, Facebook was hit with a record $5 billion fine for deceiving customers about how their personal information gets used.

 

不过科技公司窥探人类大脑的行为还是遭到了公众的质疑。Facebook上个月就因为非法利用个人信息被罚款50亿美元。

 

“To me the brain is the one safe place for freedom of thought, of fantasies, and for dissent,” says Nita Farahany, a professor at Duke University who specializes in neuro-ethics. “We’re getting close to crossing the final frontier of privacy in the absence of any protections whatsoever.”

 

“我觉得大脑是人类思维和想法唯一的安全自由之地,”杜克大学神经伦理学教授妮塔·法拉哈尼表示。“看来我们就要打破最后这道防线了。”

 

 

Facebook emphasizes that all the brain data collected at UCSF will stay at the university, but Facebook employees are able to go there to study it.

 

Facebook强调,UCSF收集的所有大脑数据都不会外泄,不过Facebook工作人员可以去UCSF进行研究。

 

It’s not known how much money Facebook is providing the university nor how much volunteers know about the company’s role. A university spokesman, Nicholas Weiler, declined to provide a copy of the research contract or the consent forms signed by patients. He said the consent forms list Facebook among several potential sponsors of the research.

 

目前还不知道Facebook对UCSF的出资数额以及志愿者对这个项目的了解有多少。UCSF发言人尼古拉斯·威勒拒绝提供研究合同副本以及志愿者签署的同意书。他表示,同意书上列出了包括Facebook在内的该项目的潜在赞助商。

 

While a brain reader could be a convenient way to control devices, it would also mean Facebook would be hearing brain signals that could, in theory, give it much more information, like how people are reacting to posts and updates.

 

虽然大脑解码器可以方便地控制脑机设备,不过这也意味着Facebook可以接收到所有大脑信号,理论上也给公司提供了更多的信息,比如公众对帖子和更新的态度。

 

“Brain data is information-rich and privacy sensitive, it’s a reasonable concern,” says Marcello Ienca, a brain-interface researcher at ETH in Zurich. “Privacy policies implemented at Facebook are clearly insufficient.”

 

“大脑数据异常丰富,而且极度隐私,所以大家的担心也不无道理,”苏黎世联邦理工学院(ETH Zurich)脑机接口研究员马塞洛·伊恩卡表示。“显然Facebook的隐私政策还不到位。”

 

Facebook says it will do better with brain data. “We take privacy very seriously,” says Mark Chevillet, who leads the brain reading project at Facebook.

 

 Facebook认为它的大脑数据研究会越来越出色。“我们非常重视隐私,”Facebook脑机项目负责人Mark Chevillet表示。

 

Correction: A system developed by UCSF decoded speech signals in the brain as people spoke aloud, not from silently imagined speech. 

 

更正: UCSF开发的系统所解码的大脑语言信号是大声说出来的,不是心里默默想出来的。

 

 

信息资料源自麻省理工学院



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