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posted by hubie on Monday July 08, @01:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the Situation:-there-are-15-competing-standards dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

China's government wants to develop a standard for brain-computer interfaces.

News of the effort emerged yesterday when the nation's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology posted a plan to establish a technical committee charged with doing the job.

An accompanying document explains that the committee will be asked to devise input and output interfaces, and research topics including brain information encoding and decoding, data communication, and data visualization.

Devising a format for brain data is also on the to-do list, as is a focus on acquiring data using electroencephalograms.

Researching and developing interfaces for applications in medicine, health, education, and entertainment is also on the agenda, accompanied by work on ethics and safety.

The committee's members are expected to be drawn from relevant research institutions and government departments.

Once their job is done, China's researchers in this field will be organized into clusters and all will be working to the standards the committee has helped develop.

That last goal makes this committee more than a bureaucratic thought bubble: by setting standards and insisting researchers use it, China can focus its efforts.

Perhaps it can also develop standards before other nations and bring them to international forums.

[...] Some of China's efforts to dominate standards processes and the bodies that drive them have flopped, but observers have also warned that standards bodies are susceptible to manipulation in ways that could see China have its domestic standards adopted.

In the field of brain-computer interfaces, China may be starting a little late: the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) already hosts a group dedicated to Neurotechnologies for Brain-Machine Interfacing and in 2020 published a roadmap [PDF] for standards development in the field.

And of course private outfits – most prominently Elon Musk's Neuralink – are already conducting brain-computer interface experiments. If such efforts take off, market presence could easily trump standards.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Monday July 08, @01:57PM (1 child)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Monday July 08, @01:57PM (#1363443)

    In each cell in Chinese internment camps.

    Sheesh... Elon Musk working on reading people's brains is creepy enough, but at least you know it's only for crass commercial reasons. The PRC wanting to do that is a lot more alarming though. The term Thought Police comes to mind - this time quite literally

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Thexalon on Monday July 08, @04:34PM (2 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Monday July 08, @04:34PM (#1363456)

    - Ridiculously powerful megacorps that are basically unaccountable to anybody? Check.
    - Immersive human-computer interfaces? Check.
    - Robotic body parts? Check.
    - Totalitarian governments? Coming soon to a capital city near you.
    - Brain-computer interfaces? On their way.

    It's sure looking like we're getting closer to that particular dystopia, except for the fact that climate change might rescue us from it by killing too many people to make it work.

    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by corey on Monday July 08, @11:37PM (1 child)

      by corey (2202) on Monday July 08, @11:37PM (#1363507)

      I’ve been watching Terminator 2 when I get some time with the TV at night and below the(relatively thin) layer of guns and blowing shit up, the story of how humans have a nature of destroying themselves, and the inadvertent creation of a Skynet that rather than helping some humans, seeks to destroy all of it, is getting really pertinent compared to when I watched it last. Because in the story, they didn’t intend for things to pan out the way they did, and it feels like we’re also sleepwalking into a dystopian future slowly too. I loved the Sarah Connor line where she goes on a rant along the lines of “men like you created the first atomic bomb, men like you thought it up; you don’t know what it’s like to create something, feel it growing inside of you, all you know is how to kill and destroy”, or something. There’s a sub-story about not killing people which I interpret as being related to the fact that the machines do that, so people shouldn’t kill people.

      It’s such a great movie.

      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Tuesday July 09, @01:21AM

        by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 09, @01:21AM (#1363512)
        "If machines can learn the value of human life, maybe we can, too."
        🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by canopic jug on Monday July 08, @04:39PM (2 children)

    by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 08, @04:39PM (#1363457) Journal

    All other matters aside, it is way too soon. These have not even been in production yet so there is no information about what works and what doesn't and what the technical advantages versus the technical disadvantages are. There is a long way before we get enough data to know what to enhance and what to avoid. It's some where between highly experimental and vaporware. Pretending to standardize on either is another layer of fraud.

    Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by ikanreed on Monday July 08, @06:36PM

      by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 08, @06:36PM (#1363467) Journal

      Yeah, as much as I want to argue with all the people who short-circuit "China"="Totalitarian nightmare" I think you have the real take away here.

      Imagine if people had tried to standardize train rail gages before reliable steam engines had been built. You wouldn't know the constraints of the actual systems that actually need to be used. You wouldn't know the weights and sizes of anything that had to move, you'd be speculating entirely on what you might hypothetically achieve. It's not good standards building.

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Monday July 08, @11:13PM

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 08, @11:13PM (#1363504) Homepage Journal

      We already have EEGs. It's not implausible to standardize the data formats used to store those.
      And there are rigs like EEGs that have oodles more sensors. It's not implausible to standardize those, either.
      And if the standards are well enough done, there will be room to add other kinds of interfaces and signals later, without the kind of confusing kludgery that gave us USB-C.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by c0lo on Monday July 08, @04:53PM (3 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 08, @04:53PM (#1363458) Journal

    Well, yeah, there'll be lotsa fatal failures at first.
    But then only the standard brains which survived the standard interface will procreate, so there's some hope... for the next generations. To be perfectly adapted to a primitive but standard interface. Very plausible CCP thunk process.

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Tuesday July 09, @01:16AM (2 children)

      by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 09, @01:16AM (#1363511) Homepage Journal

      Except the very old might be the ones most needing brain prostheses, and they have likely already reproduced.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 09, @02:08AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 09, @02:08AM (#1363515)

        You mean they want interfacing with dead brains?

        • (Score: 2) by kazzie on Wednesday July 10, @05:53AM

          by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 10, @05:53AM (#1363619)

          Sounds like something Futurama would do.