Mind Control

Working on Vanita’s neurojack today…


With the EEG mind clamp on, the Mac observed my patterns while I thought about certain tasks. After about 10 seconds of training, I could push a block and make it fade to invisible and back by just thinking about it.


But they call it Emotiv for a reason. It also tracks attention and emotional arousal over time. (We had a couple laughs about that during the testing, as it was one of the last graphs explained to us.)


It’s a test, designed to provoke an emotional response… I thought


One cool application: passive iTunes song rating. Instead of giving songs 1-5 stars manually, just wear the array while listening to your music, and it can capture your emotional response on the fly. Imagine sharing that profile dataset with someone else before a date…


I noticed that they kept Tim and my profiles in a folder of many others. Could make for some fun comparative analysis.


Of course, orbital mind control was always part of the Google Master Plan

  • Paul PRO 6y

    EEG sensing has been around for decades. Circuit Cellar (remember BYTE magazine?) published an inexpensive design in 1988. It's taken an astonishingly long time for this to come to something more accessible. I look forward to seeing where they can take it.

    For those wishing to roll their own: openeeg.sourceforge.net/doc/
  • Ben 6y

    I wonder, for the iTunes application, can it tell the difference between blissed/relaxed and bored... Definitely very different ratings for a song.

    Some companies are even claiming that you'll be able to play action video games with this technology (or at least similar mind sensing technology) this year.. I'm with the skeptics for now on the fast paced usage... But this sounds like good stuff that we'll use for some applications sooner rather than later and it'll keep getting better. Thanks for sharing Steve!
  • Craig Overend 6y

    It’s a test, designed to provoke an emotional response…

    You failed Voight-Kampff didn't you Steve. Blade Runner dispatched.
  • Daniel D'Auria PRO 6y

    Interesting technology. It may have some application in medicine, especially for those patients with "functional" disorders that we treat commonly.
  • Keith Dickinson 6y

    The emotional song rating is interesting, but it kind of pre-supposes you would feel one way about a song doesn't it. What if you're just not in the mood for something soft right now, but want to rock out. You might feel negative about a song you actually really like.

    It seems to me that sensing emotions is one thing, but putting them into context quite another. Still, it's fascinating to know what's possible these days. :o)
  • biotron PRO 6y

    I'm thinking similarly to ttnk, BenODen and Mr Kiki re: "emotional response" to a given piece of music... so many things we could raise on this… I’ll try not to be too long-winded and boring…

    So – does the iTunes app still attribute a 1-5 rating according to certain "emotional arousal" or "attention span" parameters? At the risk of being a killjoy, this would - imho - say very little of interest, given how arbitrary the fixing of these parameters would be in practice.

    [... not that I have ever pushed that star button, but sharing my entire manually-rated list of tracks with even my closest lifelong best friend / confidant - let alone a potential partner at a date - would not necessarily be the best idea; too many opportunities for misinterpretation of the aesthetic basis for "interest" in certain genres and specific examples... an interest that could only be passing, temporary or indeed narrow to the point of one very minor component in the overall sequence of a terrible crock of sonic nonsense… :) ]

    Some people clearly listen to music with different purposes in mind under different contexts. I'm quite certain many of them will “receive” / react differently to the same piece of music in differing states of mind and / or environments. Their mood, conditioned by a wealth of other recent circumstantial / remote historical factors, will surely affect how the music is perceived, even if it is an old favourite triggering similar feelings of secure and predictable familiarity each time it is played?

    There is another point about passive / active listening. Some people do not seek to be challenged by music at all, at any point; others tend to know when they want to be confronted with novelty or something that requires effort. For some reason, I find it extremely satisfying to conduct certain laborious household tasks, such as washing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom, whilst listening to modern classical / experimental electronic / improvisational / free jazz or other such “difficult” genres. I think this is explained by the fact that repetitive manual activity allows me to “surrender” more to something resembling a balanced state of apprehension, between “active” and “passive” listening. Pauline Oliveros would possibly be horrified… :)

    Following on from this, certain music lovers and exemplary hosts will know exactly what sort of generic “background music” to put on at a party so as to provide the least offense and the greatest, most socially-cohesive atmosphere. This “background music” in turn could be drawn from an enormous potential pool of genres and songs, depending entirely upon the context / function of the party, even if exactly the same guests were to turn up at each of these hypothetical events. Sometimes, music that would be considered too “active” or stimulating – eg upbeat, repetitive 4/4 techno – does in fact, at lower decibel levels, prove to have a relaxing quality owing to the sheer monotony and lack of huge dynamic variation / long periods of quiet… people among groups often hate silence, particularly when it is sudden… it’s like the noise of the beer keg running out ;)

    During recent sessions in floatation tanks or at massages, I was really disturbed by the “new age” music they were piping at me to “get me to relax”. It may be the case that this is the lowest common denominator music – and safest bet – for inducing calm in your average post-chimp hominid. It does, however, make my blood boil. One time I had to hear “Orinoco Flow” by Enya twice during the course of an otherwise wonderful deep massage, with the result that I came out of the therapy room feeling really uptight and anxious, if a little more supple, with my mind racing to erase thoughts of sailing away and wondering just who the hell Rob Dickins is anyway. I reckon certain species of macaque would find it easy to build tools for a quick and easy suicide were they to be exposed to “Best Ever Pan Pipe Chill Out vol. 1,352” (K-Tel) on a loop for a few hours.

    [we are veering close here to the recent chats about dolphin communication, and what weird bedfellows the scientific information / new-age art & music on that site were… it strikes me that with such gifted and complex “voices”, dolphins would find the sort of music humans create to celebrate their existence (and have come to brand by appropriating their image and voice) terminally dull and unimaginative… but that’s another discussion…]

    I feel lucky to have mostly active ears that consider even jarring traffic noise as beautiful, subtle and possessing staggering sonic variety even under superficially similar circumstances. I cannot bear to wear headphones when out of my house at any time other than when I wish to drown out plane / train noise with distracting human conversation or children’s temper tantrums – because I cannot bear to face the prospect of missing something sonically interesting.

    With more time and space, it would be great to delve into the theories of Russolo and his legacy, taking on board postmodern industrial music’s responses to “muzak” and so forth… another time…

    For now it might be worth contemplating exactly how this “fluid architecture” (vs Goethe’s architecture as “frozen music”) is perceived with that strange marriage of immediacy and mediation, present and past, containing the promise of conditional future resolution, whether the music is an old fave or heard at first listen. Here’s a useful quote from Karin Costelloe in reference to Bergson’s theories of “interpenetration”, a process whereby

    "the nature of what comes after only finds its explanation by reference to what came before", where "the parts depend for their qualitative character upon their connection with the whole of the rest of the process."

    I could immerse myself in literature about this until the cows come home, but would then miss out on actively listening to the sounds that I love so much.

    It thrills me to know that life is a constantly stimulating and rich symphony of pressure waves projected in space and time, interfering in new and interesting ways, with varying degrees of resonance and reflection, all concentrated uniquely for my benefit at either side of my skull and interpreted in different ways at different times under different moods in a beautiful collision of unique trajectories and potentialities. If I stop to consider the optical / olfactory equivalent of this lumbering and complex brew for too long, I might fall off my office chair here at work with overexcitement.

    Having said all of this, I would be fascinated to see what "emotional responses" are thrown up by this device when skimming through my iTunes library...
  • Vanita 6y

    You can't always get what you want
    But if you try sometimes you just might find
    You get what you need

    If this apparatus reads your unconsciousness more clearly than your consciousness, the service it provides might occasionally surprise the user.

    "Hal, I said I wanted Beef Wellington for dinner."

    "I'm sorry Dave, but your emotional response didn't confirm that. What you really wanted was a Chili Cheese Dog."


    I noticed that they kept Tim and my profiles in a folder of many others. Could make for some fun comparative analysis.

    They probably run those files for everyone’s entertainment at the company Christmas party. You know like old Hollywood did with blooper reels.

  • Ben 6y

    Can you believe he actually liked Snoop Doggg!!?? send him a cd, he probably doesn't own one man! LOL
  • Doug_Dirac_Delta 6y

    My mother? I'll tell you about my mother...
  • Steve Jurvetson PRO 6y

    BenODen: Ha! How did you know? Perhaps you see me laid back, with my mind on my money and my money on my mind... subliminally... with the currency thought bubble on the wall...

    Biotron: While chilling out to your repressed-Enya-favorites, your galvanic skin buzz that helps complete the picture. From Steven Johnson's book Mind Wide Open:
    "the shiver of pleasure we experience while listening to our favorite music is the release of endogenous opioids... Animals appear to have a chill response to music as well. In one widely cited study, [researchers] played dozens of records to chickens attached to equipment designed to record their shivers of pleasure. The chickens turned out to have the strongest postitive response to the late-era Pink Floyd record The Final Cut."
  • Stephen Bové PRO 6y

    I saw this demo'd at EG 08...she hooked it up to none other than Marvin Minsky on stage and he moved stuff around after a few tries. Then I levitated both of them in front of the whole audience using my new VulcanMindRay technology.
  • mares_romero 6y

    What about music creation?

    I can't help but thinking: Emotiv + Karajan + Vienna Symphonic Library (a 270GB virtual instrument orchestra, vsl.co.at/)

    The earlier versions might not be able to capture the entire orchestral conducting language, but it seems likely an interface will do just that in the future...

    At another level: Emotiv + any musical performer + Ableton Live (live production music software). I play the guitar and use live effects and samples. It'd be good if I could make the computer's parts more expressive (ie. changes in the darkness, timbre of sound production, in what instruments are used and how they choose to accompany the guitar and voice in real time). That would be pretty nifty. As would be having the entire audience wired up with these things and using *their* emotions as a contribution to the music :)
  • TomOwen 6y

    Ha, Looking at the thumbnail I wasn't sure whether mind control referred to the gadget on your head or Tim standing over your shoulder ;-)

  • Ben 6y

    Ohman, yeah, music enhanced with this stuff would rock. Heck, recording notes of a score in real time by thinking about them would be jaw dropping. That will take a long time yet, though.
  • Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation 6y

    Its a new entrepreneurs negotiation tool given away by Guy Kawasaki, to level the playing field when negotiating terms with your investors.

    It plants an entrepreneurs preferred terms and valuation in the VC's mind, while they think they are moving objects on the screen, so you get the valuation, voting and registration rights that favor you.

    Remember star wars?

    "These are not the droids you are looking for!"

    Doesn't seem to be working on Tim, though. He can be a tough one to negotiate with.

    Seriously, though, do you think you could get one to play with and let me try to fly a pod racer for?

    Seems like a natural for gaming and entertainment.

    Use the force, Vanita. :)
  • GustavoG PRO 6y

    Could make for some fun comparative analysis.

    You tease!
  • Ben Fischler PRO 6y

    Tim's tie is provoking a strong emotional response right now.
  • Roberto 5y

    How can I make to experiment thit that device?
  • Nathan Conkey 4y

    Wow, nice picture JurVetson, I've added it in an articled called "How to: Facebook Business Page, Five Deadly Errors to Avoid", it really captures the moment, thanks!
  • solerena 4y

    like vanita's comment about reading unconsciousness responses... so no more mind games? what do rational people think about "unconsciousness" or "subconciousness" or whatever we can name it (empty name) - in general? there is also such thing as collective unconsciousness and taking about dating, there might be shared unconsciousness pool for some couples... like they are linked on this level even while existing separately on all other realms:)
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