Friday, June 05, 2015

Science of Over the Edge: Brain to Computer Melding

In Over the Edge and related novels, Lendar Marl, Captains Reeser Peland, Anwic Dzula and Ystem Aver are fitted with a device called a Kaldesope. While Lendar Marl uses his Kaldescope to become a component of his Cadillac Escalade, the other characters' Kaldescopes cause them to become intimate components of their ships. Using mind power alone, they are able to employ the Escalade or ships' computers, manage their functions etc. via their Kaldescopes. Through their Kaldescopes characters access information files saved on data bases aboard their ships or other vehicles and throughout linked computer networks using only their minds. Though Lendar is not fitted with the full-blown Kaldescope, the Captains' Kaldescopes make it possible for them to record the audio and visual information they gather through their own senses, save it to their ship's data bases and then review it at will, like watching a movie, either in private within their own minds or projected on screens anywhere they have access and the proper equipment. Through their Kaldescopes Captains can spy on passengers, check on cargo and observe activity outside the ship via the ship's data gathering systems--cameras, sensors and so forth. Lendar can drive his Escalade or change any setting remotely; the other characters can also change settings and fly their ships remotely. While the Kaldescope is functioning, the characters essentially become one with their ships, the over-brain and the heart of their vessels.

A company called BrainGate (click here to visit the company website) is working to develop interfaces between human brains and computers and/or robots. Their work is based on research that began in the late 1800's when Hans Berger began researching how the brain communicates and developed the EEG, the electroencephalogram, to record brain waves. He was the first to demonstrate that our neurons talk to one another using electrical pulses. His findings were published in 1929. His work was largely ignored until 1969 when biophysicist, Eberhard Fetz, wondered if, since our brains communicate using electricity, perhaps we can control electronic devices through thought control. His test subjects were Rhesus monkeys who learned to manipulate readings on a meter using only their brains. With the advent of the computerized age, BrainGate can now implant silicon chips in human brains and allows an individual to control a robotic arm or access the internet using mind control alone. This is potentially great advance for disabled people and remote operations. While the BrainGate plug-in is bulky and intrusive, the Kaldescope is barely visible and requires no intrusive brain surgery (of course, the Kaldescope is fictitious, but so were satellites in geosynchronous orbit at one time--nod to Arthur C. Clarke for inventing those).

Check out: The Coming Merge of Human and Machine Intelligence for more.

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