By: Pioneers (Prachi Kashikar, Pavitra Prakash Bhade)
MIND PROJECTORS: TURNING IMAGINATION TO REALITY
They say that what is now proved was once only imagined. Such extent of the magic and power of imagination. Human brain is known to be one of the most complex, powerful and yet sophisticated systems known to mankind. There is no limit to the power of imagination and visualisation. Anything that cannot be expressed, proven or presented on any medium whatsoever, could be very well imagined about! It is not bound to any logic, science or any law. It has no bounds, no limits.
Imagination and Visualisation are the tools that are accessed by literally anyone (except a few cases , example Aphantasia). Right from a new born baby, to an old bed-ridden person, from people suffering from semi-consciousness or vegetative state of being, to the ones who are physically handicapped, even to an extent of a blind person, everyone has access to his or her own visualization domain. Wouldn’t it be great to be a part of someone’s imaginative world!! Sometimes , it so happens that ideas cannot be realized, regardless of all the will and effort one is ready to put in, just because the technology has not yet been established up to the concept. But that does not stop one from raising the bar! One should always think of the unthinkable, imagine the unimaginable and strive to bring the once known abstract vision to absolute reality! That is the power of science and innovation!
The field of Artificial intelligence focuses on designing machines that can mimic human behavior. Why not explore it to mimic human imagination. Imagine a world where one can project his imagination on the screen. No more searching of old videos or albums, memories shall be displayed in front of you the moment you think of them. It would truly be a world of fantasy turned to reality.
What is the difference between imagination and prediction? Both are influenced by human intelligence. Prediction has some logic based on which the decision making takes place. Whereas, imagination is intangible. There is nothing that one can’t imagine. As of now, AI is capable of prediction but not imagination.
Our brain processes visual information hierarchically extracting different levels of features or components of different complexities. Artificial intelligence does not deal with such a high level of complexity yet. Machines can take the place of everything in our life other than our natural senses. We have given machines the ability to see what we see, capture moments, the way we memorize, but presenting our imagination before us? Projecting our visual sense on the screen is not less than a fiction! Nevertheless, research in AI has shown an exponential boost in accuracy, predictions and performance. The field of brain-machine interfaces (BMI) that use electrodes, often implanted into the brain, to translate neuronal information into commands capable of controlling external systems such as a computer or robotic arm has also seen some tremendous innovations and improvement in terms of performance and accuracy. Such a combination of powerful Computer science and Electronic technologies makes us realize we are not too far from the world that would be able to project our inner mind’s eye outward.
One of the earliest visual processing centres of our brain lies at the middle of the back of our head. The neurons sensitive to certain sharp features respond more quickly than the rest. For example, when a vertical line is seen, neurons sensitive to vertical lines will begin to buzz and signal accordingly. In higher layers of hierarchy in the brain, the so called visual centers weave together these basic visual forms to create the beginnings of a visual tapestry. More complex forms like squares and circles are assembled; motion and color are added to the picture.
To capture brain image signals, techniques like using functional MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), signal fetching implants and artificial neural networks are being researched upon. Functional MRI measures blood flow to the brain as a proxy for neural activity. Such measurements can reveal the current signal processing of the brain at various hierarchical levels. For accurate measurements, high resolution functional MRIs are needed. Implants that fetch signals directly from neurons, can also be used to measure the activity at respective neuron hierarchy level. Electroencephalography, or EEG, is a technique used to record brain waves via electrodes placed noninvasively on the scalp. When using EEG, you are measuring electrical activity generated by the various cortical layers of the human brain. While EEG is recording the electrical activity generated by neural firing, MEG captures the magnetic fields generated by neural activity. MEG devices are completely stationary (similar to fMRI devices). They require the participant to lay or sit almost motionless and keep movements to a minimum. Using such devices, you get a precise picture of the time resolution of the signal, meaning you will know exactly which areas are active and at the same time you will know. Such measurements help to analyze brain activity and use this data in complex neural network models to accordingly reconstruct images. Since the brain’s hierarchical processing is highly complex, Deep Convolutional Neural Network can work as a good proxy.
Apart from just picturization or projection of our mental imagination, such a technology will have enormous benefits. In criminal and legal matters, the eye witness plays a very important role in narrating the crime event. He shall no longer have to describe the physical appearance of the person or scene under investigation. Rather, a mere visualization of the same would effortlessly display a clear picture of reality under suspicion , which could be further investigated.
This technique could also help us understand the mental health and response of patients in coma. In case of paralysed patients or patients suffering from vegetative state of being, where parts of their body fail to respond, they no longer have to struggle to communicate or convey their emotions. Technology would be so highly advanced, that we could read their minds to an extent of visualization of their imagination.
One could also get to know the visualization of blind person. If a person is blind from birth, we can have access to his perception of vision. Whereas if a person has lost his eye sight , at a later stage in his life, it will be possible for his near and dear ones to revisit his memory lane through his mental visualization.
Such a terrific transition into imaginative reality would definitely transform the way we see things today. Definitely the world is yet to see and live with this powerful blend of reality and fiction! Needless to say, such a technologically advanced life is on its way towards reality very soon.