Friday, May 27, 2005

New Scientist Technology - Heart patient has first turbocharger fitted

New Scientist Technology - Heart patient has first turbocharger fitted: "THE first patient to be fitted with a device designed to 'turbocharge' an ailing heart, without greatly increasing the risk of blood clots and other life-threatening complications, is recovering in a New Zealand hospital following surgery earlier this month.

...The C-Pulse comprises an inflatable polyurethane balloon pressed against the aorta, the main artery from the heart. The balloon is kept in place by a polyester wrap stitched around the vessel, and together they form a cuff that follows the contours of the aorta. 'It's engineered to fit your body, not to look like it came out of your washing machine,' says William Peters, one of the two inventors, who is based at the Auckland City Hospital, New Zealand, and the company Sunshine Heart of Sydney, Australia."

New Scientist Technology - Woman fitted with world's first 'bionic' device

New Scientist Technology - Woman fitted with world's first 'bionic' device:
"A 46-year-old woman has been fitted with the world's first 'bionic' device that is capable of producing coordinated fine hand and arm movement.

"The woman has suffered two strokes that have affected her control over her left arm. On 13 May neuro-rehabilitation experts at the University of Southampton in the UK inserted five implants into the limb, each measuring 1.7 centimetres by 2.4 millimetres. These receive power and stimulation commands from a radio-frequency coil fitted to her arm and connected to a control unit."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Captain Cyborg & CNN

Captain Cyborg - that healthcare program in full | Channel Register
"Incorrigible self-publicist Kevin Warwick has struck again, easing himself into a spot on CNN's website devoted to 'visionaries'. It renews a long-standing love affair between the cable channel and the Brummie lecturer.

"Warwick is to cybernetic research what Hello Kitty is to animal husbandry, but thanks to a gullible media he has been able to carve out an additional career as a futurist. Several years ago Warwick had a passive radio tag implanted in his body allowing him to walk through radio-tag compatible doors, and this, he claimed, had transformed him into a cyborg. A subsequent, painful implant was connected to his nervous system.

"Despite ample warnings, few interviewers have pointed out that Warwick's insatiable desire for attention, his irrational fantasies, and his propensity for self-mutiliation make him more representative of a spotty teenager than a mechanically-enhanced superhuman.

"'It's difficult to describe how frustrating it is in the field seeing this man being our spokesman,' Richard Reeve, at Edinburgh University's informatics division told The Guardian last year."

Cyborg Summation in Review of "Revenge of the Sith" - Jedi Masterful:
A review by Michael Sragow in The Baltimore Sun neatly sums up a predominant function of the cyborg image in fiction and film:
"It's the cyborg creations, part man, part droid, that are irredeemably and indelibly creepy. They convey a timeless message: We trade our humanity for survival at the risk of losing our souls. The new arch-villain, the Separatists' General Grievous, an armored creature with four arms and organic eyes and guts, harrowingly prefigures Anakin's human remnant encased in Darth Vader's black metal. Anakin's climactic metamorphosis into Vader achieves horror-show perfection. It ranks with the emergence of other sorry monsters such as Frankenstein."
(site requires pesky login procedure; and interiority from worked for me.)

Kevin Warwick (aka Captain Cyborg) to write UK science funding guidelines

Captain Cyborg to write UK science funding guidelines | The Register
: "Captain Cyborg is one of twelve panelists chosen to set the criteria for public research funding in the UK's Electrical and Electronic Engineering departments. It's one of 68 panels encompassing medicine, the social sciences and the languages and is conducted by the Research Assessment Exercise, a quango funded by Higher Education Funding Council for England, and its counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Cyborgs can't keep their thoughts to themselves (or, the machine-readable mind)

Decoding the visual and subjective contents of the human brain - Nature Neuroscience:

Yukiyasu Kamitani of ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kytoto, Japan, and Frank Tong of the Psychology Department at Princeton University conducted MRI scans of four adult humans as they obverved visual stimuli projected onto a screen. The MRI data was transformed into 3-dimensional image data (voxels, which are sort of like 3-d pixels). Then with a bunch of mathematical calculations, the researchers determined that they could analyse activity patterns in the visual cortex to reveal what "stimulus orientation a person is viewing," and they could also extract information about the person's subjective mental state. (moment of paranoia: This'll bring a whole new level of interrogation to police states, corporations, and otherwise blissfully ignorant marriage partners).

"The potential for human neuroimaging to read out the detailed contents of a person's mental state has yet to be fully explored. We investigated whether the perception of edge orientation, a fundamental visual feature, can be decoded from human brain activity measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Using statistical algorithms to classify brain states, we found that ensemble fMRI signals in early visual areas could reliably predict on individual trials which of eight stimulus orientations the subject was seeing. Moreover, when subjects had to attend to one of two overlapping orthogonal gratings, feature-based attention strongly biased ensemble activity toward the attended orientation. These results demonstrate that fMRI activity patterns in early visual areas, including primary visual cortex (V1), contain detailed orientation information that can reliably predict subjective perception. Our approach provides a framework for the readout of fine-tuned representations in the human brain and their subjective contents."