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Topics - McGrupp

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1
Bring and Brag / Sidewalk Chalk is Pretty Awesome.
« on: September 19, 2013, 02:43:26 pm »
Several weeks ago I picked up some sidewalk chalk on a whim. My housemates laughed at me at first but by the end of the first night we had all played around with it on the sidewalk. Since then we've bought more chalk and every time it rains we get a blank canvas to work with and make better drawings. This is from the last batch.








It's been an awesome way to meet the neighbors and it's about a block down from where people do yarnbombs. Reason number 743 to love downtown Ypsi.


This last picture doesn't have anything to do with chalk. I just wanted to point out that my entire town lives in the shadow of a giant phallus. Reason number 259 to love downtown Ypsi.





2
Apple Talk / Yarn bombs. Craftivism is awesome.
« on: September 11, 2013, 04:49:33 pm »
So, I noticed trees, telephone poles, parking meters, and half of a bridge covered in yarn in my town. I also noticed that new ones kept showing up. I thought it was awesome and after investigating I found out that apparently 'Yarn Bombing' is a worldwide thing. This may be old news but I had never heard of it and it seems really awesome.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarn_bombing

Some of my favorites from looking stuff up online:







Anyhoo, I think it's super neat. Also International Yarn bomb day happens at the beginning of June. I really think I might try my hand at knitting because this is so awesome and fun.

More pics here: http://weburbanist.com/2012/03/16/yarn-bombs-51-victims-of-knitted-graffiti/?ref=search&utm_campaign=googimages&utm_source=images&utm_medium=other

3
Bring and Brag / The Table of Sorrows
« on: August 30, 2013, 03:02:43 am »
My friend's job has a table in the break room that is supposed to be a place to put food that you aren't going to eat so others can eat it. Good in concept but it became a dumping ground for unwanted food and no one ever takes anything. He dubbed it the Table of Sorrows and has been documenting it on facebook. I set it to music.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t85i-g2oN3A&feature=youtu.be

4
Obama got a dog. Here are just a few of the soulcrushing articles that are getting national attention this week. Because clearly nothing else important is going on in regards to the white house.


Headline:
Quote
Sunny Obama, Obamas' New Dog, Has Lots To Learn From Bo (PHOTOS)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/sunny-obama-obamas-new-dog_n_3784173.html


This one actually brings up the valid point that puppy mills are bad. Headline:
Quote
The Obamas' second first dog is a chance to talk about all dogs

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-obamas-portuguese-water-dog-sunny-20130820,0,7011037.story


This is a story from the media about how presidents pets have historically distracted the media. Good job media.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2013/08/21/whats-the-political-message-behind-obamas-new-dog-sunny/


And of course facebook and twitter have remained bastions of critical thinking and openmindedness through it all.

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/08/best-conspiracy-theories-about-obamas-new-dog-sunny/68543/

Quote
Sunny is black because the Obamas are racist

"With the addition of Sunny, the Obamas now have two black Portuguese water dogs," The Daily Caller's Patrick Howley reported on Monday. "The Obamas do not have any white dogs." The Daily Caller was not alone in this assessment

Quote
Sunny's real name is Sunni
You know, because Obama is secretly a Muslim.

Quote
Sunny exists to distract America from White House scandal
Okay hang on. That one's not far off. Although they do quote crazy people and Obamacare comes up a bunch.


My personal favorite is PETA's reaction, which appears to be keeping with the organizations of goal of 'make the entire world want to hurt animals because we're so smugly self righteous.' There is a semi valid point in there about puppy mills but it gets buried. Also breeder=/=puppy mill all the time.

The headline:
Quote
Obamas adopting second breeder dog is the “equivalent of kicking a hobo,” PETA says

Quote
Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, spoke out against the Obama family’s choice of pooch, saying they should have picked a rescue animal instead of Sunny, who comes from a breeder.

Quote
Like big brother Bo Obama, Sunny is also a Portuguese water dog. The breed was chosen by the Obamas because of “allergies in their family,” but Newkirk doesn’t see that as a valid excuse.

Quote
The First Family did send a donation — amount unknown — to the Washington Humane Society, but that “can’t buy homes or erase a bad example,” according to Newkirk. She encouraged the Obamas to adopt a third dog, but this time select a rescue animal.

“Come on, Mr. President, one more time — and this time, do it right,” the statement said. “Set a good example and save a homeless animal’s life.”

Clearly we have reached the full climax of Obama's failure as president. Not the denial of human rights. Not the drone bombings. Not the NSA spying and tearing apart the fourth ammendment. He adopted the wrong dog. Monster.


And by wasting this much time pointing out how the media wastes time, I am now officially part of the problem. 




5
Apple Talk / This just broke my brain
« on: August 21, 2013, 02:40:38 am »
I can't imagine this hasn't been posted here before but a coworker just showed me Time Cube and I am mesmerized.

http://www.timecube.com/

I have no idea what I just read but here is a take home point.

Quote
You SnotBrains will know
hell for ignoring TimeCube.
I do not promote or suggest
anyone killing you, but you
are unfit to live on Earth.

I'm mildly unsettled by the fact that I can't tell if this is a crazy person or a joke.

6
I just finished reading The Drunkard's walk. How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Richard Mlodinow. It's a very good read and discusses the role of randomness in our interpretation of both events and statistics. Most of the book details the history of the study of randomness and probability. It also focuses on how our perceptions can be fooled and our judgement skewed by them. While the studies of various fallacies and biases are really interesting as well as the history, what really got me is the last couple of chapters.

In these chapters Mlodinow discusses how we are biased when interpreting information touched by randomness. Humans are hardwired to discern patterns whether they exist or not. A good example of this is the way we perceive the stock exchange. There are numerous experts in the field, many who get paid top dollar for their opinions. However when you chart the graph of the performance of 800 mutual fund managers over a five year period the results are a bell curve, which indicates that the actual effects of these experts are about the same as random chance.

However if you look at the past performance of various funds it is easy to find reasons why they succeeded or failed. Mlodinow states that there is a fundamental asymmetry between the past and future. Whether it is stocks or brownian motion of a molecule in water the results are easy to understand after the fact but impossible to predict beforehand. He goes on to describe a similar aspect to history, where millions of tiny chances, many of them random will result in what will appear to be inevitable.

Quote
Historians, whose profession is to study the past, are as wary as scientists of the idea that events unfold in a manner that can be predicted. In fact, in the study of history the illusion of inevitability has such serious consequences that it is one of the few things that both conservative and socialist historians can agree on. The socialist historian Richard Henry Tawney, for example, put it like this: "Historians give an appearance of inevitability...by dragging into prominence the forces which have triumphed and thrusting into the background those which they have swallowed up." And the historian Roberta Wohlstetter, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan, said it this way: "After the event, of course, a signal is always crystal clear; we can now see what disaster it was signalling...But before the event it is obscure and pregnant with conflicting meanings.

I'm not sure I completely agree with this as I think that some level of prediction can be attained. However the adage 'hindsight is 20/20' also rings true.

I'm not sure if I did justice to the above, but what I really wanted to get into was the way our expectations alter our view of the world. A prime example of this is how moviegoers will report enjoying a movie more if they hear about how good it was before hand. At the end of the book Mlodinow brings up several experimental examples of how our expectations can bias us in terms of success. Humans have a tendency to view success and failure by results and by monetary compensation.


Mlodinow looks at several experiments done by Melvin Lerner in the 1960s. Lerner wanted to look into society's negative attitudes towards the poor.

Quote
Realizing that "few people would engage in extended activity if they believed that there were a random connection between what they did and the rewards they recieved." Lerner concluded that "for the sake of their own sanity," people overestimate the degree to which ability can be inferred from success. We are inclined, that is, to see movie stars as more talented than aspiring movie stars and to think that the richest people in the world are the smartest.

It seems like a very plausible explanation for the widespread belief in our society that if you are poor it is your own fault. If that doesn't sound like the viewpoint of every bootstrap libertarian out there, I don't know what does.

In one of Lerner's experiments groups were taken into a viewing room and asked to watch 2 people perform a task. They were told that due to budget constraints only one of the two would be paid and that this would be determined randomly. The 2 people perfoming the task were actors and performed from a prearranged script which was designed to show that they were equal at the task. At the end of the session the group was asked to judge which was the more competent worker. Despite knowing that the one who was paid was random they always selected the one who was paid by a large margin.

In another experiment groups were brought into a room to perform the task of viewing black and white slides. They were asked to determine whether the slide contained more black or white. These groups were compensated with money and all knew how much the others recieved. The groups that were compenated evenly cooperated and discussed with each other. The groups in which one member was paid more found that the more compensated member had a tendency to resist the input of others. Even random differences in pay led to a backward inference of differences in skill.

This expectation bias extends beyond just monetary notions. The psychologist David L. Rosenhan conducted an experiment where 8 "pseudopatients" of various background made an appointment at various hospitals. They arrived alleging that they were hearing voices. Other than false names and the one symptom all the participants described their lives honestly. The subjects later reported that they were concerned that they would be found out almost immediately. However all but one was admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The remaining patient was admitted with a diagnosis of manic-depressive psychosis.

Upon admission they all ceased simulating the symptom of the voices. Their instructions were to then behave normally and and wait until the staff noticed that they were not in fact insane. None of the staff noticed. When viewed through the lens of insanity all of their behavior seemed to reinforce that claim. From writing in a diary to showing up to the cafeteria early the staff made notes chronicling what they percieved as abnormal behavior. Other patients however regularly challenged the "pseudopatients" stating that 'you must be a journalist or something, you're not crazy'

After an average stay of 19 days all the participants were released as "no danger to themselves or others". The fallout embarrassed the mental hospitals in question with many denying such a thing were possible.

Quote
The cord that tethers ability to success is both loose and elastic. It is easy to see fine qualities in successful books or to see unpublished manuscripts, inexpensive vodkas, or people struggling in any field as somewhat lacking. It is easy to believe that ideas that worked were good ideas, that plans that succeeded were well designed, and that ideas and plans that did not were ill conceived. And it is easy to make heroes out of the most successful and to glance with disdain at the least. But ability does not guarantee achievement, nor is achievement proportional to ability. And so it is important to always keep in mind the other term in the equation- the role of chance.

I find all of this fascinating as well as topical to issues that get discussed here. None of us are immune to the biases of our expectations. Indeed they seem like very good examples of the bars of the prison. I know that I am not immune. When a homeless man asks me for a smoke I give it to him. However I admit that in the back of my mind I think 'oh you're homeless and you smoke. You must waste your money on other things. That's why you're homeless' or even simply to assume that a homeless person has mental or drug problems. It's a wrong way to think and I'm not proud of that. I do my best not to think like that. But like an honest teacher who grades the similar papers of an excellent student higher than that of an average student, none of us are immune. The best we can do is be aware of our own biases.

7
I've gotten into making stuff. It's fun.

If I have a goal it's to try to make things that aren't just preaching to the choir, things that can slip past cognitive dissonance and take root (even if its just tiny new thought).  To make both sides of a political argument laugh at something and then think a little bit seems like a worthy goal.

I'm sure many won't reach that goal but it seems like a good one to have. Anyhow I'll post stuff here and try to keep thumbnail links to the images in this first post.






8
Disclaimer: None of these came from the place I work at. All patients made a full recovery.

9
Techmology and Scientism / Dead Ostrich Quadcopter
« on: August 01, 2013, 09:33:44 pm »
Half Ostrich. Half Helicopter. 100 percent confused as to how much I should be enjoying this.

http://io9.com/dead-ostrich-quadcopter-set-to-i-believe-i-can-fly-wi-990999322


10
Apple Talk / Get worse now!
« on: July 30, 2013, 10:06:10 pm »
Get worse now!

I know what this country needs. It needs more injustice. It needs more oppression. Maybe if we’re lucky those cops will storm our lines. Smash us in the head with batons. Maybe someone will be incarcerated and tried in a mockery of justice. Imprisoned for life or dare we even hope executed? Think of what it could do for the cause! The uproar of the masses!

Things need to get worse, much worse. We need internment camps. We need people pulled from their beds in the nights. Friends, neighbors, all those people who thought we were overreacting to things. I want tanks and stormtroopers in the goddamn street!

The evils of humanity shall awaken and we shall greet them laughing. Behold! Validation awaits us! Long have we foretold this doom. We are outcasts no more. Now we are embraced by the masses to march forth and fight back against our oppressors. Much have we sacrificed, friends gone, sons and daughters laid low in prime of life. Institutions shattered and the things we held dear naught but a memory.

I embrace this horror. For it had to get worse to get better. ----”Excuse me.”--- If not for the injustice and bloodshed nothing would ever have---------------“Excuse me.”----been……um…you there with your hand up, in the back?

“Excuse me, Mister Shouty uh guy, are you suggesting that we hope for bad awful things to happen to ourselves and our loved ones for the sole purpose of furthering a political agenda and/or enacting social change?”

Well….you make it sound like a jackass move when you put it that way. These things must happen if the masses are to be rallied.

“Yes, but shouldn’t we still strive for justice and a lack of …um …doom …stuff without thinking that martyrdom and pain is our only path. Isn’t it a little selfish to take the tragic events of others and find ways to make said events suit your own means, and who’s to say that such events will even trigger the reaction you were hoping for in the masses. Also, I’m not sure who you mean by the masses as we’re all kind of in a crowd around your podium here. Doesn’t that make us the masses? I mean, we’re all kind of here because we don’t want most of the things you mentioned, now we should hope for them?”

Listen, you have to look at the big picture, each time our opponent tightens their fist, more flock to our cause. We should rejoice at each stone cast by---

“Isn’t that just a coping mechanism so that we feel better as the world goes into the toilet despite our impotence to enact change? Sure it may be that change can come from something bad and we may not help but recognize that, but shouldn’t we simply acknowledge that dark thought as simply a byproduct of the human condition and move on? Do you really want those cops over there to beat us with batons and arrest us?”

…….allright smarty pants, if you’ve got all the answers, what do you think we should hope for?

“Robots. Giant 30 story tall robots with mechanical spider legs. Spouting fire and napalm to destroy all mankind. It’s the only way the masses will listen.”

11
Aneristic Illusions / This article confuses me.
« on: July 26, 2013, 04:02:36 pm »
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/07/26/2359231/halliburton-agrees-to-plead-guilty-to-destruction-of-evidence-in-2010-bp-spill-pay-maximum-fine/

This is making the rounds on fb.

Quote
On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced that Halliburton had agreed to plead guilty to criminally destroying evidence in the investigation of the BP Gulf oil spill in 2010. The company “signed a cooperation and guilty plea agreement,” will pay the maximum fine of $200,000, and undergo three years of probation. It also had already made a $55 million voluntary contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

It seems to revolve around the use of 6 rather than 21 centralizers. According to this Haliburton recommended 21 but BP went with 6.

However the evidence they are accused of destroying is that 21 vs 6 was irrelevent.

Quote
That same month, Halliburton did some sophisticated 3D simluations of the final cementing job, using 6 and then 21 centralizers. The simulations, however, showed that there was little difference between the two scenarios, suggesting that Halliburton’s recommendation to BP that the well should have 21 centralizers instead of 6 was irrelevant. The Senior Program Manager who conducted the simulations was directed to destroy the results. The same simulations were run a month later, and again the person who conducted the simulation was directed to “get rid” of the results.

If this is the case then the evidence they withheld did not contribute to the disaster. So, why did they destroy the simulations? Was it just to try to sell BP 21 centralizers instead of 6. If so, then they are guilty of destroying the information but not of causing the disaster since the simulation they destroyed stated it would have made no difference, not to mention the fact that they recommended 21 instead of the 6 BP went with.

If I'm reading this correctly then all the people in the comments or on fb who seem to think that this article is proof of Haliburton helping to cause the oil rig crisis haven't actually read the darn thing. I hate defending Haliburton, but people are assigning blame to Haliburton for the BP oil spill when this article does not support that.

They're certainly guilty of something but not what people are saying, which is probably why it was a low fine. But I could be missing something.

edit: I just went to 5 or 6 other articles about this. They all give the same information. None of them state why or if 21 versus 6 centralizers would have made a difference. None explain why the coverup was bad.
All any of the state is essentially: 

Haliburton lied about something pertaining to the rig explosion. Rig explosion was bad.

12
Or Kill Me / Free Yourself
« on: July 25, 2013, 01:52:56 am »
The world is rotting. No one else sees it. But you do. It's time to be free. To get rid of this system that holds you.

Corporations and banks reign supreme, politicians bicker like children while they sign away your future behind closed doors in ever more unprecedented ways. Commercials and advertisements invade our daily lives, each one more disingenuous than the last. So many lies that it becomes numbing, and everybody acts like it’s no big deal. It's like a game that everyone is forced to play.

But you’re not like them.

You’re different. You are going to free yourself. Because that’s the worst part, isn’t it? You’re contributing to this whole farce. Every time you go to the store to buy an appliance, swinging through drive thru because you’re late to work.
 
So many factors going on that every time you put on clothes, listen to music, or eat food you don’t know what terrible thing you’re supporting. The game the world is playing has expanded to the point where simply living a life provides all the fuel those bastards need to keep the status quo running full steam.

You can’t run. There’s not a scrap of earth or water on this planet that they haven't made their playing field. There may seem like it but they’ll find you. They’ll drag you back dead or alive and prop you up on a hamster wheel so you can keep working for them. But you’re still going to be free. You’re not going to let yourself contribute to the problem anymore. It’s time to cut it out of your life.

Stop going to stores. You want to line the pockets of some rich fuck? Hell no. Even most of the places that act all local and wholesome are liars. You can’t trust them. Get rid of it. Free yourself.

Throw out your tv. It’s all lies and propaganda anyway. Music and movies? You think record companies have ethical standards? You think a multimillion dollar blockbuster makes benevolent business decisions. Even independent entertainment isn’t pure. Who made their camera or audio equipment? What corporations profit from them? From raw materials to marketing you can’t trust anything. Get rid of it. Free yourself.

You own a car? Got some bad news for you there. Switch to the bus? Great, now instead of a corporation you’re supporting a government system. You think either of them have your best interests at heart? That computer you’re on? Google some of the parts it’s made from. Ask yourself how much of it was probably made by slaves. Get rid of it. Free yourself.

While we’re talking about slaves, how about you take a look at your clothes? Read the tags and do some research. Best case scenario you don’t know who the hell made it. You can bet that it wasn’t a happy well paid person. Get rid of it. Free yourself.

Those people you know? Even the ones called your friends? Sheeple, more like it. They’re not like you, and even if they pretend to be they don’t know how to be pure. They still support their masters. They join causes that will only betray them in the end. You’re not dumb enough to believe in their political parties or causes. They are part of the problem. Get rid of them. Free yourself.

Leave your apartment. Walk away from that 30 year old mortgage. Quit your job. Take your money out of the bank, better yet, throw it away. It’s just a tool of the oppressive system you’re trying to escape. Get rid of it. Free yourself.

You’ve finally done it.

You’re naked.

You’re alone.

You’re penniless.

You’re finally free.

Naked, alone, and lying in a ditch……Because, yeah. That’ll show ‘em.


You think this changes anything? Is the world a better place now?  No?

Well get up, then. Brush yourself off. Think about what you did and why you did it.

You want to be pure?  You want to live a blameless life free of hypocrisy? Go be a chair. Go be a rock or a doorknob. Because inanimate objects are the only things that get to be that sort of thing.

You are human. You are going to be a hypocrite. You are going to fuck up. You're going to be wrong. A lot. Sometimes you won't be able to change the things you want to change. It's okay not to be Batman.

And those sheeple? They're not sheep. They're people. They just happen to be asleep and guess what? So are you 80-90 percent of the time. Maybe some of them won't wake up. But none of them will if you use words like sheeple. Would you?

But not everything you did was stupid. Maybe you would feel better if you shopped at different stores, if you chose different friends, if you did a little more research and thinking about the world around you.

Aiming to live a perfect life is folly. Aim to live a better one.

Learn to master the fine art of not-freaking-out-when-someone-believes-something-different-than-you.

Don't become as rigid as the system you hate. Don't let your aversion to their rules define your freedom. Break yourself of the either/or nonsense.

It's hard work. You'll be pulled at constantly as the world ebbs and flows around you. You'll have to think hard and decide when you will and won't be pulled. Sometimes you'll do some pushing yourself. If you push the wrong way (and you will), change your direction. Roll with the punches. Don't stop thinking.

Just because you play within the game. Doesn't mean you have to play their game.

Free yourself.

13
After a week of figuring out how to set things up (mainly because I didn't realize my comp didn't have bluetooth) I have set up and started messing around with a Neurosky Mindwave.

It's basically an EEG device that can differentiate waveforms and interact with a computer using it. For a crash course in EEG see this thread: http://www.principiadiscordia.com/forum/index.php/topic,34866.0.html
For some nuts and bolts on how it picks up and discerns between meditative state and alert state read here: http://company.neurosky.com/files/neurosky_esense_whitepaper.pdf


Whenever you go to a website about neurofeedback you tend to get one of two things: Someone trying to sell you something, or someone making some pretty cool claims while toeing the line (or running past it in some cases) of being a total crazy pants. In any case I was curious so I checked it out.

Neurosky works. At least it does appear to do the basics of what it says it does. You put it on your head and turn it on, it shows you the different levels of waves you exhibit. If you're running an app that measures your meditation or your alertness it tends to work.

Playing the minigames that came with it, if you close your eyes and let your mind go blank, the little silver ball on the screen will float and make a harmonic noise. Open your eyes and try to read the screen and it drops back down. Ditto with the attention. They have one with a barrel that you are supposed to focus on in order to make it catch fire. That one is a bit harder and I haven't quite figured out the mental trick to it.

Here's a couple videos of what it looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeDrfuJXW6Y&feature=c4-overview&playnext=1&list=TLHUnqIuQxb8Y
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD5IDdVUZAU

Anyhow, it certainly seems to be somewhat legit. Whether or not you can train your brain to get better at these things is one of the things I want to get to the bottom of and figure out. I'll continue to post what I find here.

14
So, last couple of months I've made some pretty awesome life changes. Got myself sorted out, feeling good about myself, great even, and I've been getting outside and actually doing stuff. I'm ready to get back on the horse and get myself back out in the dating pool. New apartment, new location, figured I'd try online dating. Start making a profile, everything's going great. I'm not sweating the details or worrying about which username best represents me as a person. I'm on a roll.

Then comes the religion box. What the hell should I put here? Buddhism/Tao seems fairly accurate, somewhat. Agnostic or Spiritual but not religious somewhat less accurate but maybe more innocuous. But what am I doing trying to be more innocuous? The obvious one would be to check other and then just put Discordian in the more info box.

My conundrum is this: On the one hand I'm far more interested in whether a potential date shares my interests in comics or likes to go to museums or go hiking than diving right into an explanation of the crazy fun house that is my beliefs. I've never really felt the urge to evangelize or anything like that, why not just leave it blank and be done with it?

On the other hand, I can sum up my experience with Discordianism in two sentences. I'm far more confused about the world and my life than ever before. I'm also much happier. Hot dog! Mission accomplished, religion. (or mission accomplishing, to be more accurate) Why shouldn't I simply state Discordian and move on?

So, for those of you who have used online dating, what did you put for religion?


In the meantime I simply put Incan Monkey God as a placeholder which, now that I'm thinking about it, may be the solution I was looking for.

15

I've been thinking a lot about BCI and decided to look a bit more into EEG stuff. I don't actually work with EEG waves but I do work next to an EEG lab and pestered a bunch of people on my lunch break.

The good news is that they totally can't read our thoughts. Not even close. The brainwaves that EEGs can pick up are very broad and really just give a general idea of brain activity. It can tell if you're asleep, awake, alert, relaxed, or deeply relaxed based on the frequency of brainwaves. I'm totally oversimplifying and there's lots of other stuff but this is basically the nuts and bolts of what EEGs are picking up:


Companies and the media are always real quick to use words like mind reading and make claims that it can read your emotions or see your dreams but its basically just pattern recognition. They will ask you to think about something sad, pick up the readings, and then later when the program sees similar patterns it assumes you are sad. This sort of thing is iffy in a controlled research environment and tends to not work at all out of one. So, while amazing (and totally useful for a variety of medical stuff) it's not quite as amazing as actually reading thoughts although Darpa is trying to push the boundaries.

http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/this-is-your-brain-on-silicon/

Neurofeedback is another application that is still in its infancy. Even in the EEG lab next door to where I work people can't seem to agree whether it works or not. I keep looking at scholarly articles and it seems that the answer is a resounding 'Maybe' One thing they do agree (as much as doctors can anyway) is that it is possible to alter your brainwaves and this has been studies many times with monks and meditation.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43006-2005Jan2.html

Neurofeedback in the medical settings mostly focuses on an alternative to drugs for ADHD. In ADHD there tends to be an abundance of theta waves and less beta waves. In theory by using biofeedback the patient can learn to control these waves and learn to increase their focus. Some doctors think this works, other doctors think it doesn't, and there is an alarming amount of absolute crazy people who think neurofeedback can cure everything and that it can give us superpowers. Which leads me to horrible use number 1. Oh and there is some good data that about 1 percent or so of people who use neurofeedback go insane so.......there's that too.

1) Changing the brain:  So we know we can change the brain, but we aren't certain what it will do. For example an abundance of Theta waves tends to be present in ADHD but we also know that it is associated with creative activities such as art. The potential to 'cure' the next Picasso is certainly there. Even more scary is to think about it being forced upon mental patients to 'correct' irregularities. Also there are people who claim they can utilize neurofeedback to achieve a state of bliss and ecstasy and/or hallucinate without drugs, which kinda sounds neat but can also go wrong in a wide variety of as yet unknown ways.

2) Brain Profiling: There are some researchers that believe that EEG will eventually be able to identify 'deviant behavior' This could lead to people incarcerated or denied jobs due primarily to their brainwaves. "I'm sorry, but Wal-Mart can't hire you right now. You exhibit too many theta waves. Perhaps you can check yourself into a reconditioning center and apply again next year."

3)Mind Reading and Privacy: Currently they can't read minds but that doesn't mean they aren't trying (Actually in the US I'm reasonably certain they never stopped). One implication is that even assuming your BCI is under your own control that hackers could create spyware that attempts to read your brainwaves. Currently not a whole lot they can do with it, but its a scary thought. A short article about the possibility: http://gizmodo.com/5938279/researchers-are-trying-to-hack-your-brain

4)Marketing: While reading emotions is still extremely unreliable and murky there are possibilities for companies to customize products depending on EEG readings. A benign form would be a program that links with pandora radio or itunes and selects music based on algorithms of previous recordings. A more monstrous form would be a movie theater full of people wearing headsets that gives information about what people find funny, scary, or endearing. As if entertainment hasn't been homogenized enough. I'd like to think that humans wouldn't volunarily wear a 'squid rig' in order to give corporations their brain data but.......aw, who am I kidding. They'll line up for the chance.

5)Mind control and interrogation: If brainwaves can change, what happens if it gets a pulse that attempts to forcibly change the waves. I have to admit I know less about this since most of my job is picking up waveforms rather than giving them. However there is evidence that it might be possible. Since 1839 there has been evidence that things such as binaural beats can affect the brain. This and similar techniques were used in attempts to induce lucid dreaming. The potential is certainly there for mind alteration as well as advanced interrogation techniques.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binaural_beats

6)Neurotheology: This actually isn't new and the field ranges from the somewhat scientific scan of chanting monks brains. To things like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_helmet. Yes, that is what it is called. The God Helmet. As crazy as it sounds there just might be something to it. However, as I said before there are a whole bunch of seemingly unhinged crackpots that are involved in pushing the limits of BCI. This field may produce good things or it could produce some really really messed up fundamentalism. Here is a long article if anyone wants to find out more:  http://www.npr.org/2010/12/15/132078267/neurotheology-where-religion-and-science-collide

For more info on ethical considerations I would suggest this short scholarly article here: https://landing.athabascau.ca/file/download/110427

I'm sure there is more that I haven't thought about and I'm sure I both glossed over much of the finer points of EEG (as well as totally not being an expert in the field) but BCI seems to be as horrifying as it is amazing. Still, the toothpaste isn't going back in the tube so whatever the future holds we're going to have to deal with it. There is massive potential to improve the quality of human life but also the potential to create horrible horrible dystopias.

Currently around 95 percent of the research into BCIs is in the medical prosthesis field. It can make robot arms work. It can allow paralyzed people to communicate. It can do some really really good beneficial things for folks.

After all, what can possibly go wrong with prosthetic limbs?


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