As the world's population inches closer to the eight billion mark, there are growing concerns over an issue that might not be the sort of thing that you'd immediately think about: What to do with all of these they people once they die? According to the World Population Clock, the…
Paralyzed from the neck down, the man stares intently at a screen. As he imagines handwriting letters, they appear before him as typed text thanks to a new brain implant.
The 65-year-old is "typing" at a speed similar to his peers tapping on a smartphone, using a device that could one day help paralyzed people communicate quickly and easily.
The research could benefit people suffering spinal cord injuries, strokes or motor neurone disease, said Frank Willett, a research scientist at Stanford University and lead author of the study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
"Imagine if you could only move your eyes up and down but couldn't move anything else -– a device like this could enable you to type your thoughts at speeds that are comparable to that of normal handwriting or typing on a smartphone," he told AFP.
Existing devices for those with paralysis rely on eye movement or imagining moving a cursor to point and click on letters.
But Willett and his team wondered whether thinking about handwriting letters might be another way for people to express themselves.
The theory was not necessarily obvious, as handwriting is a much more complex action than moving a cursor from point to point.
But the researchers found that handwriting generates distinctive brain activity that proved easier for an implant to detect and a computer program to interpret and translate into text.
The research involved a man nicknamed T5 who was paralyzed from the neck down after a spinal cord injury in 2007.
He was fitted with two aspirin-sized brain-computer interface (BCI) chips on the left side of his brain that could detect neurons firing in the motor cortex that governs hand movement.
Sensors transmitted the signals to a computer for translation by an artificial intelligence algorithm into typed text.
The first step was to determine whether T5 even produced distinctive and readable brain activity when imagining writing, given the many years since his injury.
And once that activity was detected, the algorithm had to be trained to recognize and interpret the thoughts, a process that took nine days over a six-week period.
T5 painstakingly imagined handwriting individual letters and copying out sentences so the program could identify which brain activity patterns indicated which letter.
- 'It will get better' -
Over time, T5 was able to produce 90 characters or about 18 words a minute when copying sentences, and around 74 characters or 15 words a minute when replying to questions.
That compares with the maximum 40 characters a minute that point and click systems can produce.
The sentences weren't flawless, with a mistake in about one in every 18 characters when copying and one in every 11 characters when replying to questions.
But adding an autocorrect function like that on a smartphone reduced the error rate to between one and two percent, the authors said.
And even the training exercise offered a chance for T5 to express some poignant thoughts, including the advice he would give his younger self.
"Be patient it will get better," he replied.
Writing in a review commissioned by Nature, Pavithra Rajeswaran and Amy Orsborn of the University of Washington's bioengineering department called the work a "milestone".
"The authors' approach has brought neural interfaces that allow rapid communication much closer to a practical reality," they wrote.
But they cautioned that further testing and refinement is still needed.
The study involved a single participant, and research is needed on how the implant will adapt to the way brain activity changes with age.
Willett acknowledged the challenges, which also include creating technology smart enough to recognize handwriting without training and making the entire set up wireless.
"Here, we are just showing a proof-of-concept demonstration that a handwriting BCI is an exciting and potentially viable approach for restoring communication to people who are severely paralyzed," he said.
But he is hopeful the technology could be feasible for general use within "years as opposed to decades".
© 2021 AFP
'Deplorable' Madison Cawthorn ripped for ‘juvenile’ celebration of Cheney’s removal: ‘Everything you need to know about today’s GOP'
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) was mocked as "deplorable" tweeted out a chirpy celebration to Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) getting voted out of her conference leadership.
The first-year Republican lawmaker cheered on Cheney's ouster for disloyalty to Donald Trump by quoting the lyrics from the AM radio hit, "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," which originally charted in 1969 for the pop group Steam and has since been covered by other artists and spontaneously sung at sporting events.
Other social media users were unimpressed with Cawthorn's "performative juvenilia," and took aim at his background.
@RepCawthorn The fact that a sitting member of Congress would tweet this and think it's a good idea tells you every… https://t.co/Y4vQXNdMaX— Burl Chester (@Burl Chester) 1620829196.0
@RepCawthorn Hey, you’re that Nazi-fetishist accused rapist who lied about his military service. https://t.co/IF2GwUxK4C— Dennis Perkins (@Dennis Perkins) 1620828274.0
@RepCawthorn This guy doesn't have a legislative staff because he wanted to bulk up on PR staff… and this is the material they come up with.— Pé (@Pé) 1620831288.0
@RepCawthorn When performative juvenilism is your personal brand. And when you wouldn't recognize character, integr… https://t.co/izOIvZIdf2— Steve Metz (@Steve Metz) 1620829083.0
@dabelfastgirl @RepCawthorn Also lied about his military service— Tyler 🔴⚫️ (@Tyler 🔴⚫️) 1620827607.0
@HelenKennedy @RepCawthorn https://t.co/rQ4FGQmn0G— ArabSnowflake (@ArabSnowflake) 1620832602.0
@MollyJongFast @RepCawthorn Just from the sound of this guy, I bet in the new Republican party has everybody go thr… https://t.co/FcwaJg197m— Joan is sleep-tweeting (@Joan is sleep-tweeting) 1620829570.0
@RepCawthorn Madison Cawthorn shows his age and immaturity pretty much every single day. Also: why is he still in… https://t.co/foVf9YHj1E— Russell Drew (@Russell Drew) 1620831416.0
@RepCawthorn I can see why a childish troll who completely fabricated his biography would feel threatened by a woma… https://t.co/x7OuvBAFW4— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@Mrs. Betty Bowers) 1620830595.0
@RepCawthorn Deplorable was too nice a word to describe Rethuglicans.— D Villella ❄️ (@D Villella ❄️) 1620830290.0
@PutinsLapDog @RepCawthorn I feel like he got his accounts switched up - usually the diplomacy goes on the Rep acco… https://t.co/GUfO2Sd3na— Rochelle (@Rochelle) 1620827113.0
@johnpavlovitz @RepCawthorn https://t.co/HAVQn9kwwI— TnxMrRodgers💙🇺🇸💙 (@TnxMrRodgers💙🇺🇸💙) 1620830769.0
@RepCawthorn You admitted the election wasn’t fraudulent too. While the party is eating each other alive, I hope yo… https://t.co/KVrbXkAWp5— Rochelle (@Rochelle) 1620826574.0
Tina Turner and Jay-Z feature among the 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class, the organization announced Wednesday.
Carole King, The Go-Go's, Foo Fighters and Todd Rundgren round out the elite group of performers selected for induction into the rock pantheon, which in recent years has made efforts to broaden its acceptance of genre and honor more artists who aren't white men.
This year the 1,200 voters responsibile for doling out the top rock awards appear to have taken to heart the perennial criticism that they were falling short.
"This diverse class of talented inductees reflects the Rock Hall's ongoing commitment to honor artists whose music created the sound of youth culture," said John Sykes, Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, in a statement.
The 2021 class diverse in generation and genre should make for an eventful induction ceremony concert, which was forced to go virtual in its 35th edition that added The Notorious B.I.G. and Whitney Houston to the organization's ranks.
The 36th annual ceremony is planned for October 30 in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Hall of Fame is based.
Jay-Z, Foo Fighters and the Go-Go's are all first-time nominees; artists are eligible for nomination 25 years after the release of their first recording.
The Go-Go's -- known for their 1980s punk-inflected dance pop -- have been eligible since 2006.
"Women have always been a vital part of the ever changing music business and we are so proud to have our success story honored and recognized by the @rockhall and our wonderful fans!" the band tweeted.
A Natural Woman
Rap magnate Jay-Z -- whose hits include "99 Problems" and "Hard Knock Life" -- enters the Hall of Fame a 23-time Grammy winner, and the first hip hop artist inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Turner's entry into the hall comes after a year that saw her celebrated in an HBO documentary, which told her story of leaving her abusive husband Ike Turner, who was also her musical partner, before launching a successful solo career that includes hits like "What's Love Got to Do With It."
Boasting a decorated career as a songwriter for other stars, King's 1971 record "Tapestry" is one of the best-selling albums ever, with top tracks including "You've Got a Friend" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" -- a hit made even more popular with an Aretha Franklin cover.
And pop rocker Rundgren, known for hits like "Bang the Drum All Day", was inducted after his fourth nomination and after he dubbed the vote "a scam."
The hall will also honor LL Cool J, Billy Preston and Randy Rhoads with "musical excellence awards," while Kraftwerk, Gil Scott Heron and Charley Patton will receive "early influencer" designations.
Record executive Clarence Avant will receive 2021's Ahmet Ertegun Award, which goes to non-performers.
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