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Robot Interprets, Plays Back Dreams 142

foobarx writes "Digital artists have created a humanoid robot which uses brainwave activity recorded during sleep to playback an interpretation of your dreams. The artists, Brendan Burns and Fernando Orellana used machine learning to find patterns in the brainwaves and then matched these patterns to dreams which they remembered having. Others have noted the possible hazards of this new technology."
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Robot Interprets, Plays Back Dreams

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  • by ZonkerWilliam ( 953437 ) * on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:19PM (#22465536) Journal
    This could be embarrassing if it reenacts my wet dreams of Eva Longoria...Ummm my wife I mean, ya my wife!
    • I watched the robot video and if it were me, that robot would be humping its hips making the energizer bunny look like a slackard!
    • by garett_spencley ( 193892 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:30PM (#22465676) Journal
      I have wet dreams about your wife. Does that count ?

      Just trying to help get you out of trouble.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:31PM (#22465692)
      Her seeing your dreams would be embarrassing, but you'll feel even more embarrassed (and inadequate) when you see her dreams.
      • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:55PM (#22467488)
        Reminds me of a joke:

        A man and his wife just married and were going into their new home. The man was carrying his wife over the threshold and said to her, "Honey, did you ever in your wildest dreams think I'd be carrying you over the threshold into a big new beautiful home?"

        The wife responded, "I hate to break this to you, but you're not in my wildest dreams."
        • by tedrlord ( 95173 )
          That's when he "accidentally" banged her head against the doorframe. Sounds like the start of a beautiful marriage.
      • Both my wife and I talk in our sleep - quite coherently, in fact. On a number of occasions I have persuaded my wife's subconcious to give me a running commentary of her dreams. I've even been able to ask questions about what's going on, and offer suggestions.

        So fascinating as this robot is, it's rather redundant for me.
    • What? (Score:2, Funny)

      by mac1235 ( 962716 )
      Wife? What is this 'wife' you speak of?
  • Others have noted the possible hazards of this new technology.


    Ya mean, like mind control?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KublaiKhan ( 522918 )
      How exactly would you propose to turn a machine that acts out measured impulses into a mind control device?

      It's nothing more than a sophisticated puppet; is it likely that the puppeteer of a Punch and Judy show will start feeding people to crocodiles and bashing folks over the head with a policeman's truncheon?
      • I would think there has to be some kind of two way communication:
        a. The robot communicates to the brain in assisting the location of where ever the brain waves are.
        b. The brain then communicates with the robot via the brain waves
        It would like a mind meld.
        However I would not propose to turn the robot into anything but fireplace lighter.
        • by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:47PM (#22465902) Homepage Journal
          No two-way communication is occurring.

          The robot--if such a word is even really appropriate--has only read access. There is no input from the device to the brain--there are only sensors reading the electrical and motor impulses. There's no "determination" of where the impulses are--there are merely changes recorded by sensors which the operator places on the head that passively read the electric fields.

          The device does not in any way, shape, or form 'write' to the brain at all.

          This is nowhere near a 'mind meld'--if anything, it's like a video camera that records electrical activity rather than visual spectrum activity.

          No Matrix bots for you. Sorry. You'll have to wait a while before you can meet Agent Smith.
        • by spun ( 1352 )
          No, the device does not communicate with the brain. The device simply measures brain waves, it does not need to find them. They are in the brain. I know, that is hard to find in some people...
        • Wtf? Why would the robot ask the brain where the brain waves are? Its like ringing up a radio station to ask where their radio waves are!
      • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @02:53PM (#22466746) Homepage Journal

        How exactly would you propose to turn a machine that acts out measured impulses into a mind control device?


        Put the batteries in the other way round.. I mean duh, it isn't exactly brain surgery.
    • Less mind control, more evidence of past crimes. Imagine if the government got to hook up a dream machine to see if you dreamed about committing that unsolved crime.

      It's an interesting 5th Amendment argument that your dreams would be giving testimony against yourself. Our technology is SO far beyond what the Founding Fathers could ever dream of that we're in uncharted waters.
      • by arizwebfoot ( 1228544 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:37PM (#22465778)
        And what if there is music involved?

        Is the RIAA gonna sue you for infringement?
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Fission86 ( 1070784 )
          Oh i'm totally fucked then....

          My dreams usually have the sound track of Prince in the background
      • by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:46PM (#22465884) Journal

        It's an interesting 5th Amendment argument that your dreams would be giving testimony against yourself. Our technology is SO far beyond what the Founding Fathers could ever dream of that we're in uncharted waters.
        Um, our science fiction might be. Our technology is nowhere close to making it possible to get any detailed information at all out of your dreams. (The robot described in this article merely looks at brain activity and "creatively" translates that into "the kinds of things people do in dreams". It's totally non-specific, and its accuracy is really rather questionable as well.)
      • It's an interesting 5th Amendment argument that your dreams would be giving testimony against yourself.

        Not really an argument. You have the 5th amendment right to prevent the government from compelling anything from you, be it speech or DNA or, in some rare instances, fingerprints. You just need to know to stand up for that right.

        Don't want to tell the police officer you were speeding? Just don't answer. ("Do you know how fast you were going?" "yes")

        Don't want to take that breathalyzer? Forfeit your license and you're fine.

        Don't want to sign that statement the police put in front of you? Don't. (Just

        • Re:You mean . . . .? (Score:5, Informative)

          by davetd02 ( 212006 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @02:26PM (#22466396)
          Except none of that is true. It'd be nice for defendants if it were, but the privilege against self-incrimination does not apply to physical evidence. The Supreme Court has never held there to be a self-incrimination right against giving PHYSICAL evidence -- just to forced TESTIMONY (getting up on the stand and actually describing what happened).

          The 5th Amendment does NOT stop the police from forcing you to participate in a lineup.

          The 5th Amendment does NOT stop the police from requesting a handwriting sample or a fingerprint.

          The 5th Amendment does NOT stop the police from requesting a voice sample.

          See, eg here [reason.com] ("It is long settled law that fingerprinting does not violate the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against compelled self-incrimination or the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. Indeed, much non-testimonial evidence does not fall under those constitutional protections, including the analysis of blood and breath for alcohol. Samples of semen, hair, and other tissues may be taken without a suspect's consent.").

          See also Schember v. California, where the Supreme Court reiterated that the 5th Amendment protects against compelled testimony primarily in the spoken word sense. Blood tests weren't compelled "testimony," even if they were "compelled" in the sense that they were forcible, over protests.

          We can write laws that prohibit forced fingerprints, or forced handwriting samples -- call your Congressperson and tell them to do so if that's what you believe. But there's no right in the Constitution about that.
          • "Samples of semen, hair, and other tissues may be taken without a suspect's consent."

            Wow. I'm not going to visit America unless they make the police force all female - and preferably all prom queens, or runners up.
          • The ability to "read your dreams" would likely fall under the 5th ammendment though. The reason that physical evidence is not covered is that it's not really testimony. You're not being asked to cause yourself to present evidence against yourself.

            In the case of dreams though they're created by your own subconscious mind, so they would be, in effect, a form of testimony against yourself. They're essentially asking your subconscious mind what you're thinking about.

            • Personally, I don't see how reading your dreams, even if you could read the dreams accurately, could incriminate you. Dreams are primarily fiction, even when they pull details from your real life. How can a police officer, or judge, or jury, distinguish between the dreams of actual memories, and the ones that are merely random neuron firings or wish-fulfilment fantasies?
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by RobDude ( 1123541 )
                It's common place for police to leave out key details about a crime or murder scene when annoucining the story to the public. Then, when they get 5,000 calls from people claiming to know what happened; they can use that missing information as a test to weed-out the fakers.

                If there were an unsolved crime and one piece of information was missing from the report; and you dream of the crime - WITH - that information in it; then, in theory, that would point a finger at you.

                The weight of that finger would depend
    • by STrinity ( 723872 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @02:01PM (#22466116) Homepage
      Worse than that:

      FRY: So you're telling me they broadcast commercials into people's dreams?

      LEELA: Of course.

      FRY: But, how is that possible?

      PROFESSOR FARNSWORTH: It's very simple. The ad gets into your brain just like this liquid gets into this egg.

              [He shows an egg and injects it with liquid from a syringe until the egg explodes.]

      PROFESSOR FARNSWORTH: Although, in reality, it's not liquid, but gamma radiation.

      LEELA: Didn't you have ads in the twentieth century?

      FRY: Well, sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio... and in magazines... and movies, and at ballgames, and on buses, and milk cartons, and T-shirts, and bananas, and written in the sky. But not in dreams, no sirree.
    • Others have noted the possible hazards of this new technology.

      Ya mean, like mind control?

      chmod 444 /dev/brain?
  • by snl2587 ( 1177409 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:23PM (#22465588)

    Sleep Waking Dream Enacting Robot Will Get You Dumped, Fired, Arrested, Punched in the Wiener

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'll pass on this one...

  • by tpjunkie ( 911544 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:27PM (#22465622) Journal
    Fernando Orellana was my professor for a digital art class I took in college. He was way into the computer as a tool for creating artwork, and the fusion of traditional art with the modern and bleeding edge digital techniques. Interestingly, he asked the class one day what each of us would do with an unlimited budget for an art project. No one thought to ask him what he would do but it looks like this is certainly a hint. He's a great guy and has some cool ideas, I'll have to look him up when I'm at school for alumni weekend this year.
  • How long until an Augmentor appears?

  • by wellingtonsteve ( 892855 ) <[wellingtonsteve] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:29PM (#22465660)
    of whether you are responsible for what your robot does while re-enacting your dreams...
    • It is fine to have dreams/feelings of anger/lust etc. It is not always fine to act on them (assault/murder/rape etc)..

      Just using a machine to carry out your dirty work does not let you off the hook.

    • "Digital artists have created a humanoid robot which uses brainwave activity recorded during sleep to playback an interpretation of your dreams.

      I don't think they'd actually allow the robot a chance to do anything illegal or otherwise harmful. but if they for whatever reason allowed this and the robot did do something illegal [strangled your boss for example] what evidence could be brought forward that you did or did not intend for it to happen, after all it was in your dreams or was it? what if the rob

      • something tells me a hairless furby with basic dream interpretation ability isn't going to be getting too many people in legal trouble anytime soon.
    • you know it's possible with certain devices already invented years ago or just some seriously hardcore mental training, you can remember and control all your dreams. I tried it and I did alright with it but I kept screwing up and waking up at like 2:00 AM and it pissed me off so I stopped. Plus my dreams are screwed up! But for the other 99.9999% of people, I'm gonna guess no. Unless you purposely hook up a robot to yourself before going to sleep and you dream about attacking someone and the robot attac
      • The phenomenon you're talking about is called "lucid dreaming". The methods to train oneself to do it seem to center around habituating oneself to questioning one's state of consciousness and doing reality checks, such as reading a piece of text twice to see if it stays the same. Apparently after enough repetition you'll start doing this in your dreams, too, and when the results don't add up, you'll realize you're dreaming.Or so they say.

        I've had a few lucid dreams myself, but never consciously. I find th
        • I have the exact same problem - the moment I realise I'm in a dream, I wake up. I can't seem to stay asleep when I know I'm asleep.

          Interestingly, I can wake myself up from nightmares in a similar fashion - if the dream starts becoming to disturbing, my brain seems to just go, "Uhuh, this ain't happening!" and I pull myself out of the dream. It really does feel like being pulled, too - like I was immersed in molasses and I'm pulling myself up and out of them. Without the stickiness of course...(and since we'
  • ...at least according to an earlier slashdot article. In a lot of dreams you're simply dealing with uncomfortable situations. It seems like a pretty useless thing to interpret dreams. They are only relevant to the given person anyway and totally useless for a third party, because no conclusions should be drawn on them.
  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:30PM (#22465672)
    From TFA (emphasis mine):

    Periods of high activity (REM) where associated with dynamic behaviors (flying, scared, etc.) and low activity with more subtle ones (gesturing, looking around, etc.). The "behaviors" the robot demonstrates are some of the actions I might do (along with everyone else) in a dream.

    "Might" do? So, if I'm experiencing high-activity REM, I might be flying...or I might be scared? There's a big difference between those two activities (well, alt least there is for me).

    It sounds like Fernando Orellana and Brendan Burns have created a robot whose function is to speculate wildly on what someone might have been dreaming.

    Big deal. I can do that right now, and I can do it for free.
    • by ShatteredArm ( 1123533 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:41PM (#22465830)
      It seems more like it's a meaningless representation of brain waves (or whatever) using physical actions of a robot. Until they think of a way to make the robot actually do what I'm dreaming about doing, it's not any kind of interpretation at all. It seems kinda like making a robot that interprets FM waves by dancing a little bit faster when the frequency is higher.
      • He might be on to something. Those toys that dance by volume seem to be one of the more popular, and annoying, things in the gifting world.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Forget that. If you've read the latest research on dreaming, this robot can't even tell if you are dream or not, as sometimes during REM people aren't even dreaming. This is about as wildly, ridiculously inaccurate as possible.
    • by syrinx ( 106469 )

      So, if I'm experiencing high-activity REM

      REM hasn't been especially high-activity since New Adventures in Hi-Fi.
    • You have a dream and that dream contains some specific sequence of actions and events that is shown up in your brain. Let's call those E. A specific sequence E will trigger some fairly general, abstractish responses in the brain at the level we're concerned with. Let's call those responses X. Then, that abstract X falls into a group of even more abstract concepts, which we traditionally ascribe a single word label in English. These abstract concepts I'll call Y. In each case of X or Y, there will be one ste
  • by helpfulcorn ( 668048 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:32PM (#22465702) Homepage Journal
    I swear to god, I don't think your sister is more beautiful, it was just a dream.
  • by bkaul ( 1235970 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:37PM (#22465774)
    ... it moves its head based on eye movements, and dances around based on EEG data. There's no actual interpretation of the content of the dream, other than that more active EEG and REM periods correspond to more activity from the robot. It wouldn't know if you were dreaming about flying, or about Eva Longoria, or about going for a jog.
  • Kinda sounds like minority report... maybe we need to get tom cruise on the scene for this.
    • by gnick ( 1211984 )
      Actually, I was wondering if we could hook it up to another robot and finally answer the question, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"
  • by AuntieWillow ( 1188799 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:46PM (#22465876) Journal
    can the robot do my work for me?
  • by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:49PM (#22465924) Homepage Journal


    Yeah, robots reading human dreams, but whoop. Wake me up when we can read robot dreams. When we find out if they dream of electric sheep, then you'll have something.

    Seth
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      Everytime I see or hear Dreamcatcher, I just keep thinking of that awful movie, "Attack Of The Assweasels", based on the Stephen King book of the same name. *shudder*
  • Oblig: (Score:5, Funny)

    by ArcherB ( 796902 ) * on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:51PM (#22465960) Journal
    Bender: [murmuring in his sleep] Kill all humans, kill all humans, must kill all...
    Fry: Bender, wake up!
    Bender: I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it.
    • Cue the posts about advertising in dreams....
    • Bender: Heeeey Baby... wanna kill all humans?
    • by Dirtside ( 91468 )
      The whole thing:

      Bender: [murmuring in his sleep] Kill all humans, kill all humans, must kill all...
      Fry: Bender, wake up!
      Bender: I was having the most wonderful dream. I think you were in it.
      Fry: Uh...listen Bender, uh, where's your bathroom?
      Bender: Bathwhat?
      Fry: Bathroom.
      Bender: What room?
      Fry: Bathroom!
      Bender: What what?
      Fry: Ah, never mind.
      [Bender dozes off immediately]
      Bender: [murmuring in his sleep] Hey, baby... wanna kill all humans?
  • I don't know how many times dreams have ended just as they were about to get really good. . .

  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @01:57PM (#22466038) Journal
    A novel idea (I think) to record brainwaves and try to match them against recordings of known dreams.

    We can all think of things that 'might' go wrong, or that could be misused, but aside from that I can see a whole lot of 'my dream robot/interpreter/$500 mystic told me
    - I should not date you anymore
    - rice-a-roni causes cancer
    - my dog/cat saw your children playing doctor/nurses
    - President Bush is a reptile

    Yes, I can forsee some crazy shit coming out of this technology
  • The ship is sailing merrily along, when the sailors rescue a man floating on a piece of driftwood. He tells them he's fleeing an island where dreams come true. The sailors want to set a course for this island immediately. "Not daydreams," he tells them, "real dreams!"

    The sailors quickly decide they don't want to go there after all.
    • The ship is sailing merrily along, when the sailors rescue a man floating on a piece of driftwood. He tells them he's fleeing an island where dreams come true. The sailors want to set a course for this island immediately. "Not daydreams," he tells them, "real dreams!" The sailors quickly decide they don't want to go there after all.

      And then they end up there anyway. Cue a passage of what is basically Lovecraftian horror in a children's story. Fabulous. Many of the best-loved authors were able to give chi

  • We may not know if androids dream of electric sheep but thanks to this robot, we'll know if you do! Perv.
  • Get out of my head!
  • What kind of dance would the robot be doing for your wet dream?

    Mine? I'm too old, he'd probably keel over with a circuit overload.
  • Of course, the robot malfunctions if you happen to be dreaming of electric sheep. It can't interpret the signal.
  • It interpreted my dreams well enough, but in them my sheep weren't electric.
  • by The Redster! ( 874352 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @02:28PM (#22466420)
    In a lesser-published trial, the robot was recorded fishing out a credit card, leaving the lab, and running off to the mall to buy a pair of Lightspeed Briefs.
  • Sleep Waking Dream Enacting Robot Will Get You Dumped, Fired, Arrested, Punched in the Wiener
    Pfft. Like I need a Robot to help with with that.
  • They'll have to include a little automatic weapon if they want it to interpret my dreams. And an inflatable sheep. Oh, and a little gimp costume. Don't ask...
  • Sometimes a piston is just a piston
  • by Jesus_666 ( 702802 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:36PM (#22467886)
    World reknowned roboticist Dr. Thomas Light of Light Labs, Inc. has announced today that this dream-reenacting robot, commonly known as "Dream Man", is not a threat to the safety of the free world. "Dream Man", so Light, "is one of [Dr.] Albert [Wily]'s more stupid creations. He fits right in with Plant Man and Charge Man."
    "Reverse engineering Dream Man's weapon is definitely something I look forward to. Albert's stupid ideas never fail to crack me up", added Light.

    Light also announced that he will be sending the autonomous weapon of mass destruction codenamed "Mega Man" to destroy Dream Man along with seven other so called "Robot Masters", which form the latest iteration in the ongoing Light/Wily feud that has been waged since Wily's theft of several robot prototypes from Light Labs in 199X.

    The United Nations Security Council has announced that it fully supports Light, even though like usual it has no idea about what's actually going on or why the world is supposed to be in danger. They do, however, support anyone who stands up to would-be world dominators, especially ones they perceive as zany.

    Meanwhile, Light has drawn considerable criticism over discarding the weapon data from the last encounter with Wily's Robot Masters. During the conflicts, Light reverse-engineers the weapons used by the Robot Masters in order to provide Mega Man with additional firepower. However, as soon as Wily is defeated, the new weapons are summarily discarded in what Light's detractors see as a display of shortsightedness.

    "Seriously", so Japanese Minister of Defense Shigeru Ishiba, "even though Dream Man doesn't look very threatening, he might prove difficult to defeat with just a puny plasma cannon. A few Crash bombs or a burst of Atomic Fire would probably do him in easily, but as Light insists on throwing away perfectly good weapon data Rockman [as the Japanese call Mega Man] is going to have a bit of a fight ahead of him."

    Ishiba added that Japan would be happy to provide cover fire or E-tanks if needed.
  • If the put one of these on any male's mind they would get enough money they could easily pay off the machine. and the Obligatory I for one, welcome our new Porn making Dream Machine overlords!
  • So what happens if you have a dream about a dream reading robot?
  • Okay, true story. Here's the dream I had this morning.

    I had been called in for an interview for a head football coach at a certain university and was hired. (I'm a software QA engineer by trade... I played football in high school as a freshman... why I would be hired, I have no idea.) Anyway, I decided to take it, because who wouldn't want a chance to try and be a football coach. Well, I was hired because they wanted to give a nobody, an unheard of, a chance to rebuild a pretty depleted team (like 20 gu
  • Igor starts a new blog "... a raw unfettered glimpse into my psyche and subconcious" Dork Tower #621 [gamespy.com]
  • is Summer Glau! [summer-glau.net] And more Summer Glau! [summer-glau.net] And MORE Summer Glau! [summer-glau.net] And STILL MORE Summer Glau! [summer-glau.net]In UHQ! And EVEN MORE Summer Glau! [summer-glau.net]
  • Dreams are mostly subconscious activity, usually not governed by any "deliberate" conscious thinking. Due to this fact you will most likely experience things in a dream that passes through your mind at that time. That's often why you'll experience your alarm clock's ringing being a part of the dream the second before you wake up. The same applies to thinking "Oh I hope X doesn't happen!" in a dream and at the same instant... it does.

    All this is nice and well, but the relation to the topic is that dreams are
  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Monday February 18, 2008 @11:33PM (#22471386) Journal
    The headline and summary are almost worse than TFA in terms of being misleading junk. Almost.

    TFA: > Using an algorithm, the creators discovered a set of brainwave patterns, to each pattern a pre-programmed behavior was assigned.

    They *assigned* a pre-programmed behavior to an EEG pattern. The programmed behavior has nothing to do with what was actually going on in the mind.

    They seem to entirely skip over the fact that EEG patterns can be identical to the point of high statistical significance and be cause by extremely different stimuli.

    "Using an algorithm".... well, that makes it all scientifical and everything, so that's OK then. What a verbal turd.
  • Hey, wasn't there an episode of Max Headroom about this? Some television network was harvesting people's dreams for ratings or something?

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