A Computer in Your Brain?

I posted earlier about the possibility of brain-machine interfacing in sometime in the future, but it was only the tiniest hint. Now it turns out there’s a lot more afoot, and DARPA — the people who brought you the robot races — is in on it.

A new brain-computer-interface technology could turn our brains into automatic image-identifying machines that operate faster than human consciousness.

Researchers at Columbia University are combining the processing power of the human brain with computer vision to develop a novel device that will allow people to search through images ten times faster than they can on their own.

Darpa, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is funding research into the system with hopes of making federal agents’ jobs easier. The technology would allow hours of footage to be very quickly processed, so security officers could identify terrorists or other criminals caught on surveillance video much more efficiently.

The “cortically coupled computer vision system,” known as C3 Vision, is the brainchild of professor Paul Sajda, director of the Laboratory for Intelligent Imaging and Neural Computing at Columbia University. He received a one-year, $758,000 grant from Darpa for the project in late 2005.

Given DARPA’s interest in advanced robot vehicles, I can’t help but wonder what kind of synergy might develop between “cortically coupled computer vision system” and “autonomous vehicles” like those participating in the Grand Challenge.