Friday, October 28, 2005
Remote Control Device 'Controls' Humans
By YURI KAGEYAMAAP
We wield remote controls to turn things on and off, make them advance, make them halt. Ground-bound pilots use remotes to fly drone airplanes, soldiers to maneuver battlefield robots.
But manipulating humans?
Prepare to be remotely controlled. I was.
Just imagine being rendered the rough equivalent of a radio-controlled toy car.
Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., Japans top telephone company, says it is developing the technology to perhaps make video games more realistic. But more sinister applications also come to mind.
I can envision it being added to militaries' arsenals of so-called "non-lethal" weapons.
A special headset was placed on my cranium by my hosts during a recent demonstration at an NTT research center. It sent a very low voltage electric current from the back of my ears through my head _ either from left to right or right to left, depending on which way the joystick on a remote-control was moved.
I found the experience unnerving and exhausting: I sought to step straight ahead but kept careening from side to side. Those alternating currents literally threw me off.
The technology is called galvanic vestibular stimulation _ essentially, electricity messes with the delicate nerves inside the ear that help maintain balance.
I felt a mysterious, irresistible urge to start walking to the right whenever the researcher turned the switch to the right. I was convinced _ mistakenly _ that this was the only way to maintain my balance.
The phenomenon is painless but dramatic. Your feet start to move before you know it. I could even remote-control myself by taking the switch into my own hands.
There's no proven-beyond-a-doubt explanation yet as to why people start veering when electricity hits their ear. But NTT researchers say they were able to make a person walk along a route in the shape of a giant pretzel using this technique.
It's a mesmerizing sensation similar to being drunk or melting into sleep under the influence of anesthesia. But it's more definitive, as though an invisible hand were reaching inside your brain.
NTT says the feature may be used in video games and amusement park rides, although there are no plans so far for a commercial product.
Some people really enjoy the experience, researchers said while acknowledging that others feel uncomfortable.
I watched a simple racing-car game demonstration on a large screen while wearing a device programmed to synchronize the curves with galvanic vestibular stimulation. It accentuated the swaying as an imaginary racing car zipped through a virtual course, making me wobbly.
Another program had the electric current timed to music. My head was pulsating against my will, getting jerked around on my neck. I became so dizzy I could barely stand. I had to turn it off.
NTT researchers suggested this may be a reflection of my lack of musical abilities. People in tune with freely expressing themselves love the sensation, they said.
"We call this a virtual dance experience although some people have mentioned it's more like a virtual drug experience," said Taro Maeda, senior research scientist at NTT. "I'm really hopeful Apple Computer will be interested in this technology to offer it in their iPod."
(This is just one more reason to say:
Research on using electricity to affect human balance has been going on around the world for some time.
James Collins, professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University, has studied using the technology to prevent the elderly from falling and to help people with an impaired sense of balance. But he also believes the effect is suited for games and other entertainment.
"I suspect they'll probably get a kick out of the illusions that can be created to give them a more total immersion experience as part of virtual reality," Collins said.
The very low level of electricity required for the effect is unlikely to cause any health damage, Collins said. Still, NTT required me to sign a consent form, saying I was trying the device at my own risk.
And risk definitely comes to mind when playing around with this technology.
Timothy Hullar, assistant professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., believes finding the right way to deliver an electromagnetic field to the ear at a distance could turn the technology into a weapon for situations where "killing isn't the best solution."
"This would be the most logical situation for a nonlethal weapon that presumably would make your opponent dizzy," he said via e-mail. "If you find just the right frequency, energy, duration of application, you would hope to find something that doesn't permanently injure someone but would allow you to make someone temporarily off-balance."
Indeed, a small defense contractor in Texas, Invocon Inc., is exploring whether precisely tuned electromagnetic pulses could be safely fired into people's ears to temporarily subdue them.
NTT has friendlier uses in mind.
If the sensation of movement can be captured for playback, then people can better understand what a ballet dancer or an Olympian gymnast is doing, and that could come handy in teaching such skills.
And it may also help people dodge oncoming cars or direct a rescue worker in a dark tunnel, NTT researchers say. They maintain that the point is not to control people against their will.
If you're determined to fight the suggestive orders from the electric currents by clinging to a fence or just lying on your back, you simply won't move.
But from my experience, if the currents persist, you'd probably be persuaded to follow their orders. And I didn't like that sensation. At all.
Ok. Let me be Frank.
Frank says, "This shit is scary. God damned Japanese. Only they would research ways to become better human automatons."
We all may want to print out the picture below, and stick it in your purse or wallet or tripped-out metrosexual accessory. It may come in handy.
Monday, October 24, 2005
“What if we killed somebody in Summer?
Throw them in the Prairie.
If you don’t let things decompose, things won’t grow.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course.
For shelter, man will turn to any cave.
For food, man will turn to anything he can chew.
For love, man will die with Life.
Time is communication.
We speak and think
In riddles of cause and effect.
An hour is a day, to say today.
My life being nothing but your memories.
Does consciousness cancel out experience?
Does choice kill instinct?
What is it that our feelings instruct belief?
How does our belief countermand the instinct?
And how must instinct rule anyway?
These are the questions of the self aware,
The way of the focusing stare,
The self same manufacture of Self,
The wristwatch and the welt.
You feel, you’re felt,
Like lions to the tiger across the Velt.
Perhaps I can’t find the patience for Prose.
That’s the way it goes.
Like it so,
like as with me.
I love my father.
I love Traci.
The mountains and the sea.
And oh boy, their rock slides and hurricanes,
Rumble and blow.
Break your house every time.
But still we want to build up and surf down.
I fucking think it’s fun,
The other and the one.
I like blogs and information fog.
Scripture from recycling bins.
Love in cyberspace.
The love of life.
Yet Life must grow.
So Love must ever learn.
Not to be stern.
You subtle darling of the afternoon Rounds,
Circling round us.
What’s the fuss?
Sometimes there’s storm.
Sometimes I use contractions.
Shit this beer is good.
I see my feet.
I know not where to stop
The Laces in my shoes.
Outside the Ocean.
The depth in,
Insane insanity rolling sacrifice.
Sound soul life seeing right life, said.
And Desire dinning on the side.
Friday, October 21, 2005
You See the Sound
Miss morning gains
Ugly light brighter
Newness trying to make old friends again
I wish I could
So near that sigh
Trigger that thigh
Or the other
Seldom straight fairytales
Flipping motions of the whale
Dive, rise, exhale
An Ocean rolling beneath and above
Aftershocks of love
The smell of spice
And everything nice
What for these pails
Buckets of puppy tails
To plant a seed
Is a thing of greed
Taking in anger
And robbing the manger
To forgive a sentence
A forgetful penance
Penalties drawn in disappearing ink
With old lemons and melting candles
A loft, a room
Above the living doom
Following the ladder
Sunbeams follow the splatter
Who knew this could be
A toothpick made from the Giving Tree
Picking these teeth
Freeing this thief
Out with abandon
Doorknobs red hot burning their doors down
Fingers closed tight to the bone
Burning the lamp with the genie still inside
No master I
I will not be drowned
I am threshing the chaff
out out out
You see the sound
Thursday, October 20, 2005
I Love You Like She Died
Here ‘tis, she called from the corner store
Here's some of me, here’s some more.
What’s that you say, called the man from the car
What’s special today, sounds good so far.
The Dagger and the Heart smile before meeting
The man and the woman, a conjunction so fleeting
I’ve lived in times of flame. I lived in times of ice.
I know that you speak in words that don’t rhyme twice
I hear you were told it’s ok you can’t see landscapes in your mind.
But such rolling ridge, I seek, I find.
I bark and bare in a full moon’s transformation these teeth.
Running ragged, dorsal tall, jaw jagged, cruising the reef.
Worlds collide in the mass accelerator, our love.
Such experiments do bring new elements,
And yet often beat cascading catastrophe
Of matter anti-matter explosions upon the earthwork embattlements.
“Houston, we have a problem.
The Moon ate our Rocket.”
So simple really,
Such mind breaking complexity.
We are but death and birth in a single moment.
We two, romantically borrowed, broken,
Stolen, begged, seduced and beguiled,
Adam, Eve, the glory and the fall.
It’s a mixed bag of chewy treats.
I like the chocolate.
You like the nuts.
Aren’t we sweet?
Strange metaphors we pretend to share during,
Strange hours between being there,
In strange formations, like continents in syncline.
These words will fail to conjure the perfect wave reality.
You just don’t surf.
Neither did Charlie.
It’s a battle of monsters.
A battle Royale,
With funny Japanese guys dressed in rubber regalia.
There’s wires and pyrotechnics swinging round,
Badly dubbed speeches and volcanic breeches,
Words mouthed out of synch, lava bubbling up from Hell’s fake stink.
Like swollen parasites feeding and exploded...
Ah Love, so constant, so current, so conflicted, so loaded.
The falseness stacks up like poker chips wished for, gambled and lost.
Truth feeling itself up in a one-streetlight alley, alone and tossed.
Yes, it's bitterness, like the staining ink of nazi tattoos,
It’s solution! concentration! absolution!
It’s three wheels traded between axels voodoo.
Hamlet knew the answer before he asked.
It wasn’t him or his father or his enemy he tasked.
I love you like she died.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Ok, I really enjoyed this recent speech by Al Gore.
But of course, I'm a long-time fan of the thinking and works of Marshall McLuhan and Lewis Mumford.
here's some snipets:
"""Television stations and networks, by contrast, are almost completely inaccessible to individual citizens and almost always uninterested in ideas contributed by individual citizens. . . .
Soon after television established its dominance over print, young people who realized they were being shut out of the dialogue of democracy came up with a new form of expression in an effort to join the national conversation: the "demonstration." This new form of expression, which began in the 1960s, was essentially a poor quality theatrical production designed to capture the attention of the television cameras long enough to hold up a sign with a few printed words to convey, however plaintively, a message to the American people. Even this outlet is now rarely an avenue for expression on national television. . . .
The German philosopher, Jurgen Habermas, describes what has happened as "the refeudalization of the public sphere." That may sound like gobbledygook, but it's a phrase that packs a lot of meaning. The feudal system which thrived before the printing press democratized knowledge and made the idea of America thinkable, was a system in which wealth and power were intimately intertwined, and where knowledge played no mediating role whatsoever. The great mass of the people were ignorant. And their powerlessness was born of their ignorance. """
Yep, the man may not have invented the Internet, but it appears he's trying to express/preserve what it is. I found it a provoking and even apt commentary...