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AI is turning thoughts into speech. Should we be concerned?
A new study highlights a fascinating application of AI, though other uses are more troubling.
- Recent research in epilepsy patients has provided a breakthrough in AI-enabled speech recognition technology.
- Soon researchers believe such an application will translate brain waves into speech.
- The moral dangers of AI, especially concerning privacy, continue to be an issue.
Tara Thomas thought her two-year-old daughter was inventing voices, perhaps the result of nightmares spilling into daytime. Thomas's disbelief was suspended when she heard pornography being played through the Nest Cam in her daughter's room, a device that she had been using as a monitor. Someone hacked into the intercom feature in the software.
This is not as isolated incident. Tech companies could make devices more secure, but that would require more participation by the user—aka "friction"—that would result in lower adoption. As marketing expert Geoffrey Moore notes in his bestselling classic, Crossing the Chasm, exposing your product to the early majority requires a "whole product" approach that early adopters do not require. Dominating the market requires as easy an installation process as possible, such as a one-click setup of the Internet of Things.
To accomplish this, Big Tech sacrifices security for convenience. Consumers are playing right along. As the article above notes, Nest offers two-factor authentication, yet customers often ignore it. The ability to unbox an item, plug it in, and immediately tell it what to do is a feature in the eyes of the consumer.
Then suddenly your infant is listening to hardcore porn and you wonder where your privacy went.
Such problems, which will continue to increase until regulations force tech companies to install more serious security measures, are the building blocks of dystopian novels and movies. Unfortunately, they're creating public relations problems for beneficial applications of technology.
Hackers used Google's Nest Cam to Speak to Bay Area Woman's Daughter
Consider AI. There's a race to enter this market, but in the excitement of creating machines smarter than us we have to wonder what sorts of compromises are being made.
One fascinating use case involves a speech-encoding device. The research, published in a recent issue of Nature, details an AI-enabled technology that translates brain patterns into speech. I highly recommend clicking the link above to listen to a 15-second clip of two examples. Perfect? Not quite, but frighteningly accurate.
Thus far, AI has been able to identify and translate monosyllabic words from brain activity. This recent leap forward, powered by electrodes attached to the skulls of participants, is producing entire sentences. While five epilepsy patients read sentences out loud, researchers recorded their neural activity, combining the data with previous studies that focused on how the tongue, lips, jaw, and larynx create sound.
Enter AI, which identified the specific brain signals producing vocal tract movements. Seventy percent of words in the 101 sentences recorded were understandable. While the ability to translate from brain wave to perfect speech is years away, Chethan Pandarinath and Yahia Ali, both at Emory University, co-authored a commentary to the study, noting:
"Ultimately, 'biomimetic' approaches that mirror normal motor function might have a key role in replicating the high-speed, high-accuracy communication typical of natural speech."
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Currently, this technology cannot be applied to people that cannot speak at all, though the authors hope this breakthrough to be an entry point for such an application. The ability to communicate with others would be a boon for such patients' mental health and emotional well-being. Given the rapid increase in this technology over the last decade, researchers are hopeful that such an application is around the corner.
Which is good news in a continually troublesome suite of devices under scrutiny. Telling your monitor to turn on the lights instead of standing up to flick a switch hardly seems worthwhile considering the potential downsides of privacy invasion.
An automated task is not necessarily a better option. Sure, self-driving cars might reduce accidents, but are the ensuing attentional deficits worth the cost? If you never observe where you're going, how do you even know where you are in space when you arrive?
Advocates like to make moral arguments, such as the idea that AI-enabled devices should receive the same ethical considerations as animals. What about the ethics of one particular animal: humans? The mystique of an encyclopedic machine blinds us to the troubles it will wage on Humans 1.0. As with privacy issues on Facebook, billions will likely be entrenched in the technology before we even recognize an issue at hand.
AI has a bright future ahead, as the Nature study highlights. We just need to ensure the consumer fascination with bright and shiny data-collecting toys doesn't overwhelm our moral sensibilities in using these technologies soundly. So far, we're fighting an uphill battle.
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A 2017 University of Wisconsin-Madison study was the first of it's kind to show structural differences in the psychopathic brain.
- According to a 2017 study led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, psychopaths have reduced connections in the areas of the brain that control fear, anxiety, empathy and sentimentality.
- Psychopathy is typically diagnosed using a 20-item checklist called the Hare Psychopathy Checklist.
- Psychopathic tendencies could be considered "warning signs" of psychopathy, but it's important to note that not everyone who shows psychopathic tendencies becomes a psychopath.
Defining psychopathy<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQxMDkwMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNTk2MTAyOH0.yVAVp2AYmR0i5hPAhhY-R1jafU2y0shl5R35K2rOnCg/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C92%2C0%2C92&height=700" id="531fa" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d45c27dc8187d30f709739ca98c9913f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of psychopathy split personality manipulation and deceit man showing half his true face" />
Psychopathy is typically diagnosed using a 20-item checklist called the Hare Psychopathy Checklist.
Photo by FGC on Shutterstock<p>Psychopathy, like many other conditions, is a spectrum. Common traits of psychopaths can include things like superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, manipulation, lack of remorse or guilt, lack of empathy, behavioral problems in early life, impulsivity, and shallow affect (reduced emotional responses) to name a few.<br></p><p>Psychopathy is typically diagnosed using a 20-item checklist called the <a href="http://www.clintools.com/victims/resources/assessment/personality/psychopathy_checklist.html" target="_blank">Hare Psychopathy Checklist</a>. This list features questions that gauge common traits such as a lack of empathy, pathological lying, and impulsivity (among many others). </p><p>Each question on this scale is then scored on a three-point scale: The item doesn't apply (0), the item applies to a certain extend (1), or the question fully applies (2). The bar for "clinical psychopathy" is 30 points on this test. </p><p>For reference, here are some of the scores of notable evaluations: </p><p>Ted Bundy - 39/40<br>Richard Ramirez - 31/40<br>Brian David Mitchell - 34/40</p><p><strong>Differentiating psychopathy and sociopathy </strong></p><p>The terms "psychopath" and "sociopath" are often used interchangeably but they aren't the same - and the <a href="https://psychcentral.com/blog/differences-between-a-psychopath-vs-sociopath/#:~:text=Psychopaths%20tend%20to%20be%20more,much%20of%20a%20normal%20life." target="_blank">difference is quite important</a>. A sociopath is someone with antisocial tendencies that are specific to social or environmental factors. A psychopath is someone whose traits are more innate.</p><p>A psychopath will be more manipulative but can be seen by others to lead a charming, "normal" life - whereas sociopaths tend to be more erratic, rage-prone, and are unable to keep up the facade of normality. </p>
Psychopathic tendencies versus psychopathy<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQxMDkwNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjYzMTQ5OX0.IkfptXc5e1auSwTo_Bqpasjwbh4i1nLS8r8Xmm2EJEI/img.jpg?width=980" id="8b403" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0581a77d5f1e4b73e07c019aeda5971d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of trying on many faces hiding your true personality psychopath" />
A psychopath may be able to create a seemingly typical personality and life to fool others. Psychopathic tendencies don't always extend into psychopathy.
Photo by FGC on Shutterstock<p><strong>What causes psychopathy?</strong></p><p>Brain anatomy, genetics, and the person's environment may all contribute to the development of psychopathic traits. However, it's important to note that not all psychopathic traits and tendencies mean the person will grow into a psychopath.</p><p><strong>What are psychopathic tendencies? </strong></p><p>Psychopathic tendencies could be considered warning signs of psychopathy, but it's important to note that not everyone who shows psychopathic tendencies becomes a psychopath. Some, with the intervention of various therapies and strong, nurturing relationships, can assimilate to a relatively normal way of life. </p><p>The most well-known case of this would be the case of Beth Thomas. The subject of a 1990 documentary entitled "Child of Rage," Beth began to show psychopathic tendencies extremely early in life after suffering physical neglect and sexual abuse at the hands of her birth father before the age of one. </p><p>Later moved into an adoptive family where she could get the help she needs, the documentary (<a href="https://www.bitchute.com/video/pr3tmwyZAn0f/" target="_blank">which you can view here</a>, be warned, this footage may be disturbing to some) showed the disturbing thought process of a young 6-year-old girl struggling with an attachment disorder that led to psychopathic tendencies. </p><p>However, Beth, with the help of her adoptive family and professionals, became a <a href="https://www.bitchute.com/video/pr3tmwyZAn0f/" target="_blank">relatively typical young woman</a> who works as a nurse and has co-authored a book called "More Than a Thread of Hope" with her adoptive mother.</p><p><strong>Psychopaths' brains show differences in structure and function</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.med.wisc.edu/news-and-events/2011/november/psychopaths-brains-differences-structure-function/" target="_blank">According to a 2017 study</a> led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, psychopaths have reduced connections in their brains between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and the amygdala. </p><p>This is noteworthy because of the functions of both parts in play - the vmPFC is responsible for sentimentality, empathy and guilt and the amygdala mediates fear and anxiety. </p><p>Not only did the research here show there were differences in how these parts of the psychopathic brain functioned, but this was the first study of it's kind to show physical (structural) differences in the brains of psychopaths. </p><p><strong>How common is psychopathy? </strong></p><p>While there may never be a specific answer to this, there have been several studies that can give us insight into how common psychopathy is. <a href="https://www.livescience.com/16585-psychopaths-speech-language.html#:~:text=Psychopaths%20make%20up%20about%201,profoundly%20selfish%20and%20lack%20emotion." target="_blank">According to most research</a>, psychopaths make up about 1 percent of the general population. <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201602/5-traits-actual-psychopaths#:~:text=While%20about%20one%20percent%20of,the%20criteria%20for%20being%20psychopaths.)" target="_blank">Additional research</a> claims up to 15 percent of the U.S prison population may meet the criteria for being psychopaths. </p>
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
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Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.
Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.