What Happens in Rio Stays in Rio... Or Does It?
Having recently returned from the WWW2013 Conference in Rio, 3 delegates shared their experiences with us at Port80 last night in Perth. For the uninitiated, Port80 is the monthly meet up for the Australian Web Industry Association.
Amongst many pictures of cocktails and Bret Treasure dressed to impress (not to mention the Carnival Dancing...), the delegates apparently learned some things as well!
Of particular interest to me was a picture of a monkey controlling a robotic arm. Correct me if I'm wrong but this is how I understand the process went...
Using a joy stick, the monkey taught itself to control the arm to pick up a treat and eat it. Meanwhile, all the zappy things going on in the brain (I'm terribly technical...) were being monitored.
The joystick was then taken away and those zappy things still monitored. What happened is that the monkey was still thinking about the process involved, even though it wasn't controlling the arm - while it was using it's own 2 arms for whatever else it wanted to do.
The point here is that the monkey's brain was essentially controlling 3 arms in it's brain simultaneously.
Picture 2 was a monkey on a treadmill. Walking on the treadmill resulted in a treat. Zappy things were being measured again only this time the thought process for walking on the treadmill was being sent to Japan where a robot was walking as a result.
Taking the treadmill away, the robot continued to walk for a further 2 minutes - activated by those zappy things!
There are 2 questions that need to be asked right here right now...
First, in the busy world we live in, would a 3rd arm actually benefit us or make us more stressed?
Secondly, could such technology actually provide something completely useful? After all, as impressive as a third arm is, there must be more to it than that?
For the answer, consider a paraplegic wearing a full body suit which physically reacts to their thought processes - those zappy things.
All of a sudden a whole new realm opens up as they could control arms, fingers, legs, toes - all with their mind.
Fascinating stuff - and it's only just getting started ;)