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I am writing a short story and would like to know what would be the most realistic way to introduce a human to robot interface (exchanging data with an AI robot)? I was thinking of some kind of a chip that would be put on a human head (or implanted if needed) that would be able to "read" what's going on in the brain and transmit that data wirelesly to a robot.

My question is does something remotely similar exist today and would something like that be possible with future technology (like 50 to 100 years in the future)? I'm also interested in being able to "copy" a person into a robot, so bonus points would be for that chip being able to not just scan current brain waves but also to be able to "copy" your brain (memories, knowledge etc...) to a robot.

EDIT:

I might have not been precise enough, so to clarify, I was looking for a robot to human interface that would allow for them to exchange information. Not just speech or thought per se, and not in a way where robot knows what we are thinking of as a textual info. As I said in a comment to one answer, data that I am aiming to exchange through that interface can be images or memories of some event both visual and aural. So not just describing something to a robot textually (or robot to us, data exchange should go both ways), but actually sharing information as we have seen it or as we envision it (or robot).

And that's where the bonus part comes, being able to "copy" a brain to a robot. So the first part of the question is whether it would be possible to make that kind of an interface for exchanging data with AI in the future, and the second part is would it be possible to scan a human and store him in a robot (immortalise a human in a way). I know that we know nothing about consciousness yet and would that robot then be conscious that it's the same person it was before the transfer, but question is primarily would it be possible to copy all of the knowledge, memory etc... from a person to a computer. Now that I think of it maybe I should have split this into 2 questions.

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    $\begingroup$ Cochlear implants are mature technology. Optic nerve implants are being developed for the blind. It could work like a tele-prompter. Connecting to the nerves that control your larynx could be used to output speech data as fast as you want to pretend you are speaking. There will not be any high speed communications just yet. $\endgroup$ – KalleMP Feb 16 '17 at 20:45
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With current technology we're already able to 'read minds' a little bit, see http://news.berkeley.edu/2011/09/22/brain-movies/ .

The problem with this technology (and any technology really) is that every brain is different, so you'll have to do a lot of calibration first. Even if you're able to capture every signal in the brain, you'd still need some sort of benchmark to actually interpret these signals. But, if you make sure you've also got a microphone and camera so you can see exactly what a person sees and hears, and have them do a bunch of psychological tests, that should give you enough data for such a calibration.

As for copying a person, there's a lot more to 'you' than just the electrical impulses in your brain. There's all kinds of hormones (they're a really big influence on your behaviour), blood sugar/salinity, and also how the rest of your body deals with signals to and from your brain that help shape your interpretations and reactions to the world around you.
This is not something that can't be copied, but having MRI scans, complete bloodworks and the like at your disposal, rather than a single chip, would make it a lot easier.

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    $\begingroup$ Gonna wait a bit to see if anyone gives some other answer until I accept it, but this seems like a great one. +1 $\endgroup$ – Mario Plantosar Feb 16 '17 at 20:54
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Voice Recognition Technology

Our voices and ears have evolved as a great way to wirelessly exchange data. While it's not as high-tech of a solution as the one you're looking for, it's a solution our brains are well equipped to handle. We're used to talking and listening as a means of data exchange, and I imagine it would be difficult for a human to comprehend most higher speeds of data input.

Compared to a brain chip based solution, voice recognition requires no surgery for humans, is instantly available for almost everyone, and allows robots to communicate with everybody, instead of merely with those who have been chipped. Humans also like talking to other things, and I imagine it will give most people a sense of joy to talk to a polite, funny, well-mannered AI rather than just getting plugged in. (Well, most of us like that too, but I'm digressing...)

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm on board with this answer, humans are very good at information transfer via speech (so long as the AI is sophisticated enough to get subtleties like inflection). If you could include some kind of simultaneous visual feed, you'd up the bandwidth quite a bit though. Simulated body language/gestures - or for technical information transfer, data visualization - and some ability to understand these signals in humans mean your AI can convey and understand subtle ideas without crowding the voice channel. $\endgroup$ – realityChemist Feb 17 '17 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ Good answer, but I wasn't really going for just speech exchange. I wanted to include some more complex data that could possibly be transferred to a robot like an image you have in mind, or some video clip or a memory of some event you had seen. Of course you could try to describe what you have in mind, but a picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes. Answer by Swier was more on point so I'm accepting that one. +1 for your answer though $\endgroup$ – Mario Plantosar Feb 17 '17 at 7:40
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Make your AI a really, really good psychologist

There are some reactions that our bodies have in certain situations. Emotions can be read from minor body movements, lies detected through heart rate and sweat glands, intentions understood through the direction and frequency of our eyes flickering. While all of these things can be suppressed with training they can also be (in theory) ramped up at a subconscious level with training. If your AI can pick up on all of these things then they'll be able to garner a pretty good idea of what we're thinking when exposed to certain stimuli, and by exposing us to said stimuli and observing our reactions the AI will be able to selectively probe our brains and return information to either our subconscious or conscious mind.

So have the AI sit the human down in a chair and give the human stimuli. They don't even necessarily have to make sense to the human (as long as the AI knows what it's doing). Lights and images, bursts of sound and tactile interactions, all will let the AI subtly probe the human brain and judge a person's reactions. If the person is used to such an interface then they might be able to enter an enhanced mental state where they're just acting as the human component in a strange biomechanical brain. If they aren't then the interface should still work, but perhaps not as fast or as well.

This works best if you expect human/AI pairs to interact often, as the more a human interacts with such an AI the more the AI will be able to understand and predict the human, and the easier the human will find it to convey what they want to the AI without having to consciously articulate the thought (though it doesn't stop them doing so, a useful hand wave for when you want to/don't want to explain plot). It may have some strange psychological side effects, such as AI dependence, but if your AI is good enough at it's job it will know exactly what to do to alleviate such symptoms. Take this far enough and the AI will be able to query your subconscious for memories and run simulations on potential situations without you consciously realising.

We already have technologies that can read human emotions, ones that respond to spoken requests, robotic arms that always win at rock-paper-scissors, search engines that recommend things to you before you know you want them and eye tracking software that can be repurposed for a whole variety of applications.

This system doesn't need any modifications to the human, and can in theory be done at a distance if your AI is integrated into the working environment of the person. Such integration would also have the nice side effect of the AI being able to do things like open doors when it realises you want to walk through them, make sure your coffee is ready at the right time by watching your sleep patterns, bring over that paper on neural network cohesion before you realise you want to read it and mimic every aspect of your brain when it comes time to unleash the robotic bodysnatchers...

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for a great answer, but I might not have been concise enough with my question. I added an edit that elaborates more on what my question is. Basically I'm not looking for a robot that would read my mind, but a connection between the 2 of us that could transmit any type of data like an image I have seen (or something I envisioned), a memory of walking around some city I had been to (both visual and aural info) etc... $\endgroup$ – Mario Plantosar Feb 17 '17 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ @MarioPlantosar: Give this system enough time and it could, though the data extraction process really wouldn't make much sense to the person the data was coming from or going to. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Feb 17 '17 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ @MarioPlantosar: For example (this is just a small version of the process) The AI could pull out salient details of an imaginary image by subliminally asking you to think of the thing then showing you a series of other pictures, focusing down and refining it's suggestions based on your eye movements and facial twitches. As long as you don't resist the machine's queries it'll be able to have a full subliminal 'conversation' with your brain and extract all the info it needs. I imagine a decent AI would have less crude ways of doing it, but I'm not a super intelligent AI, so... $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Feb 17 '17 at 11:54
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The brain is based on electricity so yes you could have a chip that monitors the neurons around the brain to read whats going on. You can use electricity to modify brain functions. However this technology is not available today. They use electrodes attached to the outside of the brain to monitor what the brain is doing, but with the advancements of science it will feasible in the future.

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I think that if the AI read my mind it would be overwhelmed with Foreigner lyrics, vague sexual schemings, worry about that sore tooth and other things going on which are peripheral to what I want to tell it.

For a written story you should stick to a verbal interchange between the human and some (human appearing?) avatar of the AI. It is how humans are used to interfacing with other intelligences. Dialogue moves a narrative right along. Plus you can use subtle but increasing strangeness in the dialogue to let the reader gradually understand that one side of the exchange is a nonhuman. More fun that way than writing "Starchy sat down to have a talk with the AI".

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I have been imaging the following for some time now...

Consider a huge swarm of nano-sized RFIDS (Radio Frequency chips). Each individual RFID would be molecule sized.

A large number of these RFIDS (millions or billions) would be injected into the subject, and after some time, they would lodge in various locations in the brain (because that would be how they were designed to behave).

Once in place, they could monitor transactions in the brain in microscopic detail, and would transmit their data via radio to an external device for analysis.

When they have been monitoring long enough, they have collected enough data to "simulate" your thought patterns. At this point, they could start to actually inject thoughts into your mental state. Essentially, you would not be able to tell if a thought had initiated with you or with them.

They could even be used to short-circuit specific thoughts or behavior patterns.

The other thing I think about related to this is some of the mind controlling parasites you can find in the wild on planet earth. Some of them are truly frightening. I imagine one or more of them going bat-sh__ crazy on the human species. It is not an impossible thing.

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    $\begingroup$ being nano sized would probably prevent chips working at RF, visible light has wavelengths in the 100s of nm range $\endgroup$ – jk. Feb 17 '17 at 9:02
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Communication Speech is the original Human Communication format, so that would be the original building block, the most logical start point, right after keyboard and mouse. From that you could expand by adding recording devices to humans in order to store information for later transmission. Maybe an auditory recording device implanted in the Human and add some video recording implanted in the eyes. Run a Cable to the robot to transmit (IMO wireless tech is probably not a great idea, security, speed, and signal issues). That should take care of a bunch of the data transmission method. That gets concrete things stored and moved. That covers Data. More complicated is with the concept of information. I define Information as Data + Context. Just because you can transmit a ton of data doesn't mean you want to transmit everything. Part of what happens with speech is editing stuff down to give context. You don't get that with a simple bulk data transmission. We provide the context that turns Data into Information That is a huge part of human communication. This is an oversimplification, but it's a start point.

Consciousness We run into some weirdness when we talk about abstract concepts, why smells trigger memories, what is love and where does it go, what are feelings, and so on. There is so much that we know about the brain and we are learning about the chemistry, but do we really know what consciousness is? Until we can answer that, we can't really set up a method to transmit the entirety of a human consciousness into an alternate vessel. An experience is more than just a sequence of events. It's the dopamine that is released, the adrenaline, and the rest of the chemical cocktail that goes along with the experience that gives layers of complexity to the event.

That's not to say it's impossible, maybe adrenaline could be simulated by an increase in cycles per second, and offloading sensory input to a set of higher end processors that are faster but more energy intensive. Dopamine is represented by a change in voltage. A olfactory sensor gets directly linked to specific memory arrays. You'd have to add some handwavium to smooth the concepts out, but so long as you address the more than merely mechanical side of human consciousness, you might be able to jam a brain into a box.

This is a good point to start all kinds of philosophical stuff in a cool story!

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