American inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, a man referred to as “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes, is famed for his prediction of the Singularity—a theoretical future point in time when machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence. According to Kurzweil, who is currently a director of engineering at Google, the Singularity will occur by 2045. In the spirit of artificial intelligence (AI) and transhumanism, let’s take a look back at some startling (not to mention hair-raising) AI-related patents that have been filed in recent years.
Mind controller – filed in 2002
This mind controller is apparently for the purpose of improving a person’s “mental concentration power or memory.” It does this by “sensing and analyzing human brain waves and then transmitting a mind control audio message suitable for the analyzed human brain waves to the user.” The complex setup described in the patent filing includes:
- An electroencephalogram (EEG) to sense the frequency band of the user’s generated alpha waves and theta waves
- A memory control unit (MCU) to determine whether the brain waves sensed at alpha waves or theta waves
- An audio decoder that demodulates the signal converted into data
- A digital-to-analog (D/A) converter that receives the signal from the audio decoder and subsequently converts the signal into an analog audio signal
- An audio output to convert the analog audio signal into sound
Method of recording and saving of human soul for human immortality and installation for it – filed in 2006
The inventor who filed this patent, Alexander Alexandrovich Bolonkin, is confident enough to declare that a human soul exists entirely as information in the human brain. I’m willing to guess he’s quite off there, considering he doesn’t take into account the aether, but I digress. Nevertheless, he details “a method for re-writing the human brain on electronic chips.” It would theoretically enable man to achieve “immortality” by modeling the human soul computationally.
One problem with this particular invention is that it only takes into account a person’s material-world experiences and sensory inputs during the course of their life; I will be hard-pressed to admit that this is inclusive of a person’s entire soul-content. The far-fetched idea is noteworthy, nonetheless, indicating there has been at least some work in this area in recent decades.
Brain implant device – filed in 2007
This brain implant device patent was filed by the Alfred E. Mann Foundation for Scientific Research (AMF). It can monitor signals from the brain’s motor cortex, as well as provide stimulation to the brain’s sensory cortex. It is composed of a housing that contains an antenna, communication and control electronics, and a conduit. The antenna enables “wireless communication with an external communication and control signal source.” The flexible conduit can have up to 128 electrical conductors connecting the device electronics to related sites on the motor cortex and sensory cortex.
Alfred E. Mann, a Jewish-American physicist, established the foundation that bears his name to “bridge basic research in medicine and to create products that filled unmet and poorly-met needs,” according to the foundation’s website. AMF has over 200 US patents and 100 foreign patents in wide-ranging technologies, although its website has little to no details about the specifics of any of its other patents.
Mind-control toys and methods of interaction therewith – filed in 2009
The exotic invention detailed in this patent is described as a “mind-control toy” that consists of one or more biosensors that can detect brainwave activity and generate responses. A controller responds to these brainwave signals in order to directly effect movement of one or more objects. Various “embodiments” are described, including the following:
- A device to suspend the object in midair
- An aerial obstacle course
- A track where players can “compete or cooperate”
- A maze where an object is maneuvered from start to finish
Church-Turing thesis: the Turing immortality problem solved with a dynamic register machine – filed in 2009
This patent consists of a highly theoretical computing machine, known as a Dynamic Register Machine, along with “new methods of executing and solving heretofore unknown computational problems.” The document demonstrates a computing system that can implement a program with instructions that can be “added or removed while the instructions are being executed.” The invention promises new advances in machine learning, along with more powerful programming languages, compilers, and interpreters.
The patent filing is very complex and mathematical in nature and describes methods that can be applied to both hardware and software technology. One section of the patent describes a dynamic register machine program, known as an IDRM, which consists of 1590 dynamic register machine instructions used to determine “whether a given Turing machine has any immortal configurations.” Sounds a bit spooky. However, the inventors also state, “The Turing Immortality problem is unable to be solved by Turing machines. Furthermore, current computing machine implementations and software applications have been unable to solve this problem and other computing problems.”
Brain-machine interface (BMI) – filed in 2011
This invention proposes the artificial control of a prosthetic device. It utilizes a brain-machine interface (BMI) to map neural signals and corresponding intention estimating kinematics of a “limb trajectory.” The BMI controls the prosthetic device; additionally, a modified version of the BMI is developed via modification of the velocity vectors defined in its interface. The modified BMI incorporates a mapping between the neural signals and the intention-estimating kinematics, which are used to control the prosthetic device via recorded neural brain signals. One usage example, involving both the original and modified BMI, uses a Kalman filter modeling velocities as intentions, along with positions as feedback.
BMIs work by translating action potentials from cortical neurons into control signals that can be used to guide prosthetic devices, e.g., computer cursors and robotic limbs. According to the patent filing, BMIs have “demonstrated considerable promise in proof-of-concept laboratory animal experiments, as well as in human clinical trials.” However, the inventors note that there are two critical barriers to successful translation:
- Current BMIs do not move as quickly or accurately as the native arm
- They are unable to independently sustain performance over extended periods of time, i.e., hours and days, or across behavioral tasks
Considering this patent was filed in 2011, I suspect that such barriers have already been overcome in recent years.
Systems, methods and devices for a skull/brain interface – filed in 2016
This patent discloses systems, methods, and devices for directing and focusing signals to the brain “for neuromodulation” and “other energy from the brain for measurement, heat transfer and imaging.” It utilizes an “aperture in the skull and/or a channel device implantable in the skull” to “facilitate direction and focusing.” The systems, methods, and devices disclosed in this patent filing can be used to facilitate the treatment and diagnosis of multiple neurological conditions.
The invention supposedly establishes an “interface through the thickness of the skull” to deliver neuromodulation “to targeted structures in the brain in a controlled manner” for the purpose of modulating neural activity and detecting signals generated by these targeted neurons. The inventors acknowledge that at the time of this patent filing, significant research and clinical development was ongoing in the use of neuromodulation to affect brain activity, such as for treating neurological disorders. They also note the deep interest in improving the quality of sensing signals from the brain, particularly in electroencephalography, impedance plethysmography, tomography, and optical imaging.
Method for processing brainwave signals – filed in 2018
This patent describes a signal processing method and system that combines “multi-scale decomposition, such as wavelet, pre-processing together with a compression technique, such as an auto-associate artificial neural network, operating in the multi-scale decomposition domain for signal denoising and extraction.” That’s certainly a lot to absorb right there. Regardless, the inventors brag about creating a “low-cost, non-drug, non-invasive, inverse discrete wavelet transform” that is “pharmaceutically nonintrusive to the body.” I suppose that would be a welcome relief from BigPharma, but I digress.
Moreover, the invention involves “direct mind control of external devices and systems.” It utilizes magnetic and electric stimulations to recognize abnormal brainwave signatures, intervening at the earliest moment “to reset the brainwaves back to normality.” The feedback system regulates itself and stops treatment once the brainwaves return to normal. Multiple sensing electrodes and microcoils are utilized within the braincap.
Looking at the aforementioned patents, it appears that progress in the field of AI is a bit more advanced than I may have previously thought. Cue the transhuman super-soldiers from DARPA.