Category Archives: Social

DecNef – Learning Through Brain Mapping “Matrix” Style

** SPOILER ALERT **  If you have not read Cohesion Lost but plan to, then do not read this.  It contains information that will spoil the plot.

Researchers: Adult early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning.
Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

In the novel Cohesion Lost, Tenbu and his classmates use plexus beds to relive the lives of historic figures.  What a way to learn history.   Historical dates are no longer abstract.  When was the battle of Waterloo?

If you use plexus learning, you don’t have to memorize dates and events, you live them.  You don’t just read about historic icons, you meet them.  The plexus bed contains microscopic connectors that connect to your spinal cord and replace what you feel with what your character feels in an historical simulation. Let’s say you just finished the simulation of the Napoleonic Wars and someone asks you, when was the battle of Waterloo?  That’s easy.  It feels like last month.  You were there.

Can this work for real? We may never get that far, but recent research shows promise in the area of imprint learning (at Boston University and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan).  “The technique is called “Decoded Neurofeedback”, or “DecNef”, and it involves using decoded fMRI to induce brain activity patterns that match a known state” (Scott Young, MedGadget: “Matrix” Style Learning Through the Visual Cortex).

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** PLUG ALERT **

What will it be like future students with DecNef and plexus beds?

Read Cohesion Lost and find out.

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Press release from the National Science Foundation: Vision Scientists Demonstrate Innovative Learning Method

Journal article in Science: Perceptual Learning Incepted by Decoded fMRI Neurofeedback Without Stimulus Presentation

Invisibility Cloak

To the right is a picture of my invisibly cloak. That’s me in the middle between my wife and son. As you can see, it completely covers me from head to toe. Let’s just be grateful that it makes me invisible as well as the suit.

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have made a three-dimensional object invisible from all angles. (Published in the New Journal of Physics, 25 January 2012.) This is a first, It relies on something called plasmonic metamaterial, a material modified to make light rays arrive as if they had not passed over or been reflected by the cloaked object. The drawback: it’s invisible only if you see microwave “light.”

OK, so now I can finally stick a fork in the microwave and it won’t spark. Big deal. Of course, other applications are coming, including making things really invisible (cancelling the scattering of light between 380 to about 740 nanometers). According to the scientists, there are other limitations, but it may only be a matter of time before we see metamaterial at the checkout for $1.99… or maybe not.

The larger question is, what will the social impact be?

  • What new laws should be enacted with regards to invisibility?
  • Is it polite or even lawful to wear a full-body invisibility suit in public?
  • Why would anyone? Excuse me sir. That’s my seat. I’m already sitting in it.
  • What other creative uses for it will there be?

It will become a verb in 2028: “Quick, someone’s at the door. Meta-sheet that mess in the living room.”

In my novel Recruiting Angles, this technology is used in many forms, most notably the verisuit used by both the Malefics and Sitiri.

If you had this metamaterial, what would you do with it?