back to article Man paralyzed from neck down uses AI brain implants to write out text messages

A combination of brain implants and a neural network helped a 65-year-old man paralyzed from the neck down type out text messages on a computer at 90 characters per minute, faster than any other known brain-machine interface. The patient, referred to as T5 in a research paper published [preprint] in Nature on Wednesday, is the …

  1. Tom 7

    Getting there!

    There's a surprising number of people out there really need this.

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: Getting there!

      Indeed. It almost sounded like the medical types were at risk at applying the same standards to the software as to the hardware which might be overkill in a read only application like this.

      Get the hardware right (and safe and certified!) and the software will come along behind it. I'm guessing there would be plenty of people willing to spend an hour a day retraining the ML if it lets them communicate well for the rest of the day if they knew the implant is safe.

    2. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Getting there!

      Yes and no.

      Full body paralysis would mean you definitely could use this.

      Being paralysed from the neck down means you can speak so you can use speech to text, voice commands, eye movements and you chin instead without risking an experimental procedure that's still decades away of being safe enough..

  2. Cynic_999

    Why no delete?

    Surely it would have been trivial to have trained the system to detect an additional unique symbol that is interpreted as a backspace or delete character?

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: Why no delete?

      they even hinted at what character to use

      as > was being used to place a space character it would be trivial to use < to delete

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Why no delete?

        But then he'd be completely buggered if a user ever wanted to write HTML...

        All right, all right, I'm going... the nice white one with the buckles up the back please!

        1. Filippo Silver badge

          Re: Why no delete?

          Well, they could implement escape sequences...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Morse code

    I never understood why devices aimed to help disabled users communicate seem to always use alphabets and letter by letter picking, and don't use morse code. This system has to train its AI on 26 characters plus punctuation. A morse code based system would only need its AI to recognize 3, a dot a dash and a sequence end marker. Obviously learning morse would be a requisite but operators routinely sent/receive at comparable rates to those discussed in this article.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Morse code

      Why force the disabled person to learn morse code when you can get a machine to do the heavy lifting? Or to put it more simply, why make it more difficult for the user in order to make it easier for the machine?

  4. JohnJacob

    A new torture device?

    Providing no backspace, hmmm? Sounds like a very intimate way to have auto-correct drive you absolutely bonkers when you can't delete what it screws up.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: A new torture device?

      uterus infuriating!


      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: A new torture device?

        I've managed to get through five decades with no backspace in my audio output system. Yes, there are times when I would have dearly loved one, but sometimes communication is more important.

  5. onomatopoeia99

    The future

    El Reg in 2024 : "Ono-Sendai corp announces new Cyberspace VII deck with direct neural interfacing."

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: The future

      "Ono-Sendai corp"...sounds exciting and cyber-punky, can't wait.

      But, in reality, if it's Google, they'll drop the project and leave you with useless junk in your head, Facebook, and they'll spam you and everyone you've ever known, Microsoft and an update one day will turn you into a vegetable or wipe half your memories.

  6. llaryllama

    It's horrible trying to imagine the world these patients live in being completely lucid and unable to move. I'm not sure I would be able to bear it. The techs and doctors working on this technology are doing great work, the next round's on me.

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