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Mary Lou Jepsen 談未來設備能讀取大腦影像嗎?

Mary Lou Jepsen: Could future devices read images from our brains?

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:Mary Lou Jepsen

2013年3月攝於TED2013

 

翻譯:洪曉慧

編輯:朱學恒

簡繁轉換:洪曉慧

後制:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

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關於這場演講

身為頂尖數位顯示專家,Mary Lou Jepsen研究如何將我們最具創意的想法顯示在螢幕上。身為經歷大腦手術的病人,驅使她瞭解更多關於發明、創意、思維的神經活動。在這場激勵人心的演講中,她結合這兩種熱情,闡述兩項頂尖的大腦研究,或許能提供瞭解人類如何思考及思考什麽的新科技。

 

關於Mary Lou Jepsen

Mary Lou Jepsen發現使數位螢幕融入日常生活的驚人方法。

 

為什麼要聽她演講

Mary Lou Jepsen是Google X顯示部門領導者。在此之前,她創立或共同創立了四家不同的新創公司,並擔任技術總監或執行長。2005年,她與Nicholas Negroponte共同創立「每童一電腦」(OLPC)機構,為世上最貧困的兒童開發價格低廉的電腦。身為技術總監的她,發明、建構並提供大量科技巨頭認為不可能做出的機器。之後Jepsen博士於2008年創立Pixel Qi公司,試圖將衰敗的顯示元件產業轉型為創新引擎。她曾擔任麻省理工學院教授、英特爾顯示部門技術總監,亦為走遍全球的高科技媒體藝術家。她被列為歷年來前50大女性電腦科學家,《時代雜誌》在「時代100」中將她列為全球最具影響力百大人物之一。

 

Mary Lou Jepsen的英語網上資料

@mljmljmlj

 

[TED科技‧娛樂‧設計]

已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。

 

Mary Lou Jepsen 談未來設備能讀取大腦影像嗎?

 

18年前我動了腦部手術,從那時起,大腦科學成了我個人熱衷之事。其實我是工程師。先提一下,我最近加入Google Moonshot團隊,任職於Google X實驗室顯示部門。我今天談論的大腦科學是加入Google之前的研究,與Google的研究無關。

 

因此這麼說吧,經歷大腦手術彷彿是個污名。你是否依舊聰明?如果不是,你能再讓自己變聰明嗎?

 

神經外科手術後,我大腦的一部份被切除,我必須面對這個問題。那並非灰質,而是黏稠狀的死點,生產關鍵荷爾蒙及神經傳導物質的部分。手術一結束,我必須決定十幾種強效化學藥品的每日服用量,因為如果我不服用藥物,將在幾小時後死去。十八年來每一天-日復一日,我必須決定各種化學藥品的搭配組合,並試著服用,以維持生命。我曾經幾次面臨死亡。

 

但幸運的是,我具有實驗精神,因此我決定藉由實驗找出最佳劑量。因為並沒有任何關於這些細節的明確指南,我開始嘗試不同組合,震驚於些微的劑量變化如何戲劇性地改變自我認知:我對自己的認知、我的想法、對待別人的行為。一個相當戲劇性的例子是:幾個月當中,我確實嘗試了適用於20出頭男性的藥物及劑量,我對自己想法的改變感到震驚。(笑聲)我總是怒火中燒,我經常想到性,我認為自己是世上最聰明的人。(笑聲)當然,這些年來我遇過像這樣的傢伙,或程度沒那麼嚴重的版本,我的情況有點極端。但對我而言,令我震驚的是,我並非妄自尊大,我確實試著-帶著些許不安-解決我面臨的問題,只是結果不盡人意。

 

因此我無法搞定這件事。我改變了劑量,但我認為那段經歷使我對男性及他們可能的經歷有了新的評價。從那時起,我與他們相處得和睦多了。

 

我想嘗試的是,藉由調節這些荷爾蒙及神經傳導物質等等,試著在生病及手術後恢復原本的智力,以及充滿創意的想法和思緒。我多半以圖像進行思考,因此這對我來說是一項重要指標:如何獲得迅速建構創意原型的心智圖像,也就是我的構想;嘗試不同的新想法、推演不同情境。這種思考方式並不新鮮,休姆、笛卡兒及霍布斯等哲學家以相同方式思考,他們認為心智圖像與構想事實上是相同的東西。目前有許多對此的爭論,及許多對心智如何運作的爭論,但對我而言這十分簡單:對大多數人而言,心智圖像是創新及創意想法的中心。

 

因此幾年後,我調整好自己,獲得許多相當生動、複雜的美妙心智圖像,及支持這個觀點的分析。因此我現在正在研究,如何使大腦中的心智圖像更迅速地顯示在電腦螢幕上?你是否能想像,電影導演能單憑想像操縱眼前的場景?或音樂家能直接呈現腦海裡的音樂?其中存在不可思議的可能性,提供創意人士以光速分享構思的方法。事實上,有待突破的瓶頸是:想實現這個目標,只需提高腦部掃描系統的解析度。

 

因此我藉由分享兩個頂尖神經學小組最近所做的兩項實驗,展示一下為何我認為我們已十分接近目標。兩個小組都採用fMRI技術-功能性磁振造影-掃描大腦影像。這是哈佛Giorgio Ganis和他的同事所做的大腦掃描影像,左欄顯示某人觀看一張圖片時的大腦掃描圖,中欄顯示同一個人想像同一張圖片時的大腦掃描圖,右欄是左欄減去中欄的結果,顯示幾乎沒有差別。這是許多不同測試者觀看大量不同圖片重複實驗的結果,結果相當一致:觀看及想像同一張圖片的結果幾乎毫無差異。

 

接下來讓我分享另一個實驗,來自柏克萊Jack Gallant實驗室。他們能將腦電波解碼成可辨識的視覺影像,因此我為大家解說一下。在這個實驗中,每個人觀看數百小時YouTube影片,同時掃描他們的大腦,建立大腦對影片反應的龐大資料庫,然後播放包含新圖像、新人物、新動物的新電影,記錄新一組掃描結果。電腦僅藉由大腦掃描影像資料庫對新的大腦掃描影像進行解碼,顯示它認為測試者所見的影像。右邊是電腦的猜測,左邊是我們提供的影片片段。這相當驚人,我們已十分接近目標,只需提高解析度。現在請記住:當你觀看一張圖片,相對於你想像相同圖片時,將產生相同的大腦掃描圖。

 

因此這是大腦掃描系統目前所能使用的最高解析度。近幾年來,它們的解析度以千倍速率增長。接下來我們需要使解析度再提高一千倍,以獲得更精細的圖像。我們該如何進行?有許多技術可達成目標,其中之一是打開你的頭蓋骨,放入電極;我不支持這種方法。目前有許多新成像技術正在發展,有些來自我的想法。但鑒於MRI目前的進展,首先我們必須提出的問題是,這項技術已走到盡頭了嗎?根據傳統認知,僅能藉由較大磁體才能獲得較高解析度。但目前較大的磁體僅能提供逐步增長的解析度,並非我們所需的千倍增長。我提出一個想法:並非採用較大磁體,而是優化磁體。奈米科技中有些突破性的新技術,當應用於磁體結構中,將創造全新類別的磁體。藉由這些磁體,我們可建立相當精細的大腦磁場圖像。藉由這些技術,我們確實能建立如全像攝影般的干涉結構,精確控制多種圖像,如這裡所顯示的移動效果。藉由稍微不同的排列,我們可建立更複雜的結構,就像描繪呼吸運動記錄圖。

 

為何這十分重要?這些年來,MRI領域眾多研究成果使我們能製造相當巨大的磁體,對嗎?然而,近期解析度上的進展,事實上來自MRI系統中調頻訊號頻率傳送與接收的巧妙編碼及解碼方法。同樣地,並非採用均勻磁場,而是將結構磁性圖像加入調頻訊號頻率。因此藉由結合磁性圖像及調頻訊號頻率圖像,可大幅增加我們在單一掃描中所擷取的訊號。最重要的是,我們可結合對大腦結構及記憶不斷增長的知識,建立我們所需的千倍增長。藉由fMRI,我們不僅能測量血氧含量,還能測量我提過的荷爾蒙及神經傳導物質,甚至直接的神經活動,即夢境。

 

我們將能使想法直接輸入數位媒體。你能想像不使用語言、直接藉由人類思想進行交流嗎?我們還能做什麼?我們將如何學習面對未篩選的人類想法中真實的涵義?你認為網路是大問題,這些是極大的問題,這或許終將成為傳遞想法及交流技能的工具。事實上,同樣的工具或許能用於治療阿茲海默症及類似疾病。

 

除了打開這扇門,我們別無選擇。無論如何,總有一天-這會發生在5年或15年後?很難想像需要花更多時間,我們必須學習如何共同邁出這一步。

 

謝謝。

 

(掌聲)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this Talk

As an expert on cutting-edge digital displays, Mary Lou Jepsen studies how to show our most creative ideas on screens. And as a brain surgery patient herself, she is driven to know more about the neural activity that underlies invention, creativity, thought. She meshes these two passions in a rather mind-blowing talk on two cutting-edge brain studies that might point to a new frontier in understanding how (and what) we think.

About the Speaker

Mary Lou Jepsen discovers astonishing ways to integrate digital screens into daily life. ./ 

Transcript

I had brain surgery 18 years ago, and since that time, brain science has become a personal passion of mine. I'm actually an engineer. And first let me say, I recently joined Google's Moonshot group, where I had a division, the display division in Google X, and the brain science work I'm speaking about today is work I did before I joined Google and on the side outside of Google.

So that said, there's a stigma when you have brain surgery. Are you still smart or not? And if not, can you make yourself smart again?

After my neurosurgery, part of my brain was missing, and I had to deal with that. It wasn't the grey matter, but it was the gooey part dead center that makes key hormones and neurotransmitters. Immediately after my surgery, I had to decide what amounts of each of over a dozen powerful chemicals to take each day, because if I just took nothing, I would die within hours. Every day now for 18 years -- every single day -- I've had to try to decide the combinations and mixtures of chemicals, and try to get them, to stay alive. There have been several close calls.

But luckily, I'm an experimentalist at heart, so I decided I would experiment to try to find more optimal dosages because there really isn't a clear road map on this that's detailed. I began to try different mixtures, and I was blown away by how tiny changes in dosages dramatically changed my sense of self, my sense of who I was, my thinking, my behavior towards people. One particularly dramatic case: for a couple months I actually tried dosages and chemicals typical of a man in his early 20s, and I was blown away by how my thoughts changed. (Laughter) I was angry all the time, I thought about sex constantly, and I thought I was the smartest person in the entire world, and —(Laughter)— of course over the years I'd met guys kind of like that, or maybe kind of toned-down versions of that. I was kind of extreme. But to me, the surprise was, I wasn't trying to be arrogant. I was actually trying, with a little bit of insecurity, to actually fix a problem in front of me, and it just didn't come out that way.

So I couldn't handle it. I changed my dosages. But that experience, I think, gave me a new appreciation for men and what they might walk through, and I've gotten along with men a lot better since then.

What I was trying to do with tuning these hormones and neurotransmitters and so forth was to try to get my intelligence back after my illness and surgery, my creative thought, my idea flow. And I think mostly in images, and so for me that became a key metric -- how to get these mental images that I use as a way of rapid prototyping, if you will, my ideas, trying on different new ideas for size, playing out scenarios. This kind of thinking isn't new. Philiosophers like Hume and Descartes and Hobbes saw things similarly. They thought that mental images and ideas were actually the same thing. There are those today that dispute that, and lots of debates about how the mind works, but for me it's simple: Mental images, for most of us, are central in inventive and creative thinking.

So after several years, I tuned myself up and I have lots of great, really vivid mental images with a lot of sophistication and the analytical backbone behind them. And so now I'm working on, how can I get these mental images in my mind out to my computer screen faster? Can you imagine, if you will, a movie director being able to use her imagination alone to direct the world in front of her? Or a musician to get the music out of his head? There are incredible possibilities with this as a way for creative people to share at light speed. And the truth is, the remaining bottleneck in being able to do this is just upping the resolution of brain scan systems.

So let me show you why I think we're pretty close to getting there by sharing with you two recent experiments from two top neuroscience groups. Both used fMRI technology -- functional magnetic resonance imaging technology -- to image the brain, and here is a brain scan set from Giorgio Ganis and his colleagues at Harvard. And the left-hand column shows a brain scan of a person looking at an image. The middle column shows the brainscan of that same individual imagining, seeing that same image. And the right column was created by subtracting the middle column from the left column, showing the difference to be nearly zero. This was repeated on lots of different individuals with lots of different images, always with a similar result. The difference between seeing an image and imagining seeing that same image is next to nothing.

Next let me share with you one other experiment, this from Jack Gallant's lab at Cal Berkeley. They've been able to decode brainwaves into recognizable visual fields. So let me set this up for you. In this experiment, individuals were shown hundreds of hours of YouTube videos while scans were made of their brains to create a large library of their brain reacting to video sequences. Then a new movie was shown with new images, new people, new animals in it, and a new scan set was recorded. The computer, using brain scan data alone, decoded that new brain scan to show what it thought the individual was actually seeing. On the right-hand side, you see the computer's guess, and on the left-hand side, the presented clip. This is the jaw-dropper. We are so close to being able to do this. We just need to up the resolution. And now remember that when you see an image versus when you imagine that same image, it creates the same brain scan.

So this was done with the highest-resolution brain scan systems available today, and their resolution has increased really about a thousandfold in the last several years. Next we need to increase the resolution another thousandfold to get a deeper glimpse. How do we do that? There's a lot of techniques in this approach. One way is to crack open your skull and put in electrodes. I'm not for that. There's a lot of new imaging techniques being proposed, some even by me, but given the recent success of MRI, first we need to ask the question, is it the end of the road with this technology? Conventional wisdom says the only way to get higher resolution is with bigger magnets, but at this point bigger magnets only offer incremental resolution improvements, not the thousandfold we need. I'm putting forward an idea: instead of bigger magnets, let's make better magnets. There's some new technology breakthroughs in nanoscience when applied to magnetic structures that have created a whole new class of magnets, and with these magnets, we can lay down very fine detailed magnetic field patterns throughout the brain, and using those, we can actually create holographic-like interference structures to get precision control over many patterns, as is shown here by shifting things. We can create much more complicated structures with slightly different arrangements, kind of like making Spirograph.

So why does that matter? A lot of effort in MRI over the years has gone into making really big, really huge magnets, right? But yet most of the recent advances in resolution have actually come from ingeniously clever encoding and decoding solutions in the F.M. radio frequency transmitters and receivers in the MRI systems. Let's also, instead of a uniform magnetic field, put down structured magnetic patterns in addition to the F.M. radio frequencies. So by combining the magnetics patterns with the patterns in the F.M. radio frequencies processing which can massively increase the information that we can extract in a single scan. And on top of that, we can then layer our ever-growing knowledge of brain structure and memory to create a thousandfold increase that we need. And using fMRI, we should be able to measure not just oxygenated blood flow, but the hormones and neurotransmitters I've talked about and maybe even the direct neural activity, which is the dream.

We're going to be able to dump our ideas directly to digital media. Could you imagine if we could leapfrog language and communicate directly with human thought? What would we be capable of then? And how will we learn to deal with the truths of unfiltered human thought? You think the Internet was big. These are huge questions. It might be irresistible as a tool to amplify our thinking and communication skills. And indeed, this very same tool may prove to lead to the cure for Alzheimer's and similar diseases.

We have little option but to open this door. Regardless, pick a year -- will it happen in five years or 15 years? It's hard to imagine it taking much longer. We need to learn how to take this step together.

Thank you.

(Applause)


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