Mind-reading and Computer-brain interface

Technology that harnesses brain activity to produce synthesised speech may benefit individuals who have been robbed of the ability to talk due to a stroke or other medical conditions, researchers claim.

Known as a ‘brain decoder’, the technology is said to read people’s minds and turn thoughts into speech – a tool which could one day help doctors communicate with patients who cannot talk.

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) implanted electrodes into the brain of volunteers and then decoded signals in cerebral speech centres to guide a computer-simulated version of their vocal tract – lips, jaw, tongue and larynx – to generate speech through a synthesiser.

The results from the volunteers were mostly intelligible, although the researchers have noted that the speech is somewhat slurred in parts.

“We were shocked when we first heard the results – we couldn’t believe our ears,” said UCSF doctoral student Josh Chartier. “I was incredibly exciting that a lot of aspects of real speech were present in the output from the synthesiser.”

Results from the study have raised hope among the researchers that, with improvements, a clinically viable device could be developed for patients with speech loss in the years to come.

“Clearly, there is more work to get this to be more natural and intelligible,” Chartier added, “but we were very impressed by how much can be decoded from brain activity.”

A stroke, ailments such as cerebral palsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, brain injuries and cancer sometimes take away a person’s ability to speak.

Such conditions result in some people using devices that track eye or residual facial muscle movements to spell out words letter-by-letter. These methods, however, are slow, delivering typically no more than 10 words per minute in comparison to 100-150 words per minute in natural speech.

The five volunteers who took part in the study were all epilepsy patients. Although they were all capable of speaking, they were given the opportunity to participate as they were already scheduled to have electrodes temporarily implanted in their brains to map the source of their seizures before neurosurgery. Future studies will test the technology on people who are unable to speak.

The volunteers read aloud while activity in brain regions involved in language production was tracked. The researchers discerned the vocal tract movements needed to produce the speech and created a “virtual vocal tract” for each participant that could be controlled by their brain activity and produce synthesised speech.

“Very few of us have any real idea, actually, of what’s going on in our mouth when we speak,” said neurosurgeon Edward Chang. “The brain translates those thoughts of what you want to say into movements of the vocal tract, and that’s what we’re trying to decode.”

The researchers found that during the study, they were more successful in synthesising slower speech sounds such as “sh” and less successful with the abrupt sounds such as “b” and “p”.

Furthermore, the technology did not work as well when the researchers tried to decode the brain activity directly into speech, without using a virtual vocal tract.

“We are still working on making the synthesised speech crisper and less slurred,” Chartier said. “This is in part a consequence of the algorithms we are using, and we think we should be able to get better results as we improve the technology.”

“We hope that these findings give hope to people with conditions that prevent them from expressing themselves that one day we will be able to restore the ability to communicate, which is such a fundamental part of who we are as humans,” he added.

The study has been published in the journal Nature.

Federal Reserve Pressures

There are several unique forces shaping the current Federal Reserve. Among them are:

1.) A Chief Executive willing to deny facts as manner of being, not simply for political gain.

2.) The rise of MMT.

MMT states that a government that can create its own money, such as the United States:
Cannot default on debt denominated in its own currency;
Can pay for goods, services, and financial assets without a need to collect money in the form of taxes or debt issuance in advance of such purchases;
Is limited in its money creation and purchases by inflation, which accelerates once the economic resources (i.e., labor and capital) of the economy are utilized at full employment;
Can control inflation by taxation and bond issuance, which remove excess money from circulation, although the political will to do so may not always exist;
Does not need to compete with the private sector for scarce savings by issuing bonds. These tenets challenge the mainstream economics view that government spending should be funded a priori by taxes and debt issuance. MMT asks in effect: “Why not create the money to buy what we think is important, and then raise taxes or issue bonds when we get inflation?”[4][5][3]
The first four MMT tenets are not in conflict with mainstream economics in terms of how money creation is executed and inflation works. For example, as former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan said, “The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default.”[6] However, MMT disagrees with mainstream economics about the fifth tenet in terms of impact on interest rates.[7]

3.) A decade of financial repression/distortion

4.) Macro trend change in demographics

We do not know where this is going, but it promises future opportunities in volatility.

My warning to XIV community a year ago

Nearly a year ago, I went into the TradeXIV community on reddit and posted this warning. I didn’t know the whole XIV complex would blow up a short time later. I was shouted down by a few folks, as you can read. But here it is… and I should say that it is rare to be really right in this game. Usually, we are mostly right, kinda right, or right but too early, or just wrong. But this time I was perfectly right. I closed out substantial profits and left the casino. Then it burned down. True story.

1 year ago
Community warning…
I just want to say as a reminder if anyone is trading volatility with money they really need–Please stop. Only trade money you can afford to lose! Volatility trading is the most dangerous end of a profession that destroys banks and mocks Nobel prize winning economists. But the Fed isn’t going to bail you out! It isn’t easy or free or sexy. It is simply risk transfer. Someone is paying you to take their risk. Imagine someone paying you to take their risk of cancer or heart-attack. Think of the money you could make! That’s awesome until you cough and your hand comes away bloody. Yes, that’s a dramatic example but it illustrates a truth about risk. You can’t remove risk. But financially, you can transfer it. Taking other people’s risk of ruin is what us volatility guys are being paid the big bucks for. Please remember that.

Community warning… from tradeXIV

Guide to the Riskboard

In an effort to be transparent (and also to create a public record of the TGM proprietary risk systems) I will be posting risk assessments of certain global markets. However, one should note that I am an optimist and believe that one should be invested – so my risk assessment reflects that risk-profile. My version of “acceptable” risk does not apply to you specifically. You should get professional advice.