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The Grill: Tom Mitchell


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Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Tom M. Mitchell

"We're at the beginning of a revolution in psychology and neuroscience. Suddenly you can look inside the brain and turn what used to be fun philosophical questions into empirical science," says Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist Tom Mitchell.

Credit: Instituto de Ciencias Matematicas e de Computacio

Tom Mitchell, head of Carnegie Mellon University's Machine Learning Department, says that advances in machine learning could bring about a transformation in psychology and neuroscience. Mitchell says that his group has trained an algorithm to study functional magnetic resonance imaging scans of a person's brain activity and determine what object they are thinking about.

"We can look inside your brain when you see the color red, and we can look inside my brain when I see the color red, and we can ask, 'Is it or is it not the same pattern of neural activity?' " he notes.

Mitchell speculates that people could conceivably be networked to exchange information so that one person can tell what the other is thinking. He observes that a number of researchers are developing brain-computer interfaces that can enable the decoding of a person's thoughts. This could be particularly useful for "locked in" patients who are speech- and mobility-disabled.

From Computerworld
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