April 6, 2012


This blog post highlights an interesting part of this factual video (available only in the UK). I'd highlight another part, from the end of the video, that I find also interesting.

One part of the video was about data overload, and how the brain filters the information we need. There was an experiment where satellite images taken of Afghanistan, to locate enemy hosts. But the images are so large and hunting through the pictures cannot be done with computers, and it's very monotonic and slow by doing it manually. In the experiment, the satellite images were randomly separated to hundreds of sub images. Few showed building that the the professor wanted to find. The professor got an EEG cap that monitored his brain activity on the certain part of the brain. He looked at the sample image containing the building and brain signals were recorded by EEG cap. The satellite images started flashing up on the screen, and the professor didn't immediately realize any buildings on them. They created a color map of the brain activity where, for example, the red meant something grabbed his attention. They matched the brain activity with the pictures. When they looked the corresponding picture to the red region, there were buildings on there.

I was smiling when saw this. Not because I don't believe it but on the contrary. Actually, I've been doing this with the exception that I don't wear EEG cap, and I don't look at satellite images. I look at hex dump or at interpreted machine code or at source code. These tend to be huge amount of information to look at by eye. I usually scroll through them quickly and I know that I might miss something but carry on anyway. I just don't know if my unconscious picks up something that I don't immediately realize but I have no reason to disbelieve this video.
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