Machinations; or the Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
February 19, 2008
Fernando Orellana and Brendan Burns have collaborated on a new art work which investigates a possible human-robot relationship. Using recorded brainwave activity and eye movements during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep to determine robot behaviors and head positions, a modified Kondo KHR-2HV humanoid robot “plays-back” the movements you made in your dreams. Some see this as an exciting new innovation in dream interpretation, while others see only nightmares ahead.
“The night I dreamt I chopped my boss into bits and made out with his wife might be better off kept away from interpretation by robots and everyone else,” said Jacki Slater, a young woman occasionally misinterpreted as something else. “I’m all for science and innovation, but I’m thinking that the risks are too great with this devise. Better stick to something safer, like genetic manipulation.”
Some scientists and pseudo-psychologists think robotic dream-playback and interpretation is a time that’s come. “Once we can playback dreams and have experts analyze them without the patient having to remember what they dreamt, our interpretations will become more accurate and diagnosis of improper mindsets can be fixed more quickly,” said Heinrich Himmler, current social advisor to Barack Obama, and an aspiring promoter of mental realignment which only occasionally results in dispossession. “I’m not saying I want to watch the robot act out what Bill Clinton dreams, but on regular folks it may be quite interesting, beneficial and mostly ‘G’ rated.”
Using EEG data and running it through a machine learning algorithm, Fernando Orellana and Brendan Burns identified patterns from both REM and non-REM data sets. They then associated preprogrammed robot behaviors to these patterns. Using the patterns like filters, they process an entire data set from a recorded dream sequence, letting the robot act out each behavior as each pattern surfaces in the signal. Periods of high activity (REM) are associated with dynamic behaviors (flying, scared, etc.) and low activity with more subtle ones (gesturing, looking around, etc.). The “behaviors” the robot demonstrates are some of the actions a person might do in a dream. They named their project “Sleep Waking,” and use it to investigate how people act when they dream, by using the human-robot relationship. It’s not an exact science.
“We can’t interpret everything going on in a dream and have the robot act it out, because we don’t know precisely what the electrical brain waves all mean,” said someone claiming to be Brendan Burns on weekdays and Marilyn Monroe on weekends. “That shouldn’t really surprise anyone, because we hear a lot of things that the presidential candidates say while awake but can’t figure out what it means either. Most of the time they don’t even know what they’re talking about.” Then pausing briefly to uncross his eyes, Burns said, “As an experiment we hooked our robot up to Hillary Clinton but Bill walked into the room and the thing ran off. Took us the rest of the day to find it. We tracked it to a storm sewer. It was the darndest thing.”
In other news, Major League Baseball insiders say Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds are both dreaming of the day when no one thinks they took performance enhancing drugs. No word on how their robots are acting.
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