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Scientists Communicated With People While They Were Lucid Dreaming

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We’ve probed the depths of Earth’s deepest trench, sent rovers to Mars, and observed other worlds billions of light years away. Yet we’ve never been able to decipher the mysterious, bizarre, and disjointed world of our own dreams. It seems impossible: after all, people who dream are fast asleep and oblivious to the outside world.

Except now, we can.

In a mind-bending paper published last week in Current Biology, teams of scientists from four countries found that it’s possible to communicate with people who are actively dreaming. It’s not simple information, either. The volunteers, roughly two dozen spread across four labs, were able to listen to math problems and answer them using facial twitches and eye movements. One group of sleepers could even decipher Morse code, and reply to the outside world in real time.

“Our experimental goal is akin to finding a way to talk with an astronaut who is on another world, but in this case the world is entirely fabricated on the basis of memories stored in the brain,” the researchers said.

This is crazy. Research into dreams has long relied on the recall of people after waking up, which—I’m sure you agree—is riddled with errors, confusion, and missed details. The new study means that we now have a way to directly engage with people while they’re deep asleep, probe the contents of their dreams, and potentially alter them.

“It’s exciting to try something that is seemingly impossible…We can now actually investigate the dreaming state directly and interactively,” said study author Dr. Kristoffer Appel at Osnabrück University. It opens the door to studies such as “learning during sleep…and then still remember it after waking up,” he added. Or using dreams as a new sort of psychotherapy, assisting people with nightmares in real time. Or for creative projects like writing or art, by tapping into a brain state that’s less bound by reality. Or even for entertainment—à la Total Recall or Inception—where a dreamer can be talked into a fantasy scenario of their choice.

There’s just one catch. Not all dream types straddle and bridge the inner mind and outside world. For it to work, you need to be able to lucid dream.

Dream Worlds

Dreams are amazing paradoxes. While we’re unconscious, the brain fabricates entire fantasies using bits and pieces of encounters during the day, mixed with our personal histories and subconscious ideas. While dreams are so common they feel mundane—people generally aren’t all that interested in hearing someone else’s nighttime mental excursions—scientists have long had a fascination with them as a proxy for the mind.

Sigmund Freud, for example, famously viewed dreams through his psychoanalytic lens, tying the interpretation of dreams to various unconscious “wish fulfillment” fantasies. More recently, dreams have been researched under the umbrella of “sleep cognition,” which scientists believe may be helpful for memory.

As we sleep, our brain activity goes through cycles of activity. Dreams often occur during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, named after its defining characteristic: our eyes rapidly dart all over the place. REM sleep has been tied to the brain “rewinding” its experiences from the previous day, and replaying them in fast-forward motion, so that critical memories stick around—something dubbed “memory consolidation.” Another school of thought thinks that dreams are our brain’s way of simulating future possibilities, silently sculpting our brain’s neural networks so that if a prediction does happen, we’re able to learn faster and more efficiently.

But the truth is, we really don’t know why we dream, the neuroscience behind dreams, or how the contents of a dream relate to experiences or memory. What if we could just ask the sleeping person as they’re dreaming?

Deep Contact

In the new study, the team didn’t recruit any average sleeper. They tapped into the minds of lucid dreamers.

Lucid dreaming sounds like something from a late-night infomercial. While most of us are mere passengers in our dreams, yanked around by our subconscious mind, lucid dreamers become aware during sleep that they’re dreaming. Once aware, they can consciously control the content of their dreams to their heart’s desire, untethered by the rules and physical laws of the real world.

This quirk allows lucid dreamers to use eye movements to communicate with the outside world. By measuring their brain waves using electroencephalography (EEG)—a “swim cap” embedded with electrodes worn like a beanie—researchers can distinguish these dream episodes using the brain’s electrical activity patterns.

The team recruited 36 people with the ability to lucid dream, inviting them into four labs spread across the US, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. The volunteers weren’t all experienced dream astronauts—while a few could easily achieve a lucid state, others were novices far less familiar with this type of dreaming. Scientists then trained each participant on a series of pre-arranged question-answer responses. For example, moving the eyes quickly from right to left signals “yes” or “1.” The participants then put on their brainwave-monitoring caps and went to sleep.

Here’s the really unusual part. The four teams each had a slightly different way to try and establish communication with their sleeping participant—something that’s totally not done in a multicenter scientific study, because it increases confounding factors. Yet these scientists embraced the uncertainty. If all four studies can trigger real-time chitchat between the sleeping and those awake, then that’s solid evidence for their main idea: that we can talk to lucid dreaming people.

The German team had perhaps the toughest experimental recipe. They trained the dreamers on Morse code while they were awake. As the participants entered REM sleep and achieved lucid dreaming, the team used a series of Morse code beeps to ask them yes-or-no questions, or simple math problems. For example, “what’s three plus one,” can be translated into Morse code form. The dreamers, while certified asleep based on their brain waves, would then roll their eyes left to right four times, signaling the answer is “four.”

It gets weirder. Other teams simply spoke to the dreaming person once they established that the dreamer was lucid from his eye movements. The French team, for example, asked if the participant liked chocolate. Another team tapped onto their volunteers’ skin a math problem, such as eight minus six.

“It’s amazing to sit in the lab and ask a bunch of questions, and then somebody might actually answer one,” said study author Karen Konkoly at Northwestern University. “It’s such an immediately rewarding type of experiment to do…You can see it right there while they’re still sleeping.”

Altogether, out of 158 tries to establish communication with the dreamers, the scientists were able to get the correct answer 18 percent of the time. The dreamers answered wrongly just a bit over three percent of the trials. The success rate may seem measly. However, when similar tests were tried during non-lucid REM sleep—when outward communication was likely non-existent—the success rate tanked to 0.2 percent.

“The fact that response signals were exceedingly rare during these communication attempts… lends additional credence to our position that correct signals were not spurious but rather reflect successful cases of communication during lucid dreaming,” the authors said.

A Woven Narrative

Even more fascinating, once awoken, the participants reported that the questions had incorporated into their dreams.

For example, one person said that he was at a party with friends when the scientist’s voice came “from the outside,” like the narrator of a movie. Another mentioned that he perceived finger tapping while he was “fighting against goblins” in the dream, and being surprised that he could do math in battle. A few people remembered their answers even after awakening.

Besides being pretty amazing, the study brings up some interesting questions about manipulating the contents and emotions of a sleeper’s dream. Could we use light, sound, or speech to guide someone away from a nightmare? Could we use dreams as a way to help improve sleep in people with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder? And how would interactive dreaming affect the brain’s normal ability to learn or etch previous memories into the brain?

“We have a lot of different ideas and we’re excited to test them,” said Konkoly.

Image Credit: Study author Konkoly watches brain signals from a sleeping participant, image by K. Konkoly

Source: https://singularityhub.com/2021/02/22/scientists-communicated-with-people-while-they-were-lucid-dreaming/

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6 Best Artificial Intelligence Apps Making Human Lives Easier

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It is no secret that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has gained a lot of popularity and taken the world by storm. Past studies have revealed that the global market of AI is predicted to reach from US$29.82 billion in 2019 to US$252.01 billion in 2025, growing at a CAGR of 42.7 percent.

“Research by Gartner identified that in the next few years, every application or service will incorporate AI at some level. ” 

Due to its benefits, AI is being used in different business functions and fields, including marketing, operations, finance, etc. 

Besides this, AI allows computers to extract valuable insights from large volumes of data, thereby helping perform complex tasks with ease. Moreover, AI-based apps have not only facilitated organizations, but have made human lives a lot easier. For example, rule-based automation and machine learning have simplified many routine jobs.   

Apart from business applications, AI has now gained popularity in the real world scenario and is being increasingly used in web-based and mobile applications. And for this reason, AI-enabled apps are being increasingly embedded in mobile operating systems that are available in the market.

We have created a list of the 6 best Artificial Intelligence apps that are making human lives easier. 

#1 Google Assistant 

The first one on our list is none other than the famous Google Assistant, which is an AI-driven virtual app generally available on smart home devices and mobile phones. The good thing about this AI app is that it supports different languages. This gives users a chance to interact with the app by using their mother tongue. 

Apart from this, the Google Assistant can perform all the possible tasks that can make your life easy and hassle-free. Not sure which ones? Have a look at the list below:

  • It can access the required information from your calendar. 
  • It can look up for information online, such as restaurant bookings, weather updates, etc. 
  • It can play your favorite music for you. 
  • It facilitates in making appointments and sending messages. 
  • It can open different apps on your phone or other smart devices. 

#2 Ada – Healthcare in Your Hand

Ada is another AI-based app that has a clean and interactive user interface and it helps you in understanding what are you suffering from. This app works like any other doctor’s appointment as you are required to share your basic details first and then details regarding the symptoms.

Based on the information that you provide, it prepares a medical report regarding your current condition, which includes a summary, potential causes, etc. You can also share that report as a PDF with your doctor or any medical expert for further diagnosis. 

Besides this, Ada is an accessible health advisor which is powered by a smart Artificial Intelligence engine. The good thing about this app is that it considers all important patient information, such as past medical history, risk factors, and more. And after gathering this data, it leverages machine learning and AI to provide accurate feedback.

#3 Hookt

Another one on our list is Hookt which is a platform that facilitates in chatting, making friends with people who share common interests. So, if you are somebody who is fond of making new friends in your area or while traveling, you should try the Hookt app. 

All in all, it is crucial to note that sometimes apps ask you to share your personal information, thus increasing the likelihood of scams. A study carried out by Business Insider revealed that 1 out of every 10 adults falls prey to a scam each year in the US. 

Therefore, you should be well aware of how to detect a fraud or scam as this can save your money. For instance, previously, many Vodafone users reported that they had to pay for the airG chat service even when they didn’t subscribe for it. However, airG was fast enough to identify this airG spam and took corrective actions immediately. Since not everyone is as responsible and authentic as airG, you should be beware. 

#4 Socratic 

AI and Robotics have not only revolutionized the way businesses are run, instead they are helping improve educational standards at schools considerably.  

“Socratic is one of the most popular AI-based apps for iOS and Android that helps students with their homework.” 

This app provides educational and informative resources, such as explanatory videos, definitions, etc. To use this app, users are required to take a photo of their homework, and then the app provides them with solutions and principles that can help solve the problems. 

The best thing about this app is that it is not subject-specific, instead, it provides help regarding different subjects, including Chemistry, English, Economics, Math, and Science. 

#5 YVA

YVA is a cloud-based app that is widely used in many different organizations. This app leverages AI for evaluating the performance of employees. Apart from this, YVA can be connected to instant messengers and corporate mail, thereby making it a one-stop solution. 

Another good thing about this app is that it conducts regular employee surveys, and analyzes the received information. This helps send the required warnings to employees and managers. Besides this, YVA helps prevent conflicts in teams, as it recognizes the competencies, like strengths, weaknesses, and leadership qualities of each employee. 

#6 Juke Deck

Juke Deck leverages the full potential of AI-based technologies for creating music tracks of different genres. However, the users of this app are required to identify the initial parameters of the composition, including the genre, tempo, duration, mood, etc. Once these variables are finalized, the Create Track Buttons helps process the track. 

The good thing is that you can either listen to the music that you have composed in a browser or download it on your computer. Revisions to the processed track can be done easily as well. Apart from this, Juke Deck does not ask for royalties, therefore you can use the work created as you wish. For example, you can post your created tracks on social media or YouTube. 

The Final Words 

In a nutshell, Artificial Intelligence has completely revolutionized the way we live and has made our lives a lot more convenient, on both – a personal and professional level. Therefore, you should try the above-mentioned AI-powered apps and enjoy their benefits.

The post 6 Best Artificial Intelligence Apps Making Human Lives Easier appeared first on Aiiot Talk – Artificial Intelligence | Internet of Things | Technology.

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Source: http://www.aiiottalk.com/artificial-intelligence-apps-making-human-lives-easier/

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