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Steering machines by thoughts

12 Feb 2018 / by Peter Almberg

Katalysen was invited on February 6 to visit the biotech campus of Geneva, a cooperation between Polytechnic University, University Geneva, Wyss and Bertarelli Foundations.

It is the largest of such biotech campuses in Europe, where the Swiss Center of Affective Sciences (SCAS) and the Blue Brain Project is hosted.

The aim of Blue Brain is to build accurate, biologically detailed, digital reconstructions and simulations of the rodent brain and, ultimately the human brain.

Whereas, SCAS is the first center in the world dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of emotions and their effects on human behavior and society.

Given Katalysen’s focus on AI we were invited to learn discuss about their research in this field.

One of the highlights was the visit of the park, where wheelchairs are tested that are steered by thoughts. A technology which already works in the limited domain of “go”, “stop”, “left” and “right”; but can be developed further. Maybe one day, we will be able to use telepathy to interact with intelligent robots.

What you can see on the photos are the sensors one still need to wear to steer the wheel-chair, all in different shapes and forms.

Prof. David Sander explained us his view of emotions in the context of AI and human intelligence. In order to build robots for the future that can interact seamlessly with humans, the emotional and affective component has to be considered and implemented at the level of the neural networks that control the robot’s behavior.

David and his team investigate appraisal processes in emotion, and their effects on attention and memory, using the experimental approaches of cognitive neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience. This line of research brings together behavioral data as well as brain imaging data from healthy subjects and brain-damaged patients in order to better understand the emotional response to relevant visual, auditory, or olfactory stimuli. In particular, we test the computational profile of the human amygdala in order to constrain psychological models of emotion.

For Katalysen the exchange with academia and government is crucial. Both academia and government are connected to both entrepreneurship and AI. For government and academia it is important to discuss with practitioners and for Katalysen it is important to keep a pulse on what is happening regarding initiatives and spin-offs.

Heiner Weber 2018-02-12