Gab Nevel states that brain-computer interface technology may allow video games far beyond the peripherals of human flesh. 1 News


The head of US gaming company Valve Corporation says a future is fast approaching where video games will use the data of people’s brain signals to adjust the experience they receive – and even in a future where people The brain can be adjusted by a computer.

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The head of Valve Corporation talks about BCI in an extended interview. Source: 1 News


Gab Newell spoke to 1NEWS about the future of Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) – an area he and other Valve employees have studied for years now – and talked about how use in the gaming field How is the valve working to attach the BCI to.

Newell admitted that some ideas may sound unbelievable, and added that some of the discussions around BCI are “indistinguishable from science fiction” – but according to him, game developers would make a mistake by not examining BCI within a short-term future. .

To help them do so, Newell said that Valve is currently working on an open-source BCI software project, allowing developers to read from people’s minds using hardware such as a modified VR (virtual reality) helmet To begin to interpret the signs.

“We’re working on an open source project, so that everyone can have high-resolution [brain signal] Read the technologies built into the headset in a group of different modalities, ”Newell said.

Working with valve Openbci Headset.

OpenBCI unveiled a headset design called the Galia in November, designed to act like Valve’s index with a VR headset.

Open BCI’s Gallia BCI headset design. Source: OpenBCI


“If you’re a software developer in 2022 who doesn’t have one of these in your test lab, you’re making a silly mistake,” Newell said.

“Software developers for interactive experiences[s] – You will be using one of these modified VR head straps more fully, which is being used regularly – only because there is so much useful data. “

That data typically contains readings from the player’s body and brain, which can be used to tell if the player is excited, surprised, sad, bored, happy, and fearful, among other emotions.

Mike Ambinder, Principal Experimental Psychologist of Valve Corporation, plays a sport while wearing the OpenBCI Ultracortex BCI Array. Source: Mike Ambinder / Valve Corporation


The readings can be used by developers to improve immersion and personalize what happens during games – such as turning the difficulty slightly if the system detects that the player is getting bored.

In addition to reading the signals of people’s brains, Newell also discusses the reality of the near future, which is able to write signals to people’s brains – to change how they are feeling or better-real scenes in games Are distributed to.

He said that BCIs would take gaming experiences far better than a player could get through their “meat externals” – such as their eyes and ears.

“You have a habit of experiencing the world through the eyes,” Newell said, but the eyes were created by this low-cost bidder who didn’t care about the failure rate and the RMA, and if it broke then something. There was also no way to improve effectively, which is entirely understandable from an evolutionary point of view, but does not reflect consumer preferences.

“So the visual experience, the visual fidelity we’ll be able to create – the real world will stop being the metric we apply to the best possible visual fidelity.

“The real world will seem flat, colorless, blurry, compared to the experiences you’ll be able to create in people’s minds.

“Where it gets weird is when you become editable through BCI,” Newell said.

At the moment, people accept their feelings for how they feel – but Newell says BCI will soon allow them to digitally edit these feelings, which can be as easy as using the app.

He said, “One of the early applications I expect improves sleep – sleep will become an app where you say, ‘Oh, I need this sleep so much “I need it very much, Rem,” he said.

Another benefit may be to reduce or remove unwanted emotions or conditions from the brain due to medical reasons.

Some people using VR headsets suffer from mismatches, because there is mismatch between what they are seeing and what is happening in their bodies – but Newell said that, right now, the BCI has progressed to a point, Where vertigo can be artificially suppressed, and “it is more of a certification issue than a scientific issue”.

Valve Index VR Setup. Source: Valve Corporation


Despite the many achievable applications for BCI, Newell said he halted the progress of the valve and turned into a consumer product when research speed was so high.

“The rate at which we’re learning stuff is so fast that you don’t want to say ahead of time, ‘Okay, let’s just shut everything down and make a product and go through all the approval processes, when now Six months later, we would be ‘something that enabled a bunch of other features.’

Valve is also contributing to projects developing synthetic body parts in lieu of expertise.

“It turns out that game engines are really useful, because they simulate a lot of the information you need to create a fake hand for people,” Newell said.

“You can reorder software faster than a prosthetic can be retransmitted, so we give them an outline in which they can research and work with patients.”

If you were thinking that Valve-brand cybernetic organ is probably off the table for now.

“Valve is not in the business of creating virtual prosthetics for people,” Newell said.

“This is what we are contributing to this particular research project, and because of this we get access to leaders in the field of neuroscience who teach us a lot about the neuroscience side.”

Regarding prostheses, Newell said that there are some interesting questions about developing prostheses.

“As soon as you do that, they say, ‘Oh, can we give people a spectacle?” Our minds were never made to build tents, but it turned out that the mind is indeed flexible. “

Neuroplasty is a term that refers to the ability of our brain to know how to operate the body when certain changes occur.

Neuroplasty is also when we learn to use the tool – an example would be a builder using a hammer for so many years that feels like a natural extension of his body.

Newell gave a personal example of neuroplasty. He underwent two cornea transplants in 2006/07, and a ghost image of some objects in the field of vision between his eyes was produced due to changes in color perception after surgery.

The condition went away within a few weeks as his brain was rechecked for new input from his eyes.

So the future of BCI seems interesting, but what about the dark side?

Newell briefly mentioned that BCI can potentially be used to cause physical pain to people – even pain beyond their physical body.

“You people think they can [are] By injuring his equipment, which in itself is a complex subject, ”he said.

Game developers can feel the act of making a player feel the pain of the character they are playing when injured – perhaps to some extent.

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Like any other form of technology, Newell says that there is a degree of trust to use it, and that not everyone will feel comfortable connecting their brain to a computer.

He says no one will be forced to do anything they don’t want to do, and that people will follow others when they have a good experience, comparing BCI technology to cellular phones.

“People are going to decide for themselves if they want to do it. Nobody uses people a phone,” Newell said.

“I’m not saying everyone is going to love and insist that they have a brain computer interface. I’m just saying that everyone is going to decide for themselves what feature, Whether or not there is an interesting combination of functionality and price. “

It will also be a heavy burden on developers to ensure that their BCI products have been rigorously tested and are safe from breaches.

“There is nothing magical about these systems that makes them less susceptible to viruses or things like this than other computer systems,” Newell said.

“Right now, you have to rely on all your financial data, all your personal information on your technology infrastructure, and if the people who build them do a bad job of it, then they take consumer acceptance off a cliff Will give

“No one wants to say, ‘Oh, remember Bob? Remember when Bob was hacked by Russian malware? He sucked – is he still walking naked through the woods?” Or whatever. Yes, people are very confident that these are safe systems with no long-term risks. “

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