Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
DavidV

Sony patents mind-control device

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I meant to write about this a while ago, but I was reminded about it recently, so here goes:

Imagine movies and computer games in which you get to smell, taste and perhaps even feel things. That's the tantalizing prospect raised by a patent on a device for transmitting sensory data directly into the human brain - granted to none other than the entertainment giant Sony.

The technique suggested in the patent is entirely non-invasive. It describes a device that fires pulses of ultrasound at the head to modify firing patterns in targeted parts of the brain, creating "sensory experiences" ranging from moving images to tastes and sounds. This could give blind or deaf people the chance to see or hear, the patent claims.

"There were not any experiments done," she says. "This particular patent was a prophetic invention. It was based on an inspiration that this may someday be the direction that technology will take us."

This sounds cool, but the patent offers only a vague non-technical description, and by my estimate, the technology for an actual prototype might exist 10-25 years into the future. The idea itself is a staple of numerous science fiction works. How can Sony be granted a patent on what is merely a cool idea? Shouldn't patents require a working prototype?

I was reminded of this case by the Optimus Keyboard, which is made by a company that independently invented and developed a very innovative keyboard. Turns out that in 1998 there was a patent granted for the basic idea, which includes "any future state of the art display invention." Given a large R&D budget, the patent holder might have made a keyboard with the state of the art technology in 1998, but he never did, and since the patent covers "any" future means of implementing his basic idea, he is not required to.

It seems that the Patent Office is granting patents for inventions that someone might create in the future. It’s like granting a patent for the idea of a "self-sustaining asteroid colony" based on a science fiction novel. This is very troubling to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It seems that the Patent Office is granting patents for inventions that someone might create in the future. It’s like granting a patent for the idea of a "self-sustaining asteroid colony" based on a science fiction novel. This is very troubling to me.

I don't get how that is possible. I guess the question is where do you draw the line on "intellectual property" ... if even an idea is the product of your intellect, does that grant you patent on the realization of your idea in reality, even if you were not the first to bring it into being?

Yes, troubling indeed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Isn't this a huge thing going on? Companies buy the patents to things that might be invented, and then sell them off at a really high price to the person that invents them. I swear I saw something like that in a discussion somewhere here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FYI, Art Lebedev has posted a response to competing keyboard patent claims and products:

We have absolutely unique device with full-color displays - already mass produced. Every other claim should at least show the process (as we did), or the result.

Patent numbers don't mean almost anything, because the easiest part of making a display keyboard is to bypass any existing patent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I remember reading something (if I can find the source again, I will try link to it or reference it in some way) about how patents are often granted for any idea that someone can "prove theoretically sound" along with some proof that such a thing could be made. So for instance if I wanted to patent an antigravity scooter, all I would have to do is provide something that convinces the patent office it is theoretically sound and provide detailed schematics, and I could get the patent even though I have not built a single one of these things, and even though I might not know if the schematics are actually realizable.

Apparently someone had a patent on some sort of "Quantum Anti-gravity device" at some point, even though I am pretty sure there is no way he could produce such a thing at least given the current state of affairs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Years ago I read an article about the invention of the LASER back in the 50s or 60s. One of the men who, independently, came up with the idea delayed patenting until he had a working model; hten found out he didn't ahve to produce a prototype to get a patent. So, no working model or prototype is required. I suggest looking up the Patent Office for info.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Years ago I read an article about the invention of the LASER back in the 50s or 60s. One of the men who, independently, came up with the idea delayed patenting until he had a working model; hten found out he didn't ahve to produce a prototype to get a patent. So, no working model or prototype is required. I suggest looking up the Patent Office for info.

That would agree with what I read...that you dont need a prototype in order to get a patent, no matter how far fetched the idea might otherwise seem.

I looked briefly into the process of Patent application here and found this there:

Elements of a Design Patent Application

The elements of a design patent application should include the following:

(1) Preamble, stating name of the applicant, title of the design, and a brief description of the nature and intended use of the article in which the design is embodied;

(2) Cross-reference to related applications (unless included in the application data sheet).

(3) Statement regarding federally sponsored research or development.

(4) Description of the figure(s) of the drawing;

(5) Feature description;

(6) A single claim;

(7) Drawings or photographs;

(8) Executed oath or declaration.

In addition, the filing fee, search fee, and examination fee are also required. If applicant is a small entity, (an independent inventor, a small business concern, or a non-profit organization), these fees are reduced by half.

I dont see anything about a protyotype there. It seems as long as you can qualify research, describe the thing and draw/photograph the alleged invention along with an otath or deceleration as to its validity you can in theory get a patent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I meant to write about this a while ago, but I was reminded about it recently, so here goes:

This sounds cool, but the patent offers only a vague non-technical description, and by my estimate, the technology for an actual prototype might exist 10-25 years into the future. The idea itself is a staple of numerous science fiction works. How can Sony be granted a patent on what is merely a cool idea? Shouldn't patents require a working prototype?

I was reminded of this case by the Optimus Keyboard, which is made by a company that independently invented and developed a very innovative keyboard. Turns out that in 1998 there was a patent granted for the basic idea, which includes "any future state of the art display invention." Given a large R&D budget, the patent holder might have made a keyboard with the state of the art technology in 1998, but he never did, and since the patent covers "any" future means of implementing his basic idea, he is not required to.

It seems that the Patent Office is granting patents for inventions that someone might create in the future. It’s like granting a patent for the idea of a "self-sustaining asteroid colony" based on a science fiction novel. This is very troubling to me.

  • Ideas revealed in works of fiction count as prior art. Either the Sony patent is specific enough to distinguish it from the prior art or it is invalid.
  • The Patent Office stopped requiring models or prototypes long ago when the number of patents and patent applications made warehousing the hardware impractical.
  • re: the "any future technology" terminology: The idea of an electronically reconfigurable key cap label is specific enough that applying future display technologies for this purpose would have been obvious anyway, so I see no loss here.
  • When it comes time to actually build self-sustaining asteroid colonies, there will be no lawsuits filed based on patents of the very idea because these "silly" patents will be expired by then and are citable as prior art. This is actually a good thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×