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Medicine The Military Technology

Manufacturing Dreams 114

New submitter geekgirl09 sends in a story from Wired about the U.S. Army's efforts to develop methods for digitally manufacturing dreams to soothe combat vets who suffer from PTSD. From the article: "Fifty-two percent of combat veterans with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) reported having nightmares fairly often, according to the National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study. ... So the researchers will ask troops to take control of the 'creation of the customized healing imagery (therapeutic dreams) to counter the impact of nightmares,' according to a military contracting document. The hope is that these 'power dreams' can be watched from laptops and 'home training and 3-D goggles work to gradually enhance the strength of these new neurological images.'"
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Manufacturing Dreams

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  • Inception Reference
  • Your brain is dirty. Let me wash that for you.

    There, isn't that better now?

    And don't ask where the mud came from.

    • Better yet...

      Sir, to us observing, YOU are not right. I know you don't understand why YOU are wrong, but we are here to help.

      What we are now about to do to YOU will make YOU right. Do you understand? You're wrong because we say so. YOU'll be right when we fix it. Get me?

      Ok. Put this device on and follow these procedures. In no time, we will have YOUR brain working the way we say its supposed to.

      Done! Thanks for watching Fox News!

    • People with PTSD see nothing but horror. Dreams can been seen as in images, but they won't feel so happy.

      All they need is a MDMA pill and actually feel happy, so they can remember what real happyness actually is. It has proved to work, but then some nutjobs banned it because "OMG drugs!111 one one eleven".

      BTW... MDMA was developped by the US army.

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf ( 895604 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @06:41PM (#37825278)
    "Soldier, I'm recommending six-weeks of dreams about puppies."
  • . . . if the dreams have product placements.

    "Hey, can you stop at that Walgreen's? Gotta pick up some Always Infinity(tm) pads, a Snuggie now-with-improved-fit, and case of refreshing Moxie."


  • What about lucid dreaming []? Is it a viable (and/or cheaper) option compared to these "therapeutic dreams"?

    It seems to me that the best dreams would be those which can be experienced and directed as one wishes.
    • by siddesu ( 698447 )
      Lucid dreaming is vastly overrated. Lewd dreaming, on the other hand ...
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 )

      Lucid Dreaming is a strange and complicated skill, and Science typically does not measure strange and complicated skill. It kinda scares science.They lump it all under Placebo Effect and try to wash it away.

      There's like 20 esoteric mental skills that are relevant here, but of course if you ridicule them enough you can ignore them.

      • Re:Lucid Dreaming (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @07:36PM (#37825928)

        It's not Science (TM) is scared of them, it's that they're really, really hard to reproduce reliably under lab conditions. Even if you get one person that can reliably do it, it's then even harder to find another person to do it under the same circumstances. End result: you end up with a lot of anecdotes, no data, no theory, no predictions and no way to measure things consistently.

        That's why you don't hear science dealing with it.

        • That's why you don't hear science dealing with it.

          i.e. They're scared.

          How you define "scared"-no funding, lack of respect, disbarment, subject to ridicule-all boils down to not wanting to risk something for the research.

          Ask a mountain climber why they climb the mountain, and sometimes you'll get the answer, "Because it's there." A scientist, if they are true to the idea of science and it does no harm, should answer no different.

      • I googled "lucid dreaming skeptic" and was unable to find anyone claiming that it is not a real phenomenon, except a reference to some article from 1959. I also found an article from 1991 that gives an overview of the science up to then: Lucid Dreaming: Awake in Your Sleep?.

        The reason why there isn't more research on lucid dreaming could be that lucid dreaming is not recognized as a problem by those who experience it.

        • "The reason why there isn't more research on lucid dreaming could be that lucid dreaming is not recognized as a problem by those who experience it."

          Generally, skills make people better, so science should spend some of its time making "normal" people better by studying lucid dreaming. Quick guess is that it's like turbocharged REM, but hey, that would take science now...

          The current problem is that it's relegated to the New Age section, which contains some of the most misunderstood topics ever. I rate them as

    • Takes ages to master and what works with one person does not work with the next. So far there is no reason to believe that every person at every stage of life can even learn to dream like that. Plus you need to be able to embrace your dreams, so if you start up with bad nightmares your brain has even less incentive to dwell on those.

      Once you do master it, it's a swell way to spend a night. It's not like you have complete control like a movie director but you can nudge it and even avoid themes that you do no

      • Takes ages to master ...

        Speak for yourself. :P

        I always thought I didn't dream/couldn't remember them, because I had such strong control over them that it was just "imagining in bed". Until as a teen, some strong symbolism showed up and I thought - "Hey, I'M DREAMING HERE!"

        At that point it was a matter of trying stuff out. Transformation and dream flying are so cool. :D

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Dreams do provide a function. They are a past collation of events and emotional states and meant to provide the solutions to future problems in order to achieve better emotional states or avoid actions they result in worse emotional states. Evolution means that dreams are still bound to basic nomadic hunter gatherer requirements and do not cope well with, a more modern complex world, artificial inputs from media and psychopathically driven wars (at the core of all wars are psychopaths).

      Lucid dreaming is

      • by Raenex ( 947668 )

        Socialist concepts like a complete welfare net, universal healthcare, unlimited unemployment benefits, public housing and a proper minimum wage, will ease the emotional burdens and provide the outcomes sought.

        And create an ever-growing welfare class with no incentive to work.

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Those who want more, will work for it. Also let's put an end to those who want more, demanding other people work for it. Surplus productivity is not meant to be wasted in the vain attempt to feed the insatiable greed of the rich 1% but meant to produce more leisure time for the 99%.

          • by Raenex ( 947668 )

            Those who want more, will work for it.

            What's to stop the ever-growing number of people who don't produce anything to demand it?

            Also let's put an end to those who want more, demanding other people work for it.

            Funny, that's my argument.

            Surplus productivity is not meant to be wasted in the vain attempt to feed the insatiable greed of the rich 1% but meant to produce more leisure time for the 99%.

            People who become rich often do so by working harder or smarter than other people. That's not the only reason, but it's common enough. People who just want to sit on their ass, don't take initiative or risk, or provide a commodity function will never get rich. There's no reason why people on welfare should have big-screen TVs.

            • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

              Who is kidding who, the 1% get there by lying, cheating and stealing at every opportunity, by corrupting laws and, attacking every element of democracy, they are the scum of the earth, basically insatiably greedy psychopaths.

              What to solve the problem of a growing number of welfare recipients, too easy, offer them free drugs of their choice with added birth control, problem solved in a couple of generations. When according to you they are too lazy to work, then they are too lazy to raise children and the

              • by Raenex ( 947668 )

                There are lots of people who became rich by being smart, working hard, and providing stuff that people wanted. It's easy to sit on your ass or just be a worker bee without initiative and throw stones at people who became rich. Sure, some people behaved unethically, but not everybody.

                Just because some people are too lazy to work doesn't mean they won't pop out kids. As to giving them free drugs of their choice, are you seriously suggesting a policy that will create a dependent, addict society?

                I'm done with t

    • That was my first question. So I read the article. They seem to be using "manufactured dreams" as an equivocal term for "digitally created video watched while awake."

      In a way, I'm a bit relieved. The idea of dreams being artificially implanted in one's head is quite properly terrifying.

      In another way, I'm a bit disappointed. With the ability to decipher images from the brain [], it's a short leap to being able to implant images in the brain.

  • Why is it I suddenly want to buy a 3-pack?

  • Some of the most successful technologies are the ones adopted by the pornography industry.
    I'd say that this one has real potential!

  • by quark101 ( 865412 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @06:54PM (#37825412)
    This reminds me of the Isaac Asimov story Dreaming is a Private Thing [] where dreams are manufactured and sold as one of the ultimate forms of entertainment. Instead of looking at some of the obvious implications that might spring to mind, Asimov (as he often did) looks instead at the lives of the people who produce the dreams that are then recorded for others to view, and what life might be like for such a person.

    What the article talks about is, of course, very different then the story, but with advances in brain imaging and research it may one day be a possibility.
    • by martas ( 1439879 )
      Surprised nobody has mentioned Brave New World yet. If a reliable way of influencing dreams is discovered, the potential implications could be immense.
  • “During our conscious hours, most can hide what they have become,” according to a presentation delivered to the Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians, a nonprofit group.

    What they've become?!? Shouldn't we address that instead? What do they mean, "what they've become?"

  • ... license likeness of Lara Croft.

    Suddenly, I'm at peace with all that shooting and ass-kicking violence.

  • the entire project feels like a power dream.
  • How about we don't send people to war in the first place?
    • robo soldiers are not ready yet

    • Re:How About (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:45PM (#37826490) Journal
      War is not the only cause of PTSD, a freind of mine wittnesed a horrific industrial accident where his mate was crushed by large steel rollers up to his waist. The top half of the victims body balloned because all his organs and blood were forced into his chest. He was still alive for several minutes while trapped in the rollers. My friend has been a miserable ball of anxiety attacks and nightmares since then, and that was over a decade ago.
    • by sorak ( 246725 )

      How about we don't send people to war in the first place?

      Some wars are necessary, and the technology can be useful for those who are in wars that are justifiable. I don't want to get into any argument about our current wars, but I can say that if a civil war breaks out in some foreign country, it may be the result of citizens trying to overthrow a dictator, and, even if we are not involved in that war, we can still use the technology to aid those who were. At this point, we're not even talking about taking sides. This would be like treating a bullet wound; you ju

  • Why see shades of gray,
    why be a loner?
    Try another Soma. SOMA! []

    Life's good,
    shut up!

  • Sounds like this would technically be an AVE (Audio-visual entrainment) [] device.

  • They claim this isn't the sequel of Inception. But that movie wasn't at all what came to me. Source Code [] actually is. Though reading dreams was posted on Slashdot recently the whole interaction with the brain seems to be a terrain that is finally being discovered. Although I wonder, why the target isn't about removing bad dreams, by inducing the patient with beta blockers so while living the dream, the dream cannot be stored again.
  • Maybe it would be a better idea to leverage the bad dreams...which are, among other things, ways that we cope with the real world or things in it that we're "afraid" of. I would think that simply denying/blocking someone's ability to have the bad dreams could be worse. We need to learn how to work with how things work, rather than assume they're wrong and try to change them.

    Sometimes we're able to process the bad dreams and move forward, sometimes that's not as easy as it sounds...especially for those

    • unfortunately no one really knows how to "fix" PTSD. Right now I'm going through some sort of immersion therapy where they ask me to describe the traumas in detail, with the goal being that I eventually get a little more callused to the events. Seems a lot like pushing someone off a cliff in the hopes that it helps them get over their fear of heights.

      I would compare a dreaming machine more to a strong opioid than Advil. It doesn't fix a broken leg and it isn't a good long-term fix but it sure makes the nig

  • They'll call the project "The New American Dream".

  • How about not making nightmares that cause nightmares in the first place. But I'm just talking crazy.... Adam
  • Seems like we have come a long way. The nazis had the same issue with their soldiers being traumatised by their actions. Not having digital technology they tried to mitigate the amount of trauma experienced by the soldiers. This lead to mechanisation of the killing process, for example the use of gas chambers instead of firing squads. They tried to get other prisoners to bury the dead as well, or to shovel them into cremation ovens. This way those traumatised were in the next batch to be killed and the sold
  • Many citizens of western countries have had their brains covertly implanted with advanced neurotechnology. A large number are reporting that they are being tortured remotely. Symptoms included artificially-induced dreams in addition to involuntary limb movement, pain center stimulation, voices and images inserted into their consciousness, and other forms of "experimentation." For more information, please see Sweet Dreams (Electronically Forced Into Your Brain Wirelessly) []
  • #1 choice would be authentic wet dreams with the choice of partner(s).
  • ...until I saw this part:

    The computer program for soldiers to build out imaginary worlds and avatars on will be based on the virtual world Second Life.

    So you wake up from a nightmare, stick your 3D glasses on and immediately get assaulted with flying penises?

  • I was in Iraq during the surge in an area called "the triangle of death." I thought it was hyperbole until I got there. I'm still being treated for PTSD and I would love to try the dreaming machine. Can you throw in flying? I haven't flown in my dreams since I was a kid.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel