Microsoft Research is developing a technology using electroencephalograph (EEG) measurements to “read” minds in order to help tag images. When someone looks at an image, different areas of their brain have different levels of activity. This activity can be measured and scientists can reasonably determine what the person is looking at. It only takes about half a second to read the brain activity associated with each image, making the EEG process much faster than traditional manual tagging. The “mind-reading” technique may be the first step towards a hybrid system of computer and human analysis for images and many other forms of data. Whenever an image is entered into a database, it’s typically tagged with labels manually by humans. This work’s tedious and repetitive so companies have to come up with interesting ways to get it done on the cheap. “Amazon’s Mechanical Turk offers very small payments to those who wish to tag images online. Google Image Labeler has turned the process into a game by pairing taggers to counterparts with whom they can work together.” You can read more about this project headed by researcher Desney Tan here (PDF).