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era group score: 20149
total group score: 67467
total players: 101

Tasks / Bite The Transhumanist Bullet

Improve Augment your senses or abilities with electronics. Going above and beyond existing tools is expected.

1 to 100 players
50 points
Level 3
In the zone of: EquivalenZ
Created by help im a bear

Terms: levelzero, cyborg, transhumanism, returnoftherevengetwoelectricboogaloo

0 completed :: 14 in progress
Interested in collaborating on this: (no one yet!)


(no subject) +1
posted by teucer on May 21st, 2008 8:37 PM

This is the sort of task EquivalenZ needs more of.

And yes, I *will* do this if it is approved.

(no subject) +1
posted by zer0gee on May 21st, 2008 8:50 PM

Aw, yeah! Let's do this thing.

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(no subject)
posted by teucer on May 21st, 2008 8:53 PM

Exactly! I mean, I know I'm already thinking about how...

(no subject) +1
posted by Lincøln on May 21st, 2008 9:33 PM

Allright. I wanna see somebody go all out.

(no subject)
posted by Jellybean of Thark on May 22nd, 2008 10:24 AM

No, you just think you do.

(no subject) +1
posted by Bex. on May 22nd, 2008 8:54 AM

I volunteer for implantation of a new titanium skeleton...

(no subject)
posted by Sparrows Fall on May 22nd, 2008 10:19 AM


(no subject) +1
posted by Levitating Potato on June 8th, 2008 3:08 PM

So... when is this going live?

(no subject)
posted by Bryce on June 8th, 2008 7:54 PM


(no subject)
posted by GYØ Ben on June 9th, 2008 2:17 AM

I read "Improve your body with electricity" and thought...


Do I have a problem?

(no subject)
posted by Optical Dave on June 9th, 2008 3:40 AM

Yeah, especially given that Shocker didn't use electricity.

God, I'm sad.

(no subject)
posted by GYØ Ben on June 9th, 2008 3:50 AM

So he didn't. Damn!

Who did use electricity then? Storm, I suppose.

Digressing somewhat, Raiden?

(no subject)
posted by JJason Recognition on June 9th, 2008 9:35 AM

Jenny Sparks?

(no subject)
posted by teucer on June 9th, 2008 10:10 AM

Feedback, of course.

(no subject)
posted by Jellybean of Thark on June 9th, 2008 10:27 AM


(no subject) +1
posted by JTony Loves Brains on July 6th, 2008 10:29 AM


(no subject)
posted by Bryce on June 9th, 2008 10:39 AM

Dear god no.

(no subject)
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(no subject) +3
posted by Bryce on June 9th, 2008 10:40 AM

SSI!!!! Aprove the task!!!!

Or I'll change "ssi" to "sis" and then you will all be sissy. Huzzah for acting like a three year old.

Equivalenz meets HC! we need it!
posted by susy derkins on June 30th, 2008 1:18 PM

Something like this (btw, did you read Dok Harmon views on cybernetics at the Probot team? how about if we Senator him?)

Completion! +7
posted by Levitating Potato on July 6th, 2008 1:47 AM

For my summer vacation, I decided to turn the Doktor into a cyborg. Well, not completely, but to at least start down that road. And what better way to begin than by giving the Dok a new sense? Any decent depiction of cyborgs will show they clearly have more than the usual human array of senses. So, since Dok's sense of direction is sorely lacking, we decided to give him a sense of North.

Our methodology was a modified version of this belt:

Ours was simpler and cheaper. Rather than the digital approach of having the single northmost motor running, we took an analog approach with four motors. One motor was placed in the front, back, left, and right sides of the belt. Each motor vibrated at full strength when pointed north, not at all when pointed south, and half strength when east or west (and varied smoothly in between, of course). The result is a sensation not unlike a single vibrating object that is always positioned at the northmost side of the belt. The four-motor approach was chosen for cost and simplicity -- no microprocessor is involved, and 4 motors are a lot cheaper than 16.

"For my summer vacation, I decided to turn the Doktor into a cyborg" to the list of great first lines +1
posted by susy derkins on July 6th, 2008 10:41 PM

The result is a sensation not unlike a single vibrating object that is always positioned at the northmost side of the belt.
Wow, finding the kind of input humans could easily incorporate as a sixth sense!
It kind of rings a faint bell related to this (but biologists seem to have no clue about how it works at all).

(no subject) +10
posted by teucer on July 6th, 2008 1:49 AM

Being augmented is a surprising feeling.

When I'm paying attention to navigating, I'm now always conscious of a
buzzing feeling which, despite being produced by four motors at four
fixed spots, seems to simply move around my waist, always coming from
the north.

Living in a city whose streets are laid out on a grid (in many
places), I tend to navigate by knowing compass directions... but I'm
often pretty bad at knowing which way is which, and have in the past
solved this problem by staring at shadows and estimating based on the
time and limited knowledge of sundials which way they should be going.
This works quite well... except that I get lost sometimes on cloudy

With the belt on, I simply know which way north is. It's not
because I pay attention to the moving buzzy feeling - it's just always
there, so I know which way it is without taking the time to think
about it. Perhaps unexpectedly, if I'm facing in one direction
constantly even for thirty seconds my brain quickly tunes it out and I
have no extra sense of north. But as soon as I move, I'm aware of
directions again and my sixth sense returns. This means standing up
when I've been at my computer for a while feels a little strange.

The weirdest part of the experience, though, has got to be my new nervous habit.

The belt needs to be degaussed periodically. There's a switch which
you flip the other way and then return to its normal state in order to
do this. Any time something gets the belt a little bit off, this is
particularly necessary - and I notice such a thing on a subconscious
level, when it happens. So something will feel jarring, I'll degauss
and it will go away, and then I'll realize it's because I was standing
next to a refrigerator for a while. But now I'm degaussing myself
whenever something feels odd. "This soup tastes funny! Time to
degauss!" "Holy crap what was that noise? Degauss!" "It feels weird
not having my belt on. Deg- um, huh. That's vaguely unsettling."

(no subject)
posted by Darkaardvark on July 6th, 2008 8:20 PM

I wonder if there are people who have the sort of intuitive sense of North that you had while wearing the belt? They would have to be very in tune with nature, I'd expect.

(no subject)
posted by Lincøln on July 6th, 2008 9:16 PM

I am usually very very in tune with North. Especially while in L.A. But I still get it in other places, even the deep desert and East coast.

(no subject)
posted by teucer on July 7th, 2008 3:35 PM

I on the other hand have never had a good sense of direction in the past. But the weird part is, I used to navigate by landmarks and turns rather than by knowing compass directions - which means having an innate sense of north wouldn't have helped.

Living in St. Paul, where the streets are on a grid, has changed that, and made the sort of sensation the belt creates a useful one.

(no subject) +11
posted by Levitating Potato on July 6th, 2008 1:51 AM

Building a circuit in the middle of the North Woods was an interesting prospect, but I was well prepared with soldering iron, breadboards, and a reasonable selection of components. You can pack a surprisingly complete electronics shop into a fairly small box and stuff it into a duffel.

Early testing was as a hat, but we ended up with the belt design. Nonplayer wearing the hat:

It turns out you really can't adjust a sensitive electronic compass with a metal screwdriver -- even nonmagnetized ones have enough magnetization to cause trouble. So I grabbed a piece of scrap wood from the kindling box and whittled an adjustment screwdriver that I knew was nonmagnetic. Similarly, you can't have the batteries too close to the circuit board -- they're mildly magnetic. So the batteries go in your pocket, with a cord to the belt.

Adjusting the circuit, wood screwdriver in hand:

Along the way, the circuit got a bath:

Solder flux is ever so slightly conductive, and using a generic board rather than one designed for the circuit means there's a lot of it around. Rather than chase strange problems caused by conducting solder flux, I preemptively bathed the circuit.

The circuit design for the belt was an interesting project in its own right. It wasn't terribly hard, but it also wasn't of the sort I was used to. This was a non-precision design, intended to run at somewhat low power from a low voltage supply.

The final project ended up being more expensive than I'd hoped. It was about $30 worth of electronics, including various screw terminals and mounting boards that I could have made do without but vastly simplified things. The motors were another $14, plus there was shippnig on both the electronics and motors. The rechargeable batteries and charger for them added another $20. Since a set of AA batteries lasts about a day, rechargeables are a must for long-term use. Total cost including shipping and mounting hardware was under $100, but not by a lot.

(For those interested, mildly technical details begin here.)

For ease of development, I wanted to avoid having a microprocessor involved -- and was willing to pay for it by having the resulting circuit be somewhat finnicky. The form of the output (four motors, each vibrating with a strength proportional to the cosine of their angle from North) was not chosen by accident. The sensor I used is actually a pair of sensors at 90 degrees to each other, each providing the strength of magnetic field along a well-defined axis. So two of the motors vibrate proportional to sensor output, and two vibrate opposite that.

The circuit starts to get finnicky with the sensors -- they're rather bad, in many ways. The strength of the output is poorly defined (they're not even matched to each other), and they don't read zero when there's no applied field. So each channel needs two adjustment knobs -- one for zero adjust, one for gain.

The degaussing the Doktor mentioned is a result of the sensor construction and the overly simplistic circuit design. For simplicity, I didn't make use of all the features available in the sensor. The chip includes the ability to reverse the polarity of the sensors, and thus correct for annoying things like zero point errors. Exposure to external magnetic fields -- from large motors, for instance -- will also cause semi-permanent changes in the sensitivity of the sensor. The changes last until a strong applied field resets the sensor internals. The degauss switch provides that ability, and it's very closely analogous to degaussing an older CRT monitor.

The motors also need a midpoint adjust -- when the sensor is pointed North, its output is positive, and when pointed South, negative. But we want the motor to output full strength at North, nothing at South, and half strength at no applied field (East / West). So another adjustment knob is needed to set the location of that midpoint away from zero, bringing the total number of adjustments on the belt to 5.

The circuit itself is fairly simple, after that. One op amp is used to generate a reference voltage that doesn't change as the batteries wear down (we wouldn't want the motors to get weaker over the course of the day). A second derives the motor midpoint voltage from that. The reference voltage powers the sensor elements. Each channel then involves three more op amps. The first is a differential configuration that brings the sensor output from the mV level to something reasonable (the sensor zero adjust is incorporated here). The second is an inverting amplifier, which provides a convenient location for the adjustable gain. (It inverts the amplified sensor output about the circuit "zero" voltage, which is the same as the motor midpoint voltage.) This second op amp's output is also the drive voltage for the first motor. The third op amp inverts this output to provide the drive for the other motor. Since the motors are high-current devices, a transistor is added to boost the output capability of the op amps. The second channel is simply a copy of the first.

I don't currently have the schematic or parts list in electronic form, but it wouldn't be difficult if anyone's curious. This is a project that is definitely feasible for anyone who's comfortable with a soldering iron, and it's easily debugged and tuned with only a cheap multimeter.

(no subject)
posted by Darkaardvark on July 6th, 2008 8:23 PM

I think my favorite part of all this was the fact that you couldn't work near the compass with a screwdriver and so had to use wood instead.

I feel like the belt would probably be pretty fun to wear while driving.

(no subject) +1
posted by susy derkins on July 6th, 2008 10:55 PM

I am floored that not only the means to build a magnetic sense exist, but also that we are there already! Cheap + simple + opensource, so you can have it in a week...
Appropriate cyborg technology, who wouldn´t love it?

(no subject)
posted by teucer on July 6th, 2008 11:21 PM

Yeah. I love it.

And yes, I drive with it. It does weird things when the car is in motion, and isn't nearly as useful - but when I'm on the convenient orthogonal grid of most streets in the twin cities I can still figure out which of the four directions that might be north is.

(no subject)
posted by Loki on July 6th, 2008 11:38 PM

Fantastic stuff, guys. Much applause!

How'd you settle on vibration as the indicator? An interesting idea, and almost certainly not the first one I'd have considered.

Also, this seems like it could be really useful for the blind.

(no subject)
posted by zer0gee on July 6th, 2008 11:41 PM

Or the perverted.

(no subject)
posted by susy derkins on July 6th, 2008 11:43 PM

A magnetic fetish?!! I feel so naive now...

(no subject)
posted by teucer on July 7th, 2008 12:00 AM

Two reasons for the vibrations:

First, it's been done before. Second, obvious other inputs are hard. For instance, applying pressure might be a good approach... but that's far more difficult to build than this was, and probably way more expensive.

And Susy, zer0gee is referring to the vibrations, rather than the magnetism.

(no subject) +1
posted by susy derkins on July 7th, 2008 12:12 AM

Yes, I see now.
Hands-free, you can easily adjust speed by simply rotating your body clockwise...

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(no subject)
posted by Levitating Potato on July 8th, 2008 11:53 AM

I note that this task is now marked incoming. If one or more people wanted to collaborate on a non-level-zero completion, let me know -- I had a lot of fun with the first one.

If I'm doing something of the compass complexity level, though, I'd like to build more than one copy -- that was a lot of design time for a circuit I only built one of.

I don't have any good ideas off hand, so speak up if you do.

Besides, I need more cyborgs. I mean SF0 needs more cyborgs.

(no subject) +1
posted by susy derkins on July 8th, 2008 9:31 PM

Wow, so pre-schplanking it wasn´t enough!

(no subject)
posted by teucer on July 8th, 2008 8:49 PM

Huh. I'm not sure what to make of the new text. (Old version was "Improve your body with electronics.")

My personal interpretation is that the level zero of the old version LP and I did is actually no longer valid - we created a truly incredible electronic tool, but it was only a tool.

But that approach leaves very little that can be done for this task that doesn't involve surgery - and undergoing an unnecessary operation for an SF0 task should certainly be worth far more than 50 points.

What does the rest of the world think?

(no subject) +1
posted by JJason Recognition on July 8th, 2008 8:50 PM

I think that if getting points was easy, everyone would do it!

(no subject)
posted by Sean Mahan on July 8th, 2008 9:00 PM

Re: The Docktor: Then my rewrite has failed. I wanted to avoid silly things like nite-vision goggles, cars (now my body is faster!), pocket gps devices, megaphones, etc. Maybe coming from a critical theory-ish background (where cyborgs and the boundaries of THE BODY are discussed in what normal people would consider a metaphorical fashion) might have made me a little too thorough about trying to tighten up the wording (stumbling onto the fact that "tool" is a more expansive term for other people). I wasn't trying to torpedo your Level Zero before the fact; actually, it did a lot to make this task seem possible/reasonable without surgery or cheeky "studies have shown that people drive cars by considering them part of their body, so..." shenanigans. Any suggestions on how to clear up the mess? How to explain that a compass that vibrates to inform you of direction is different from a compass in your hand?

I liked the old text better too but here there are my two cents
posted by susy derkins on July 8th, 2008 9:30 PM

Improve your body senses or abilities with electronics. Going above and beyond existing tools is expected. ?

(no subject)
posted by teucer on July 8th, 2008 9:55 PM

With your clarification, Sean, it makes a lot of sense with its current text. I'm inclined to agree with the logic underlying that.

As I see it, the biggest difference between the compass LP and I made and the compass you hold in your hand is that adapting to the former almost certainly involves a little bit of a change to how your brain is wired. But the same is true of certain other tools - even something so simple as a pencil. (Which isn't a completion no matter how much you stretch it, as they aren't electronic.) I don't see the compass as being a part of my body, but my body is certainly improved by wearing it.

The distinction to be made is an important one, but it's also fuzzy. Either phrasing tells you approximately where the line is, and either one leaves it up to those flagging and voting and commenting to figure out the specifics. Which, of course, is true of any task.

THis ROcks! Way to LvL Zero My World!
posted by Blue on July 11th, 2008 12:30 PM

This is the kind of tasking I always wanted to see out of EquivalenZ!

Way to bring it to another level!

(no subject)
posted by Spidere on July 28th, 2008 10:32 PM

SF0 is constantly providing me with unexpected pockets of awesome. Amazing work.

(no subject) +1
posted by Ben [Sunshine] on October 8th, 2009 7:02 AM

I'm so glad this exists. This is now up there on my Tasks To Do ASAP list. (Also, holy crap, brilliant Level Zero.)


respond this topic -1
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(no subject) +2
posted by Sean Mahan on March 2nd, 2010 1:24 PM

Thee captcha! It does NOOthing! NOOOOOOOOTHINGGGG!

(no subject)
posted by teucer on March 2nd, 2010 1:33 PM

Maybe he's just augmented his posting skills using a spambot?

I mean, it didn't work out so hot, but, y'know.

(no subject)
posted by Loki on March 4th, 2010 12:46 AM

You think it's tough to fight a human spambot? Just imagine how tough it is to be a human spambot.

Though, by now I imagine most of us have figured out that the spammers are actually SSI, prototyping a new version of SF0 that's less like a game, and more like a sketchy, barely literate spam-driven student-paper mill. I just hope there are points.

Even if that theory doesn't hold up, at least there's something refreshingly earnest about our particular spammers. "Have you heard about this neat invention called credit," is sorta cute, as spam goes. It's also far less obnoxious than the physical spam from banks on the same topic.

(no subject)
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