Facebook wants to create a device that can read your mind — literally. It’s funding research on brain-machine interfaces that can pick up thoughts directly from your neurons and translate them into words, the company announced in a blog post last week.
The short-term goal is to help patients with paralysis, by decoding their brain signals and allowing them to “speak” their thoughts without ever having to move a muscle. That could be a real public good, significantly improving quality of life for millions of people. In the US alone, 5.4 million people currently live with paralysis.
But Facebook’s long-term goal is to reach a much, much wider audience: The aim, it says, is to give all of us the ability to control digital devices — from keyboards to augmented reality glasses — using the power of thought alone. To do that, the company will need access to our brain data. Which, of course, raises some ethical concerns.
We’ve spent the past decade handing Mark Zuckerberg our cherished memories, beloved photographs and intimate details of our day to day lives.
But that’s not enough for the social media titan: he wants to get inside your brain and access your thoughts directly.
Zuck has hinted that social networks of the future will be powered by telepathy, allowing ordinary people to beam their brainwaves and emotions directly onto the internet.
Many of us might think there’s something nightmarish about a world where we’re all plugged into the matrix.
But the billionaire has made his money from persuading huge numbers of people to drop their privacy shields and share every tiny aspect of their lives with friends, strangers and advertisers on Facebook.
“I think you’re going to be able to capture a thought [and take] what you’re thinking or feeling, in its kind of ideal and perfect form in your head and share that with the world,” he said whilst discussing predictions of the future with the Washington Post.
He said there was already “crazy” scientific research underway which could help his dream become a reality.
Zuck said government researchers had already worked out how to remove the memory of solving a maze from one rat’s head and then implant it in another rodent’s noggin.
“Then that mouse, without ever having been through the maze, was able to go do it.
“That’s just straight out of the Matrix, right?”
He also discussed an experiment at Berkeley University in which researchers “can predict what you’re thinking about” by carrying out an MRI scan.
If this all sounds terrifying, then you might take a little solace from the fact Zuckerberg has at least thought about the implications of technology which allows humans beings’ mind to be read like a book.
And he appears to have decided that it’s best just to perform this super-creepy task effectively.
“There are all these ethical questions and all these interesting questions about how you do that well,” he added.
Currently, Facebook isn’t planning to try and read users’ minds.
But Zuck thinks telepathy could be a reality within 50 years.
If the human species survives that long, we could be living in a very scary world indeed.