Facebook Is Working on a Smartphone That Can Read Thoughts[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he people at Facebook are going down a path that can only be described as post-Orwellian…
Not satisfied with the fact that their users willingly share their most intimate information on a daily basis, Facebook is looking to reshape the world and decipher thoughts that haven’t even been verbalized.
In February, Mark Zuckerberg released the “Facebook Manifesto” which, under a thin veil of altruistic vocabulary, hid a dystopian vision of a “connected world” where the flow of information was overseen and propagated using artificial intelligence and elaborated algorithms.
But that’s not enough…
On April 19th, the company revealed its most ambitious (and scary) project to date. Regina Dugan, head of Facebook’s hardware innovation division Building 8, speaks at F8 – the company’s annual developer conference.
Facebook has assembled a team of 60 people, including machine learning and neural prosthetics experts, brain-computer interface engineers and neural imaging engineers, to create a “mind reading” smartphone.
Its system would be capable of typing one hundred words per minute – straight from one’s thoughts.
Facebook plans to develop non-invasive sensors that can measure brain activity hundreds of times per second at high resolution to decode brain signals associated with language in real time.
“No such technology exists today; we’ll need to develop one.”
Facebook is looking at using optical imaging – using lasers to capture changes in the properties of neurons as they fire – to glean words straight from our brain before we say them.
If these signals can be read, they can be transmitted silently to other people.
If the thought that a company that makes almost all of its money from harvesting your personal data could also have access to your thoughts is scary, that’s because it is.
Regina Dugan attempted to assuage people’s fears by pointing out that Facebook would only decode the words you were going to say anyway.
“It’s not about decoding random thoughts,” she said.
“We’re talking about decoding the words you’ve already decided to share by sending them to the speech center of your brain.”
So Facebook is telling people to not be concerned about their thoughts being constantly read by a machine because it would only be able to decode words one was “about to say”.
However, the goal of that technology is to read thoughts – without them being said – and to translate them into computer commands.
- How can a clear line be drawn between what can and cannot be read in the nebulous realm of human thought?
- How can we guarantee that this kind of technology won’t be used to actually monitor and control people’s thoughts?
- Are there even people willing to give up the sanctuary of their own thoughts for the slight convenience of not moving one’s finger on a touchscreen?
Another reason why Facebook is looking to be able to read brainwaves is to push its augmented reality technology.
Another reason why Facebook wants to read our brain activity is to develop the equivalent of a “brain mouse” for augmented reality.
She painted a picture of a future where everyone wears augmented reality glasses that supplement our field of vision with additional information such as directions, and enhanced capabilities such as real-time translation of people’s voice or the ability to “mute” specific people and noises from your sound-scape.
What’s lacking in this augmented future is a user interface. When we don’t have a smartphone or a computer mouse, how can we select and click on a piece of digital content?
That’s where the brain-computer interface comes in.
Facebook appears to be keen on answering questions nobody ever asked.
Although the technology is presented as a way of “staying connected with the people around us” reducing the need to look at one’s screen – the true goal of this technology is painfully obvious.
They want to know what you’re thinking. All the time…
In Brief New technology enables thought to be translated into audible words with surprising accuracy by reading user’s brainwaves. The developers say they might be able to get the device to work with smartphones via an app in just five years.
Decrying how addictive and attention-sapping smartphones have become was an unexpected way for an executive at Facebook, a company that profits off your attention, to open a talk. But that’s exactly how Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s innovation skunkworks Building 8, started her presentation at the company’s developer conference F8 on Wednesday.
WATCH | Neurowear Neurocam Concept Movie
Apple’s Siri can be pretty intuitive and Google more often than not can infer what you’re thinking. But this smartphone accessory can literally read your mind! It senses brainwaves to activate and record video based on your interests.
The “neurocam” is a wearable camera system that detects your emotions. It automatically records moments of interest based on an analysis of the users brainwaves.
This is an extraordinary experiment that challenges the way future cameras can evolve and how humans may interact with such devices. The “neurocam” allows humans emotions to become integrated with devices, and we see this as a totally new experience. We believe that in the future, home electronics, facilities, services will seamlessly merge “thought” and “emotions” with the human body as an emotional interface, such as what the “neurocam” sets out to achieve.