Facebook and DARPA’s “Brain-Computer-Interface” “Mind Reading Machine”

I. Facebook’s mind reading system revealed: Optical brain sensors will allow people to type at 100 words per minute just by THINKING

Developing optical sensors to allow typing at 100 words per minute by thinking

Would allow people to send emails and messages simply through thought
Also working on radical ‘super braille’ skin sensors to transmit information
Team admit technology is ‘a few years away’ but 60 engineers are working on it

By MARK PRIGG FOR DAILYMAIL.COM

PUBLISHED: 15:04 EDT, 19 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:26 EDT, 19 April 2017

Facebook has revealed the first details of a secretive project to develop a radical ‘mind reading’ system that would allow people to communicate via thought and ‘hear’ through their skin.

It is developing optical sensors to allow people to type at speeds of 100 words per minute simply by thinking, and radical touch interfaces that transmit information by putting pressure on skin, rather like a ‘super braille’.

‘We want to create products that recognise we are both mind and body, said Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s secretive building 8.

Scroll down for video

Facebook’s secretive Building 8 project is working on radical touch interfaces that transmit information through skin, boss Regina Dugan at the firm’s developer conference +11
The social network’s secretive Building 8 project is also working on radical touch interfaces that transmit information through skin, boss Regina Dugan at the firm’s developer conference.

‘What if you could type directly from your brain? It sounds impossible, but its closer that you might realise,’ she said.

Dugan outlined a ‘silent typing’ system, and said it could mean an end to constantly checking our phones.

‘In my entire career I’ve never seen something as powerful as the smartphone that doesn’t have unintended consequences,’ she said.

‘It has allowed us to connect to people far away from us too often at the expense of people sitting right next to us.

According to Dugan the system would allow users to ‘text a friend without taking out your phone, or send an email without leaving the party’.

‘To be clear, we are not talking about decoding your random thoughts,’ she said.

If we put these two things together, they suggest one day it may be possible for me to think in Mandarin, and for you to feel it instantly in Spanish
‘You take many photos, you choose to share some of them.

‘Similarly, you have many thoughts, you choose to share some of them.’

The project has only recently begun, she revealed.

‘Six months ago we had the idea this might be possible, and today we have a team of 60, and we are just getting started,’ she said.

‘Together we have a goal of typing 100 words per minute straight from your brain.’

However, Dugan admits that much of the technology needed simply doesn’t yet exist.

Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s secretive building 8, revealed the project at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference in San Jose last year +11
Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s secretive building 8, revealed the project at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference in San Jose

‘We’ll need new, non invasive sensors to measure brain activity.

‘No such technology exists today, and we think optical imaging is the best place to start.

‘In a few years we expect to demonstrate a real time system.

‘That would be crazy amazing – but its only the beginning of what’s possible.

‘Your brain also contains semantic information that tells us what a world means. Understanding this means one day you could choose to share your thoughts independent of language.

Dugan showed a patient using an implant system – but said Facebook’s would not require surgery +11
Dugan showed a patient using an implant system – but said Facebook’s would not require surgery

‘If we can make it possible to communicate directly from your brain, what if you could hear through your skin?

‘People can learn to interpret bumps as language with braille, we are wired to communicate and connect – what if we could transmit information via skin.’

Dugan shows off a system using actuators on a researcher’s arm that transmits words via skin, with the researcher learning to associate touches with words.

‘It’s amazing,’ she said.

‘If you ask Francis what she feels, she says she has learnt to feel the acoustic shape of an object on her arm.

The social network’s founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Center to show off new AR software and confirm rumours of a new neural ‘mind control’ interface +11
The social network’s founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Center to show off new AR software and confirm rumours of a new neural ‘mind control’ interface.

‘If we put these two things together, they suggest one day it may be possible for me to think in mandarin, and for you to feel it instantly in Spanish

‘Imagine the power this would give to people who can;t read or write, but can think and feel,’ before admitting ‘these things are still a few years away’.

It comes a day after Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook’s augmented reality system – and confirmed rumours the firm is developing a ‘mind control’ brain interface.

The social network’s founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center to introduce what he called the ‘second act’ in Facebook’s camera strategy – a new platform to allow developers to build AR apps that intensifies its battle with Snapchat.

He also hinted at the firm’s more distant future, confirming rumours it is developing a radical mind reading computer interface – and promised more details on the project ‘soon’.

‘We’re building further out beyond augmented reality, and that includes work around direct brain interfaces that one day will let you communicate using only your mind, although that stuff is pretty far out,’ he said.

Zuckerberg also addressed the tragedy in Cleveland, saying ‘our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr, we have a lot of work to do and we’ll do everything we can to help prevent these tragedies.’

He first unveiled a new augmented reality platform allowing developers to build AR apps.

FACEBOOK GOES VR WITH SPACES
Facebook also revealed its first VR app, called Faces, for the firm’s Oculus Rift.

It uses a virtual avatar, and allows to users to virtually meet and interact with friends.

It will be available from today in beta form.

Facebook Spaces launches in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch today, and lets users interact with friends in a virtual environment +11
Facebook Spaces launches in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch today, and lets users interact with friends in a virtual environment

The system uses AI to choose an avatar for people, before allowing them to customise it.

It showed off the system with demos including people showing off holiday destinations and even new apartments.

‘Spending time with friends and family creates many of our most meaningful memories, but it’s impossible to always be physically near the people we care about, said Facebook’s Rachel Franklin.

The VR software even includes a virtual selfie stick so participants can capture their time together +11
The VR software even includes a virtual selfie stick so participants can capture their time together

Users can draw or write messages using Facebook’s Oculus Touch Controllers +11
Users can draw or write messages using Facebook’s Oculus Touch Controllers

‘That’s where the magic of virtual reality comes in.

‘Today, we’re introducing a new VR app where you hang out with friends in a fun, interactive virtual environment as if you were in the same room. ‘

Facebook Spaces launches in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch today.

Zuckerberg said new phone-based applications might include creating a three-dimensional scene from a single two-dimensional photo or splattering the walls of your house with colorful (virtual) art.

‘We’re gathered here for the second biggest event called F8 this week,’ said Mark Zuckerberg, referencing the release of the hit film F8: The Fast and the Furious.

‘You may have noticed we rolled out cameras across our apps, that was act one,’ he said.

Today, we’re going to talk about act two – augmented reality.

‘We know where we want this go eventually – glasses or contact lenses that overlay this,’ Zuckerberg said.

‘We know where we want this go eventually – glasses or contact lenses that overlay this,’ Zuckerberg said +11
‘We know where we want this go eventually – glasses or contact lenses that overlay this,’ Zuckerberg said.

‘This will help us mix the physical and digital in new ways, and make reality better’.

‘I used to think glasses would be the firm major firm factor. But we are seeing versions with out phone cameras’.

‘Giving developers the power to build for augmented reality.

MESSENGER BOOSTS SHARING
Facebook also announced a bevy of updates to Messenger, its increasingly independent messaging app.

Messenger head David Marcus claims the app has become the de facto “white pages” of messaging, since people can find and chat with friends without knowing their phone number.

Now, Messenger wants to do the same for businesses, creating a “yellow pages” of sorts that let companies communicate with their customers.

Messenger will also let people chat with outside businesses as a group.

That would, for instance, allow groups of friends to share Spotify playlists or to make a restaurant reservation through OpenTable that keeps everyone on the same page.

The idea is simplify what might otherwise require a flurry of texts and sharing of links.

‘We’ll start today with basic effect such as face masks.

You’ll have thousands of options.’

However, Zuckerberg said the system will be more complex than simple snapchat-style filters.

Last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook’s 10-year road map that calls for powerful technologies to radically alter how people connect with friends and family and the world at large.

Uswers without VR headsets can use Messenger to appear in a video window in the VR chats +11
Uswers without VR headsets can use Messenger to appear in a video window in the VR chats

Facebook also revealed its first VR app, called Faces, for the firm’s Oculus Rift +11
Facebook also revealed its first VR app, called Faces, for the firm’s Oculus Rift.

Zuckerberg said games were likely to be a key component, and showed off a demo of a game turning a table into an AR game, allowing children to interact with objects on it.

‘This isn’t going to happen overnight, over time I think this will change how we use our phones, and eventually all of our technology,’ he said.

‘Even if we were a little slow to add cameras to our apps, I’m confident we will move this along.’

The social network’s founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Center to show off new AR software +11
The social network’s founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Center to show off new AR software.

Zuckerberg showed several demos of possible Facebook AR apps
Zuckerberg showed several demos of possible Facebook AR apps

Zuckerberg also confirmed the firm was developing a ‘mind computer interface’ that will one day allow users to communicate machine,, and said more details would be made available about the project soon.

In April, the site revealed the existence of a new division, known only as ‘Building 8’ which is dedicated to creating ground-breaking products at the intersection of hardware, software, and content.

And a new job advert posting suggested that the mysterious division could be working on mind-reading technology.

One advert is for a ‘brain-computer interface engineer’ to work on a ‘2-year B8 project focused on developing advanced BCI technologies.’

Details on what the job will involve are limited, but the advert adds that one of the key responsibilities will be applying ‘machine learning methods, including encoding and decoding models, to neuroimaging and electrophysiological data.’

The second advert is for a ‘neural imaging engineer’ who will be responsible for ‘a project focused on developing novel non-invasive neuroimaging technologies.’

Both jobs are based at the Menlo Park site in California.

These limited descriptions suggest that Building 8 might be working on monitoring how brain activity changes when looking at pictures or videos.

Share or comment on this article: Facebook reveals its radical ‘mind reading’ system
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Comments 18
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The comments below have not been moderated.

gardien, Valleys, France, 2 years ago

Great…Zuckerberg, the meglomaniac, will have complete access to what people are thinking. What could possibly go wrong with THAT? President Trump would be wise to look into how much research money the Obaama administration put into brain reading (without wired hookups)….now what could possibly go wrong with THAT??!!

08Click to rate

LeoTaxil, Andorra, Andorra, 2 years ago

And who will learn people to think again? When and if this system starts to work, people¿s total vocabulary would be less than 100 words.

02Click to rate

Dgladys, Tycho Brahe Crater, United Kingdom, 2 years ago

Faecebook users typing from their brains? welcome to the sound of silence.

03Click to rate

democraticdeficit, brighton, 2 years ago

That’ll put an end to water boarding, just strap the perps in and read their thoughts

03Click to rate

Arakammanaokorobia, Manchester, South Africa, 2 years ago

Finally, the New World Order begins to unravel. Been a long time coming

111Click to rate

Arakammanaokorobia, Manchester, South Africa, 2 years ago

Gradually, the NWO are revealing their agenda

111Click to rate

gardien, Valleys, France, 2 years ago

Hate to say it, but you are right.

04Click to rate

BunnyBallBall, Three Cocks, United Kingdom, 2 years ago

That’s gonna be useless as people who use the Facebook seldom employ brain at all.

221Click to rate

TakohamoOlsen2, Fremantle, Australia, 2 years ago

I type 100 WPM just by listening!!!

13Click to rate

Joshua_USA17, NYC, United States, 2 years ago

More automation, more technology, less intelligence, less progress. Think about it, because it’s true.

128Click to rate

Mark, London, United Kingdom, 2 years ago

What if it gets hacked by the Russians.

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‘It has allowed us to connect to people far away from us too often at the expense of people sitting right next to us.

According to Dugan the system would allow users to ‘text a friend without taking out your phone, or send an email without leaving the party’.

‘To be clear, we are not talking about decoding your random thoughts,’ she said.

If we put these two things together, they suggest one day it may be possible for me to think in Mandarin, and for you to feel it instantly in Spanish
‘You take many photos, you choose to share some of them.

‘Similarly, you have many thoughts, you choose to share some of them.’

The project has only recently begun, she revealed.

‘Six months ago we had the idea this might be possible, and today we have a team of 60, and we are just getting started,’ she said.

‘Together we have a goal of typing 100 words per minute straight from your brain.’

However, Dugan admits that much of the technology needed simply doesn’t yet exist.

Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s secretive building 8, revealed the project at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference in San Jose last year +11
Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s secretive building 8, revealed the project at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference in San Jose

‘We’ll need new, non invasive sensors to measure brain activity.

‘No such technology exists today, and we think optical imaging is the best place to start.

‘In a few years we expect to demonstrate a real time system.

‘That would be crazy amazing – but its only the beginning of what’s possible.

‘Your brain also contains semantic information that tells us what a world means. Understanding this means one day you could choose to share your thoughts independent of language.

Dugan showed a patient using an implant system – but said Facebook’s would not require surgery +11

Dugan showed a patient using an implant system – but said Facebook’s would not require surgery

‘If we can make it possible to communicate directly from your brain, what if you could hear through your skin?

‘People can learn to interpret bumps as language with braille, we are wired to communicate and connect – what if we could transmit information via skin.’

Dugan shows off a system using actuators on a researcher’s arm that transmits words via skin, with the researcher learning to associate touches with words.

‘It’s amazing,’ she said.

‘If you ask Francis what she feels, she says she has learnt to feel the acoustic shape of an object on her arm.

The social network’s founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Center to show off new AR software and confirm rumours of a new neural ‘mind control’ interface +11

The social network’s founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Center to show off new AR software and confirm rumours of a new neural ‘mind control’ interface.

‘If we put these two things together, they suggest one day it may be possible for me to think in mandarin, and for you to feel it instantly in Spanish

‘Imagine the power this would give to people who can;t read or write, but can think and feel,’ before admitting ‘these things are still a few years away’.

It comes a day after Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook’s augmented reality system – and confirmed rumours the firm is developing a ‘mind control’ brain interface.

The social network’s founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center to introduce what he called the ‘second act’ in Facebook’s camera strategy – a new platform to allow developers to build AR apps that intensifies its battle with Snapchat.

He also hinted at the firm’s more distant future, confirming rumours it is developing a radical mind reading computer interface – and promised more details on the project ‘soon’.

‘We’re building further out beyond augmented reality, and that includes work around direct brain interfaces that one day will let you communicate using only your mind, although that stuff is pretty far out,’ he said.

Zuckerberg also addressed the tragedy in Cleveland, saying ‘our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr, we have a lot of work to do and we’ll do everything we can to help prevent these tragedies.’

He first unveiled a new augmented reality platform allowing developers to build AR apps.

FACEBOOK GOES VR WITH SPACES
Facebook also revealed its first VR app, called Faces, for the firm’s Oculus Rift.

It uses a virtual avatar, and allows to users to virtually meet and interact with friends.

It will be available from today in beta form.

Facebook Spaces launches in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch today, and lets users interact with friends in a virtual environment +11
Facebook Spaces launches in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch today, and lets users interact with friends in a virtual environment

The system uses AI to choose an avatar for people, before allowing them to customise it.

It showed off the system with demos including people showing off holiday destinations and even new apartments.

‘Spending time with friends and family creates many of our most meaningful memories, but it’s impossible to always be physically near the people we care about, said Facebook’s Rachel Franklin.

The VR software even includes a virtual selfie stick so participants can capture their time together +11
The VR software even includes a virtual selfie stick so participants can capture their time together

Users can draw or write messages using Facebook’s Oculus Touch Controllers +11
Users can draw or write messages using Facebook’s Oculus Touch Controllers

‘That’s where the magic of virtual reality comes in.

‘Today, we’re introducing a new VR app where you hang out with friends in a fun, interactive virtual environment as if you were in the same room. ‘

Facebook Spaces launches in beta for Oculus Rift and Touch today.

Zuckerberg said new phone-based applications might include creating a three-dimensional scene from a single two-dimensional photo or splattering the walls of your house with colorful (virtual) art.

‘We’re gathered here for the second biggest event called F8 this week,’ said Mark Zuckerberg, referencing the release of the hit film F8: The Fast and the Furious.

‘You may have noticed we rolled out cameras across our apps, that was act one,’ he said.

Today, we’re going to talk about act two – augmented reality.

‘We know where we want this go eventually – glasses or contact lenses that overlay this,’ Zuckerberg said.

‘We know where we want this go eventually – glasses or contact lenses that overlay this,’ Zuckerberg said +11
‘We know where we want this go eventually – glasses or contact lenses that overlay this,’ Zuckerberg said.

‘This will help us mix the physical and digital in new ways, and make reality better’.

‘I used to think glasses would be the firm major firm factor. But we are seeing versions with out phone cameras’.

‘Giving developers the power to build for augmented reality.

MESSENGER BOOSTS SHARING
Facebook also announced a bevy of updates to Messenger, its increasingly independent messaging app.

Messenger head David Marcus claims the app has become the de facto “white pages” of messaging, since people can find and chat with friends without knowing their phone number.

Now, Messenger wants to do the same for businesses, creating a “yellow pages” of sorts that let companies communicate with their customers.

Messenger will also let people chat with outside businesses as a group.

That would, for instance, allow groups of friends to share Spotify playlists or to make a restaurant reservation through OpenTable that keeps everyone on the same page.

The idea is simplify what might otherwise require a flurry of texts and sharing of links.

‘We’ll start today with basic effect such as face masks.

You’ll have thousands of options.’

However, Zuckerberg said the system will be more complex than simple snapchat-style filters.

Last year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook’s 10-year road map that calls for powerful technologies to radically alter how people connect with friends and family and the world at large.

Uswers without VR headsets can use Messenger to appear in a video window in the VR chats +11
Uswers without VR headsets can use Messenger to appear in a video window in the VR chats

Facebook also revealed its first VR app, called Faces, for the firm’s Oculus Rift +11
Facebook also revealed its first VR app, called Faces, for the firm’s Oculus Rift.

Zuckerberg said games were likely to be a key component, and showed off a demo of a game turning a table into an AR game, allowing children to interact with objects on it.

‘This isn’t going to happen overnight, over time I think this will change how we use our phones, and eventually all of our technology,’ he said.

‘Even if we were a little slow to add cameras to our apps, I’m confident we will move this along.’

The social network’s founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Center to show off new AR software +11
The social network’s founder took to the stage at the firm’s annual F8 developer conference at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Center to show off new AR software.

Zuckerberg showed several demos of possible Facebook AR apps

Zuckerberg also confirmed the firm was developing a ‘mind computer interface’ that will one day allow users to communicate machine,, and said more details would be made available about the project soon.

In April, the site revealed the existence of a new division, known only as ‘Building 8’ which is dedicated to creating ground-breaking products at the intersection of hardware, software, and content.

And a new job advert posting suggested that the mysterious division could be working on mind-reading technology.

One advert is for a ‘brain-computer interface engineer’ to work on a ‘2-year B8 project focused on developing advanced BCI technologies.’

Details on what the job will involve are limited, but the advert adds that one of the key responsibilities will be applying ‘machine learning methods, including encoding and decoding models, to neuroimaging and electrophysiological data.’

The second advert is for a ‘neural imaging engineer’ who will be responsible for ‘a project focused on developing novel non-invasive neuroimaging technologies.’

Both jobs are based at the Menlo Park site in California.

These limited descriptions suggest that Building 8 might be working on monitoring how brain activity changes when looking at pictures or videos.

Share or comment on this article: Facebook reveals its radical ‘mind reading’ system
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129
shares
by TaboolaSponsored Links

This Cheap Drone Might Be The Best Selling Gift In Mexico
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Language expert shares the secret to learning a language in 15 mins a day
Babbel

People In Mexico Are Using New Doorbell To Spy On Thieves
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MOST WATCHED NEWS VIDEOS
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Shocking video of police officer hitting man repeatedly over…
CCTV shows Catherine Shaw lying on a hammock days…
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Decídete y prueba la tecnología de última generación de Civic 2018.
www.honda.mx
Comments 18
.
gardien, Valleys, France, 2 years ago

Great…Zuckerberg, the meglomaniac, will have complete access to what people are thinking. What could possibly go wrong with THAT? President Trump would be wise to look into how much research money the Obaama administration put into brain reading (without wired hookups)….now what could possibly go wrong with THAT??!!

08Click to rate

LeoTaxil, Andorra, Andorra, 2 years ago

And who will learn people to think again? When and if this system starts to work, people¿s total vocabulary would be less than 100 words.

02Click to rate

Dgladys, Tycho Brahe Crater, United Kingdom, 2 years ago

Faecebook users typing from their brains? welcome to the sound of silence.

03Click to rate

democraticdeficit, brighton, 2 years ago

That’ll put an end to water boarding, just strap the perps in and read their thoughts

03Click to rate

Arakammanaokorobia, Manchester, South Africa, 2 years ago

Finally, the New World Order begins to unravel. Been a long time coming

111Click to rate

Arakammanaokorobia, Manchester, South Africa, 2 years ago

Gradually, the NWO are revealing their agenda

111Click to rate

gardien, Valleys, France, 2 years ago

Hate to say it, but you are right.

04Click to rate

BunnyBallBall, Three Cocks, United Kingdom, 2 years ago

That’s gonna be useless as people who use the Facebook seldom employ brain at all.

221Click to rate

TakohamoOlsen2, Fremantle, Australia, 2 years ago

I type 100 WPM just by listening!!!

13Click to rate

Joshua_USA17, NYC, United States, 2 years ago

More automation, more technology, less intelligence, less progress. Think about it, because it’s true.

128Click to rate

Mark, London, United Kingdom, 2 years ago

What if it gets hacked by the Russians.

017Click to rate
View all
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II. ZUCKERBERG WANTS FACEBOOK TO BUILD A MIND-READING MACHINE

If the Facebook CEO’s reflection tour has revealed anything it is that even as he wrestles with the harms the platform has wrought, he is busy dreaming up new ones.

FOR THOSE OF us who worry that Facebook may have serious boundary issues when it comes to the personal information of its users, Mark Zuckerberg’s recent comments at Harvard should get the heart racing.

Zuckerberg dropped by the university last month ostensibly as part of a year of conversations with experts about the role of technology in society, “the opportunities, the challenges, the hopes, and the anxieties.” His nearly two-hour interview with Harvard law school professor Jonathan Zittrain in front of Facebook cameras and a classroom of students centered on the company’s unprecedented position as a town square for perhaps 2 billion people. To hear the young CEO tell it, Facebook was taking shots from all sides—either it was indifferent to the ethnic hatred festering on its platforms or it was a heavy-handed censor deciding whether an idea was allowed to be expressed.

Zuckerberg confessed that he hadn’t sought out such an awesome responsibility. No one should, he said. “If I was a different person, what would I want the CEO of the company to be able to do?” he asked himself. “I would not want so many decisions about content to be concentrated with any individual.”

Instead, Facebook will establish its own Supreme Court, he told Zittrain, an outside panel entrusted to settle thorny questions about what appears on the platform. “I will not be able to make a decision that overturns what they say,” he promised, “which I think is good.”

All was going to plan. Zuckerberg had displayed a welcome humility about himself and his company. And then he described what really excited him about the future—and the familiar Silicon Valley hubris had returned. There was this promising new technology, he explained, a brain-computer interface, which Facebook has been researching.

The idea is to allow people to use their thoughts to navigate intuitively through augmented reality—the neuro-driven version of the world recently described by Kevin Kelly in these pages. No typing—no speaking, even—to distract you or slow you down as you interact with digital additions to the landscape: driving instructions superimposed over the freeway, short biographies floating next to attendees of a conference, 3D models of furniture you can move around your apartment.

The Harvard audience was a little taken aback by the conversation’s turn, and Zittrain made a law-professor joke about the constitutional right to remain silent in light of a technology that allows eavesdropping on thoughts. “Fifth amendment implications are staggering,” he said to laughter. Even this gentle pushback was met with the tried-and-true defense of big tech companies when criticized for trampling users’ privacy—users’ consent. “Presumably,” Zuckerberg said, “this would be something that someone would choose to use as a product.”

In short, he would not be diverted from his self-assigned mission to connect the people of the world for fun and profit. Not by the dystopian image of brain-probing police officers. Not by an extended apology tour. “I don’t know how we got onto that,” he said jovially. “But I think a little bit on future tech and research is interesting, too.”

Of course, Facebook already follows you around as you make your way through the world via the GPS in the smartphone in your pocket, and, likewise, follows you across the internet via code implanted in your browser. Would we really let Facebook inside those old noggins of ours just so we can order a pizza faster and with more toppings? Zuckerberg clearly is counting on it.

To be fair, Facebook doesn’t plan to actually enter our brains. For one thing, a surgical implant, Zuckerberg told Zittrain, wouldn’t scale well: “If you’re actually trying to build things that everyone is going to use, you’re going to want to focus on the noninvasive things.”

The technology that Zuckerberg described is a shower-cap-looking device that surrounds a brain and discovers connections between particular thoughts and particular blood flows or brain activity, presumably to assist the glasses or headsets manufactured by Oculus VR, which is part of Facebook. Already, Zuckerberg said, researchers can distinguish when a person is thinking of a giraffe or an elephant based on neural activity. Typing with your mind would work off of the same principles.

As with so many of Facebook’s innovations, Zuckerberg doesn’t see how brain-computer interface breaches an individual’s integrity, what Louis Brandeis famously defined as “the right to be left alone” in one’s thoughts, but instead sees a technology that empowers the individual. “The way that our phones work today, and all computing systems, organized around apps and tasks is fundamentally not how our brains work and how we approach the world,” he told Zittrain. “That’s one of the reasons why I’m just very excited longer term about especially things like augmented reality, because it’ll give us a platform that I think actually is how we think about stuff.”

Kelly, in his essay about AR, likewise sees a world that makes more sense when a “smart” version rests atop the quotidian one. “Watches will detect chairs,” he writes of this mirrorworld, “chairs will detect spreadsheets; glasses will detect watches, even under a sleeve; tablets will see the inside of a turbine; turbines will see workers around them.” Suddenly our environment, natural and artificial, will operate as an integrated whole. Except for humans with their bottled up thoughts and desires. Until, that is, they install BCI-enhanced glasses.

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Zuckerberg explained the potential benefits of the technology this way when he announced Facebook’s research in 2017: “Our brains produce enough data to stream 4 HD movies every second. The problem is that the best way we have to get information out into the world—speech—can only transmit about the same amount of data as a 1980s modem. We’re working on a system that will let you type straight from your brain about 5x faster than you can type on your phone today. Eventually, we want to turn it into a wearable technology that can be manufactured at scale. Even a simple yes/no ‘brain click’ would help make things like augmented reality feel much more natural.”

Zuckerberg likes to quote Steve Jobs’ description of computers as “bicycles for the mind.” I can imagine him thinking, “What’s wrong with helping us pedal a little faster?”

And while I reflexively gag at Zuckerberg’s thinking, that isn’t meant to discount its potential to do great things or to think that holding it off will be easy or necessarily desirable. But at a minimum, we should demand a pause to ask hard questions about such barrier-breaking technologies—each quietly in our own heads, I should hasten to add, and then later as a society.

We need to pump the brakes on Silicon Valley, at least temporarily. For, if the Zuckerberg reflection tour has revealed anything, it is that even as he wrestles with the harms Facebook has wrought, he is busy dreaming up new ones.

III. Facebook Wants to Read Your Mind. Decides to Build a Mind-Reading Machine

Facebook Wants to Read Your Mind. Decides to Build a Mind-Reading Machine

Aakash JhaveriBY AAKASH JHAVERI
1 DAY, 15 HOURS

Facebook is a very ambitious company and has a few interesting ideas for the future of its platform. But in a time, where privacy scandals are a regular sight, it’s difficult to get excited about these advancements. Regardless of that, Facebook is working on a machine that can read minds, and the intended use is actually pretty cool.

The Facebook mind-reading machine is being developed to make navigation in Augmented Reality, easier. In the future, it is expected that Facebook will be driven by augmented and virtual reality, where users will be able to go through their feed in mediums beyond their tiny phone screens. This device will detect neural activity and let people navigate through augmented reality without the need to move a finger. Practically, this is the progression to the “brain-mouse” idea that Facebook talked about in 2017, at its F8 Developer Conference.

This is expected to help make the Facebook experience, a lot more immersive and intuitive. Imagine being able to walk around while scrolling through your feed, seeing what the people around you are up to, updates on the businesses around, and know what’s happening in places around you. In its current state, AR and VR require a dedicated input interface, like a remote controller or a need you to move in specific ways to navigate. With this new instrument, we could be able to do all of that, by just thinking about these actions. The specific neural activity will be picked up by the reader and converted into signals that can be interpreted by the glasses and shows your content accordingly.

Of course, this raised a few eyebrows around the most extreme form of privacy invasion possible: literally knowing what you are thinking about. Zuckerberg has ensured that the technology will actually not be invasive in nature when it arrives. It is still too early to comment on how true that is because the tech itself, is still very nascent and the exact technique of mind-reading is not yet known.

If you’re actually trying to build things that everyone is going to use, you’re going to want to focus on the non-invasive things.

Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer of Facebook

He went on to highlight the other benefits of a machine that can assist you by reading your mind. Simpler stuff like typing on a keyboard could change as we know it, as this can be 5 times faster than current typing speeds. Basically, your speed of thinking would be your speed of typing. Other applications could redefine smartphone AI, reducing the difference between what we have on our mind and what our pocket computers do.

No timeline has been suggested for the launch of this crazy mind-reading wearable. Along with perfection in accuracy, Facebook will have to work on gaining user trust before someone puts one on, in hopes of not sharing unnecessary information with them. Having said that, such devices might become mainstream one day, where Augmented Reality will play a bigger part of our daily lives.

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