By Aaron Kesel
Facebook-backed research on brain reading has transmitted thoughts to speech, as we take a step towards pre-crime becoming a reality. Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, the FBI has demanded a “social media early alerting tool” that will help monitor terrorist groups, foreign intelligence services, criminal organizations and other domestic threats before they act. In other words, thought crimes and pre-crime — something that Facebook no doubt can help with its new brain-reading technology.
Two years ago in 2017, Facebook announced that it was working on a brain-computer interface (BCI) with 60 people on the project, The Guardian reported. The BCI is designed to let users type by simply thinking their words. The company has now revealed for the first time how far it’s come to make such a device a reality.
“Imagine a world where all the knowledge, fun, and utility of today’s smartphones were instantly accessible and completely hands-free,” reads a Facebook blog post from today. “Where you could connect with others in a meaningful way, regardless of external distractions, geographic constraints, and even physical disabilities and limitations.”
A research partnership between scientists at the University of California San Francisco, who want to help disabled people speak again, and Facebook, which seeks to enable typing with one’s mind, has achieved the feat of decoding thoughts to text.
This builds on previous research by the researchers where they developed a brain implant that could turn signals into synthesized speech, New Atlas reported. The study involved three human volunteers who had a small patch of electrodes implanted on the surface of their brains (exactly like the CIA’s MKUltra programs.) The team posed a series of nine questions to the volunteers, while using the newly developed machine learning algorithms to turn their brain signals into translated speech. The results were instantaneous and in real time, something that science hasn’t been able to accomplish until now.
The applicable use of helping disabled people speak again is a good cause. The latter involving Facebook having the ability to read thoughts and then decode that to text so its users can use the sanctity of their own minds to post on the social media platform is a scary prospect.