Facebook Is Experimenting With Brain Control And It's As Terrifying As It Sounds

by Alexandra Strickler

Facebook is already a space where people can, and do, share all of their thoughts, from the meaningless to the (maybe) meaningful.

So, it probably shouldn't surprise any of us that the social network has confirmed they are working on technology that would allow you to directly control a computer with your brain.

I know it's 4/20, but I promise you, this is real AF, man.

Regina Dugan, Facebook's vice president of engineering and head of its secretive Building 8, broke this news during the company's annual F8 conference, where developers come together to explore the future of technology.

Dugan said,

Over the next 2 years, we will be building systems that demonstrate the capability to type at 100 wpm by decoding neural activity devoted to speech. Just as you take many photos and decide to share some of them, so too, you have many thoughts and decide to share some of them in the form of the spoken word.

Anyone else feel a shiver down their spine, or is it just me?

According to BBC, the project is still in its infancy, as it will require much more sophisticated technology to detect brainwaves sans the scary, invasive surgery.

For the past six months, Facebook has already been collaborating with scientists and researchers from a wide range of universities, including San Francisco, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, among many others.

In light of this new technology, several people are obviously concerned about their privacy — or if they'll have any once this "silent speech" software actually exists.

In an attempt to put our soon-to-be-infiltrated brains at ease, Dugan added,

We are not talking about decoding your random thoughts. You have many thoughts, you choose to share some of them. We're talking about decoding those words. A silent speech interface - one with all the speed and flexibility of voice.

I'm not quite sold yet on how Facebook will work to distinguish "random" thoughts from those I would actually want to share with the world.

But it'll be a while before any of us get any answers about how this technology will work in practice.

Facebook said in a statement,

We'll need new, non-invasive sensors that can measure brain activity hundreds of times per second. From locations precise to millimetres and without signal distortions. Today there is no non-invasive imaging method that can do this.

Citations: Facebook team working on brain-powered technology (BBC), F8 2017: AI, Building 8 and More Technology Updates From Day Two (Facebook Newsroom), Neural Implant Enables Paralyzed ALS Patient to Type Six Words per Minute (Stanford University), Facebook is building technology it hopes will be able to read your mind (VICE News)