Typing on a smartphone is tiresome sometimes. It takes like forever to punch out a word on a touchscreen keyboard. Swiping may sound better, but still lower than a real keyboard, and half of the words still have errors. Voice to text is more flexible, and safer especially when one is driving. But what if you could be able to type directly from your brain? It sounds crazy, but it’s closer than you may realize. It is undeniable how addictive and attention-grabbing mobile phones has become in the modern world. But a great deal is on the way.
Facebook just revealed during its F8 conference that it has had a team of 60 engineers working on a brain-computer interface that will allow us to type words merely by thinking them. Facebook claims the technology won’t be able to access the thoughts you don’t want to share, but will only capture the words you think of speaking without shouting them out loud. It will be much like sending a telepathic message in a science fiction movie.
The technology will also enable you to “hear” through your skin. Sounds creepy! It is quite clear that Facebook wants to outrace the competition to the next big computing platform, whether its augmented reality, virtual reality or currently machine-brain interface. Facebook is not ready to lose again to Google and Apple and there are motivations driving the determination. Facility is also just a company that wants to be recognized as the kind of innovator that will ensure well-being of everyone in the word, especially when many people are questioning the company’s impact on public discourse.
According to Facebook, it is developing a technology to read our brainwaves, so that we don’t bother ourselves to look down on our phones to type emails and messages. Its main goal is to create a system capable of typing one hundred words per minute, five times faster than one can type on a smartphone-straight from your brain.
Regina Dugan, the vice president of engineering of Building 8 at Facebook, recently said at the Facebook’s F8 developers stage that, smartphones have been a powerful force in the world but they have had some “unintended consequences” she said. “The smartphone has cost us something. It has allowed us to connect with people far away from us too often at the expense of people sitting right next to us,” she said. “We know intuitively and from experience that we’d all be better off if we looked up a little more often.”
Angrily telling people to put down the “addictive drug that is your smartphone” and honor the conversation in front of them is the “wrong narrative”, she said. “It’s a false choice. This device is important.” So what is the answer to this very modern affliction? Mindfulness apps? Yoga? A digital detox? 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. Honestly, no such technology exists today, that why Facebook feels the need to develop one.”
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. Dugan said the team expects to demonstrate such a real-time silent speech system in a few years’ time – “one with all the speed and flexibility of voice, but with the privacy of text”.
“Understanding semantics means that one day you may be able to choose to share your thoughts independent of language. English, Spanish or Mandarin – they become the same,” Dugan said. However, Dugan emphasized that they are not discussing decoding one’s random thoughts, but thoughts that people would actually like, much like the photos they decide to share online. “That may be more than any of us care to know,” she emphasized.
“And it’s not something any of us should have a right to know.” It is clear from the passage that Facebook wants to be first in on futuristic, immersive technology. And it definitely intends to stay ahead of its competitors, Apple and Google. However, we don’t know what is currently cooking in their science labs.
What’s creepy with Facebook’s innovations is that they seem to be creeping more and more into our personal lives-now our brains.
Is our privacy assured anymore?
Or we are just promising them more profit with our personal data?
Is this the end of privacy?
Can we trust Facebook with our brain’s thoughts?