Prepare to get a little paranoid. Facebook has announced their plans to allow users to interface with computers using our brains. The intent would be to allow us to compose texts at far greater speeds than even the nimblest fingers can muster. Also; they’re working on a way for us to “listen” to sounds by stimulating our skin.
Facebook’s Regina Dugan detailed the announcement in an after action report on the platform. “We asked these questions: What if you could type directly with your brain? And what if you could hear with your skin? The answers reinforce what we intuitively know…” She said. The technologies could prove life-changing for deaf people, or people currently incapable of speech or text.
The technology was shown in action at the Facebook Developer Conference, F8. In a video, a woman in a Stanford lab uses only her brain to type eight words per minute.
In a few years, the technology will enable us to type hundreds of words per minute, according to Dugan. “That’s five times faster than you can type on your smartphone, and it’s straight from your brain,” she stated.
It’s the kind of badass sci-fi movie invention that always seemed so convenient—an intuitive no-brainer. It makes perfect sense. Why bother fiddling with commands and user interfaces? Wouldn’t it be simpler if your brain could just tell the computer what you want it to do?
There’s a problem, however. The entire concept relies on trusting Facebook with our thoughts. So many companies are being accused of tracking our usage data these days.
All the time, we see stories popping up which claim that one service or another has taken advantage of our trust. Just yesterday, in fact, Bose had been accused of sharing your listening habits.
In her post, Dugan attempted to head off such concerns by explaining how the tech would function:
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. It is these words, words that you have already decided to send to the speech center of your brain, that we seek to turn into text. And unlike other approaches, ours will be focused on developing a non-invasive system that could one day become a speech prosthetic for people with communication disorders or a new means for input to AR.
— Regina Dugan
As is the way with our species, the advent of such technologies is effectively inevitable. The unrelenting forward march of technological advancement is inspirational, in fact.
It’s only in trusting the people responsible for the technology to do right by us that gives cause for concern. How do you feel about the tech? Are you in favor of the potential convenience over privacy concerns? Sound off.