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Facebook is unexpectedly developing a device that can read minds.

Facebook is unexpectedly developing a device that can read minds. Facebook has unexpectedly published an update on its ambitious plans to develop a device

Facebook is unexpectedly developing a device that can read minds.

Facebook has unexpectedly published an update on its ambitious plans to develop augmented reality glasses that allow “read minds” without the use of special brain implants. This project was not heard for two years, but, apparently, Zuckerberg leaves no hope not only to have all our attention but also to know what we are thinking about.

University of California-sponsored scientists have published the results of a mind-reading experiment using implanted electrodes.

Their project is one of the methods of “reading” words and phrases directly from the brain and is one of the stages of the initial ambitious social network plan - to develop a wearable device with the same functionality, but without the use of implants.

  • People can now type using a neurocomputer interface, but the system often asks them to “pronounce” individual words using a virtual keyboard. The University of California experiment was that its participants listened to multiple-choice questions and gave answers out loud. A chain of electrodes recorded activity in those parts of the brain that are responsible for speech recognition and speech formation, trying to find similar patterns linking individual words and phrases.

  • For example, if the subjects were asked the question “which musical instrument do you like to listen to,” and they gave out different variants, for example, “violin” or “drums”, at that moment the system recorded the brain activity of the experiment participants. Then the algorithm recognized at what point the question was asked and when they answered it, and then guessed the content of both the question and the answer. The questions were preloaded into the system so that as soon as she was able to recognize the question, she narrowed down the range of potential answers. The accuracy achieved during the experiment reached 61-76%.

It is reported that all participants in the experiment had implanted implants, and answered questions out loud, and did not think about them to themselves, so the scientists still have a lot of work.

  • It is worth noting that this project is very different from what Facebook promised in 2017 at the F8 conference - then the company presented a concept of a certain “cap” that would allow people to gain more than 100 words per minute by force of thought. It is known that one of the company's developments in wordless typing also focus on a wearable device, namely augmented reality glasses. Considering that rumours about Facebook’s AR-glasses have been circulating in the press for a long time, this could be good news for those patients who are unable to speak due to paralysis or other conditions.

  • Nevertheless, when Facebook is involved in the matter, one cannot help but think about privacy. In 2017, when the project was first presented to the public, its head Regina Dougan emphasized that the project is not intended to penetrate other people's thoughts, which is an important clarification against the backdrop of fears about privacy breaches by large IT companies. Dugan identified the main task as deciphering the thoughts that the individual has already decided to share, sending them to the speech centre of the brain.

  • “Just imagine, you take a lot of photos, and then choose what you would like to share. So here - you have a lot of thoughts in your head, but you voice only some of them, ”explained the researcher.

However, all wearable devices are part of the Internet of things, and therefore, in theory, can be hacked by intruders.

In addition, given the business model of Facebook, which is based on the sale and display of advertisements, there are concerns about the secret recording and decryption of users' thoughts in order to subsequently, display relevant ads to them.

Some users suspect that social networks listen to their conversations using mobile applications, as they often “magically” see ads for goods and services that they discussed with their colleagues or friends the day before. With the advent of a device that really reads thoughts, this form of paranoia can easily become a reality.

Interestingly, Facebook is not the only company developing in this area. Earlier this month, Ilon Mask and his Neuralink announced that in 2020 there will be chips with which help paralyzed people can fully communicate with the outside world.
However, while scientists are sceptical about the project billionaire.

“It seems to me that Neuralink’s long-term goals are unrealistic, or at least it’s not worth formulating them like this ... It’s impossible to load data from some source and put it back into the brain. If it looks good in science fiction, then in real life there is simply no such thing, ”said Professor Thomas Stieglitz from the Department of Biomedical Microtechnology at the University of Freiburg.

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