What if you could type by merely thinking about it? What if writing articles, talking to friends, or basically putting words to a computer screen, became as simple as thinking about it. Elon Musk has been talking about a brain-computer interface lately. But as far as typing using just your thoughts is concerned, Facebook could be the company to take the crown and make the first breakthrough.
Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s R&D division Building 8, took to the F8 stage to talk about the possibility of such a technology invading our lives in the near future and how, such a tech could change our lives for the better. Dugan it should be remembered, is highly accomplished and previously worked at Google’s Advanced Technology And Products division. She is also a former head of DARPA.
We already knew that Facebook was working on something that had to do with brain-computer interfaces. The company had issued several job postings that hinted at the same. For example, the company was hunting for a Brain-Computer Interface Engineer
who will be responsible for working on a 2-year B8 project focused on developing advanced BCI technologies.
and whose Responsibilities included
Application of machine learning methods, including encoding and decoding models, to neuroimaging and electrophysiological data.
Well, what would Facebook do with neuroimaging and electrophysical data but convert it into a for comprehensible by us? The company was also looking for a Neural Imaging Engineer who will be “focused on developing novel non-invasive neuroimaging technologies” and whose job description included:
Design and evaluate novel neural imaging methods based on optical, RF, ultrasound, or other entirely non-invasive approaches.
The non-invasive part is of particular import. It means that we are not going to have to have antennae sticking out of our heads in order to be able to type with our thoughts.
Facebook is certainly not the only company working on this tech. Elon Musk’s Neuralink for instance, is also doing something similar but, it is looking to achieve its goals through a neural lace. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be a customer for Facebook’s purportedly non-invasive product, whenever it comes out. Neuralink’s lace might grant capabilities beyond merely typing, however, I would rather not allow someone to tinker with my brain until the the tech is much more established.
Meanwhile, there will be some time before this kind of tech is realized. However, Facebook has made it very clear today that this is going to be an important area of focus for it. The company is planning to create and ship devices that grant humans these capabilities while also ensuring that, not all of their thoughts are converted into text — only those that they mean to. How that will be achieved is going to be only among a set of very interesting questions that will be answered once Facebok starts shipping the device.