Facebook Working on Brain-to-Text Technology That Can Read Minds

In some major developments, Facebook is looking to embark upon the journey to read minds. At its annual Facebook Developers Conference, F8, on Wednesday, the social media giant unveiled the project aimed at allowing users to use their minds to type messages.

Explaining the decision, Facebook executive and former DARPA director, Regina Dugan said,

“Speech iss essentially a compression algorithm, and a lousy one at that. That is why we love great writers and poets, because they are just a little bit better at compressing fullness of thought into words. What if we could type directly from our brain into a computer?”

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The project gradually grew into a full scaled assignment within a period of last six months and now consists of a focused team of more than 60 scientists, engineers, and system integrators. Dugan, who leads a Building 8 team devoted to coming up with innovative hardware for the social network’s mission of connecting the world, further shared:

” We are just getting started. We have a goal of creating a system capable of typing 100 words-per-minute straight from your brain”.

The video that was played during her presentation showed a woman with an advanced neurodegerative disease, and was using her mind to move a cursor on a computer screen. This type of technology currently involves implanting electrodes; however, Facebook wants to use optical imaging to eliminate the need to intrude brains surgically. Facebook is currently looking at creating “silent- speech interfaces” based solely on sensors that could be worn, and made in quantity.

Dugan said,

” We are not talking about decoding your random thoughts; that is more than many of us wants to know. We are talking about thoughts you want to share. Words you have decided to send to the speech center of the brain.”

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By using this technology, instead of interrupting their flow of activity, people could use their thinking to fire off text messages or emails by thinking. The project is aimed to capture semantics associated with certain words, making differences in language negligible by sharing what is precisely in the mind.

Dugan further said,

“Unlike other approaches, ours will be focused on developing a noninvasive system that could one day become a speech prosthetic for people with communication disorders or new means for input to AR”. Even something as simple as a yes/no brain click, or a brain mouse would be transformative. Our brains have the ability to construct language from components. I suggest that one day, not so far away, it may be possible for me to think in Mandarin and for you to feel in instantly in Spanish. However, such technology remains years away though.”

Facebook had started Building 8 group last year, and was handed over to Dugan, whose impressive resume includes leading an advanced-technology projects group at Google. Before that, Dugan ran the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency devoted to developing technology for the US military.

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