by Tom Pappert, Big League Politics:
The Big Tech Titan recently revealed his goal of building a mind reading machine that will take augmented reality devices to a new level.
During a video recorded appearance at Harvard Law School, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the type of mind-reading technology he is looking forward to creating in the coming decades at Facebook. In short, Zuckerberg believes it is possible for Facebook to create a “machine learning system” to understand thought patterns and interface directly with a person’s mind to operate a computer or augmented reality product.
Explaining the possible augmented reality technology, Zuckerberg said that “We have showed this demo of basically, can someone type by thinking? And of course when you talk about brain computer interfaces, there’s two dimensions of that work. There’s external stuff, and then internal stuff that’s invasive.”
“A bunch of folks who are doing this research showed a bunch of people images, I think it was animals, while having kind of a net on their head,” Zuckerberg explained that this “trained a machine learning system basically on what the pattern of that imagery looked like when a person was looking at different animals, then told the person to think about different animals, and it can predict what the person was thinking about in broad strokes just based on neural activity.”
Harvard Professor Jonathon Zittrain replied immediately that the “Fifth Amendment implications are staggering,” which led Zuckerberg to immediately try to deflect to another topic.
“Presumably this would be something someone would choose to use as a product, there’s of course all the other implications, but yeah this is going to be an interesting thing down the line,” said Zuckerberg, “I really don’t know how we got to this.”
This idea was previewed by Wired two years ago in an article suggesting Facebook is in a race to be the first to create technology that can interface with the human brain.
Dugan once oversaw Darpa, the visionary research arm of the US Department of Defense. Now, after a stint at Google, she oversees a blue-sky lab at Facebook called Building 8. Her keynote speech last week at the company’s annual developer conference marked her public debut as a Facebooker. At Google, she worked on modular smartphones and ways of converting our immediate surroundings into 3D virtual worlds. At Facebook, she and her team are building, among other things, a computer interface for the human brain.
It was a powerful speech, especially when she showed a short video of a woman with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, who can already control a computer tablet keyboard with her thoughts. Later, Dugan extolled the importance of Facebook’s “terrifying” effort to build something that has never been built before. “Why do we sign up to be terrified each day?” she said. “That is the price we pay for the privilege of making something great.”
Time will tell whether Zuckerberg’s idea is technologically feasible, or whether having a computer read your thoughts is something the average consumer will want to adopt, but Zuckerberg declared this to be one of the areas of technological advancement he is most excited about.