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Facebook working on tech that lets people type using the power of thought

By midian182 ยท 11 replies
Apr 20, 2017
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  1. Good news for slow typists: Facebook is working on a technology that can read brainwaves, allowing people to compose emails or messages just by thinking about what they want to write, and all at 100 words per minute.

    During the second day of Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, Regina Duggan, vice president of Engineering and head of Building 8, asked: “What if you could type directly from your brain?” She highlighted the case of a woman with ALS who has a tiny implant that reads brain signals, allowing her to type at eight words per minute using only her mind.

    Over the next few years, Facebook plans to develop non-invasive sensors that are capable of translating thoughts to text at a hundred words per minute.

    “That’s five times faster than you can type on your smartphone, and it’s straight from your brain,” Duggan said. “Your brain activity contains more information than what a word sounds like and how it’s spelled; it also contains semantic information of what those words mean.”

    Facebook has a team of 60 people working on the technology. They include machine learning and neural prosthetics experts, and, as noted by The Guardian, it is currently hiring a brain-computer interface engineer and a neural imaging engineer.

    Optical imaging, which users lasers to capture changes in the properties of neurons as they fire, appears to be the best method for reading words directly from our brains."The human brain streams 1 terabits per second, while speech is transmitted at 40-60 bits per second, said Dugan.

    “Our brains produce enough data to stream 4 HD movies every second,” wrote Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post. “The problem is that the best way we have to get information out into the world -- speech -- can only transmit about the same amount of data as a 1980s modem.”

    The system could help people with communication disorders, and has applications for augmented reality, where users could interact with what they see using their minds. Coming from a huge company like Facebook, questions have been raised about the privacy implications of such a technology, but Dugan said it was not interested in decoding a person’s random thoughts.

    Another Facebook project allows people to hear through their skin using a technique similar to braille. In this case, words are communicated by deciphering vibrations sent through an armband. Eventually, “it may be possible for me to think in Mandarin and you to feel it instantly in Spanish,” said Duggan.

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  2. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 2,931   +1,260

    If I had to think of a list of places I wouldnt want to wear a brainwave-reader from, facebook would be number one on that list.
    Reehahs, OutlawCecil and bmw95 like this.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,084   +1,766

    I'll have to draw the line at using any kind of brainwave-reader except for medical purposes that would help operate artificial limbs. People have far too many private thoughts every day. Thoughts that can and probably would be judged harshly by their peers. And since this can be a two way street, there is nothing to prevent a government from using the reverse to force their will upon the masses. Please don't bore me with "oh they would never do that", we see it done on a near daily basis now. Power is corrupt and absolute power absolutely corrupts. Give a politician the power to control YOUR thoughts and you don't need an advanced education to see what will come next.

    This might be the one (buy not necessarily only) technical advancement that I would ban throughout the world. it is the potential beginning of the end; the probable enslavement of the 99%; and the end of mankind as we know it.
    Skidmarksdeluxe likes this.
  4. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,460   +3,180

    "Facebook plans to develop non-invasive sensors"
    Yeah? Since when has FB done anything that is non invasive? Pull the other one, it has bells on it.
    Reehahs, JaredTheDragon and Uncle Al like this.
  5. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,320   +129

    I've been wanting this kind of tech for a long time. The privacy concerns are of course quite serious (it would make a wonderful interrogation device), but at least for me it would be very useful.
  6. mattfrompa

    mattfrompa TS Evangelist Posts: 536   +46

    Guys, I've been helping test this, and let me say it's truly amazing. One day we will look at keyboards like kids see rotary phones. This is the future. Concerns about privacy are overblown. You can trust Mark Zuckerberg. He is a genius, with many presidential qualities. Wait, that's not what I was thinking...Sorry about that, like I was saying, Facebook is my favorite technology company, who continuously drives innovation, while upholding the values that makes our nation great. Drink Pepsi Cola!
  7. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Booster Posts: 149   +77

    "Facebook plans to develop non-invasive sensors"

    Right? A fake company that has never developed a single sensor before, has no manufacturing power, no fabrication tech, and no R&D systems in place is going to make a neural sensor. Run by a fake person, generating fake money.

    Hiring 60 fake people to work on fake tech isn't a breakthrough. Hell, we all sit around talking about stuff already. Does that mean we're hired too?
  8. MadKnight

    MadKnight TS Rookie

    This really made me laugh hysterically.
    Can you imagine the stuff people will post? The amount of cursing, the regret of posting something you didn't want anyone reading.... god it is gonna be epic.
    "I HATE YOUR GODDAMN GUTS" take the brainwave thingie off "I MEANT TO SAY I RESPECT YOU" <- from an employee to a manager (used mild language)
  9. BadThad

    BadThad TS Booster Posts: 119   +69

    Don't men think about sex like every 7 seconds? Should make for some interesting "thought typing". LOL
    OutlawCecil likes this.
  10. Reachable

    Reachable TS Booster Posts: 122   +29

    I think it would be wonderful. It would make writing much simpler, much more direct and undistracted, and would increase stamina greatly. When you're thinking of words it creates a powerful current that seems to be superimposed over the rest of mental activity, so it might very well be not too hard to isolate it from the rest of the brain activity that's going on.

    For the same reason, it probably wouldn't work as an interrogation device. Just as you can clam up and refuse to speak during interrogation, you can also refuse to think words, because thinking words is really just one incremental step below speaking them on the scale of willful effort.
  11. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,320   +129

    It's a very significant step though. For example someone who's about to lie likely tries to rehearse the perfect sentence to say. That would be easily detectable. I think that in many cases people could be made to think words, and interrogators won't have too hard a time getting people there.
  12. commanderasus

    commanderasus TS Booster Posts: 137   +48

    As if I would trust anything coming from a man who could not even remember more than one password for his online accounts that got hacked. Maybe Mark can use this to teach his brain to actually function like a normal brain.

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