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Facebook wants to read your mind, sort of

Facebook has revealed plans to create a "brain-computer interface" which will be able to, at some level, read your thoughts. Really.

Published onApril 20, 2017

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This is another one of those “is this awesome or is this terrifying” stories. During Facebook’s F8 developer conference keynote yesterday, the company revealed plans for a “brain-computer interface” which will be able to, at some level, read your thoughts.

The technology is being developed at Facebook’s Building 8 division, dedicated to highly advanced tech projects, beyond the likes of the augmented reality products the company is also working on. According to The Wall Street journal, this silent speech interface “Could help people type 100 words a minute from their minds — about five times faster than we type from our smartphones.”

This would stand to benefit not just those who want to type emails or messages faster, but also who aren’t physically capable of typing. Reportedly, it could also work without the user having to even look at their phone.

Meanwhile, Building 8 is also said to be developing tech that could help people “hear” with their skin, which ZDNet reports would be like “a more high-tech version of Braille.”

Facebook wants to turn every smartphone camera into an AR experience

Of course, consumers are already concerned enough about privacy without Facebook wanting to read their minds, but Regina Dugan, who runs the projects at Building 8, said it’s not about interpreting random thoughts, only the thoughts people would speak aloud anyway. How that would work, exactly, doesn’t appear to have been outlined.

The thing is, knowing what consumers are thinking is of incredible value to manufacturers. Market research exists because companies want to know how and what to sell to consumers. I’m not saying that Facebook is eyeing the possibility for this tech to be used as a way to yield better/”truer” consumer insights (what we say in a survey might be very different from what we truly think, after all) — but it might have crossed the minds of their executives.

The silent speech interface tech is said to still be a few years away yet, so you don’t have to worry about Facebook mind-reading for the moment. What are your thoughts on the possibilities, though? Let us know in the comments.

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