Facebook gives peek inside unit studying brain-to-text technology

Facebook gives peek inside unit studying brain-to-text technology

Facebook gives peek inside unit studying brain-to-text technology

While such a project represents a "huge leap", the implications could be unsettling to consumers, many of whom think Facebook knows too much about their daily habits and actions - let alone their thoughts, says Debra Aho Williamson, a principal analyst at eMarketer. Building 8 head Regina Dugan said at the second day of Facebook's F8 developer's conference here.

"You have two square metres of skin on your body, packed with sensors, and wired to your brain".

Facebook wants to make it possible to type out a text message when the words pop up in your mind and "hear" language from the vibrations felt on our skin, moonshot projects that could transform the way people communicate in the future.

"That is why we love great writers and poets, because they are just a little bit better at compressing the fullness of a thought into words".

"We have a goal of creating a system capable of typing 100 words-per-minute straight from your brain". She presented a video showing a Facebook employee who was able to differentiate between three shapes, colors, and actions, and even understand them when chained together.

"One day, not so far away, it may be possible for me to think in Mandarin, and you to feel it instantly in Spanish", Ms Dugan said.

Dugan acknowledged some of these issues in her talk, which was laced with terms more akin to a science fiction movie or a conversation among physicists.

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But consider this: Those leading Silicon Valley think they can master an computer's interaction with the human brain, but the companies they lead can't yet master virtual reality without people getting sick, nor can they build an augmented reality headset, or code safe self-driving cars.

Such technology could let people fire off text messages or emails by thinking, instead of needing to interrupt what they are doing to use smartphone touchscreens, for example.

It's also trying to create hardware and software that would allow people to process language.

"Even something as simple as a "yes/no" brain click, or a "brain mouse" would be transformative".

Another early stage technology the Building 8 team is testing involves touch.

The technology was still a few years away. But what Facebook is proposing is perhaps more radical-a world in which social media doesn't require picking up a phone or tapping a wrist watch in order to communicate with your friends; a world where we're connected all the time by thought alone. CEO Mark Zuckerberg blogged today about the project stating that "eventually, we want to turn it [speechless communication] into a wearable technology that can be manufactured at scale". Recent job postings for Building 8 show the unit is hiring engineers for a two-year project "focused on developing advanced (brain-computer interface) technologies". Dugan joined Facebook in 2016 from Google, where she led a similar group working on advanced projects; prior to that she was a director of DARPA, a U.S. Defense Department group with a similar mission.

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