Now, Facebook is working on machine capable of reading minds
Even after several privacy-related debacles, Facebook is working on projects that may not get the best of responses. Case in point: A mind-reading machine that the social network is working on to help people navigate AR using their thoughts. The project is being researched to augment human capabilities, but we can already imagine its privacy implications. Here's what Mark Zuckerberg said about the tech.
Brain-Computer Interface to navigate AR
Speaking to Harvard Law school professor Jonathan Zittrain, Zuckerberg touched several topics, including the Brain-Computer Interface his company is building. He said Facebook's researchers are working on a device that would detect neural activity and let people control, navigate through augmented reality without moving a finger or saying anything. The device was first discussed as a 'brain-mouse' at Facebook's 2017 F8 Developer's conference.
How such device might work in reality
Presumably, the specific neural activity detected by the device would be converted/transmitted to glasses or headsets made by Facebook-owned Oculus VR. This might ultimately allow the user to navigate through AR and interact with digital additions like 3D figures or texts into real landscapes.
The tech would be non-invasive, says Zuckerberg
Though nobody has seen how the device that would read thoughts and control AR apps would look like, Zuckerberg has ensured it won't be invasive. "If you're actually trying to build things that everyone is going to use, you're going to want to focus on the non-invasive things," he told Zittrain, noting that the device would be like a shower-cap for detecting brain activity.
'5x faster' brain typing
"Our brains produce enough data to stream 4 HD movies every second," Zuckerberg had said in 2017 while claiming that their system could "let you type straight from your brain about 5x faster than you can type on your phone today."
However, this does raise privacy concerns
While the idea sounds interesting, there's no denying it raises massive privacy concerns. Specifically, Facebook has a knack of collecting data and if it really brings a tech like this, there's a good chance it might mine neural activity (or thoughts) of users. Zuckerberg, however, shrugged off these concerns, saying "presumably, this would be something that someone would choose to use as a product."
No timeline for launch
That said, it is also important to note that the device in question is still being worked upon. No one really knows when Facebook plans to unveil it, but frankly, now is not the time. The company is still reeling from last year's privacy fiascos, including a major breach, and trying to rebuild its image, regain user trust by making its products more private.