WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Telepathic communication is the stuff of true sci-fi but we’ve already demonstrated that we can achieve it using technology, now Zuckerberg wants to plug that telepathic tech into Facebook and turn the social network into the world’s largest telepathic network.
One of my favourite ideas, which admittedly is Google inspired, is that technology should be “invisible,” and that the best technology is the one that you don’t even know you’re using because it’s frictionless and seamless. Magic. This is also one of the reasons why I believe the currently over hyped virtual reality (VR) industry, which analysts continually slate as being “this years stellar technology” then “next years,” and so on will take longer to catch on that we expect – if indeed it ever does.
After all, think about it – yes, living in, interacting with and engaging others in a magical virtual world sounds wonderful, and some of the experiences I’ve witnessed while strapped into a VR headset have been truly staggering but the technology isn’t invisible, far from it and in fact it’s about the bulkiest piece of consumer tech you can buy.
Think about this for a little while and see what you’d prefer – strapping on a huge VR headset and looking like an unsocial klutz sitting on the sofa in the living room with your friends, or wink your left eye and activating a pair of smart contact lenses that instantly transport you to the same virtual place, time and location. Wink your right eye and be transported into a world of augmented, or mixed reality and blink twice and you’re back in the real world. Blink three times and you’ve got a nervous tick.
Anyway, I know my little example might still miss the mark by a smidge but you get the point, and it looks like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame might be on the same page.
First Facebook had pictures. Then it had videos. Then it had 360 degree videos. And soon it will have VR, but now CEO Mark Zuckerberg is on record as imagining a way for users to be able to transmit thoughts directly from one brain to another, and he’s hired a team, run out of Facebook’s Building 8 campus, to try to turn it into a reality, albeit that it’s going to take them a very long time.
Telepathy. How cool right!? And you’re probably thinking it’s a mad, impractical, impossible idea but telepathy has already been demonstrated – both in humans, and rats, and even Elon Musk is thinking a bit about telepathy, albeit in the form of a Neural Lace. From what I’ve already seen in the space we could argue we already have some of the technology we need to accomplish at least part of the task, after all we have demonstrated telepathy already, albeit on a very small scale, using a mixture of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and Brain Machine Interface (BMI) technology, and if we think years ahead you could arguably see the Building 8 team embedding some of this tech into Facebook’s Oculus headset.
Noone can deny that Zuckerberg is thinking big. Kudos.
“You’re going to just be able to capture a thought, what you’re thinking or feeling in kind of its ideal and perfect form in your head, and be able to share that with the world in a format where they can get that,” said Zuckerberg during a live Q&A broadcast from his Facebook page on Monday, “there’s some pretty crazy brain research going on that suggests we might be able to do this at some point.”
At this point most people are now thinking “Oh God! please don’t let people beam cat videos into my head!” but it looks like Zuckerberg is thinking about that already and he told the virtual audience that people would be able to maintain control and opt in and out of what they choose to participate in. That said though transferring thoughts directly between users is still decades away – even at our current breakneck pace of innovation.
However, for a company that began as a glorified college dating service, it’s one of the more far-out ideas the Facebook leader has floated publicly but it’s not the first time – telepathy appeared in another live chat in 2015 and in 2016 Zuckerberg outlined that he had teams working on developing digital equivalents of every one of our six human senses – telepathy, of course being one, and hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch bringing up the rear.
I for one have been tracking these now for a while and the teams are making good progress, so maybe those will be the subject of future posts, and if you like that idea then just think me. Meanwhile Zuckerberg is also making good progress with Jarvis his artificial intelligent “butler,” as well as getting on with curing all known disease by 2015 so I’m surprised he had any time at all to share his thoughts with us – even if they were just via a screen for now.