Can you imagine how much an invention that reads peoples’ minds would be worth? Well, UC Berkeley continues to work on a way to find out what people are thinking. The ramifications are pretty frightening.
A long time ago, I wrote about Braingate. In 2009, Cybernetics was working toward artificial limb movement by implanting these into the surface of the brain. The patient would think about moving their limb, the signal would be picked up by Braingate and the prosthetic limb would move. They also had created one that could do mouse movement for a computer.
Berkeley is trying to do something a little different. They are working on a part of the brain involved in low level visual processing. This means that this part of the brain is not involved in identifying the visual subject matter. Rather, it simply cues on details of what is being seen. Edges and colors are part of that. The result is a somewhat crude representation of what the subject is seeing.
My guess is that work on this type of thing will continue. Why wouldn’t this work on non visual areas? This would allow us to see what people are thinking. Or maybe thoughts could be transduced into language. I could see implantation working in the future as well. Maybe an operative would be captured and implants placed. I think in the future we could easily make these things very small. This would allow military to see and hear exactly what is going on in secure locations. Of course, this is all conjecture, but it’s interesting and not too far fetched.
Here are some videos about the work: