The power of thought: From your brain onto Facebook

The power of thought: From your brain onto Facebook

The power of thought: From your brain onto Facebook

But we'll need radical new interfaces to communicate with our minds, especially if Facebook's vision of the augmented reality world, experienced through glasses, is to really take off.

Engineers at the company's Building 8 division are working on what they call a silent speech interface, which could one day type 100 words per minute just by decoding neural activity.

The end-goal is to eventually be able to think in Mandarin and feel in Spanish, according to Dugan, who joined Facebook past year from Google's advanced projects division.

Facebook revealed Wednesday that it is working on technology to let people type straight from their brains at 100 words per minute.

"We are just getting started", Dugan said.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

It remains to be seen if Facebook can develop such a technology and widely deploy it.

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But Facebook signaled that it had widespread ambitions a year ago when Dugan was hired and her new secret research lab, Building 8, was announced alongside hundreds of millions in funding.

Secretive though it has been, Building 8 has been known to be working on neural technology for some time, its basic objective having been revealed by jobs postings, including for neuroscientists for "inception to product" design on a 2-year turn around.

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. These are said to include augmented reality, drones, cameras, and direct brain-computer interfaces (BCIs).

In addition to typing, the system could also serve as a sort of computer mouse for your brain, which would allow you to perform "yes/no" clicks, among other commands. Eventually, they want to allow people to think something and send the thought to someone's skin. We have only several thoughts out of many we'd actually like to share, Dugan said, and Facebook is not interested in broadcasting the random noise in your head. In charge of the unit is Regina Dugan, who led a similar group at Alphabet Inc's Google and was previously director of the U.S. Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. The company also demonstrated a system that could enable people to "experience" sound by feeling it through their skin.

The brain-to-text project is a couple years away and would require new, non-invasive sensors to measure brain activity hundreds of times per second, Dugan told USA TODAY after the keynote.

Ultimately, Facebook's futuristic projects look like an effort to hedge its bets about technology's future. Musk described his idea for brain interface technology, which he calls "neural lace", at Recode's Code Conference past year.

We know from the Tadoma method, developed in the early 20th century based off the experience of Helen Keller, that deaf and blind children could learn and communicate through slight pressure changes created by puffs of air and vibrations felt by their hands placed over a person's throat and jaw. Share thoughts independent of language.

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