Facebook is bound to develop a brain computer interface to allow the human brain to text directly, without the help of hands. Specialists intend to build an independent Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) panel to create a brain-to-computer interface. The announcement was made on April 19 at the F8 conference, and they also offered a preview of how this interface could look like.
Facebook is working on a brain computer interface
Regina Dugan, the head of the R&D Department Building 8 of Facebook argued that their project is still in the first stages of the developmental process. In the meantime, a big part of the work regarding the brain interface is currently conducted by scientists at Johns Hopkins and UC Berkeley. Mark Chevillet, the technical lead on the project, claimed that they need to follow the same standards as any other government body which offers its financial support.
Facebook is working with institutional review boards at Johns Hopkins and UC Berkeley which are prone to assure them that the imposed standards are met. These special boards are meant to make sure that the needed research develops in a safe manner while test subjects are not being misused. Facebook wishes to design and use this optical neural imaging technology to read the human brain a hundred times per second to trace ideas and thoughts which will eventually be transformed into text.
The new project is supported by scientists at Johns Hopkins and UC Berkeley
In the meantime, this technology could be used to turn sounds into haptic responses which can be easily learned by people, just like braille. Dugan noted that every little detail on this project would be reviewed by the institutional boards. Nevertheless, they will receive the help of independent ethicists who will work to diminish the potential for vindictive use of the new brain computer interface of Facebook to judge people’s thoughts.
Dugan revealed her consideration regarding people’s concerns, saying that she has never witnessed a technology developed with a massive impact which has never had unplanned consequences which needed to controlled. When bringing new technology to light, people see a lot of talks and then the actual work developed by experts which concentrate on obtaining positive outcomes after testing the new product.
Hopefully, Facebook will make the development of ELSI institutional boards a priority and their project will be based on transparency.
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