These last couple of days, Facebook has been in the spotlight as it revealed the future during the F8 conference. On day one, the most notable reveal was Facebook Spaces – a mixed reality platform that puts the social in social media using virtual and augmented reality. On day two, however, something even more incredible was revealed – a viable pathway towards a future of techno-telepathy.
During the keynote, inventor and technology developer Regina Dugan took to the stage and wowed the audience with an ambitious plan. This plan entailed translating your own thoughts from your brain and encode them into text at 100 words-per-minute. As noted by Dugan, our brain is capable of streaming 4 HD movies per second. The problem, however, is that we’re only capable of transmitting that same amount of data from our brain at a rate similar to a 1980s modem.
So far, the closest thing we’ve ever had to techno-telepathy – officially dubbed brain-to-brain communications – was in our ability to text and/or type hundreds of words in mere minutes. To reach the scale and rate necessary to transcribe our own thoughts in real-time, Dugan and her team at Facebook’s Building 8 plan on developing a non-invasive technology that’ll be able to capture thoughts you’ve decided to send to the speech center of your brain (non-random thoughts) and translate them into text. And when are we to expect such technology? According to Dugan, in only two years time.
But Dugan and her team aren’t just aiming for people to eventually transmit their thoughts into words or for people to communicate with each other using thoughts alone; as you’ll see in the video below (starting at 1:07:58), in the future, people will also be able to communicate through their skin!
Five to ten years from now, brain-to-text communication will have become the norm. Whatever we think, our computer interfaces will transcribe those non-random thoughts into text in real-time much faster than 100 words-per-minute. It’ll be the closest we’ve come to achieving legitimate techno-telepathy. Whenever someone would receive a text on their smartphone, all the user would have to do is think about their response and hit send.
As for being able to communicate via our skin, this will likely still be within its prepubescent stage, taking its first steps into a later future of pure skin-based communication. There’ll likely be a small percentage of people who’ll acquire a simple skin-based vocabulary. But for most others, the main method of communication will be via brain-to-text – for now.
“Over the next 2 years, we will be building systems that demonstrate the capability to type at 100 wpm by decoding neural activity devoted to speech. Just as you take many photos and decide to share some of them, so too, you have many thoughts and decide to share some of them in the form of the spoken word. It is these words, words that you have already decided to send to the speech center of your brain, that we seek to turn into text.”
– Regina Dugan,
Building 8’s VP of Engineering
Thirty to fifty years from now, techno-telepathy will have reached its main phase. By this time, the world may appear to be an audibly silent one, but in truth, people have simply opted in communicating with one another via thought (and skin) alone. As predicted by Dugan, we’ll likely witness people communicating through a combination of both thought and skin.
Imagine someone born in Germany having a conversation with someone who was born in France. In this hypothetical scenario, the person from Germany is thinking in German. As for the recipient of this conversation, the person from France is able to translate those German thoughts into French via their skin, and vice versa. As Dugan noted, as a species, we are wired to communicate and to connect. With a future of advanced techno-telepathy, we’ll have simply taken our next great step in realizing these innate traits.
Photo Credit: VOA News