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Thought talking promises to one day revolutionize our lives

Dick Pelletier

Ethical Technology

December 04, 2012

Touch screens, voice recognition, and systems that track eye and muscle movements all offer efficient ways of communicating, but transmitting thoughts directly to machines, without any implant in the brain could affect our lives more than any other technology under development today.


Complete entry


Posted by kernfel  on  12/04  at  04:53 PM

I think it’s a good thing that, while I have chosen to pursue a career in cognitive science with precisely these applications in mind, I find the prospect of immediate brain interfacing not just extremely enticing, but also quite scary. This technology - if at all feasible - has a tremendous potential for misuse. Today, we’re fighting for the freedom of the internet and the security and privacy of our data and devices. In two or three decades, we may have to fight for the freedom of our very thoughts, for the security and privacy of our minds.
Notably, as the opportunities will likely be mind-bendingly great, the technology will likely be adopted regardless of the risks. The more important, then, to identify these risks ahead of time and deal with them as early as possible!

Posted by Dick Pelletier  on  12/04  at  05:09 PM

Kernfel, you are absolutely correct. As with all NBIC technologies, breakthroughs will come with risks. It behooves us to provide built-in protections as these forward technologies advance.

Can humanity manage this new science as it unfolds? Time will tell.

Posted by Greg W  on  12/05  at  12:00 AM

This technology is quite interesting. It seems like this would be a technology that would get people on board with transhumanism, unlike the things like changing the material of your body or giving yourself robotic blood cells.

I don’t find it likely that this will be used to drive wheelchairs or anything like that though, because there’s too many distracting thoughts.

My position on transhumanism is basically one of bodily bioconservativism, keeping parts in the human body natural except where there’s no other option and taking advantage of anti-aging possibilities. I recognize that anti-aging technology would be largely invasive but I think that aging is worse.

This technology alarms me in its potential to reveal every secret in a person’s mind and another thing I don’t like is the potential to communicate directly through thought. It’s the last place of a person’s privacy. But regardless of the technology, I’m worried that people are unable to are too busy to fight for their privacy rights today. And I don’t like David Brin’s idea of a post privacy world, because for some people, me included, just can’t handle the complete and utter lack of privacy regardless of who can snoop on whom.

Posted by Dick Pelletier  on  12/05  at  07:14 AM

I do not see the privacy issue impeding this technology.

With the possibility of neuron enhancement arriving in the 2030s and 2040s and a maturing quantum computer industry that promises unbreakable security systems, thought talking could one day become the world’s most popular secure and trusted human communication method.

We may see a minor glitch in people adapting to this method of communicating; one has to admit this is a strange way to talk, but again; with neuron enhancements, this should not be a major problem.

I believe that by century’s end, today’s verbal talking will be considered inefficient and crude; and will disappear from the human scene.

Posted by SHaGGGz  on  12/08  at  06:31 AM

@Dick: How settled a matter of currently-understood physics is the prospect of unbreakable security systems?

Posted by Dick Pelletier  on  12/08  at  09:07 AM

This recent Phys Org article explains how tomorrow’s quantum mechanics enables perfectly secure cloud computing:

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