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Facebook Technology

Facebook is Working On a Way To Let You Type With Your Brain (theverge.com) 97

From a report: Facebook today unveiled a project from its secretive Building 8 research group that's working to create a brain-computer interface that lets you type with your thoughts. Regina Dugan, a former director of DARPA and the ex-head of Google's experimental ATAP research group, announced the news today onstage at Facebook's F8 developer conference. Dugan, who now heads up Building 8, says the goal is "something as simple as a yes-no brain click" that could fundamentally change how we interact with and use technology. While it does not exist today outside of very specific medical research trials, Dugan says her team is actively working to make it a reality. Dugan refers to the technology as a "brain mouse for AR," meaning it could be an ideal way to receive direct input from neural activity that would remove the need for augmented reality devices to track hand motions or other body movements. For instance, the Microsoft HoloLens uses hand tracking to let you tap your finger in front of you as if you were clicking a mouse. Facebook's theoretical device could also be used for patients with severe paralysis, acting as a "speech prosthetic" Dugan says.
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Facebook is Working On a Way To Let You Type With Your Brain

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  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @03:25PM (#54265223)

    Wouldn't Facebook rather figure out a way for people to just pick strings of emoji to send to each other.

    • The technology in question will also do emoji. It identifies thoughts, not text. If you think of a dog that will be translated to the text 'dog'. Similarly, if you think of a smiling emoji and you train the software to emit a smiling emoji there is no reason to it couldn't enter that for you ( or likes, or emoticons, or whatever ).

      • Let me be sure I get it. If I think of "dog", the targeting system aims at the dog. If I think of a smile, the targeting system aims at people that bare their teeth. Am I getting this right? I just want to be sure the long-term customers can make proper use of this.

    • The first thing Facebook is going to have to do is find a Facebook user with a brain. You can't interface with something that doesn't exist.
  • There are probably dozens of places that are working on similar things and more likely to succeed. Why mention the facebook effort?
    • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
      Judging from the content, this is useful to only a small percentage of their users. You know, the one's with brains.
    • The idea of controlling a mouse with your brain is not a new one. The notion of converting thoughts to actual text or direct actions is more novel and then fact that Facebook thinks it can make that a reality in 2 years is a pretty big deal.

  • I'm not installing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @03:30PM (#54265271)

    There is no way I'm letting Facebonk have access to my brain even if it's just to read a brain signal that says "click". Next I know they'll tap into the pleasure centre and post a facebook post everytime I get sexually aroused.

    I don't want everyone on Facebook to know when I visit the farm.

    • unfortunatly there will be millions of zuckercucks stumbling over each other to plug in
    • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @03:32PM (#54265291) Homepage

      Don't be silly -- when Facebook taps into your pleasure center, it won't be to notify your friend that you're horny, it will be to give you a dopamine hit every time you view an advertisement. Within a few days you'll want to do nothing else.

      • by sinij ( 911942 )
        This is a self-correcting problem. The next generation will be composed entirely of people averse to Facebook mixed with a tiny minority of people that are immune to direct dopamine stimulation. Since later group is likely have other serious cognitive issues reducing their fitness, within couple generations humanity will have complete immunity to social media.
      • The technology is unidirectional. It's all about 'reading' not 'writing'. That said, if it knows when your thinking of, say, shoes, that would be a great time to give you a shoe ad.

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @03:31PM (#54265281) Homepage
    In the very long-run, once we have functionally built in direct brain to computer interfaces, what is going to stop people from sending a lot of half-baked emails and the like? At least with a phone, you can take it away from someone when they are drunk, but frankly given how incoherent my very late night/early morning thoughts are, I'd be more worried about accidental shitposting that way, or sending really stupid emails.
    • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @04:14PM (#54265619)

      In the very long-run, once we have functionally built in direct brain to computer interfaces, what is going to stop people from sending a lot of half-baked emails and the like? At least with a phone, you can take it away from someone when they are drunk, but frankly given how incoherent my very late night/early morning thoughts are, I'd be more worried about accidental shitposting that way, or sending really stupid emails.

      geez, I was under the impression that was presidential.

    • In the short run, it's simple - take the EEG headset away from them and hide it while they're drunk.

      In the very long run, I presume we'll be able to set things in advance that queue outgoing communications when our biomonitor tells our personal AI that we're past some user-defined limit of intoxication.
  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @03:35PM (#54265319) Homepage
    When someone bragged in a comment about dropping $3K per night on wine, my reply was that they had drinking problem and a financial problem. I got six paragraphs of barely strung together sentences, no capitalization and obscenities about my dick size. The follow-up post was more of the same. Now imagine that person's brain typing into a comment. Not pretty.
    • Spending $3K per night on whine, wine, whatever? Six paragraphs of barely strung together sentences, no capitalization and obscenities?

      Sounds like qualifications to run for president. But do they use twitter?
  • A commercial company making a device which can read my mind? I'm sure it won't be abused in any way, where do I sign up!?

  • As described, this project could be be made to use any of the popular smartphone virtual keyboard layouts as input. A QWERTY with three or four 'best choice' words at the top would be easy to use for someone already familiar with such a keyboard. As users gain skill in think-punching the virtual buttons, an option for reducing the size of the keys to avoid having multiple keyboards for special characters would be popular.

    Please, designers, don't succumb to TV Remote Interface Disease, in which virtual keybo

    • Your really missing what this is. It's not about a keyboard. It's about understanding what you are thinking about and emiting text in in response. Think of it like speech recognition which doesn't know you are saying the sounds for D,O, and G when you say 'dog', it just knows that the sound for the word dog means it should emit the word 'dog'. Similarly this technology would simply understand the words ( or perhaps even concepts ) you are thinking of and emit those as text; think of a dog and it emits the t

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @03:39PM (#54265359)
    I've given all of my personal and financial information to Facebook, already. All of my thoughts will be a nice addition. But when can I give them my bodily fluids, too? I want them to be able to analyze my DNA, and tell me what I'm likely to die from, and I want them to analyze my blood to tell me what I ate last night. I'm concerned that Facebook and Google simply don't know enough about me yet.
  • Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @03:47PM (#54265421) Homepage Journal
    This is easy:

    Step 1: Open up skull
    Step 2: Take out brain
    Step 3: Press the keys with the brain from Step 2
  • here's some sponsors in the area that provide fast food...
  • I propose the verb we use to describe someone using this device should be "mem". He memmed on the icon. He's memming a thank you letter. Don't mem that email attachment, it's a virus!
  • by Archfeld ( 6757 ) <treboreel@live.com> on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @04:08PM (#54265581) Journal

    Now to just teach the average FB user to use their brain...

  • This is already possible if you bash your head on the keyboard sufficiently hard. Next problem?
  • That's just disgusting.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @04:24PM (#54265669)

    We've watched companies like Dragon Systems struggle to perfect speech recognition software.

    Decades later, we watched Siri struggle to understand the proverbial brogue associated with converting various languages to English, falling victim to parody videos.

    Now, I'm supposed to believe we've magically eclipsed all that to type with my brain? This is like NASA claiming we've gone straight to plaid with regards to fast space travel.

    There's a valid reason we're all still banging away on keyboards in the year 2017.

    • Actually this system avoids all sorts of problems that speech recognition has. Your thought patterns are implicitly language and accent agnostic.

      The big question is whether there can be sufficient pre-training of this software so that it could draw enough inference from some thoughts to determine the meaning of all thoughts. I mean, when I think of a cat does that look similar, from a brain activity point of view, to the way you think of a cat. If so this should work well. If not, it would require a huge am

      • You can't get much simpler than the waveform of sound. Don't tell me there is some brain interface that is less complex.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So does Zuckerberg. Maybe I'll open a Kickstarter with the goal being hiring a hitman to kill Zuckerberg, I'd be doing humanity a favor.
  • I can kill you with my brain.

  • I think that pretty much sums up the technology. Is this going to be in a new episode of Silicon Valley? Will it fit in a cool rack mount appliance?
  • by mkoenecke ( 249261 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @04:44PM (#54265799) Homepage
    Yeah, I know there are all sorts of privacy implications... BUT, to someone whose best friend has ALS and is reduced to having to try to communicate through staring at various letters on a computer screen, it sounds pretty exciting.
  • This is on the whole, dubious, because once we are past our first few minutes with a highly repetitive task, the needed computation progresses embeds into progressively lower levels of neural systems, until they are basically reflexes. Musicians don't thing "I am going to play an 'A', now I am going to play a 'B'. This is true for both sensory and motor tasks. Maybe when I first learn to read, I first 'see' individual letters, but in the end my eyes detect entire word phrases, essentially by their outlines
  • Think of your PIN. Your phone PIN. Make the motion with your hands. You go to unlock your phone, you type your PIN. Think of your PIN. Think of your PIN. Think of your PIN. This doesn't violate any amendments because our judge sez so. Think of your PIN. Think of your PIN.

  • All the research of this kind focuses on analysing the brain reactions to very specific actions, taking a big enough number of samples, generalising the conclusion to different people under different conditions, etc. According to the linked article, they are focusing on “decoding the words you’ve already decided to share by sending them to the speech center of your brain”.

    No idea when a first reasonably accurate version will be ready, but I am sure about something: mind reading is complet
  • No way in hell I'll ever let Facebook read my mind. When it comes to mind reading, I trust Zuckerberg and any other Corporate or Government entity about as far as I can throw them.

    Of course, all they have to do is say "the new holographic emoji's are only for people that use our brain mouse!" and the unwashed masses will line up to be the first to buy one.

  • from the 2-way radio world (both Part 90 and 97), PTT is push-to-talk meaning think about what you are going to say before you hit the PTT button. Don't want, "uhmm, ah, yeah, ok, like we need another bulldozer to help with additional snow if there will be more as to not further exasperate the situation."

    OK, now back on this FB typing with your brain article (no I did not read it, first comment like everyone else) I'm thinking I'd never use that function myself because I'm thinking all sorts of stuff (som

  • It's commands interpreted as motor-actions in my hands that punch the keys that contribute to the endless drivel that passes in front of other peoples eyes/brains.

  • FB has already proven they can get millions of people to type stuff without using their brains.

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