PODCAST: Work Rest & Slay with Melanie Morris: Episode 2
PODCAST: Work Rest & Slay with Melanie Morris: Episode 2

Shayna Sappington

Suicide prevention: ‘My brother faced stigma, red tape, long waiting times, under-resourced hospitals. In the end it was too much’
Suicide prevention: ‘My brother faced stigma, red tape, long waiting times, under-resourced hospitals. In the...

Amanda Cassidy

This Leeson St home on sale for €2 million is family-friendly but perfect for city living
This Leeson St home on sale for €2 million is family-friendly but perfect for city...

Megan Burns

You will not believe how they made THAT Zendaya Balmain dress
You will not believe how they made THAT Zendaya Balmain dress

Lauren Heskin

If you only see one film in the cinema this year, make it this powerful Irish feature
If you only see one film in the cinema this year, make it this powerful...

Meg Walker

Postpartum Psychosis: ‘It hit me completely out of the blue’
Postpartum Psychosis: ‘It hit me completely out of the blue’

Amanda Cassidy

4 Irish female bosses on getting organised, confidence and the importance of creativity
4 Irish female bosses on getting organised, confidence and the importance of creativity

Shayna Sappington

Two beauty industry stalwarts have teamed up to save cruelty-free cosmetics in Europe
Two beauty industry stalwarts have teamed up to save cruelty-free cosmetics in Europe

Sarah Finnan

Why negotiating a ‘jobbymoon’ before you start your new job is actually a great idea
Why negotiating a ‘jobbymoon’ before you start your new job is actually a great idea

Erin Lindsay

Skin Proud is Glossier’s new 100% vegan and cruelty-free competitor
Skin Proud is Glossier’s new 100% vegan and cruelty-free competitor

Sarah Finnan

Image / Agenda

Facebook wants to read your mind. Leaked audio discovers that it almost can


by Amanda Cassidy
17th Dec 2020
blank

The sci-fi dream of sending commands to a computer just by thinking about it may soon become reality, writes Amanda Cassidy


“We all get the privilege of seeing the future because we are making it.”

These are the chilling words of Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer speaking at a meeting about their newest project; creating a neural sensor to detect people’s thoughts and translate them into action.

The audio was leaked to BuzzFeed earlier this week causing a stir among privacy advocates and social media critics.

Ethics

Facebook has been working towards this type of brain-reading system for years. In 2017, the company announced its plans to deliver a brain-computer interface headset.  Last year it acquired a neural interface startup called CTRL labs.

According to the audio of the meeting, it seems the company has made further progress on its goals. But the ethical implications are unique, something Schroepfer acknowledged.

“We have to build responsibly to earn trust and the right to continue to grow,” he said. “It’s imperative that we get this right so that people around the world get all these amazing technologies … without experiencing the downsides.”

The idea is to create technology that can read neural signals coming from your brain, down the spinal cord, along your arm, to a wrist with a watch-type of device. These signals — essentially human thoughts — would then be translated into commands such as typing a sentence in an email or making a character in a computer game perform a specific action.

Power

But bridging the gap between the physical and virtual worlds is something we need to talk about more. How do we differentiate, from a privacy point of view, where the self ends and the machine begins?

The leaked audio has prompted a flurry of criticism for the social media giant –  especially as many activists have claimed that Facebook already invades the privacy of its users.

But as it gets a step closer to reading our minds in some capacity – there remain a lot of unknowns that even CTRL-labs CEO Thomas Reardon noted.

‘We still don’t understand what a neuron that is used for controlling machines may have previously been used for. Nor do they understand the long-term consequences of using brainpower to influence virtual reality instead of the physical world.

In a discussion with VentureBeat, he said that “the really hard work that we’ve done is to distinguish between ‘Are you using that neuron to move, to control your body? Or are you using it to control the machine?’

We have some… pretty breathtaking breakthroughs to distinguish between different kinds of neural activity from the same neuron.”

With great power comes great responsibility, and so far Facebook has yet to prove itself capable of handling such an ethically wobbly breakthrough.

Tinfoil hats, anyone?

Image via unsplash.com 

Read more: Why we really need to talk about Facebook

 

Also Read

Vol 3 AB Projects Volumes Garden Room
INTERIORS
Thinking about working from home in the future? These pods make a perfect WFH space

If you’ve got a generous garden and require more interior space, a modular backyard build can be an ideal solution....

By Amanda Kavanagh

blank
BUSINESS
Introducing the IMAGE Business Club, in partnership with PwC

Elevate your career with the IMAGE Business Club.For over 40 years, through innovative and trusted business events, IMAGE has championed...

By IMAGE

blank
BREAKING STORIES
‘We must end this… for my mother’: Son of Sophie Toscan du Plantier pleads for information

Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud says the decision not to charge Bailey should be revisited.   For almost 25 years, the murder...

By Jennifer McShane

Reese Witherspoon
IMAGE WRITES
Does the sale of Reese Witherspoon’s company spell the end of female-led movies and television?

From ‘Big Little Lies’ to ‘Wild’, some of the best stories on our screen over the last decade have come...

By Sarah Finnan

keep pets - dog safe summer
BREAKING STORIES
How to protect your pets from heatstroke this Indian summer

During hot weather, animals can overheat, become dehydrated and suffer heatstroke very quickly. Here we share top tips from both...

By Grace McGettigan

blank
BREAKING STORIES
Britney Spears’ lawyer files request for new conservator of her finances

Britney Spears’ new attorney has filed a petition to replace her father, Jamie Spears as conservator of her finances.  ...

By Jennifer McShane

Management
BUSINESS
Seven things to know before you take on a role in management

Businesswoman Marie Hunt, executive director and head of research and consultancy at CBRE Ireland, on what it takes to be...

By Grace McGettigan