Facebook is developing technology that could soon make it possible to read your mind.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed how the Silicon Valley giant is researching a ‘brain-computer interface’ in an interview with Harvard law school professor Jonathan Zittrain, according to Wired.
In the near future, this system would allow users to interact with augmented reality environments using just their brain – no keyboards, touchscreens or hand gestures required.
The concept that Zuckerberg envisions would allow users to navigate menus, move objects in an AR room or even type words with their brain.
Users would wear a device akin to a shower cap on their head that’s capable of picking up blood flows, brain activity and thoughts, Wired explained.
This technology is helped by the fact that researchers can already detect when a user is thinking about something in particular by looking at their neural activity.
A mind-reading device will make it that much easier for humans to interact with technology, Zuckerberg claims.
‘The way that our phones work today, and all computing systems, organized around apps and tasks is fundamentally not how our brains work and how we approach the world,’ Zuckerberg told Zittrain, according to Wired.
‘That’s one of the reasons why I’m just very excited longer term about especially things like augmented reality, because It’ll give us a platform that I think actually is how we think about stuff.’
He also side-stepped any possible ethical implications that could arise from the device, saying users would have to consent to the product.
‘Presumably, this would be something that someone would choose to use as a product,’ he added.
Zuckerberg said the system wouldn’t be invasive because that might prevent it from being something ‘everyone is going to use.’
However, in 2017, Zuckerberg pledged $50 million of his own money to the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub in support of the development of mind-reading brain implants.
While the implants would only be targeted for medical applications, it’s possible they could have other uses as well.
That same year, Facebook unveiled new research around technology that would let users ‘type directly from their brain’ at the firm’s F8 Developer Conference.
In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg described why he thinks the technology is promising.
‘Our brains produce enough data to stream 4 HD movies every second,’ Zuckerberg wrote.
‘The problem is that the best way we have to get information out into the world—speech—can only transmit about the same amount of data as a 1980s modem.
‘We’re working on a system that will let you type straight from your brain about 5x faster than you can type on your phone today.
‘Eventually, we want to turn it into a wearable technology that can be manufactured at scale. Even a simple yes/no ‘brain click’ would help make things like augmented reality feel much more natural,’ he added.
As Wired pointed out, Zuckerberg’s comments at Harvard come at a time when user trust in Facebook continues to waver.
The #deletefacebook movement has gained steam in the past year in particular, as Facebook has been hit by numerous privacy scandals, the worst of which being the Cambridge Analytica breach.
Last March, some 87 million users’ data was harvested and shared with Trump-affiliated campaign research firm Cambridge Analytica without their knowledge.
The scandals prompted Zuckerberg to unveil a ‘privacy-focused’ vision earlier this month.