Tagged With brain implants

Back in April, at Facebook's annual developer conference, the company announced an ambitious -- and very creepy! -- plan to read its users' minds. Facebook's secretive hardware R&D division, Building 8, planned to develop its own "brain-to-computer interface" hardware that would allow a user to send words straight from her brain to a computer by merely thinking. But until now, we've heard scant details as to how exactly Facebook plans to accomplish this.

These days, it seems you're nobody if you're not working on a way to merge machines with the human brain. Earlier this year, both Facebook and perpetual moonshot-enthusiast Elon Musk announced plans for brain-computer interfaces that could allow us to read the thoughts of others and improve our capacity for learning. Today, the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency announced plans to spend $US65 million ($85.5 million) developing advanced neural implants that connect our brains to computers in order to treat sensory deficits such as blindness.

In 2009, Gary Olhoeft walked into a Best Buy to buy some DVDs. He walked out with his whole body twitching and convulsing. Olhoeft has a brain implant, tiny bits of microelectronic circuitry that deliver electrical impulses to his motor cortex in order to control the debilitating tremors he suffers as a symptom of Parkinson's disease. It had been working fine. So, what happened when he passed through those double wide doors into consumer electronics paradise? He thinks the theft-prevention system interfered with his implant and turned it off.

"It sounds impossible but it's closer than you may realise," Facebook's Regina Dugan recently told audience members at the F8 developer conference. Dugan was referring to the social network's plans to read users' thoughts. Just in time to inject some practical considerations into that terrifying scenario, researchers have proposed four new human rights to protect our minds from those who might have the worst intentions.