Zuckerberg and Musk Aim to Make Telepathy a Reality

Fourth Amendment privacy is more important once our thoughts are stored outside our wetware.



Telepathy can be defined as the communication of thoughts or ideas by means other than the known senses. Now Tesla's Elon Musk and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg both seem to be aiming to provide humans with the ability to communicate directly brain-to-brain and brain-to-internet. Musk announced last month his new company Neuralink is working on a "neural lace" that would enable people to interface directly with infotech machines and other people. The idea of a neural lace seems based on the wireless brain-computer interfaces installed by characters in the Culture novels by scifi writer Iain M. Banks.

Musk believes that such neural laces would improve human cognitive function by enabling people to achieve symbiosis with artificial intelligence machines. Essentially humans become the singularity rather than being replaced by god-like artificial intelligences. As it happens, researchers at Harvard are developing injectable nanowires that can unfold into a mesh of bendable electronics that interface with brain cells directly.

Mark Zuckerberg is not to be outdone. Earlier this week, Facebook's vice president of engineering Regina Dugan revealed, "Over the next 2 years, we will be building systems that demonstrate the capability to type at 100 wpm by decoding neural activity devoted to speech." As PC World reported, "The company's aim is to develop a system that will let people type straight from their brain about five times faster than they can type on their phone today, which will be eventually turned into wearable technology that can be manufactured at scale." The technology would be non-invasive—no electrodes stabbed into brains—and would decode only those words that the person decides to share.

Fourth Amendment privacy protections really need strengthening once our thoughts are stored somewhere outside our wetware. For what it's worth, I personally would go with the Facebook wearable first.