Imagine a world where you begin your day at work by sitting at a computer and looking at a screen. As you begin, the windows move with perfect cohesion across the screen and suddenly you’re typing as fast as you can imagine words. Your thoughts organize entire strips of data and soon you’ve completed all of your tasks in a matter of minutes, only to move on to the next set at the speed of thought. Sound like science fiction? New technology is bringing it into reality quicker than you think.
Intel is currently working to develop a complex map of words and their relation to impulses in the brain. By crossing this barrier between mental data and digital data, quickly your brain’s processing speed will be your only limiting factor as you click buttons, type emails, check the web, and call up information to research simply by thinking about it. Currently Intel’s machines can detect several words and even have them appear on screen when subjects think about them.
But as the technology improves, the size of the device used shrinks and the applications grow. Now it’s words, but can we imagine a world where the same technology is brought into the work place the same as the keyboard and mouse were brought in as personal computers first saw use in the commercial sector?
Just as with any new piece of technology the innovations that can be used are virtually endless. And with them there’s an entire new world opened up of mind hacking. Take for instance the scenario where someone says, “Think about the last thing you ate for lunch.” Before in the privacy of our minds we could give in to the reflex of thinking about our lunch and then a decision would take place between the thought in our minds and the movement of our mouths. The subtleties in the time difference and those movements may betray us if we had reason to lie about it, but there would still be an opportunity to do so. What if a bank robber were to walk to a banker and put on one of these mind reading head-sets and ask them to think about the combination? Of course it would only be a reflexive action, and the banker would have every opportunity to freeze his thoughts, but this would largely depend on how much training he had controlling his thoughts. And as the technology improves, it may prove more difficult to fool the machine with each passing generation.
And what will we discover if we leave such a machine on as we sleep? Would we get a better grasp of the thoughts that run through our minds as we dream? Perhaps this is yet another avenue to wonder about privacy invasion.
So are we in for a world where even our own deepest thoughts are not private? With feeds such as twitter casually updating the world on our every movement, is it possible we could be opening a Pandora’s box of honesty society is not at this juncture ready for? The applications are as promising as they are terrifying.