Jasper Hamill — The Sun Feb 8, 2017
FACEBOOK founder Mark Zuckerberg is funding the development of technology with the potential to read humans’ minds.
The billionaire has just pledged to hand over £40 million to researchers working to combat deadly diseases.
This cash will be distributed by the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, an organisation which aims to “enable doctors to cure, prevent or manage all diseases during our children’s lifetime”.
Some of the projects are likely to ring alarm bells among paranoid people who fear technological progress will come at the expense of human freedom.
One of the researchers who will receive funding is Dr. Rikky Muller, CEO and founder of a firm called Cortera.
She is working to develop “clinically viable and minimally invasive neural interfaces” designed to be used by people suffering severe disabilities.
Dr. Muller hopes that recording brain activity will allow paralysed people to control prosthetic limbs.
Her implants can be placed inside the brain and have the potential to change people’s behaviour by altering their “physiological responses” – the term for reactions which take place in response to external stimuli.
One famous physiological response is the fight or flight response, which readies people for conflict or escape when confronted with a threat.
They work by monitoring the electrical signals sent within the brain
The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub wrote: “Muller is developing new wireless microsystems that directly interface with the brain for long-term, minimally-invasive neurological recording.
“Her broad goal is to engineer novel implants that can simultaneously sense and alter physiological responses to enable drug delivery and the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.”
One project funded by Zuck’s research group involve the “monitoring and manipulation of neural circuits”.
Another is working to develop 3D imaging technology which can probe the “deep structures of the brain” and is “essential for unravelling neural activity”.
However, similar technology could one day be used to directly record human thoughts and allow artificial intelligence to read our minds.
“With brain computer interfaces, AI can power future machines to understand human thoughts and emotions, even without physical or vocal communication,” said Debarun Guha Thakurta, a senior research analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
“Instead of simply mimicking the human brain structurally, AI will be able to impart human-like intelligence to machines.”
Any corporation that can read human thought would wield tremendous power, whilst a government with the same ability could build a totalitarian state which would make George Orwell’s 1984 look like a democratic paradise.
Can we trust Silicon Valley to use its powers for the benefit of humanity?