Facebook recently told its employees about new plans to create devices that can read minds by using neural sensors. The details of the social networking giant's ambitious new plans came shortly after news broke last week that the company was the subject of an anti-trust lawsuit led by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Facebook's quest for mind-reading had not intended to become public knowledge, though it was broadcast to an end-of-the-year meeting where thousands of employees were present. A recording of the audio was later leaked to BuzzFeed News.
Leaders of Facebook, including the company's chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer, noted that following Facebook's purchase of CTRL-labs in 2019, it was looking to bridge the gap between the physical and virtual worlds.
One of the ways he believed this could happen is by using technology created by CTRL-labs that can read "neural signals coming from [the] brain, down [the] spinal cord along [the] arm, to [the] wrist" with a watch-type of device. These signals -- essentially human thoughts -- would then be translated into commands such as typing a sentence in an email or making a character in a computer game perform a specific action.
"We all get the privilege of seeing the future because we are making it," Schroepfer said.
Following news of the leaked audio, Facebook quickly became the subject of criticism -- especially as many activists have claimed that the social media giant already invades the privacy of its users. In fact, fellow tech competitor Apple slammed the Mark Zuckerberg-led company for its user-tracking practices just yesterday, per Bloomberg.
Moreover, though mind-reading technology may be just around the corner, there are still some scientific aspects that evade even the founders of the device. For example, CTRL-labs CEO Thomas Reardon noted that scientists still don't understand what a neuron that is used for controlling machines may have previously been used for. Nor do they understand the long-term consequences of using brain power to influence virtual reality instead of the physical world.
"The really hard work that we've done is to distinguish between 'Are you using that neuron to move, to control your body? Or are you using it to control the machine?' We have some... pretty breathtaking breakthroughs to distinguish between different kinds of neural activity from the same neuron," he said in a discussion with Venture Beat.
Facebook has been in the headlines recently because of its alleged influence on voters and politics in general. As reported by The Inquisitr, one researcher claimed that internet companies -- such as Facebook and Google -- were likely responsible for influencing as many as 15 million votes in the 2020 presidential election.