Scientists are moving closer to developing mind reading technology after researchers at the Wadsworth Center in New York were able to record the brain waves directly associated with speech during a recent study.
The researchers used electrocorticography to map out which areas of the brain lit up when certain words were spoken with the aid of electrodes located on the surface of the cortex. Seven epileptic patients who were undergoing clinical treatments participated in the study.
“It has now been shown for the first time that is possible to reconstruct basic units, words, and complete sentences of continuous speech from these brain waves and to generate the corresponding text,” according to a report on the study.
Tanja Schultz, one of the researchers involved in the study, says that the results are a major step in the direction of humans being able to communicate with machines via brain activity alone.
“The present work is the first that decodes continuously spoken speech and transforms it into a textual representation. For this purpose, cortical information is combined with linguistic knowledge and machine learning algorithms to extract the most likely word sequence,” states the report.
Mind reading technology is also being developed by Motorola, with the Google-owned company patenting an e-tattoo that can decipher thoughts by listening to the unvocalized words in your throat.
Whenever you speak to yourself in your head, the brain sends neural spike volleys to your vocal apparatus. By capturing this “auditory signal” and turning it into digital information, the patent also envisages future technology where users could merely think of a Google search term and have it pop up instantly.
Such technology could obviously be abused by governments to literally read the minds of citizens, greasing the skids for a dystopian future in which not even our own thoughts will remain private.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt even suggested earlier this year that the Internet itself could one day disappear as an external concept, greasing the skids for the world wide web to exist inside people’s brains. In December 2013, Google engineering director Scott Huffman also predicted that within five years web users would have microphones attached to their ceilings and microchips embedded in their brains in order to perform quicker internet searches.