Will our thoughts soon be on technology companies’ servers?

Will our thoughts soon be on technology companies’ servers?

Image: Thanks to the “digital bridge” between the brain and spinal cord, a previously paralyzed man can walk again.

Ideas are free, who can guess? It sounds like a famous German song. But the idea that no one can guess your thoughts is slowly but surely crumbling. People with paralysis have been able to control their thoughts with prosthetics or computers for several years now, and they are becoming increasingly successful. Get a cup and drink yourself, move independently with a walker, and even communicate if you can no longer talk: the results are there. Current brain-computer interfaces read brain activity via a chip in the brain and then send commands to a computer or prosthetic. Nowadays, mind reading is possible without that chip. Just last month, scientists were able to find out what people think about the use of brain scans. They had to think of certain words in an fMRI scanner. The AI ​​was then presented with the scans, after which it could reproduce the exact word from the list.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk dreams of smartphones in which we will control our thoughts. At the beginning of this year, his company Neuralink implanted a chip in a human brain for the first time. This person can now play chess online with his thoughts. Other companies are investing millions in developing wearable neurotechnology that can read brain waves and modify them, for example, to sleep better or improve our mood.

While many of the developments in mind-reading research are welcome, there is also something strange and frightening about them. Tomorrow, will the Googlers and Metas of this world not only know what I do online, but also track my thoughts on their servers, then sell them to advertisers? Or perhaps more seriously, what if the government wants to read my mind?

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In the New edition of EOS Self and Brain You can read how far technology has come, what the future might hold and what the potential risks are. New technology is usually developed to achieve the noblest purposes. Who wouldn’t want caged patients to be able to communicate again or paralyzed people to be able to walk again? But we cannot be blind to the risks. For example, Chile has already included “neurorights” – the protection of brain activity – in its constitution. Other countries are considering following suit. Everyone has the right to privacy, and this is especially true when it comes to our unspoken thoughts, ideas, and feelings. So that ideas remain free.

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