Yes, Brain – Computer interfaces actually exist!
While it might seem like something out of a science fiction movie, the technology to control certain devices with your mind is here and is very real
Recently, two devices which allow for the human brain to interface with machines have emerged on the consumer market. The first one, called “Emotiv” is a headset that allows for direct control of video games wirelessly. In other words, one would only be using the power of their mind to control the onscreen action. While this is certainly a breakthrough in and of itself, it actually only barely touches upon what the Emotiv headset is capable of being used for. Brain Computer interfaces
This is where things get a little complex (and somewhat morally ambiguous). You see, the Emotiv headset is also being used in testing to determine if subconscious thoughts can be downloaded straight out of a person’s mind. We’re not talking about full on “jacking into the Matrix” here, but it has been proven to be somewhat useful in situations where certain things were suggested through additional stimuli and bits of information were extracted from the wearer’s subconscious. The thing is, it’s not currently all that accurate, so it might be quite a while until such technology can be used by the state department or justice system to determine who did what, when, where and how in any instance.
However, the potential uses for a working device that’s capable of determining whether or not someone is telling the truth or lying are numerous. First off, there would be no need for any forms of harsh interrogation; this would apply both to governmental as well as more local police forces. The numbers of individuals who are routinely wrongly convicted would drop as well. Billions of dollars (which normally go into lengthy inefficient judicial procedures) might be saved worldwide, and we would always “get the right person”. Having said that, there are just as many scary dystopian uses for this technology as there are positive applications. In order to prevent such situations from emerging it is imperative that more people become aware of this emerging technology and understand how to apply it in a morally acceptable manner (particularly those in tech careers or IT).
Another device that’s recently emerged in the Brain – computer interface department is the “iBrain”, which was developed for use in diagnosing certain types of disorders. The iBrain headset is essentially something which is to be worn while sleeping so that neural patterns can be identified and certain areas of the brain, mapped (perhaps). Its inventor, Dr. Philip Low has actually been working closely with internationally renowned figure Professor Stephen Hawking in order to perhaps devise a better means of treating his neurodegenerative condition or even helping to determine the nature of it. Over time, the good Dr. seeks to refine the technology allowing it to be used in a variety of situations, like diagnosis of autism, sleep disorders as well as more assistance-based applications (like those suffering from paralysis or ALS).
At this point you’re probably either extremely excited or completely mortified in fear, right? While it’s true that there is a great deal of power inherent to the very design in terms of technology of these types of devices, we shouldn’t be so short-sided as to label certain types of technology as too frightening to use or explore. In reality, these types of interface technologies will do an extraordinary amount of good for some individuals as well as the whole of society.
A good parallel to draw is the fear experienced by the global citizenry around the time nuclear weapons cam onto the scene; the fact of the matter is that no one really anticipated us (human beings) to have lasted as long as we have with such powerful weapons available (assuming that we would have blown ourselves up by now). The same kind of thinking applies in this situation as well, while brain – computer interface technology could theoretically be used for nefarious purposes, there’s no reason to assume that this will be the case.