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A team at Facebook is one step closer to reading our minds

No, really…

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A team of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has managed to create a brain-computer interface that can decode your speech in real-time. That’s super cool and opens up whole new avenues for restoring speech to those who can’t speak for a variety of reasons.

Before you get too excited though, the team was funded by Facebook‘s Reality Labs, who have a very different use case in mind. They want to create Augmented Reality glasses that you can control without having to speak aloud.

A team of Facebook-funded scientists have created a computer that can read your mind

It feels like every week there’s at least one invention that turns long-established science fiction mainstays into science fact.

Computers being able to read our thoughts is a spooky thought but always was firmly in the realm of possibility. All we needed was a way of decoding the electrical impulses in the brain during spoken dialogue, which is what the team at UCSF has created.

  • Context is key: the team used two kinds of information from two different areas of the brain to decode speech
  • Brain activity was recorded while those in the study spoke aloud their responses to a series of pre-recorded spoken questions
  • Then that data was fed into machine learning algorithms, training them
  • Those trained algorithms were then fed brain activity data with the goal of determining if a volunteer was listening or speaking, and to decode the speech

The team will now spend a year working with a volunteer who has speech loss, to see if the research can be applied to improve the lives of patients who cannot speak. As for the AR headset Facebook wants? It’s a long way off, so your wallet (and thoughts) can rest easy for now.

What do you think? Interested in what the scientists will discover during their research? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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