These are just two of the mind-blowing questions Facebook's Regina Dugan posed to the audience at the company's F8 developer conference, and the vision she laid out was so ambitious you could nearly feel the silent awe emanating from the F8 audience as spoke. Recent job postings for Building 8 show the unit is hiring engineers for a two-year project "focused on developing advanced (brain-computer interface) technologies". "We have a goal of creating a system capable of typing 100 words per minute - five times faster than you can type on your smartphone - straight from your brain".
"If we put these things together, it suggests one day not so far away it may be possible for me to think in Mandarin and for you to feel it instantly in Spanish", Dugan said.
In Dugan's keynote, she said that Facebook's research is a bit scary yet could have broad implications for how humans communicate.
Facebook's annual developers' conference is in full swing this week.
But Facebook isn't only focusing on what's in your head.
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"You have many thoughts, you choose to share some of them". Dugan joined Facebook in 2016 from Google, where she led a similar group working on advanced projects; prior to that she was a director of DARPA, a U.S. Defense Department group with a similar mission. The lab also is working on a way for people to hear through their skin.
Scrapping the need for physical or virtual keyboards in favor of direct-to-brain interface has been considered an inevitable eventuality by many scientists, mostly because it falls directly in line with the natural progression that human development follows.
Some day, Dugan projects, this type of silent communication could have even more widespread benefits, such as not being separated with language barriers.
"And that", Dugan said with dramatic understatement, "will not scale". With Facebook's technology, humans can "feel" words. Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind, was able to decode language by the slight pressure changes created by puffs of air and vibrations when she placed her hands over a person's throat and jaw. The same technology could be used to read that thought and share it in any language.
Dugan said the idea is to eventually have a wearable that sends messages you can feel, without having to take your phone out and, say, interrupt an in-person conversation.
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