Mark Zuckerberg just dropped a big clue about Facebook’s future. The social network’s founder and CEO believes that one day, we’ll be able to share our thoughts directly — brain to brain –using technology.
“You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you’d like,” Zuckerberg said. “This would be the ultimate communication technology.” He made his comments during a public Q&A session on hisFacebook (FB, Tech30) page on Tuesday afternoon.
The response was addressed to a user who asked about Facebook’s long-term plans. In the past decade, the company has expanded the way users communicate on the platform. First there were plain profile pages. Next came comments, and then the Wall, Likes, Groups and News Feed.
Over the last year Facebook has moved away from mass sharing and focused on personal messaging. It broke Messenger out as its own separate app for the web and mobile. It even bought an entire messaging platform, WhatsApp, for $22 billion.
With its Oculus aquisition, Facebook gave us a hint of what it wants to do with virtual reality — to make users feel like they’re right next to their friends, seeing and experiencing everything in real time. Telepathy is just another step toward more personal connections (with the removal of some of the hardware). And it’s not just a farfetched idea.
Scientists have already discovered ways to create “computer brain interfaces,” or the ability for computers to translate brain waves into software commands, and vise versa. The University of Washington, for example, has been building a system that allows researchers to send brain signals from one person to another through the Internet. In the past, one participant has been able to successfully move a second participant’s finger on a keyboard, just through thought. Both were wearing special hats equipped with carefully placed electrodes.
Although studies have been confined mainly to motion commands, technology entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg have grander goals. What the Harvard drop-out is talking about is the stuff of dreams– communicating with a computer or through the Internet with other people without a keyboard or voice.
“There are a few important trends in human communication that we hope to improve,” Zuckerberg said. “Our lives improve as our communication tools get better in many ways.”