Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Technology that reads your mind (and how you can use telekinesis and telepathy)

I've been reading (in BBC News and the Boston Globe) about technology being developed that will enable users to control machines with just their brain waves. Yes, this sci-fi technology is actually coming to fruition and being tested. Successful trials have been completed with monkeys, and researchers are working on getting approval from the FDA to test on humans.

This technology will be especially helpful for people in the disabled community who will be able to manipulate objects without the use of their bodies. They will be able to type, control wheelchairs, even use robotic arms, the Globe says. That could be an amazing breakthrough. In the work world, it would create a new meaning for the word accessibility, opening up types of employment to people with disabilities that haven't been possible before. (Or just helping employed workers with disabilities who rely on older technologies, like voice recognition, that may not be as accurate or efficient.)

This technology could also create big changes for the rest of the workforce. I was wishing this morning that my computer could just read my mind and know what I wanted to do, so I wouldn't have to remember how to complete various tasks in Windows or Word. Often I can't remember (or don't know) which menu I need to look under to fix something. Wouldn't it be great if I could just think, "Change formatting to double-spaced" or some such thing and it would be done for me? My work would be task-based and the computer would adapt to me instead of the other way around.

Take away the computer-on-a-desk model and replace it with the ubiquitous or pervasive computing model that many are talking about and I could close my door or turn on the lights in my office with my brain waves; communicate with another person via text chat on my smart-watch just by thinking (this would be invaluable for soldiers in the field who can't make noise or hold a bulky device); or flip the pages of a professional magazine written with electronic ink while keeping my hands free for eating my lunch. The possibilities are endless and increase exponentially with other developing technologies. It's not a far cry from the dreams of many, telekinesis and telepathy.

Of course, someone will have to train everyone on how to do all this...

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