Recent reports from China’s Xinhua state news agency have been reported in a number of other outlets as of late, with every one of them focusing on one aspect of the Brain Talker brain-computer interface (BCI) in particular—namely that it permits those who are using the chip to “discriminate minor neural electrical signals and decode their information efficiently.”
In other words, these chips have been capable of, to some extent, reading the minds of those who use them.
Furthermore, Ming Dong, the director of the Academy of Medical Engineering and Translational Medicine at Tianjin University where Brain Talker was developed, reports that this particular BCI is “portable, wearable, and accessible to the general public.”
This is undoubtedly an extraordinary advance, though I personally would like to see more evidence of this technology in action before jumping to any conclusions about its efficacy or wearability.
Accessibility, too, is another matter entirely, as even if something is accessible, what might that mean for demand? Are people actually ready for chip like this that, per its creators, can judge “mental intent?” That certainly seems like a bridge that, once crossed, cannot be retread in the opposite direction.
One wonders as well about the dangers involved in this beyond those implied by the ability to read the thoughts of others. In Imminent Dawn, for example, we see mind reading take place via the EMPATHY BCI implant when Chandra accidentally shares a painting she created using her nanochip. Once that painting is shared with dozens of other patients, they develop an immediate understanding of the feeling that went into creating it and, much to Chandra’s chagrin, are able to decode bits of her personal history as a result.
Beyond this, in later installments of the series (including Mourning Dove and the forthcoming Event Horizon), the ability of an AI to read Chandra’s mind is of further detriment to her mental and physical health. Without the ability to consistently prevent the AI from accessing her thoughts and motor systems, she remains compromised and without a strong sense of personal autonomy.
Granted, these are speculative consequences for a BCI capable of reading minds, but as the Brain Talker BC3 chip improves on its ability to, and here’s that quote again, “discriminate minor neural electrical signals and decode their information efficiently,” who’s to say it won’t develop the same level of proficiency in these tasks as the M3R1 AI from the EMPATHY series?
Be sure to keep your eyes on this blog for additional information about the brain-computer interface as time goes on, and keep up with the EMPATHY series and how BCI technologies affect the lives of its cast by checking out books one and two at the links below.
Oh, and this June, signed print copies are 15% off with keyword SUMMER19! And you can get 40% off ebooks with keyword PRIDE if you order directly from my publisher.