How close are we to mind reading?

Have you ever thought about mind control? Do you think we will ever have technology advanced enough to achieve something like this? Depending on what you consider as mind control, we might be closer than you think. Of course, I don’t mean getting into someone’s mind and getting them to do or think something you want, or moving objects from a distance. But something interesting is being developed in the medical field and it involves mind-controllable prosthetic body parts.

How does this technology work?

Even though this technology sounds a bit sci-fi at the moment, it could be much more used and very beneficial in the future. For these new prosthetics, the way the user is able to control the automated body part is through a brain chip which directly interprets nerve signals which the brain sends when a person normally tries to move a certain body part. The chip recognizes the intention of the person, so if they want to move a finger, they would only need to think about moving a finger. There is also an AI-powered decoder located within the chip, which transforms neural signals into mathematical data supported by machine learning, and this data can then be used by the machine-powered prosthetic.

This comes in contrast to previous technologies which require a small physical movement to interpret the desired action. For example with previous methods for prosthetics, a small muscle would need to move in the remaining part of the missing limb, so as to trigger the movement of the prosthetic. So instead of thinking about moving their finger, the person needs to move other muscles which could trigger the finger. This can be tricky and it needs much more adjustment and training. With a chip which reads intentions instead of movements, there is a lower level of training and adaptation needed, and the prosthetic is basically ready as soon as it is put on.

Application in other sectors

This technology can improve the way prosthetics are made and used, make them more user-friendly and allow for finer movement. They can help people with amputations, as well as other diseases or paralysis. In the future, perhaps they could be modified and applied to other sectors to help with various different tasks and enhance experiences. A brain chip which reads intentions like this could be used to control other gadgets, phones, robotics and similar things.

However, brain chips and super advanced mind-control robotics don’t always sound exciting to everyone. As amazing as it could be to control your gadgets by thought, this would still require an implantation of a brain chip, as well as pose certain security and safety risks. Some believe that such brain chips could potentially be hacked and used against the owner.

Should we be excited or worried?

No matter if this idea makes you anxious or very excited at first glance, there are clear positive and negative sides to it. On the one hand, this technology could let paralyzed people walk, give amputees or other disabled people the ability to function better, open doors to the control of gadgets or robots by thought, and so many other things. On the other hand, nobody wants a brain chip which could be hacked and your information used against you, or to have your prosthetics and other gadgets do things you are not requesting them to do.

It’s a very thin line between amazing innovations and ethical concerns around safety. As with other technologies, but especially with something as delicate as brain chips, we need to be careful to keep our safety and security first.

Is our world ready for mind-controllable robotic body parts?

Brain controlled robots

Mind-controlled robots now one step closer

There are so many useful inventions which can help our lives, not only in a sense of making tasks easier, but also helping us feel better, less alone, allowing sick or elderly people to feel more safe, helping disabled people move or see or hear. We have done so much and there is still so much to do. We have to keep these wonders in mind when developing the technologies of the future, and to think about those in need and less fortunate. Robotics don’t only provide fun and entertainment, they can make the world a truly better place. 

It’s great to enhance our physical lives and add robotics to our realities, but when thinking about AI in general, its use in different forms can really help us create a better world – as long as we use it responsibly and for the benefit of all. AI has brought us improvements in infrastructure, safety, the smarter building of communities, advancements in medicine, agriculture and literally every other sector, digital innovations and connectedness which we couldn’t even imagine before, better products, better banking, better education – and the ability to imagine a better future. So much has already happened – and there is so much more to come.