Recent advances in brain-computer interfaces, which are beginning to facilitate brain-brain communication, raise the specter of science fiction and comic book heroes who effortlessly “talk” to each other without talking at all. The question is: How far can we recreate telepathy using electronics? “The first step would be to decode what someone is thinking. Neuroscientists have made substantial progress in deciphering images from patterns of brain activity, and several groups are working on decoding inner speech.” Still, even the most advanced technology is communicating binary information rather than the subtlety of human speech.
What’s the Big Idea?
Our attraction to the stimulating images of science fiction has likely kept us from realizing that human telepathy might be of little practical use in the real world. Christopher James, neuroscientist from the University of Warwick, UK, says the ideal of communicating complex information from one human to another may be a red herring. In most cases, it would be enough for a computer to communicate a message to us. For example, an air-traffic controller whose attention is spread over many areas could be alerted to two planes in close proximity through something akin to spidey-sense, i.e. an electronic message that would bypass the controller’s collage of human feelings.
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