For science fiction fans, this may sound like an overplayed trope. However, science fiction has taken the place of prophecy in the collective imagination and, as such, overplayed tropes are becoming realities with alarming regularity. Now, it is possible to communicate directly with another person through the internet just by using your thoughts.
While brain-computer interfaces are not new, the technology is improving rapidly. By providing a two-way interface between two humans (or animals) (or a human and an animal) thoughts can be transmitted directly over vast distances. This ushers in new hope for those suffering from paralysis and the potential to open up a whole new world in terms of possibilities.
How to Read Brainwaves
Your brain communicates with itself all the time. In that way, it is similar to a computer or a switchboard that routes electrical currents this way and that way. The process is known as synaptic transmission. Chemical signals are passed between brain cells and this results in electrical spikes. The spikes constitute brain waves.
Brain waves have different frequencies and, because they are waves, operate on oscillations. Just like all waves, they can be characterized by amplitude (how spikey they are) and frequency (how many there are). These are recorded using EEG machines. They can be used to move prosthetic arms, control computer mice, and more.
But What About Telepathy?
The scientific question that has yet to be answered is whether or not brain waves contain enough information to transmit thoughts or if they are just the result of different kinds of cognition. If the latter, then the ability to exchange a literal thought or hear someone else’s voice in your own mind would not be possible (using only brainwaves).
While transmitting thoughts in that manner may still be the stuff of science fiction, TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) does allow individuals to control the tails of rats and so on. Brain-to-brain interfaces can, with some preparation transmit thoughts directly through the internet. First, however, the thoughts need to be encoded in a receiver. Secondly, the receiver needs to be worn by the individual who is “listening” to the transmission.
Legal and Ethical Considerations Abound
While this technology is a long way from allowing anyone to enter and control the minds of an unwilling subject or even read the thoughts coming out of their head, these are the sorts of questions that will need to be answered before the technology, in its most advanced forms, becomes available to the public.
Today, however, you can purchase TMS devices on Amazon that are used in clinical settings to control anxiety, depression, PTSD, and aid in concentration. While COFFYLAW cannot comment on the therapeutic efficacy of these devices, you have to believe that this is one of the most exciting technological developments of the information age.
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