The Future of Facebook: Telepathy, AI, and Internet for All

Facebook is continuously abuzz with exciting news. This update looks at a few very interesting things going on at Facebook. We’ll begin with an interesting prediction Zuckerberg made that has some people saying “say what?!”

Telepathic communication

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, recently stated in a public Q & A Session: “One day, I believe we’ll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology… You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too.”
Yes, my friends, he is referring to telepathy.

Don’t believe in it? Check out this 14-second video:

See! It’s real!

Okay. In all seriousness, is Zuckerberg’s statement ridiculous? Yes and no.

Yes, it would be a tad ridiculous if Zuckerberg was discussing telepathy without the use of any technology. This is the telepathy of science fiction, evil characters from novels, and games we play as children.

However, research institutions, universities and medical schools have been experimenting with telepathy or “direct brain to brain communication” for years. At Duke University they used two lab rats to study technology-generated telepathy by implanting devices in the rats’ brains. At the University of Washington, they successfully achieved a single brain-to-brain communication by using MRI equipment and other sophisticated technology.

The rationale behind many of these studies is aimed at helping people who cannot communicate; people who have suffered a stroke, accident, or other sensory impairment. For instance, there’s a company known as BrainGate whose goal is to create technology that will allow severely disabled individuals—including those with traumatic spinal cord injury and loss of limbs—to communicate and control common every-day functions literally through thought.

Check out this video from BrainGate that shows a disabled individual who had a device implanted in his brain and because of the technology can manipulate a computer screen – and using just his mind!

Although, today, brain to brain technology is complicated stuff, we predict that, someday, Zuckerberg’s Facebook will make telepathy as fun and friendly as Facebook itself. Maybe Zuckerberg can help circumnavigate that whole brain implant thing! #ScaryStuff

Building intelligent machines

Zuckerberg has also stated that Facebook is working hard at developing artificial intelligence (AI) tools that will focus on facial and voice recognition. Facebook has several AI labs around the country working on voice translation and image recognition.

Facebook’s goal is to build computer systems that “are better than humans at our primary senses.” Specifically, Facebook is engineering ways a program can decipher the elements of an image or a video (including names of the people, the objects, descriptions on the background, location, etc.) and then communicate (through audio) what those items are. Again, this would be hugely helpful to people who are blind.

Facebook’s other ambitious research initiative is voice recognition; where speech can be easily transmitted to text and from one language to another. Moreover, the system could answer questions in “conversational lingo.”

“Hey Siri.”

Does this sound familiar? Siri, Apple’s voice technology works as a software and services “personal assistant.” The technology has been around since 2010 and is built into the iPhone 4S, Apple’s third-generation iPad, and Apple Watch. Siri responds to the words you speak rather than requests you type. Siri has a human-like voice and can read your texts aloud, can transcribe your spoken words into text form, and can search the web for anything you need (directions, information, and media).

Hmmm. Sounds like Facebook is walking in Apple’s footsteps.

Beyond Facebook’s ambitious new technology projects, Zuckerberg is dedicated to a huge initiative called The philosophy behind this involves making the internet available to “every person on earth.” In order to do that, Facebook is working on ways to make basic internet services more affordable – like 100x more affordable. This can be accomplished by lowering the cost (by improving building infrastructure and affordable devices) and reducing the size of data through a caching technology and automatic compression. Zuckerberg believes that the more people that have access to the internet, the better the world will be. Everyone can then participate in the new “knowledge economy.”