What if you could "see" directly into another person's brain? The ability to read minds, referred to as telepathy, is yet another concept that's abundant in science fiction, but a former Facebook executive says that we could all be capable of at least seeing inside someone else's mind — provided that we're equipped with the right technology.
Mary Lou Jepsen was the head of display technology at Oculus before founding her own startup called Openwater. The company's goal, while ambitious, is in theory quite simple: "to create a wearable to enable us to see the inner workings of the body and brain at high resolution." In short, telepathy courtesy of a brain-computer interface (BCI) — a wearable device that works like a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine.
"I don't think this is going to take decades," Jepsen said of the tech's development, during an interview with CNBC. "I think we're talking about less than a decade, probably eight years until telepathy." Her company plans to make a very limited number of prototypes available to their early access partners by next year.
Human + Machine
Wearable MRI technology could be quite an asset in terms of disease diagnosis and treatment. With just one quick look, a physician could see what's happening inside a person's brain, or elsewhere in the body. Of course, this raises many questions and concerns about privacy, which Jepsen says the company is working on. "We're trying to make the hat only work if the individual wants it to work, and then filtering out parts that the person wearing it doesn't feel it's appropriate to share," she said.
Openwater isn't the only one working to give the human brain machine-like capabilities. In fact, Facebook is also developing a device similar to Jepsen's. BCIs, which already have applications in prosthesis use, could also become a popular means to prepare humankind for future of intelligent machines.
This is what Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has in mind with his mind/machine merging venture, Neuralink. The U.S. Department of Defense's research arm, DARPA, is also working on projects that would combine humans with machines. Another company is Kernel, which has been working on a neuroprosthesis that can make the brain's neural code programmable.
Disclosure: Bryan Johnson is an investor in Futurism; he does not hold a seat on our editorial board or have any editorial review privileges.
This article was originally published on Futurism.
FOLLOW NBC MACH ON TWITTER, FACEBOOK, AND INSTAGRAM.