Written by: Jennifer Scott
Anyone who knows me knows I love discussing the topic of communication. In fact, I have a Bachelor of Science degree in, you guessed it, communication. I am fascinated with the many forms of communication which we have access to today. There have been many advancements in the field over the last 30 years. As a 13-year-old child, eons ago, I never imagined cell phones would be everyone’s first choice for keeping in touch with the rest of the world. Heck, back then, I thought 3-way calling on a land line was the greatest thing ever invented.
The field of communication is ever growing and ever changing. We have the means to contact anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. While searching for the next biggest communication gadget, I must admit, I was taken aback when I came across an article in the Washington Post with Mark Zuckerburg, the founder of Facebook. What he had to say sounded a little crazy, but it fascinated me, nonetheless. Apparently, the social media mogul thinks telepathy is the next big innovation in communication stating, “You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too.” (Dewey, 2015) Of course, I had to check this out.
According to Yale Scientific, the idea that two people can communicate telepathically could be a little, or a lot, far-fetched. Although there have been many promising experiments conducted on telepathy and mind control, most scientists still believe “you cannot influence the minds of other people or exchange thoughts with them without both your senses and technology.” (Mei, 2015) The article goes on to explain that the closets anyone has come to using telepathy was during a scientific experiment conducted between two study participants—one in India, the other in France. A “noninvasive method of brain-to-brain communication” was used to transmit “conscience thoughts” between the participants; this was done by “recording the brain signals of one person in India with a computer system, converting them into electrical brain stimulations, and relaying them to the recipient in France.” (Mei, 2015) This is certainly not telepathy, but it is exciting, nonetheless.
I suspect this technology could be an extension of the speech generation device (SGD) technology that cosmologist and physicist, Steven Hawkings, used to communicate with the rest of the world after losing his ability to speak, due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS.) The device he used allowed his thoughts to be processed into spoken language as he used “a twitch of his cheek” to communicate with the SGD. (Ashish, 2018) It does seem there could be a direct link made between the two technologies which could, indeed, allow us to develop more advanced brain wave communication technology.
While I feel that information is a bit of a bummer, I still do not believe all is lost. Is it actual telepathy? Nah. But it is exciting, nonetheless. Artificial telepathy is better than no telepathy, right? Mark Zuckerburg may have been on to something with his claims, but it probably will not happen quite the way he envisioned. Whether you believe in telepathy or not, one thing is certain, the concept of brain-to-brain communication is one fascinating concept that deserves further exploration.
Ashish. (2018, June 01). How Do Stephen Hawking’s Gadgets Help Him Talk? Retrieved February 27,2019, from https://www.scienceabc.com/innovation/stephen-hawking-cheek-communication-help-computer-speech-generating-device.html
Dewey, C. (2015, July 01). Mark Zuckerberg says the future of communication is telepathy. Here’s how that would actually work. Retrieved February 26, 2019, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/07/01/mark-zuckerberg-says-the-future-of-communication-is-telepathy-heres-how-that-would-actually-work/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f47004e3e075
Mei, A. (2015, November 04). Science or Science Fiction? Telepathy and Mind Control. Retrieved February 26, 2019, from http://www.yalescientific.org/2015/11/science-or-science-fiction-telepathy-and-mind-control/
Original article written on February 27, 2019