A Response to a Blog Post about “Thought-Controlled Computing”

Ross Pomeroy from Newton Blog published a post, "The Potential of Thought-Controlled Computing", that talks about the possibilities of being able to control computers with thoughts. A company called InteraXon has been working with the technology since 2007. The thought-controlled functions are achieved by using an electroencephalograph (EEG), which records brain activities. A specialized software is then used to identify the alpha wave frequencies and the beta wave frequencies. Alpha waves correlate with relaxation while beta waves correlate with focus and attentiveness. Computational tasks, like turning an electronic light switch on and off, can be achieved by merely focusing and relaxing. Theoretically, this technology can allow a person’s thoughts to control any appliance or device linked to that person’s head.

The company believes the technology's potential does not end with just controlling devices. They think that it can also be used to better know the self. It can be used to monitor sleep, stress and happiness triggers, and other similar personal indicators.

However, the author of the blog is not completely convinced if being able to know one’s mental activity is that valuable or if a thorough understanding of the brain is even possible through the technology.  He had many questions.
"Will a piece of technology really help you get in touch with your inner self? How in-depth can a brain scanner really get? Can the complexity of human life and human consciousness really be broken down into ones and zeroes? And honestly, do you really want a computer to decipher your brain waves and tell you how stressed you are?"
I do agree with the author on these points. I believe there are a lot of questions that have to be answered regarding its use as a way to understand the self and to know what is going on in the brain. The human brain is complicated. I don’t know if trying to figure the brain out will do much. It might just complicate our understanding of the brain further. Also, people's tendency to oversimplifying the brain's processes may result in losses of important details about how the brain works.

I also think there are issues concerning the technology’s necessity. At this time, I don’t see how the majority of people would need it and how it would significantly impact their lives. There is also the concern that dependency on thoughts to manipulate the surroundings will mess with the mind’s ability to distinguish between thoughts and physical actions. Don’t get me wrong. I think this technology has a lot going for it. Like the author, I think it has a lot of potential in the future. I know that great advancements will be made in relation to thought-controlled computing in the years to come. At the present, however, I wouldn't necessarily want to use it or want to see it being integrated into devices around me just yet.

Source: Newton Blog post

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