FACEBOOK FLIRTS with telepathy

Tech July 17, 2017 20:54



FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, human beings have dreamed of communicating telepathically, if only to reduce long-distance phone bills. At long last that elusive dream may become reality.

At its annual F8 conference in April, Facebook announced that it was working on a way for sentient beings to communicate telepathically. According to a Wall Street Journal article - this is real - an in-house team supplemented by 60 scientists and engineers across the United States is hard at work on a technique known as "fast-optical scattering" or "event-related optical signalling" that would enable humans to type messages just by thinking them.

Basically the process works by shining a light into the head, then measuring the intensity of the light reflected back from the brain. Facebook hopes that the measured neural activity could tell it what people are thinking.

It's just a short jump from there to being able to directly interface with another person's brain. Love-smitten young men playing way out of their league wouldn't need to risk embarrassment by going down on their knees and begging for their girlfriend's hand in marriage. They would already know that she was going to say, "Forget it." Catchers would no longer have to put down two fingers between their legs to call for a curve- or a fork-ball; brain waves would do all of it.

Similarly, Amazon would benefit enormously. Instead of waiting for customers to order appliances, books, artisanal kippers or " Dan Fogelberg's Greatest Hits, Vol. II," the company would telepathically prompt customers to put in their orders via brain waves.

But by far the greatest benefits would go to the hordes of underemployed, under-appreciated millennials. This generation hates talking on the phone, preferring to use online chat or texting. Recruiters are even starting to conduct job interviews via text. Telepathy would take that one step further. By interviewing for a job telepathically, millennials wouldn't even have to type.

Here's how it would work. A candidate would beam to a recruiter the thought, "I am a passionate, talented person with a PhD in astrophysics who speaks nine languages and is willing to work for next to nothing to get my foot in the door at your out-of-the-way taco stand."

To which the recruiter might reply: "We don't pay any health benefits, have no retirement plan and expect you to work 90 hours a week. Also, there's no salary; this is an internship. Is that a problem?"

"Not at all," the candidate would reply telepathically. "Anything to get out of my mummy's basement."

True, there would be a few drawbacks. Too many simultaneous telepathic messages could fry the brain, inducing the recipient to short the wrong stock or amputate the wrong toe. And if you reflexively think to yourself, "God, this guy is a pig" when you meet your new supervisor or blind date, things could go south in a hurry.

But wearing a lead-lined hoodie could counteract these problems, preventing anyone from penetrating your innermost thoughts. Of course, you'd look pretty silly if you were chairwoman of the Federal Reserve and had to wear a hoodie while testifying before Congress, so that no one could figure out whether you were about to raise interest rates. But that's a small price to pay to ensure the safety of the American financial system.

And a lead-lined, telepathy-jamming hoodie would definitely make the Fed seem hip.