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Who Are the Brain Police? Facebook’s Building 8 and The End of Our Civilization

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COMMENT: In FTR#718, we not­ed the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty and fas­cist under­pin­nings of the gen­e­sis of Face­book, includ­ing the cen­tral role of Peter Thiel in the fir­m’s begin­ning.

In numer­ous pro­grams since, we have chron­i­cled the anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic and fas­cist man­i­fes­ta­tions of Face­book, includ­ing the com­pa­ny’s deci­sive role in the Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca gam­bit, in which ele­ments of Peter Thiel’s Palan­tir firm–the Alpha preda­tor of the elec­tron­ic sur­veil­lance landscape–helped to “game” the 2016 elec­tion in favor of Trump.

With con­tem­po­rary dis­cus­sion of attempts to “rein-in” Big Tech, we are remind­ed of an ele­ment of dis­cus­sion in FTR#1021, among oth­er pro­grams.

Although she has left the com­pa­ny, for­mer DARPA chief Regi­na Dugan was work­ing on a Face­book project to oper­ate the social media plat­form by uti­liz­ing brain-to-com­put­er inter­face.

This work was under­way at Face­book’s “secre­tive” R & D Build­ing 8, described as pat­terned after DARPA itself. This dis­turb­ing detail sug­gests that the fir­m’s sig­nif­i­cant nation­al secu­ri­ty con­nec­tions may well embrace the advanc­ing of mil­i­tary research per se.

As we not­ed, this tech­nol­o­gy will per­mit the tap­ping and data­bas­ing of Face­book users’ thoughts

This is but one of a num­ber of tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ments that augur the end of our civ­i­liza­tion as we know it.

Even though Dugan has left Face­book, it can be assumed that this tech­nol­o­gy will even­tu­al­ly become oper­a­tional. When it does, the late Frank Zap­pa’s song lyric “Who Are the Brain Police?” will have been answered.

From FTR#1021:

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  1. Face­book’s project to incor­po­rate brain-to-com­put­er inter­face into its oper­at­ing sys­tem: ” . . . Face­book wants to build its own “brain-to-com­put­er inter­face” that would allow us to send thoughts straight to a com­put­er. ‘What if you could type direct­ly from your brain?’ Regi­na Dugan, the head of the company’s secre­tive hard­ware R&D divi­sion, Build­ing 8, asked from the stage. Dugan then pro­ceed­ed to show a video demo of a woman typ­ing eight words per minute direct­ly from the stage. In a few years, she said, the team hopes to demon­strate a real-time silent speech sys­tem capa­ble of deliv­er­ing a hun­dred words per minute. ‘That’s five times faster than you can type on your smart­phone, and it’s straight from your brain,’ she said. ‘Your brain activ­i­ty con­tains more infor­ma­tion than what a word sounds like and how it’s spelled; it also con­tains seman­tic infor­ma­tion of what those words mean.’ . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Brain-com­put­er inter­faces are noth­ing new. DARPA, which Dugan used to head, has invest­ed heav­i­ly in brain-com­put­er inter­face tech­nolo­gies to do things like cure men­tal ill­ness and restore mem­o­ries to sol­diers injured in war. But what Face­book is propos­ing is per­haps more radical—a world in which social media doesn’t require pick­ing up a phone or tap­ping a wrist watch in order to com­mu­ni­cate with your friends; a world where we’re con­nect­ed all the time by thought alone. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . Facebook’s Build­ing 8 is mod­eled after DARPA and its projects tend to be equal­ly ambi­tious. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . But what Face­book is propos­ing is per­haps more radical—a world in which social media doesn’t require pick­ing up a phone or tap­ping a wrist watch in order to com­mu­ni­cate with your friends; a world where we’re con­nect­ed all the time by thought alone. . . .”
  5. ” . . . . Face­book hopes to use opti­cal neur­al imag­ing tech­nol­o­gy to scan the brain 100 times per sec­ond to detect thoughts and turn them into text. Mean­while, it’s work­ing on ‘skin-hear­ing’ that could trans­late sounds into hap­tic feed­back that peo­ple can learn to under­stand like braille. . . .”
  6. ” . . . . Wor­ry­ing­ly, Dugan even­tu­al­ly appeared frus­trat­ed in response to my inquiries about how her team thinks about safe­ty pre­cau­tions for brain inter­faces, say­ing, ‘The flip side of the ques­tion that you’re ask­ing is ‘why invent it at all?’ and I just believe that the opti­mistic per­spec­tive is that on bal­ance, tech­no­log­i­cal advances have real­ly meant good things for the world if they’re han­dled respon­si­bly.’ . . . .”

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