From a Charlie Brooker article in the…………..


Now it’s almost time to hurl another outmoded device down the historical garbage chute: your body. Last week, researchers at Washington University unveiled a new mind-control computer system. Traditional mind-control systems – and the fact that any mind-control system can be referred to as “traditional” shows you how nuts-deep into the future we already are – require the user to don an EEG skullcap before thinking very hard about specific actions. The resultant brainwaves are then crudely interpreted and the device reacts accordingly. But practical use is severely restricted thanks to the human skull, which muffles some signals and amplifies others. It’s like trying to work out what your neighbours are up to by pressing your ear against the wall: fun, but often wildly misleading.

Which is where electrocorticography comes in. Electrocorticography basically means “sticking sensors directly on to the surface of the brain”. Once you’ve done that, you get a far more reliable signal. Already they’ve had volunteers controlling an onscreen cursor by imagining different vowel sounds. As soon as they refine it further, giving the user the ability to steer the pointer around and click on things, the days of mass-market Wi-Fi mind-controlled iPads will be upon us before you can smother your kids in their sleep to protect them from precisely such a future.

But is this really so sinister? All computers are mind-controlled already. My hand may steer the mouse and my fingers may punch the keys, but none of this takes place without my mental say-so. My brain runs things round here. Surely all a mind-controlled interface does is cut out the corporeal middleman, leaving your fingers free to do something more useful, such as plugging your ears so you can’t hear the horrified screams spontaneously exploding from your facehole? What’s the problem?

The problem is that the body is the final, crucial buffer between the skittish human mind and the slavish machine servant. Think of how many furious email responses you’ve composed in haste, only to halt and reflect at the final moment as your finger hovers over the “send” button. The simple fact that a small physical action is required to actually deliver the damn thing is often enough to give pause for thought.

When mind-controlled computers become a commonplace reality, you’ll have typed and sent that message in the time it takes to stub a toe; as quick as pulling a facial expression, but more detailed, and full of swearwords.


The rest of the article is great. Read it here.