Earlier computers received information and instructions via decks of punched cards. Later, users took advantage of keyboards and video screens. Interfaces took a leap forward with graphical displays, mice, and touchscreens. And if Facebook has its way, the next innovation may do away with keyboards and mice in favor of direct interface with the human brain.
That’s the implication experts are drawing from the Silicon Valley’s establishment of a hardware research division developing “brain-computer interface technology.” The idea is supported by recent job postings. Facebook’s Building 8 group is looking for hardware engineers to help build a hardware project that incorporates “neuroimaging” and “electrophysiological data" to build a "communications platform of the future."
Among the job openings is a call for a brain-computer interface engineer with a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Facebook says the engineer will help guide a project “from inception to product” over a time span of two years. The company is also looking for an engineer who can create “audio signal processing algorithms” for the project.
Is Facebook really working on a direct interface with the brain? It could be. “One day, I believe we’ll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology," said CEO Zuckerberg during a June 2015 interview. "You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you’d like."
Building 8 has not officially announced any projects yet, but the job listings are provocative.