Imagine a world where there are no language barriers, where culture and experiences are understood through means of thoughts and emotions directly transmitted between our minds. Sounds a bit too science-fiction right? Well, it’s not such a crazy idea after all; scientists are one step closer to making telepathy a reality.
After successful trials utilizing animals, researchers moved on to attempting human brain-to-brain communication through non-invasive measures, i.e. not opening up your skull and poking things into your brain. Essentially, they’ve been hooking people up to the internet with funny looking caps and a ton of wires and transmitting electrical brain waves from one person to another, and it’s working.
Researchers at the University of Washington were able to demonstrate the ability for mind-control utilizing two participants and a video game in 2013. The “sender” wearing an electroencephalography (EEG) cap viewed a video game in which they had to fire cannons to destroy pirate ships. The “sender” just has to think of firing at the right time and those electrical impulses are then transferred through the computer to the “receiver” in another location. The “receiver,” who cannot view the game, is wearing a fancy transcranial magnetic stimulation coil, which reads the brain waves of the sender. This subconsciously alerts them to move their hand, thus firing the cannon and destroying the attacking ship. This little action earned the team a $1 million grant to expand on their research.
In another study published in the journal PLOS in August of 2014, researchers were able to translate the words “ciao” and “hola” by using similar technology and a neural binary Morse code of sorts. The sender moved certain body parts associated with a code and the receiver was able to decode the neural signals from a distance of 5000 miles.
The purpose of brain-to-brain communication isn’t just an overtly lazy way of communicating. Scientists believe it has potential to repair or patch missing information in brain-damaged individuals, supersede learning difficulties, and a plethora of other useful applications. But until they master the transmission of concepts and emotions, we can guess that much will be lost in translation, a potential downfall for those of us who’re heavily sarcastic in nature.
We won’t be seeing this any time soon however; the technology is still quite clunky at this point. Having to wear an extensive get-up of sensors while being hooked up to the internet is not the most effective means of communication. It would be a lot easier to just type out that email. But, like the telephone, one day we could quite possibly have this technology in a compact, wireless form. And further down the road, as these abilities are already wired into our brain, utilizing these functions might transverse us into a new reality, one based off of the collective human consciousness.
The implications of these studies for the future are profound, somewhat terrifying, and limitless. So it should come as no surprise that some conspiracy theorists have their panties in a bunch. The idea that the government is already using an advance form of telepathy as a mechanism of mind-control has been around for awhile, and sites that claim they can teach you “how to ward off a psychic attack” are more common than you might think. Instead of donning an aluminum pot on my head however, I’ll just stick to using the power of the force like a real Jedi . . . these aren’t the brain waves you’re looking for.