For years, scientists have thought that dreaming was a result of REM sleep, a state of rest in which the brain produces brain waves similar to those of a wakeful mind. Despite common associations, however, dreaming is possible outside of REM sleep. This was proven when a study by the University of Wisconsin located the center of dream activity.
Through repeated tests and monitoring, these researchers were able to generate an algorithm to determine when patients were dreaming during both REM and non-REM sleep with over 90% accuracy. They were also able to determine what the patients were dreaming about and record their dream patterns in some cases, albeit very roughly.
On a similar note, humanity is attempting to integrate with machines through human-to-machine (H2M) interfaces. The push for disruption in this area is led by Neuralink with CEO Elon Musk from SpaceX and Tesla as well as Facebook, led by Building 8 Technical Lead, Mark Chevillet and former head of DARPA, Regina Dugan.
While many neuroscience researchers have declined to comment on the feasibility of H2M interfaces on their timelines, many researchers have also expressed excitement to see the level of funding and attention that these concepts have attracted.
With such projects on the horizon as H2M interfaces which will allow interactivity with the internet and artificial intelligences, increased typing speed, dream recording and sharing, and absorption of sound through skin, neuroscience has every right to be skeptical, but it remains to be seen whether or not Elon Musk and Facebook will be successful in their pursuit of these ‘Moonshots’ as the industry calls them.
Musk is working to develop the H2M interface in order to prevent humanity from being eclipsed by artificial intelligence or entering a terminator-esque situation as we continue to progress with AI and machine learning developments. By intertwining our fates and brains with machines, one cannot help but envision humanity transitioning to a state similar to that of the Borg.
Musk estimates that Neuralink implants are likely to be ready for use by healthy individuals within ten years and ready for clinical trials within four years. Similarly, Facebook expects their brain interface to be ready for use within the next two years, a timeline they have set in conjunction with several university partnerships for every Building 8 project.
Average-to-good typists average around 40-50 words per minute, but, through their brain interface, Facebook expects to boost those levels to around 100 words per minute using brain interaction.
Musk expects to allow for interfacing with the internet, other connected individuals, and even artificial intelligences. In fact, Musk is proposing a sort of techno-telepathy that lets people communicate using thoughts in their natural form without ever having to “compress” them into natural language.
Facebook is so determined to push these advanced technologies ahead that they dedicated all of Building 8 to developing them and set a two year deadline on all projects that pass through Building 8. Musk and Facebook have collected experts from every corner of the technology sector and academia to see the projects through.
If they succeed, Musk and Facebook could push human and machine capabilities alike far ahead of current state-of-the-art limitations at greatly enhanced rates, especially in the areas of dream monitoring and recording. These technologies will rely on decoding the human brain, a daunting, yet possible task.