Not to be outdone by DARPA’s never-ending list of sci-fi projects, the U.S. Army has decided to step up its game. In the next five years, it plans to spend $4 million in taxpayer funds in order to develop real-life telepathy.
The U.S. Army’s version of telepathy is called Synthetic Telepathy. It bears some resemblance to the style of telepathy seen in the popular Metal Gear Solid 4 video game. But where Metal Gear relied on nanotechnology, this real-world telepathy relies on mind-reading.
Here’s how it works. Soldiers wear helmets containing electrodes. The electrodes read electrical activity in the brain and identify code words. Those code words are then relayed back to a central computer before being dished out to other soldiers in the field. Currently, computers are able to identify 45% of the code words. By 2017, the U.S. Army hopes that number will be closer to 100%.
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Incidentally, this project first received funding back in 2008. At the time, researchers estimated Synthetic Telepathy would take 15-20 years to develop. It appears they’ve progressed fast enough to shave 6-11 years from that original mark.
At least some soldiers seem pleased by the development. On the other end of the spectrum, civil libertarians are worried about how it could be used by governments against their own citizens. It’s difficult to say exactly how this new telepathy technology will impact our lives. But one thing seems certain. Synthetic Telepathy is coming…and it’s coming quickly.