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Facebook to acquire CTRL-Labs, a startup for controlling computers with the mind (bloomberg.com)
267 points by Bostonian 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 132 comments



Interesting that this is a tech I've wanted for ages, yet with these days of privacy issues where mere mouse behavior can lead to identifying signatures... I'm not letting anyone near my brain patterns.

I'll wear a tinfoil hat on this one.. but not knowing what possible behavioral/emotional/matchable patterns might exist in my waves is a bit terrifying. Thanks no thanks Facebook. If there even was a company I'd trust with my brain signature, it's sure as hell not you.

edit: I should note, it sounds like this is not specifically brain waves.. but still. My opinion in this arena doesn't change hah.


Also note that this might not be a one way street. They might use brain machine interfaces to stimulate your brain according to the ads you are watching. E.g. you watch ads for beer and you get the feeling of beer taste on your mouth or you watch ads for bread and you get the smell of freshly baked bread, etc. Or when you are in a store, the implant will give you a serotonin kick when you foveate on a specific product (whose manufacturer paid for that kick). etc.

It's creepy af. But 20 years ago when you told someone about the privacy intrusions of smartphones, people would've been creeped out as well so I'm pessimist and saying it will come.


This tech has the potential to distort market forces to a significant degree. Somewhat similar to how cigarettes are harmful to the user, but the user wants to smoke them anyway due to the products impact on the brain.

New products may not get investment because the user is hopelessly attached to the old product through some a reward signal hardwired into their brain.

On the other hand, learning and studying could feel awesome with such tech. And mind altering substances might not be a requirement.

As we get more powerful tech, I think we should work towards ways of bending the tech toward positive outcomes.


Hopefully folks like yourself have a seat at the table when it comes time to define "positive outcomes."


Ctrl labs decode signal from your arm, no brain stimulation yet, but who knows what Facebook wants to do


Okay, Black Mirror. (mind you, I don't think the suspicion is unwarranted, especially when it comes to Facebook.) Optimistically though, targted TMS or some other brain affecting technology, could treat depression, ADHD, schizophrenia, anxiety, autism, or any other number of mental maladies. (To be clear, this is very much in the realm of science fiction, TMS is nowhere near this.)


I imagine this'll take an Oculus route: awesome tech bought by Facebook with an initial "I'm not giving Facebook my data!" backlash, followed by high-quality products that edge more and more into the market by actually being pretty good.

Hopefully (or not).


I agree. I actually started using FB again (to a small extent) because I bought an Oculus Go, then an Oculus Quest. The Quest is such a good product and some of the material produced for it is so very good, that it is something I am going to use.


Oculus is still such a niche product though.

Most hardcore gamers I know (not many to be fair) think it's a gimmick.

From what I've heard dizziness is still a problem (motion sickness).

I for one just want some AR thing I can easily read text on.


The thing about VR is that pretty much anyone that's actually tried it will say it's too compelling to not have some measure of success. I don't think VR/AR/XR will ever be as ubiquitous a platform as smartphones are today (which seems to be what Facebook is banking on, owning the next big computing platform), but it won't go away, and it's not just a gimmick either. It's a new class of experience that we are still figuring out how to even do and produce content for, and which will broaden its appeal as the prices come down - but it still remains to be seen if it'll ever be entirely mainstream either.


Yeah. The smartphone was such huge crazy success that we keep trying to figure what will be next thing. Maybe there won't ever be, at least in our lifetimes, something that compares to it.

The Roomba is a successful product, (10% of the market in the US, most sold vacuum clearer). But it's not what we thought the market for robots at home would be. I remember Gates perpetually betting on robotics as the next hit.

Same for Apple Watch, not as ubiquitous as a iPhones, but pretty popular.

If everything seems like a failure compared to smartphones, maybe we shouldn't use it as a benchmark.


I’d say it’s too inconvenient atm to be widespread. It takes a whole room away from you and there is a cord tangle. Even with wireless headsets, moving requires teleportation or else a very small play area. Finally, the headsets add weight and setup time, which makes it less fun for long sessions

Its here to stay, but the motion problem isn’t solvable in the near future


The Quest solves some of this, at the cost of scene fidelity.


I bought a quest and a valve index around the same time, one for untethered casual and social gaming in the living room, the other for hardcore gaming in the bedroom office. The quest is currently gathering dust, the index is used daily for several hours playing racing sims (with a cockpit and a motion simulator the experience is just unbelievably fun). The seated experience is great, but teleportation is boring as hell, and smooth locomotion just doesn't feel right when you're standing still (I can race an F1 car at 200mph no problem, but skyrim VR is the only time I've ever felt motion sickness).

I'm a bachelor so I have a huge empty space in my living room. When I first got the quest I could walk around freely in a 12x12 area, and the first thought that went through my mind was "holy shit, if I could just keep walking this would be incredible. Like, I never want to stop incredible". If they can ever sort out the treadmills, or it becomes common to open up large gymnasiums for group VR sessions, I could see it becoming way more interesting.


FWIW I spend 4+ hours a day in VR on most days and host VR parties for friends fairly regularly. Dizziness and motion sickness can and are still a problem in some situations (lower-quality apps, some locomotion schemes, and overworking your graphics card come to mind), but I'd definitely not say it's a problem for "VR" as a whole anymore since it's easily avoidable by having both good hardware and good software.

I find most reporting done on VR that claims dizziness is a problem is often repeated by journalists that haven't actually tried VR themselves. If you haven't checked it out, I'd recommend finding a friend with a headset and going to town on it for a few hours. :)

And don't worry, AR is (probably) coming eventually.


I'm very susceptible to dizziness from ocular lab. I've tried (I believe) every Oculus product that's been publicly released. The Quest essentially eliminated dizziness entirely from me (although I've heard there are some games that still struggle, a roller coaster simulation has come up a few times when talking to people who've tried more). My uncle, who is not a gamer and is in his 70s, is seriously considering buying one as he has a friend who got one as a gift, tried it, and loved it.

Anecdotally, it seems like the Quest beautifully handles experiences designed for VR, and has a bit less success with improving media designed for traditional consumption (watching movies, which seems like it could be a phenomenal experience, still just makes me want to watch on a TV).


These days, simulator sickness in VR is usually a result of the game, not of the headset itself. Roller coaster simulators are sickness-inducing almost by definition, since the entire point of such applications is to simulate crazy, intense motion without actually moving the user at all in real life. For anyone without an iron stomach, an experience like that is almost guaranteed to make you sick regardless of the quality of the headset you're using.


Have any of the people you mention tried it? VR is awesome. A subset of users suffer from motion sickness, and it doesn't help that much of the hardware has a low framerate (I would recommend 90fps at the very least if you're prone to motion sickness, and of course avoid the type of activities that would give you motion sickness IRL). But from most experiences not having motion at all, VR games have been moving towards having motion at least as an option because most regular users prefer motion. For me, it felt slightly disorienting for a couple of weeks and then never again.


I tried it multiple times and it really depends on the game. If there's an opportunity to move fast (faster than in real life) then I definitely feel sickness. The same for friends who tried it too.


>Have any of the people you mention tried it? VR is awesome

Not the GP, but in my experience, yes, they have. Problem is none of the games we want to play are available. It's a neat sideshow, but the headset gets stored away soon enough and we go back to the games we want to play.


What games would you like to play in VR that aren't available? If you give examples, others here might be able to point you in the direction of something similar. :)


I think it's more nuanced than that. To me, the question is "what games do I want to play in VR, and would they pull me away from games I want to play which don't lend themselves to VR?"

I have yet to see a VR game I would pour a ton of time into. Right now I'm playing WoW, Zelda: Link's Awakening, and Mario Maker. Perhaps someday I'll be able to play a game like WoW in VR, but we're not there yet. Zelda and MM wouldn't play well in VR. So where's the "killer app" (ugh)? I imagine it will come, but I haven't seen it yet, which is why my headset is collecting dust.

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited for VR (I was an early adopter and even toyed around with a dev lot for a while). Problem currently is that the library of games I want to play just doesn't exist.


I guess different strokes for differnet folks. Games that put me in another world in VR at some level kind of ruined similar non VR games for me.

Like I just bought No Man's Sky since they added VR. I thought I'd only play it for 20 minutes just to see the algorithmically generated worlds but I ended up spending 20 hours in it in VR. I felt like a little kind full of wonder and glee everytime I jumped in a ship and took off. I felt like a little kind building a camp. I felt like a little kid when I found a water planet and launched and rode a submarine. Same with drilling through an entire mountain. It was amazing to "be there" instead of "looking at a picture of another character being there" (normal 3D games not in VR). It's not a great game yet IMO but just being in these situations in VR blows me away.

Breath of the Wild is my favorite game of all time but I was disappointed it was not in VR once in a while. I wanted to just be able to look around with my head not the R stick. I also like VR games where controls are in the world, not the buttons. Like reach over your shoulder to grab your sword and hold up your shield not press Y and old R.

I'm actually surprised Blizzard hasn't made VR WoW and hasn't either added facial capture attachment or pushed Valve/Oculus for one. If there was a low-res device that could capture your mouth shape and eyes so that your in game character could match your expression I'd think the enjoyment/addiction level of playing WoW would be 10x whatever it was at WoW's peak.

I agree the good content isn't there for VR yet and there isn't enough of it. I also agree there may never be a big market for many reasons. But, the moments VR's strengths shine I'm blown away and can't go back.


Sure, depends on what type of game you like to play too. VR WoW would be a disaster though. The input scheme is too complex and you typically zoom way out to see what's going on around you. I don't see how that could work.


I've played a lot of VR games but they were games with a beginning, middle and end. So in that regard you can't really put more time into them than the duration of the game. They were good games, though (for my preferences). Shout out to TO THE TOP for lasting me a very long 15 hours of arm pumping motions (and I didn't 100% it!) Room-scale VR is of course restricted by the user's physical condition, so you can't just marathon a 15 hour game.

The only uncapped VR experiences I've tried so far were Beat Saber, Rec Room and VR Chat. At the time of writing I'm at 99 hours of Beat Saber.


> Most hardcore gamers I know (not many to be fair) think it's a gimmick.

They have probably invested a bit in fine mouse motor skills and the like, and would have to essentially start over if VR games become the norm.

It seems that you have not tried VR. Please do try (preferably using a decent headset). The experience is incredible – at least for a while.

The problems are:

- locomotion. If teleportation makes sense in the game, then its fine. If you actually have to walk (really walk, not a vehicle), then yes, it is a problem. Since your playing area is constrained, you can't really move that much. If you move using the joystick, then your brain gets conflicting signals, and you may get motion sickness.

– resolution. If you have to read lots of things, it's not confortable. You can do it, but not for long. Which brings me to

– comfort. The headsets are not really that heavy. But because they basically seal your peripheral vision, they have to be relatively tight, which gets unconfortable. The materials used also mean it may get sweaty. For PC, also have cables you need to worry about, although it's not that big of a deal.

– setup. This is getting better. HTC vive used lighthouses, Rift used cameras. They were finnicky to get working correctly(additionally, the Rift required two extra high speed USB ports). They are both changing tracking technologies so this is already improving.

– price. These things are currently not cheap. Nor is replacing them every generation. For PC, you also need a good system, as it now has to push two images at a higher resolution and way higher refresh rates. If your system is underpowered and the game lags, you will become nauseated.

Problems aside, once we have cheaper and more portable systems, I expect the usage to skyrocket. The tech is far too entertaining for its own good :)


I’ve tried some from Samsung a few years ago. Nothing from Rift yet, but I’d love to.

I’m sure it’s very cool, but I’m not into games and don’t really want to be.

I played SimCity and World of Warcraft when I was a kid and it was enough for me to see how addictive and yet unfulfilling they are to me.

I still spend way too much time on the computer, probably a lot more, but I'm building something of my own, which is incredibly rewarding. Not judging, I just try to stay way from games and Netflix series for this reason.

What I'd love and pay an absurd amount of money would be an AR glasses where I can comfortably read for hours lying on a hammock or on commute.


Talk to anyone playing any games that already involve sitting in one place and you'll hear it's mandatory, not a gimmick. Think simulations, racing games, flying. The difference between a racing sim in vr vs on a monitor is a massive difference in immersion that is impossible with monitors. VR isn't a gimmick, we just don't know how to deal with converting our existing ideas of games with it. It's like the early days of video games, we're just trying to figure out how to actually develop for it.


I'm a big fan of 3D vision.

Something that surprises me is why the software industry dictates using VR controllers, rather than giving the option of just using VR purely for 3D vision; the games supporting VR generally are separate versions of the original ones, with teleportation system.

My guess is that if a middle-ground approach was an option, there would be a larger adoption.


Saying "the software industry dictates using VR controllers" misses the mark.

When Oculus Rift first released, the VR controllers weren't ready. Most demos were "3D vision" only (i.e., no input), and games used an Xbox One controller. As a Rift pre-orderer, I gave many demos to people in those early days.

Almost every single person looked around, said, "oh my god, this is incredible", and then raised their arms and tried to look at their hands.

Being unable to see your hands breaks immersion, while having the agency to literally reach out and interact with the virtual environment tricks your brain into believing it's real.

VR controllers aren't dictated by the software industry. They're demanded by nearly everyone that has used VR.


It's a niche more because of initial cost. The Quest seems to be a good standalone bridge for people who want to get into it. It's definitely not a gimmick. Everyone I've had try my Vive are blown away by it. Motion sickness is like sea legs, some people don't need to get used to it, others need a little time or adjusting.


Similar to mobile vs 10FT, to achieve a perception of linearity with regard to dot density, we need a massive leap in display and graphics interface technology. We are still only ~5% of the way there. Each dot density increase also increases latencies so this will take some time. Until we have 8k or equivalent resolution for each eye, the screen door effect will remain.


This is still one of the reasons I won't buy one of their headsets. Which sucks because the Quest is really cool, at least PC VR has better options/alternatives.


Unfortunately Oculus lost me as a potential customer when facebook acquired them. Palmer Luckey's various misadventures reinforce this feeling for me.


When will we all learn that ad-supported versus paid products are just a variation of the Stanford marshmallow experiment.

Free, ad-supported products are all about short term gratification because it costs us nothing today. Instead if we consider the long term when making these choices, then an investment in a paid no tracking product would be a better decision.

The problem is that the experiment itself showed the majority chose the short term gratification.


Why is it exactly a better decision? Perhaps for you, but I see no issue with being targeted with ads that may have a higher probability of a conversion. Especially if I make the choice I don't want to pay or vice versa.


Fair point. For me I seeing it as ceding control to some other company to decide what products and services I should buy. It's not complete control, but its a persistent influence that even if I know it is happening is hard to resist. Make no mistake that advertising does work even when you are completely aware that it is advertising.

I think in my core, freedom of choice is extremely valuable to me and so I tend to resist as much as possible attempts by others to control any amount of that choice for me.

Having said that, it means I also respect the choice of others to take the free product because the internal math on their side is different and they see it as the better decision for them. As long as we are all thinking through the decisions, then whatever we each choose is right for us.


> Make no mistake that advertising does work even when you are completely aware that it is advertising.

This is an interesting claim that I've heard before. Is there some way to measure the subconscious effect of advertising? It feels like a bit of a bogeyman to me.


FYI, the Stanford marshmallow experiment was shown to be a bit more problematic as of some new research in 2018. The recent study suggests we drew the wrong conclusions from the original. The recent study also corresponds awfully conveniently to the modern zeitgeist, however, which may also be problematic.

ref: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/06/marshmall...


Neuralink mentioned they are looking at advertisements as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-vbh3t7WVI (its somewhere at the end where they answer questions)


We said we were not looking at ads and that ads would never be a part of a business model for people with access to our SDK.


This misrepresents their position - which was that they were patient-first and would NOT be using advertising.


Surveillance capitalism is going to get a lot more scary


[flagged]


I am always all in for some good old Facebook bashing, but even I must say that probably won't end this way.


As someone who works with EMG, the hype CTRL-Labs has been pushing regarding their tech is over-the-top ridiculous.

In short, it's a wearable band that uses electrodes to measure your forearm muscles' activity (electromyography, or EMG), coupled with accelerometers to capture motion. It's awesome technology, but contrary to all the "neuro" buzzword bingo, you can't "control computers with your mind" – you have to physically contract the muscles in your forearm, just like if you were using a mouse or keyboard. This video gives you an idea of what the device is actually capable of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oD4efk8T2X4

Either way, it's exciting to see this kind of tech make it into the consumer space. Even if it doesn't catch on with AR/VR, it will have a lot of positive effects for researchers as well as for users with accessibility and mobility challenges.


Whether you have to move your muscles isn't so important, the goal here is to create a control surface that is usable in VR/AR, which this technology can totally still do.

Walking down the street with AR glasses right now sucks because you can't actually do anything without disruptive gestures (holding your hand to your face, talking out loud to nobody, etc). If you could tell the glasses what to do simply by making small imperceptible movements in your hand, that's a huge leap forward towards making AR actually something usable


No doubt it's an interesting product, and if they provide a good SDK for it then a lot of researchers and tinkerers will be happy :).


the question is if this device is more expressive than , say, wearing a glove.


Even if it was equally expressive, it's probably far less obtrusive to wear a bracelet than wear a glove (though that depends on the design of the bracelet I guess)


Despite not being a brain-reading interface, it's indeed very interesting that the device exists. I wonder if there is such a small emg reader that one can buy and tinker with, as this one seems to be tied to their developer software and apis (and will probably be tied to their cloud as is everything today)


The MyoWare sensor is a popular component for DIY projects (https://www.adafruit.com/product/2699?gclid=CJLytM3U0dICFQGT...).


They claim to detect the neuron action potential (without any physical muscle movements), the relevant section from their demonstration which is pretty cool: https://youtu.be/D8pB8sNBGlE?t=730

So, it's not just the forearm muscles' activity, but the actual neuron impulses.


There is no chance they are detecting extracellular action potentials with their giant skin surface electrodes. This is 100% EMG, which is a potential produced by muscle tissue. They might be able to detect very subtle EMG signals that don't correspond to visual movement, but they for sure aren't detecting APs.


I have still never owned an Oculus Rift simply because it is owned by Facebook and while I can't know for sure what they are doing with data collected, I can try my best to not walk straight into the fire. Maybe it would actually be better for Facebook to spin off an acquisitions/ventures arm associated with the main company as loosely as possible, and leave out data and privacy concerns by not using any data from their ventures until they are wholly incorporated into the Facebook business, but I'm no legal expert and Facebook is definitely not the type of company that would stay it's hand at an opportunity of collecting even more data


Agreed. If they were smart, they would break themselves up as Alphabet did in preparation for future investigations etc.

They could then acquire companies more "quietly".

Mark should also take a page from Larry's book and transition to the background more while lettings someone else run Facebook.


I don't think Facebook is able to get away with that, at least not as easily.

With Google my #1 concern is they'll shut it down. With Facebook I know it's going to sniff up all my data it can get its grubby hands on (which is also the #2 concern with Google if the product survives)

In any case on the subject I don't want anything but my own hardware processing anything thought related. That is not something the cloud should be involved in


It's strange not to see Valve's offerings referred when people talk about holding out on Oculus VR. The original Vive is a great device, and the Index is the current king of the hill, in this area (pricey, though, unless you compare it to an iPhone).


The Oculus Quest is much better imo


For those that buy Oculus Rift headsets in the near future, you might want to start looking for metal contacts in the headband where it touches your skin.


Are you suggesting they will secretly put this technology in to oculus headsets?


No implication. In lots of applications like this the hardware will ship with new features before the software supports them. Teslas shipped with all the autopilot sensors while the software is still catching up.

In the most charitable case imaginable, users would be invited to enable the feature in software and experience mind control of their games, uav's, or whatever.

I envision this might end up like laptop lid cameras: there won't be a hardware disconnect switch for the feature so people will put tape over the sensor pads if they don't trust the hardware not to read their eeg.


> uses a bracelet to measure neuron activity in a subject’s arm to determine movement that person is thinking about, even if they aren’t physically moving

I don't understand how this could possibly work with an armband. They presumably are reading electrical signals from motor neurons, but why do they fire if there's no movement? Is it possible that they are detecting incredibly small movements that are involuntarily caused by thinking about moving your hand?


This sounds straight like future-future-tech. My Fitbit can't even measure my heartbeat or steps with sufficient precision and they want to measure electric signals from neurons? Sounds (yet) impossible.


It's not even that new. A professor was using a much earlier version of this same tech to steer his boat in the 90's. It was very easy to read left and right signals to control a rudder as a prototype.

There have been commercialized versions of this tech already. The Myo was Kickstarted in 2015 and then acquired by CTRL-Labs. I have one and that generation of the tech was still tricky to use effectively.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/312488939/myowaretm-har...

Here's a pretty decent paper on the quite long history of Brain-Machine Interfaces: https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00027.20...


They had demos online. Unless they faked those


That's exactly what's doing. If you just think about moving your hand, pinching, whatever, then you are sending signals down that can be read.


if you were sending signals the muscle would move.


Not necessarily, you could have a gate at the very end that has to open up to let the signal through. There are inhibitory neurons throughout the nervous system, for example. It's also known that there is inhibitory circuitry that paralyses you while you are sleeping, so that you don't move while dreaming (see sleep paralysis for a common failure mode of this system). I have no ideas if motor signals do actually leave the brain when you are not moving though, it seems like an odd "design".


The inhibitory circuits exist in the brain and would prevent the motor cortex from sending out signals to the spinal cord. This device is reading motoneuron signals from the wrist when you are making movements. It's not mind-reading, the title is misleading.


As someone who has used these devices, you definitely do not need to actually move your hand


so , just imagining the movement, or "just about doing it" ?


This is typical marketing speak. The device is measuring EMG. The motor neurons can fire without causing overt/obvious muscle movements, and these can be picked up still.


They demonstrate (fake?) it in this video:

https://youtu.be/oD4efk8T2X4?t=83

(I linked to the specific time when it starts.)


Relevant post: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21039955

What I think FB is probably going to use it for:

* Some sort of peripheral to "unlock" advanced features in FB, which will basically give them a never-ending stream of neural-data to train models on.

* Ad impressions, no need to track clicks anymore, if user reacted to it in a "positive" manner they will be getting a cut.

* Bundle with Oculus (Something like: https://youtu.be/D8pB8sNBGlE?t=638)


agreed - this is all about improving ad engagement metrics. If they can demonstrate that the user was engaged even if they didn't click the ad, then the acquisition is worth the $500m-$1b they reportedly paid for it. I also see the wrist band as becoming linked to payment / libra functionality -- that way it's always on the user and it opens fb to greater awareness in the physical world as well. It's funny how the tech future is finally materializing just the point where we are realizing that instead of utopia, it is turning out to be an utterly repulsive sci-fi nightmare.


There is a presentation about tech in question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8pB8sNBGlE

Looks very interesting, but I would prefer it not to be owned by facebook.


This doesn't seem like a neural interface at all. Yes, technically the device is measuring neural activity, but it's measuring neural activity in your arm, not in your brain. In effect, this seems to be way closer to gesture control than it is to a neural interface.

If that's all they're doing, the title of this post is very misleading (and consequently, most of the comments in this thread are irrelevant).


yep. it's totally a surface electromyography device that feeds into a neural network to recognize the gesture you are making from your wrist. There are alternatives of course, such as gesture recognition from a camera. This is interesting regardless, but wonder how useful it is. Gesture recognition is not new , it's just has not surpassed other input devices yet.


This doesn't look as interesting as described in the article. It looks like it's just reading muscle electrical signals, and that movement is required to make it work. I mean, isn't that just a Power Glove?


> and that movement is required to make it work.

Did you watch the full video? They show someone playing Asteroids without any movement. Movement is not required.


The motoneuron needs to fire, which (unless your hand is cut off) will result to some muscle movement. Apparently it's either too little movement to be visible , or it's blocked (such as when holding his hand or when arms were folded).


Sounds like a very interesting tech. I'm curious if the Facebook brand is the right place for it though. Facing public scrutiny I don't think many people trust Facebook anymore to share the intricate info of their lives.


Letting something owned by Facebook anywhere near my mind is the last thing I'd want to do.


It’s going on your arm not brain


The mind might be largely collocated with the brain, but I did specifically say mind :D Where the device goes is irrelevant to my concern; what it might be reading, and what I'd trust them to do with it, is not.

To be fair this concern is not only about Facebook, I'd have similar concerns now about anyone, but Facebook have already shown themselves to be bad actors. Fool me once, etc.


It's going on neither.


Ok, this is the kind of tech I would like to see come up and mature in the coming ten-twenty years.

Having dozens of employees and four years of development period with VC money suggests that they have something more than just a POC.

With any great technology/innovation, the next obvious question always is, how can it be used at a mass scale, so that it gets accepted as just another part of a person's life. To put it another way, how can it be assimilated into the common services/products that we consume in our daily lives. Only then it will produce the value that it's makers were hoping for.

So what kind of void could this technology fill?

That depends on the vision of the creators and those who own it. I guess, if it was Apple that was buying this startup, we would see very different end usage of it.

If it was Google, we would see something absolutely different. If it was Amazon, who knows what they might use it for?

But since it is Facebook, we have to feel a bit apprehensive.

Because what is it that Facebook intends to do in long term? What is it's vision? Being one of the biggest tech companies in the World right now, it is of paramount importance that we know what do they intend to do with the tech they acquire?

And this tech could be revolutionary! It is the kind of stuff that we read in Sci-Fi. Hope they make something good/useful out of it.


Oculus connect 6 is tomorrow and Thursday. You should watch the keynotes to get an idea about what they will do with this


Facebook will try to use it to make profit in favour of using it to benefit people, which is what automative technologies should be for. That is the nature of the beast, and in facebook's case making profit ends disastrously, as opposed to any other particular company.


Has Black Mirror taught us nothing? ;)


Seems fitting. They're already controling minds with their computers, why not close the loop :-)


After cambridge analytica and Libra, I'm sure Mark Zuckerberg is the right person to own a this kind of technology


He just wants to make the world more connected. /s


Can we learn from our mistakes (Instagram, WhatsApp) and just block this.


Why was Whatsapp a mistake?


For it to work fully it demands full access to ALL your contacts.

Facebook now knows the name, location and details of your bank, doctor, where you work, your family, your accountant, your psychotherapist etc.


Allowing FB to have control of an otherwise awesome service.


The main difference is this isn’t an up and coming social network.


It's worse; facebook no longer have to play guessing games with what we text one another, and can instead have a direct interface to our actions and possibly thoughts.


David Brin’s (sci-fi) version sits in your mouth and detects minute muscle movements to determine which words you are thinking of saying.


Nice addition to their current technology controlling minds with computers!


So it'll be like voice control where I have to speak slowly and clearly, hide my accent, control my pronunciation... just to get Siri to tell me the weather... but with my thoughts? I don't even know how to think slowly and clearly.


What's funny is with Siri and Google Assistant I can mumble barely-intelligibly and they understand exactly what I'm saying. I guess I should thank my lack of an accent?


[flagged]


And the justification will be "more humane than waterboarding".


I love fancy/zany new HCI stuff, and I have been waiting for the CTRL-Labs product to come out for a LONG time.

In my head, the compromises CTRL-Labs are making is brilliant and I believe it can create a compelling product.

This could FINALLY be the keyboard killer. I would love something I can walk and use easily, use from a reclining position, and avoid having to use my hands for typing while programming.

I have bad wrist pain from typing all day, so I am sure to use only ergonomic keyboards and mice and take frequent brakes. Not having to deal with that would be great.


As a D&D fan I enjoy associating companies with creatures. This acquisition fits the picture well. Let's see if you can associate each FAANG with its creature. Dragon, Lich, Illithid, Beholder, Djinn


Facebook - Beholder (Obvious)

Apple - Dragon (Pile of gold. Ancient. Has good variants.)

Amazon - Lich (Seeks to conquer everything)

Netflix - Djinn (Not actually as scary as the rest.)

Google - Illithid


Almost :) I swap F&G.

With the article hint about mind reading, mind flayers (or Illithid) connect their minds together in huge cities. They are also famous for manipulating minds with their psionic abilities.

Beholders have plenty of (non-googly) eyes and look everywhere, gather ancient knowledge, gather various artifacts, but usually don't care about you except for when they zap you for coming too close.

Djinn are masters of illusions rocking you with dreams while they drain you.

The lich (or maybe semi-lich soon) is in the business of dealing time. He has a special relationship with time, which allows him to trade advantageously to fill its boundless ambitions.

The cash hoarding behavior and love of beautiful shiny things is indeed a characteristic of dragons.


After acquisition: "You know how you created a system to control a computer with a mind? Well we want you to keep doing that, just the other way around."


The best part is it is totally free.

In order to activate the band, you simply imagine yourself buying a product from one of the advertising partners.


For a moment, I read that as controlling minds with the computer, and thought: Wait, Facebook does that already!


Source, BSidesLV presentation on Brain-Machine Interfaces: - for those in the know (basically, a bunch of PhD labs and a few private companies, small network of people), FB's efforts with this have achieved `read` capabilities, and the thought is they have have achieved `write`.


Hey - off topic but what do you think of BSides? There is one soon in my area and have been on the fence about attending. Is it hit or miss on location?


yeah def location dependent. BSidesLV is the mothership, few other cities do big ones as well.

Conversely, an underdeveloped BSides local to you is a good opportunity for you to get involved and make a name for yourself in the local sec scene.


I built a Smart House system "mind" controlled by EEG made specifically for ALS patients 8 years ago. https://youtu.be/mQrytBbSbsA

I'd like to be bought please.


This app requires new permissions: Will you grant Facebook permission to access your thoughts?


Makes sense, with their main business being the inverse.



Ha, I came here to make the same joke.


This seems fit to complete the loop, however it s redundant. FB already knows what you want to do with your computer



"Facebook to acquire CTRL-Labs, a startup for controlling computers with the ~~mind~~ brain"


technically all personal computers are controlled with the brain


I'd have called it CTRL ALT Labs, but other than that this is pretty terrifying.


Definitely one of the top 10 most terrifying headlines I've ever seen.


Help, facebook was reading the old joke headlines again.


New frontiers for how to commodify and sell you


In a way, they are already on our minds with all the weird techniques they have to make people addicted to their stuff. But that is definitely going way too far.


The technology they produce itself is pretty decent, but in the hands of facebook this is one step away from being a dystopian nightmare.


Of all companies Facebook should be kept as far as possible from any kind of Neuralink type interface.

We are literally going to lobotomize our species in a quest to get people to click ads.


Could it not be said that people who are so in to Facebook that they would like and want this are already (self-)lobotomized to a degree, by whatever factors make people revel in boring social stuff/ignorance and not wish to pursue higher knowledge or goals?

I mean most of Facebook seems to be:

20% of

- saying "I was at this location"

- pictures of food

- pictures of people's kids

- pictures of people at events like concerts, family gatherings, etc.

- complaining about traffic/weather/money

and 80% of

- reports of memes

People whose Facebook interaction is pretty much just the above, which is probably the majority, aren't really going to achieve much more in life without Facebook, whether it's reading your brain or not.


Pictures of kids for viewing by grandparents and relatives is literally the only legitimate use of Facebook as far as I'm concerned. It's basically an over-engineered photo sharing service.




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