Brain implants could give governments and companies power to read your mind, scientists warn

Neural interfaces may offer a new way of treating conditions including dementia, paralysis, mental health conditions or obesity, according to new research.

London (CNN)Telepathy is a thing of sci-fi movies, not real-life interaction. Right?

In the future, that could all change, according to scientific experts in Britain.
People could "become telepathic to some degree," thanks to neural interface technologies that are being developed, according to the Royal Society, the UK's Academy of Sciences.
    But it has warned that neural interfaces -- devices implanted internally or worn externally which can record or stimulate brain activity -- could be open to abuse as they become more sophisticated.
    Neural implants, and external interfaces, have already been licensed in the world of medicine and are being used to treat medical conditions from strokes to epilepsy.
    But tech companies are getting in on the act -- and the Royal Society says governments need to act fast to set some ethical boundaries.
    Earlier this year, billionaire tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk, said his company, Neuralink, was planning to start human trials in 2020 using ultra fine electrodes. They would be inserted into the brain to help people with locked-in syndrome or paralysis communicate via a computer or phone.
    Meanwhile Facebook's founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has shown interest in "telepathic typing."
    The social media company is supporting research into creating a headset able to transcribe a vocabulary of 1,000 words, at a rate of 100-words per minute, just by thinking.
    "You'll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you'd like," Zuckerberg said in 2015. "This would be the ultimate communication technology."
    In a report titled "iHuman: Blurring lines between mind and machine," the Royal Society says these new technologies bring both exciting possibilities and risks.
    Neural interfaces offer a new frontier for treating conditions like dementia, paralysis, mental health conditions or obesity, according to the report.
    Mark Zuckerberg has shown interest in "telepathic typing."
    Dr. Tim Constandinou, director of the Next Generation Neural Interfaces (NGNI) Lab at Imperial College London and co-chair of the report, said in a press release: "By 2040 neural interfaces are likely to be an established option to enable people to walk after paralysis and tackle treatment-resistant depression, they may even have made treating Alzheimer's disease a reality."
    But they could also be misused by corporations and governments, with neural data being accessed and shared.
    Neural interfaces "pose new risks: the risks of moods or thoughts being accessed by companies, governments or others; risks to privacy and human rights; and the risks of widening social inequalities," the report states.
    They could even change the very nature of what it means to be human, it says.
    The Royal Society is urging the UK government to launch a national investigation into neural interface technologies and how they should be steered.
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