Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined the company’s approach to neural interface technology — tech which lets you control technology with your mind — in an interview on podcast The Joe Rogan Experience.
Zuckerberg said Meta is researching neural interface tech as part of its push into the metaverse.
He said the company is primarily focused on tech which can receive signals from the brain but does send any information back to it.
“The super-hard part here is going to be having a computer give you information straight into your brain, and that’s not a thing that we’re working on,” Zuckerberg said.
He compared this to Elon Musk’s neural interface company Neuralink, which is developing a chip which it hopes to one day implant into people’s skulls with electrodes fanning out into the brain that are able to both record and stimulate brain activity.
“Some people, like Elon with Neuralink and those companies, that’s just taking this like super far-off. I mean maybe it’ll be ready in a couple decades,” Zuckerberg said.
He joked with host Joe Rogan that no-one will want to be an early-adopter of Neuralink.
“Normal people I think in the next 10 or 15 years are probably not going to want to get something just installed in their brain for fun,” Zuckerberg said.
“You want the mature version of that [technology], not the one where it’s gonna get a lot better next year and you need to get your brain implant upgraded every year,” he said.
Musk has made outlandish claims about what Neuralink will be able to do, saying it will be like a “Fitbit in your skull” and claiming it will facilitate a symbiosis between human consciousness and AI.
Neuralink has not yet started human testing, but rival biotech firm Synchron began trials on human subjects in July.
Zuckerberg added there will be near-term application for tech like Neuralink for “people with injuries.”
Neuralink said in a public statement in July 2021 it was working towards a first use of for its chip, enabling quadraplegic people to control a cursor on a screen using their mind.
Texting your wife by twitching your wrist
Zuckerberg went on to describe how he envisions neural interface tech slotting into the metaverse, for example integrating it with a set of AR glasses.
Zuckerberg isn’t focused on getting chips into people’s brains, but rather using wearable devices to pick up brain signals that he said could be detected from other parts of the body.
“The path that we have, it’s based on the fact that we have all these extra motor neurones in our body,” Zuckerberg said. Motor neurones are the brain cells that communicate commands from the brain to the muscles in your body.
He said that people could communicate brain signals to devices through small movements in other parts of their bodies.
“It turns out you can have a device on your wrist that basically your brain can communicate with your hand, tell your hand to move in a pattern it isn’t used to, and then the wristband can sort of pick up those signals and translate them into completely different things like having a virtual hand move in front of you while your physical hand is sitting there at your side,” Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg gave a vision of how he thinks this could be used in real-life.
“You’ll be able to have this experience in future where you’re sitting in a meeting and your wife texts you and it pops up in the corner of your glasses and you want to respond but you don’t want to like pull out your phone because that’s kinda rude,” he said.
Zuckerberg said using neural interface tech you could: “twitch your wrist a little bit… like some super discreet motion that no one even knows you’re doing it and you send a message.”