Alexander Huth, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Austin and co-author of a new study, has revealed that brain scans and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to “decode” thoughts.
Scientists said Monday they have found a way to use brain scans and artificial intelligence modelling to transcribe “the gist” of what people are thinking, in what was described as a step towards mind reading.
While the main goal of the language decoder is to help people who have the lost the ability to communicate, the US scientists acknowledged that the technology raised questions about “mental privacy”.
Aiming to assuage such fears, they ran tests showing that their decoder could not be used on anyone who had not allowed it to be trained on their brain activity over long hours inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner.
Previous research has shown that a brain implant can enable people who can no longer speak or type to spell out words or even sentences.
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These “brain-computer interfaces” focus on the part of the brain that controls the mouth when it tries to form words.
Alexander Huth, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Austin and co-author of a new study, said that his team’s language decoder “works at a very different level”.
“Our system really works at the level of ideas, of semantics, of meaning,” Huth told an online press conference.
It is the first system to be able to reconstruct continuous language without an invasive brain implant, according to the study in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
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