Facebook’s Acquisition of Brain-Control Focused Technology Start-up: Yay or Nay?

September 27, 2019





Comprising 2% of the total body weight, the human brain acts as the control room for regulating the different complex processes occurring throughout the body. Even as you read this article, your brain is working at speed quicker than lightning to process the information, validate it with your past experiences and arrive at an informed conclusion. And that’s probably why our thoughts are so powerful and all-encompassing. What if this reservoir of thoughts and emotions, feelings and complex channels of comprehension were unlocked and made accessible to the outside world? What if the naturally determined boundaries of our internal and external worlds were obliterated and the barriers between personal and public wiped out? Does it sound too creepy to be true? Well, our technically advancing world, together with the era of digitization, is probably inching somewhat closer to this unimaginable scenario.  Here’s how.

Facebook’s Acquisition of CTRL-Labs

As per latest reports, Facebook is all set to acquire CTRL-Labs, a technology-based start-up that deals with directly gaining control over the human thoughts using digital interventions. Reportedly, Facebook has agreed to pay a whopping amount ranging between $500 million and $ 1 billion for this project. CTRL-Labs typically makes use of a bracelet to determine a person’s thoughts which are then projected on to a digital screen.  Facebook’s probable collaboration with this company would imply that Facebook users might now provide the social media platform with direct access to their thoughts and feelings – without a buffer of language. This isn’t the first time Facebook is engaging in applying such an interface to its services. Earlier, too, there have been reports of Facebook having set up a team of 60 engineers to work on an advanced technical intervention that would scan the individual’s mind multiple times per second and translate his/her thoughts into concrete words. Such reports often make individual users, businesses and digital marketing agencies wonder about the future of social media and where it is headed.

What’s at Stake Here?


Facebook suggests that such a brain-computing technology would help persons with advanced paralysis to communicate their thoughts better, thus introducing a more sensitive social media environment in the future. However, if one is to consider a broader picture of the whole proposal, such an intervention provides much room for concern and doubt – and rightly so. As it is, one needs to consciously set clear boundaries with social media to ensure that the real and the virtual worlds are clearly demarcated in one’s life. With a technical innovation threatening to shatter other indispensible boundaries like a person’s internal state and external surroundings, a lapse of privacy is a major concern.
In addition, such technology can also be misused on a large scale, with breaches ranging from unethical acquisition of personal data to political manipulations. Of course, the implementation of this innovation is still a bleak idea that may be pushed off to the distant future. However, what one needs to consider at this point is whether some of the other necessary safeguards are being put to practice to ensure that if this brain-computing mechanism is ever to be introduced on Facebook, its millions of individual users, business pages and digital marketing firms using the platform are well-protected against its negative consequences. We hope this is a step in the right direction. Fingers crossed!

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