back to article Microsoft wants to patent mind control

Microsoft has applied to patent a brain control interface, so you'll be able to "think" your way around a computer device, hands free. Last year, Facebook claimed to have 60 engineers engaged in BCI [brain computer interface] but Microsoft isn't going to take this sitting down. It's erm, sitting down and thinking really hard …

  1. tiggity Silver badge

    Blindingly Obvious Patent

    Given the signal before action scenario has been known about for ages (and, ability to predict an action before person consciously aware of it led to lots of badly thought out free will arguments) then how can this patent be granted?

    And, as for the general idea, umpteen SF books / stories full of the ideas of people using their mind to control machines of various types.

    I can do crude mind control.

    I say the word "Microsoft"

    90% of people exposed to MS software think "*******" or similar expletive.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blindingly Obvious Patent

      It is so obvious that if it gets awarded a patent then it proves the US patent office isn't fit for purpose or is taking brown envelopes for awards.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Blindingly Obvious Patent

        it proves the US patent office isn't fit for purpose

        Which has been proven already time and again.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Blindingly Obvious Patent

        This again?

        The US Patent Office is not supposed to test for novelty or anything else. US law says that you get a patent for filling in the form. The idea is that it is only worth something if it later stands up to challenge in court. Sadly, that last bit doesn't really work, not least because every other PO on the planet is apparently stupid enough to treat a US patent *as though it had already been tested and found valid*.

        The system has been like this for 20 years and apparently every legislator on the planet outside the US is too fucking stupid to realise that the US no longer checks patents at the time of issue.

      3. razorfishsl

        Re: Blindingly Obvious Patent

        The US patent office is there to help US busniess by blocking usage of technology by non US companies.

        Why do you think so any shitty patents are allowed to be registered.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Welcome to the Borg

    aka Microsoft.

    Well, you won't control my mind so [redacted] off.

    BB Naturally.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting, so if I have a five knuckle shuffle I'll probably deafen myself. Well done Microsoft.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "five knuckle shuffle"

      I can see how a volume control might make you think about knobs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's a sound hypothesis.

  4. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    Judging from that diagram they've patented thinking about boxes. Will apple now patent thinking about boxes with rounded corners?

    Where are the thought police?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Judging from that diagram they've patented thinking about boxes.

      So they shouldn't mind if I keep thinking outside the box.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >Judging from that diagram

      What they claim is defined by, well, the claims.

      >they've patented thinking about boxes.

      No, they have just filed a patent application, they do not have a patent on this and chances are they will never get this granted.

  5. agatum

    Microsoft wants to patent mind control

    I have exclusive patent for my mind, includes controlling it. I filed for it some 40+ years ago and got it and its universal. I shall release the patent to public domain upon the moment of my death. Meanwhile, slurp and all the other similar clusterfucks can go **** themselves in the ******* eyesocket.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      RE: Agatum

      Sir, you were clearly caught humming a copyrighted song earlier. Please submit to a brain scan so that we can determine who owns the copyright and fine you accordingly.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "I filed for it some 40+ years ago and got it and its universal."

      I think there are quite a number of neuroscientists who would be *very* interested to read that patent.

      Also, if you ever need a million or so, you could tip off the Nobel committee. I doubt there would be any serious challengers.

  6. Scott Broukell

    I thought of it first.

    Surely this sort of interfacing is going to require an unfeasible number of "Are you really sure you want to do this?" dialogue boxes! Together with some "Are you really, really, really sure you want to do this?" - for the absent-minded and downright malicious. I mean thoughts travel so much faster than clumpy fingers on a keyboard etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I thought of it first.

      "Are you really sure you want to do this?"

      "Hmm, let me think about it.. ah shit!"

  7. Crisp

    Isn't any control interface ultimately a brain control interface?

    This post was dictated, but not read.

    1. Scott Broukell

      Re: Isn't any control interface ultimately a brain control interface?

      @ Crisp - That's what they want you to think!

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Isn't any control interface ultimately a brain control interface?

      @Crisp - it's not red, it's black.

    3. Paper

      Re: Isn't any control interface ultimately a brain control interface?

      Reminds me of a conversation with a colleague:

      Me: Wouldn't it be cool if we could invent artificial telepathy by, like, encoding our thoughts, sending them to each other somehow and then decoding them?

      Him: So you mean speech?

      Me: ...err!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The trouble with Microsoft and Facebook, they have no users that have anything suitable to connect to the brain interface.

  9. Crisp

    You might use this to control a radio

    But you'd have to sit very still to continue listening to the same channel.

    (With apologies to Douglas Adams.)

    1. Tim Seventh

      Re: You might use this to control a radio

      "But you'd have to sit very still to continue listening to the same channel."

      And avoid having dirty thoughts when staring at your friendly neighbor jogging down the street. You wouldn't want the radio to do any "unintended broadcasting".

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Didn't Atari do this during the 80s?

    I'm sure Atari were reported as working on a brain-computer interface in the 80s. Anyone remember what happened?

    Anyhow, Microsoft musta had this for years, why else would anyone buy Windows?

    1. Nick Kew

      Re: Didn't Atari do this during the 80s?

      It featured in SF a whole lot earlier than that.

      MS's patent will be for something more specific than described in the article. And of course unreadable to anyone who isn't a patent lawyer, like for example the patent's author.

      From within MS, Eric Brechner once wrote:

      When using existing libraries, services, tools, and methods from outside Microsoft, we must be respectful of licenses, copyrights, and patents. Generally, you want to carefully research licenses and copyrights (your contact in Legal and Corporate Affairs can help), and never search, view, or speculate about patents. I was confused by this guidance till I wrote and reviewed one of my own patents. The legal claims section—the only section that counts—was indecipherable by anyone but a patent attorney. Ignorance is bliss and strongly recommended when it comes to patents.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    /. had a Bill the Borg icon

    There IS a reason Slashdot had the "Bill Gates the Borg" symbol (from Star Trek Voyager) next to every Microsoft news.

    Here is a screenshot:

    another pic:

  12. Dwarf Silver badge


    So, they can't make an ordinary microphone that's worked properly before Windows 10 be compatible with Windows 10, but they expect to be able to do mind control - something that has proven significantly more difficult over a far longer period of time.

    How do they plan to segregate out things like the mind wandering when people are working, or that context switch when the hottie from the office walks down the corridor and you stop thinking about work and wish you were a few years younger again..

    The only positive thing is that with all that telemetry, they will be able to see first hand how much people hate Windows 10 and the Ribbon.

  13. Oflife


    I really do consider Facebook to be the antichrist. A company founded on immoral grounds for immoral purposes by a visionless bloke based on awful technology (the UX is a disaster) used by obese women in McDonald's whose kids sit stuffing themselves with cancer causing fried carbs, whilst guys sit around tables in pubs on FB instead of talking to each other, and FB continues to exploit people's weaknesses and addictions all for profit. And now they want to read your mind. Well, the tin foil protected mind boggles.

    Just, NO! #ffs

  14. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Didn't Nintendo have something like this some 25 years ago?

  15. GCHQ are the enemy

    DARPA/military intelligence have mastered the use of mind control many decades ago and they can do it remotely. What you may not know is that they are secretly using it against certain members of the public, targeted individuals. It is used in conjunction with another illegal program they are behind called organized stalking.

    Do a web search for "NSA whistleblower Karen Stewart" for more information.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Application is not patent

    What is discussed is a patent application. It is not granted. And the application is not just for controlling things with the mind in general but a specific method for doing it. The key seems to be first mapping continuous motion control from many users and later fine tuning the mapping for each specific users.

    And a quick check shows that there is a lot of prior art out there so it will not be smooth sailing for Microsoft. And Microsoft has itself brought up more than 50 different prior art documents.

    No Office Action issued in the US yet, though the Written Opinion for the international application is out and it is quite negative. Chances are this application will sink.

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