back to article Facebook pulls plug on mind-reading neural interface that restored a user's speech

Facebook is abandoning a project to develop a brain-computer interface (BCI), even as the researchers it funded have showcased the device helping someone with severe speech loss communicate with nothing more than thought. In a paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine Facebook-funded researchers showed how a " …

  1. John Sturdy

    A company as rich as Facebook should be able to afford supporting some blue-sky research

    A company as rich as Facebook should be able to afford supporting some blue-sky research --- and can't they write it off as a loss for tax purposes?

    1. Peshman

      Re: A company as rich as Facebook should be able to afford supporting some blue-sky research

      Facebook would have to pay Tax to write something off against it.

      You seem confused.

  2. AnotherName

    Common Good?

    Don't write it off - donate it for the common good, not corporate greed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Common Good?

      I would hazard a guess it will still be being researched but just off the books. If they can determine what you are thinking to say it's not much of a stretch to get what you are thinking. Best not to have this sort of research out in the open.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Common Good?

        The purpose for Facebook's point of view was obviously to come up with a form of neural linkage directly to a computer for a mobile phone to replace the voice interface.

        Anybody passingly aware of the state of the art in Neurology knew and said in el reg's comments on this years ago that this was not remotely feasible; they are funding the neurology equivalents of the Wright flyer expecting that it was going to be a modern airliner.

    2. fidodogbreath

      Re: Common Good?

      Don't write it off - donate it for the common good, not corporate greed.

      Thanks! That was the best laugh I've had in days.

    3. Sgt_Oddball

      Re: Common Good?

      To their friends who just so happen to run a charitable organisation?

      Or a charity that happens to favour/promote one of their personal pet projects?

      Or perhaps even to a charity in a far-away land to provide food and clothing to exploited locals...maybe the same country that provides some of their required resources like unrefined rare earths literally dug out by hand...

      Cynical? Moi? With my reputation?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Common Good?

        Shirley you mean a tax write off organisation.

  3. Efer Brick

    Thinks "must have a w@nk"

    Facebook : "wanna buy sex toys?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thinks "must have a w@nk"

      I thought it would have been more likely to show 'lonely singles in your area' with some variety between pensioners, milfs and barely legal teens..

      How do I know? I...err....research... Yes, research. Following up on firewall rules. Yep. Yes siree... Firewall logging. Definitely that. *whistles badly*

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    So, a stunning breakthrough in neuroscience is abandoned . .

    . . because El Zuck and his minions can't see a way to milk billions out of it by next quarter.

    You can be sure, however, that if ever someone else finds a way, El Zuck's lawyers will be all over it with "prior art" to suck the very life out of the project.

    Down to the last penny.

    1. macjules

      Re: So, a stunning breakthrough in neuroscience is abandoned . .

      I should think that someone told Zuckerberg that forcing Facebook users to undergo a USB implant might be seen a as somewhat unfair breach of the user agreement. After the tantrums stopped Mark moved everyone to the "Bad News Office" (he has a Good news office and a Bad news office) and told them to stop funding.

      Facebook are now understood to be buying data on anyone in the UK who has had colorectal surgery recently with a view to implanting the neuro implant "from the other end".

  5. Swordfish1

    What does Zuckerberg actually do with his billions - its certainly not for the advancement of the human race, but for the advancement of his wallet

    1. fidodogbreath

      What does Zuckerberg actually do with his billions

      He buys large chunks of Hawaii. Also, all of the neighboring properties around his primary mansion. Because he needs his privacy, even as he is destroying everyone else's.

      He also sponsors a hospital in San Francisco that massively overcharges people.

  6. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

    >>we are no longer pursuing a research path to develop a silent, non-invasive speech interface

    Of course not! "non-invasive" is anathema to the Zuck. They may be back when they manage to make it as obtrusive as possible

  7. cjcox

    Facebook made a video to help

    Video covers the basics of the interface, how censorship will operate and telemetry/analytics.

  8. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Thought crime

    Authoritarian dream comes true.

    One plug gets pulled, another plugs in.

  9. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Facebook: OMG we're doing something good & useful!

    We must stop!

  10. Jeffrey Nonken

    Whatever you do, do NOT stick this thing into a cat.

    1. John Sturdy

      That made my day.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Eat the rich

    It's stories like this that make me more likely to support any government's attempt to do anything to bring down FaecesBook and Zuck.

  12. FozzyBear

    Thanks Zuck - you low life

    Rarely have I thought of causing serious injury to a person. Definitely not a fan of Zuck or faecesbook before the story, after reading it, I would have no problem punching the guy in the face repeatedly. Literally pulling the plug because they wouldn't make money quick enough, what a fucking lowlife

  13. NetBlackOps

    I have a rather extreme case of cervical spondylosis, skull to T-1, with a near term result of becoming a total shut-in. So, research into brain to eternal world interfaces are in my own interest. I do hope someone continues to follow up.

  14. Captain Boing

    zero altruism, just dollars

    nuf said

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everything within Facebook, nothing outside Facebook

    > a wrist-based sensor will track signals in the wearer's motor neurons and translate them into machine input. "In the near term, these signals will let you communicate with your device

    And there it is, Facebook want you to communicate with your devices. Converting thoughts to speech can be used to communicate directly with other people, bypassing Facebook's ability to track, analyse, direct, control, and sell everything you do.

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