Futurescape (2013) s01e01 Episode Script

I Know What Youre Thinking

I want him right here.
[ Restraints clicking ] Do not do this to me, man! You're making this worse.
[ Breathing heavily ] [ Beeping ] Woods: Don't worry.
It's not old sparky.
But in some ways, it's even more ominous because that device is playing back his memories.
It's the holy grail of science and spies and paranoid spouses.
It's a powerful tool that could bring about world peace or put us on a fast track to global warfare.
Think about this.
The technology that can read your thoughts, your desires, your secrets is already on the way.
-- Captions by VITAC -- CAPTIONS PAID FOR BY DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS.
LLC.
That warrant authorizes the police to read this guy's mind in this case, his memories.
Because, you see, in the future, not even our thoughts will be free from search and seizure.
Is it the ultimate invasion of privacy? Yes.
But it could also clear your good name or maybe even save your life.
Today, scientists are already analyzing the mechanics of thought and creating real life mind reading machines.
Dr.
Kaku: Once you peer into the mind, it could add a whole new layer, other dimensions to the way we communicate with each other.
[ Siren wailing ] Why do we have wars? Why do we have race riots? Why do we have such injustice committed against our fellow human beings? In part, it's because we don't know who they are.
We fear them.
What happens if we can see into their thoughts, realize that they, too, have hopes and dreams? [ Indistinct conversations ] Woods: Scientists will soon be tearing down the barriers and protections between everyone on the planet with mind-reading machines.
The prototype for a true mind-reading device is being developed here at New York university's center for neural science.
Dr.
Poeppel: Okay, so, let's start the experiment.
Woods: Dr.
David Poeppel is decoding electrochemical patterns in the brain known to laymen as thought.
It could be the breakthrough that exposes our most intimate secrets to the world.
And I figure out what was in your head without you telling me.
That's, of course, the real goal.
Woods: Poeppel and his staff are tackling the project with support from the U.
S.
army.
[ Explosions, gunfire ] Dr.
Poeppel: Suppose it's really loud.
How would you convey information? Well, it would be pretty good if I could just send you my thoughts.
[ Indistinct thoughts echoing ] Wallach: If you had a small corps in a jungle or in some other setting that they could communicate with each other without breaking silence and not alert their adversary to where they were located.
Woods: The goal is to create a helmet that can read the brain waves of a soldier, translate those waves into words which can be digitally transmitted to another soldier, who can then receive the signal and translate that message back into his own brain.
[ Echoing ] Copy that.
The challenge is tapping into the silent world of the mind.
If you could, please, just have a seat.
Poeppel claims he has found a clever little system hidden amidst the billions of electrochemical signals firing in your brain.
It's very simple but very beautiful and sexy and cool.
And the idea is called an efference copy.
Efference copy is literally a copy of the command to do something, in this case, the command to speak.
We can see the voice in your head before you even open your lips.
So, for instance, if I'm about to say, you know, Television, about 1/10 of a second before I say it, a copy of the word Television is sent to the hearing part of the brain.
Go ahead and lay back.
Woods: Dr.
Poeppel discovered that even if you only think about saying a word [ Echoing ] You're so messy.
Woods: Your brain sends an efference copy of that word to your ears long before the thought shows up on your face.
So, if he could somehow read those efference copies in real time from your brain, he'd actually be reading your mind.
To do this, he's using a machine called the magnetoencephalograph, or m.
E.
G.
Brain activity is basically just electricity.
So, it measures the magnetic fields that are generated by brain activity inside your head.
It's one of the few ways we have to get access into the internal workings of your mind.
Dr.
Poeppel: Lock the sensors in.
Okay.
We're going to play you a sentence, and we're going to ask you to covertly repeat it that is, imagine saying it covertly.
Woman: Okay.
Woods: The M.
E.
G.
has a built in helmet of 160 magnetic field detectors that scan and record the subject's brain waves every time she imagines a given word.
The book is next to the glass.
the M.
E.
G.
S are looking for a signal given off by neurons that's incredibly tiny, a field that's 1,000 times smaller than a refrigerator magnet.
Dr.
Poeppel: Every millisecond, that is every thousandth of a second, we're recording from the entire head, from all 160 channels.
It's an enormous amount of information that we then have to sift through to make sense of.
Woods: Their goal is to isolate clear efference copies for every word imagined by the subject.
Dr.
Poeppel: You don't just know some word and its sequence of sounds.
All the information associated with that concept suddenly comes up.
Imagine yourself saying the word Cat.
[ echoing ] Cat.
you had a cat called Fluffy when you were a kid that threw up a lot on your bed.
Or you hate cats.
You love cats.
So, it's not a needle in a haystack.
It's like a needle in 10,000 haystacks.
Woods: With each word that Poeppel deciphers Okay, keep going.
Woods: We grow closer to a future where advanced mind scanners could lay bare our innermost thoughts.
It will redefine doctor/patient relationships.
It will help redefine lawyer/client relationships.
It will certainly have an impact in criminal-justice investigations.
Allhoff: Imagine that you're going to the airport.
Tsa could figure out whether you were a terrorist or not.
And it shouldn't be the case that tsa, by default, gets access to our thoughts.
It would only be that people who want to participate in this sort of accelerated screening can opt into it.
Lightman: In the beginning, m.
E.
G.
S can take up whole rooms, but just like computers -- computers went from the size of buildings to the size of desks to your mobile phone.
So, gradually, these things will become portable.
Woods: At that point, it won't just be governments and corporations using the technology.
Telepathy will reach consumer level and Usher in a new era of human connection.
[ Echoing ] I'm already here.
Where are you? We are human beings.
We like to communicate with each other at the campfire.
And that fireplace now is the Internet, and it's social media.
The next big thing is when we go to not the campfire of the spoken word but the campfire of thoughts.
[ Conversations echoing ] Glenn: But what limits or parameters can we put on this mind-reading technology? We do not restrict thoughts right now, but we do restrict actions.
And so, we need to protect freedom of thought even in criminal cases.
[ Gasps ] Woods: If you can't control exactly who gets your thoughts, and if you can't filter out the thoughts of others, that mind-reading tech won't just be dangerous.
It could be deadly.
Hey.
Sorry I'm late.
Hi.
Hi.
Tory.
John.
John.
Nice to meet you.
Woods: First dates are always awkward.
There's a lot of chit-chat.
But what she's really trying to figure out is, Who is this guy? well, with this little device, she can.
You put it on, and there's that instant connection that we all long for.
In just a matter of seconds, she's gonna know everything about him.
Everything.
Does your wife know you're here right now? Creep! [ Chuckles ] Now, that wasn't what brilliant scientists had in mind when they developed portable mind-reading technology.
But you never know how your inventions will mutate, do you? The ability to tell if someone is lying or not in a reliable manner will change the definition of what it means to be human because humans lie all the time.
It's a part of our nature.
Woods: So, what happens when mind reading becomes as easy as putting in earpiece and as common as a cellphone? Does it mean a world without lies? Have you ever been asked, Do I look fat in this? well, then, you know that's not necessarily a good thing.
And if everyone could read your mind, just imagine a world in which you could know what everyone else was thinking, too.
Dr.
Kaku: If you can't control who you listen to you or who listens to you, your mind would be flooded by thousands if not millions of thoughts from everyone around you.
In fact [ Indistinct conversations ] you'd go insane.
Woods: This problem is known as directionality.
And a team at the university of California, irvine, led by cognitive scientist Mike d'zmura, is looking for a solution.
D'zmura: Communicating direction is somehow very basic.
We do it all the time with our bodies.
Well, we're interested in learning how we might communicate direction using brain waves.
And that's sort of our control condition.
Woods: He's set his sights on finding the mechanism behind a mysterious phenomenon known as the cocktail party effect.
[ Upbeat music plays ] If we are at a large party where everybody's talking, we are somehow able to hear what it is our friend standing next to us is saying even though everybody else is shouting in the vicinity.
Man: Chug, chug, chug, chug, chug! Woods: D'zmura devised an experiment to find the brain signal that makes this possible.
If he can find how our minds respond to directionality, he'll bring us one step closer to telepathy headsets that can select whose thoughts we hear and who hears ours.
Let's try it on your side.
The research that we perform is with the technique ElectroEncephaloGraphy, (EEG).
And this involves placing a gel cap with electrodes on the scalp and measuring the electrical currents generated by the brain.
So, what we're doing is injecting just into the electrodes this conductive gel that will help make connections between the scalp and the electrodes.
Each little electrode collecting its own signal then sends that signal via little wires to an amplifier, and the amplifier then strengthens these signals and sends those to a computer.
Woods: He surrounds a subject with six speakers, and then, like the world's worst office Christmas party, all of them start babbling at the same time.
[ Indistinct conversations ] The test subject is instructed to pay attention to just one speaker.
As he does so, the electrodes pick up and record his brain activity.
There's Paul.
D'zmura: We measure EEG while they're allocating their attention in these directions, and we ask, Well, can we look at EEG alone And tell which direction, which speaker they were paying attention to? we found that we could tell apart attending to the left and to the right using EEG.
And so, we're now taking the next step.
Can we tell apart front speakers from back speakers? Man: Front right.
[ Indistinct conversations ] Directionality applies to everyone.
Anywhere where humans congregate, you'd be able to choose just whom you want to communicate with mind to mind.
And what's interesting -- those typically noisy places will be dead silent.
Woods: Now, even if you can control who listens to your mind, there's one more hurdle -- controlling yourself and all those nasty passing thoughts that pop up.
Schalk: You're mad about a person.
Oh, I really could kill this person.
I want to get divorced from my wife.
that's what you're thinking.
Now, you're not actually gonna do that.
Is the person now liable for this thought? Because you've thought, I'm going to kill the president Is the CIA and FBI supposed to, like, come in and throw you in jail and interrogate you or something? Woods: The problem doesn't end there.
Like any innovative technology, mind-reading devices will evolve, giving users new capabilities and more power, power that's ripe for abuse.
If you have the ability to read minds from a distance without the permission of the person being read, then you have the ability to steal their thoughts.
Think of being able to read the mind of the president of the United States.
You could cause havoc between nations if you all of a sudden possess military secrets.
These things will happen as this technology advances in the future, which means there also have to be safeguards to protect the privacy of our thoughts.
Woods: Safeguards such as software that could encrypt your brain waves like nuclear launch codes or an anti-telepathy helmet.
At some point, we may have to have shielding around our head in order to protect us from prying minds.
[ Indistinct conversations ] Woods: We'll all have reasons to keep our thoughts private, of course, so don't wear a helmet.
But then, you'll be left out of the big cultural conversation, like those luddites who don't have Internet today.
And here's the million-dollar question.
Who controls this technology? The telepathy devices have to be programmed by someone, and we would wonder what sort of security those systems would have, whether they would be hackable.
You always would worry about who's, as it were, listening in to who we are, what we value, what we think is important.
It's a very double-edged, dangerous situation.
It makes me excited as a scientist and interested in technology in the future, but it makes me nervous as a citizen and human being.
Woods: It seems certain that mind reading is in our future, but there's a lot more to our brains than just words.
Much of our brain power is devoted to the mechanics of physically moving objects -- walking, lifting, typing.
Once we can tap in to that part of our minds, could we harness the power of the gods? Woman: Why do you stay with me, then, if I'm so annoying? Man: I am not an alcoholic, and if I want to have a couple drinks, then I will! And let me tell you something.
When I come home, I want a clean house.
Excuse me? I don't think so.
I'm leaving! Fine.
Sure.
Yeah, whatever.
[ Beeping ] [ Thud ] Open! Woods: What if we lived in a world where machines were an extension of ourselves? Open! [ Pounding on door ] We could control the world with our thoughts, or the machines could control us.
They say our brain waves won't just be communicating ideas.
Our minds will also be manipulating the physical world around us.
And the problem is if we build a world that's smart enough to respond to our thoughts, it might also be smart enough to make choices for us, choices we won't always like.
One day, our children will come up to us and say, Mommy, daddy, How could you possibly live in a house that was dumb, A house where you couldn't talk to anything, Where a book was just a book, a TV set was just a TV set? How could you possibly live like that? in the future, our children will live in a world that obeys their mental commands.
Woods: The first generation of the smart house is on its way.
The first big step, a headset that can read your mechanical thought, has already hit the shelves.
It was devised by a neuro-tech company in San Francisco called emotiv life sciences.
So, I'm gonna put on the headset.
This is the emotiv epoc.
The emotiv epoc is a device that reads your brain waves and allows you control objects, devices, applications simply with your mind.
Woods: Epoc uses EEG, or electroencephalography.
14 sensors detect and process brain waves to translate them into computer commands.
Essentially, your thoughts become a physical reality.
Traditional EEG systems cost tens of thousands of dollars, and you have to be strapped into them in a lab.
Epoc is working to make telekinesis an everyday thing.
Epoc is a wireless, portable EEG system.
It can be done anywhere and still be collecting EEG data.
So, now you can see the raw EEG data streaming across the screen there, and that's basically the raw electrical signals from neurons inside my brain firing.
Woods: Once the epoc reads your mind, it's just a matter of sending a wireless signal to whatever it is you want to control Man: We have our cognitive skill here.
And whenever it is particularly high, as you can see at this point, the trigger will go off and send the helicopter in the air.
Woods: Whether it's an aircraft [ Laughs ] Woods: Or an avatar.
Le: And, yeah, that's it.
Great job.
It looks fun.
But developing this effortless fun was a giant pain in the cranium.
Le: One of the biggest challenges with EEG is in the actual structure of the brain itself.
The human cortex is folded differently between individuals, very much like a fingerprint.
Even though the signal may come from the same functional part of the brain, by the time it travels through the cortical folding, it actually looks very different between even identical twins.
Woods: Le and her team have devised a revolutionary algorithm that basically takes a 3-d image of the brain and unwraps it, like turning a globe into a 2-d map.
This makes it much easier to analyze millions of one-of-a-kind Brian signals and put them to work in a real world.
We're about to murder each other with our minds.
Now, here's the beauty.
Yes.
The more time you spend with epoc, the better it gets at reading your mind.
Dr.
Kaku: Once the software maps or fingerprints the brain, it can build on that knowledge and become more efficient every time you use it.
Aah! [ Laughs ] Remember that radio was just a novelty when it was first introduced.
But it had military, industrial applications, applications for law enforcement, journalism.
Its ripple effects were astounding.
And now think of the power of telekinesis, what we can do with machines if we can move them with the power of the mind.
Woods: Right now, epoc is already being used to control robotic wheelchairs.
Man: People with special needs -- if you ask them what is the most useful thing technology could do for them, increased mobility is not even in the top 10 of the things they're looking for.
They're actually looking for increased independence.
They want to rely less on caregivers.
So, this robot can be driven with the mind just by concentrating and navigating around.
Woods: And this robot is no one-trick pony.
Man: We've evolved the design to direct a robot to go and run tasks for you.
So, instead of me physically going to the kitchen to get a drink, I can tell the robot, Go to the kitchen.
and when it gets there, I get a video-conference feed, and I can see the things in the kitchen.
And I can pick the drink and go, Grab the drink and then come back.
woods: But we're talking about machines that can behave like an extension of yourself, responding to thought commands and eventually sensing your mood and reacting to it.
Le: So, that's what we're trying to do.
We're looking at transforming the way in which humans interact with machines so that it can become much more like human-to-human interaction.
Woods: If a video game or a wheelchair, why not your house? Tough day at the office? Your house will know [ Soft jazz plays ] and adjust your music, your lights, and libations to help you relax.
This device could mark the beginning of machines that know what we're thinking and what we're feeling.
I think in the future this thought-control technology will be everywhere.
You can do pretty much anything you want simply by moving around and thinking about it.
You can have the force.
Woods: Connecting our minds to machines will change the way we interact with the physical world.
But if we can connect our imagination to the power of the Internet, we'll change our vision of reality.
[ Upbeat music plays ] Hi.
How are you? [ Beeping ] [ Speaking Japanese ] Absolutely.
We can do that for you.
[ Both speaking Japanese ] Woods: You're in a foreign country, and you don't speak a lick of the language.
No big deal.
In the future, everyone will have glasses or corneal implants that do this.
[ Beeping ] Using basic wireless tech, these devices will connect your mind directly to the Internet and to a world of new ideas, thoughts, and culture.
Pretty cool.
But as people across the globe become more immersed in a singular online world, does that mean we lose our individuality and culture? Either way, the power of the technology that will manifest our imagination has arrived.
Imagine an Internet controlled by your thoughts and a software running right before your eyes.
Say you're an architect.
You're standing in an empty lot, but you can see the blueprint of the finished building projected on top of the real world, as if it were already built.
Now let's say you decide to change the facade.
You simply think, and the blueprint automatically adjusts.
So, in the future, there will be no barrier between your thoughts, your imagination, and the world that you see.
Woods: And these ordinary-looking sunglasses are the seed of that tech.
All of that stuff happening in your view as if it was real.
Woods: In Rochester, New York, Paul Travers has been innovating the glasses that will change the way we interact with the world forever.
So, think smartphone but built into your glasses.
It's in your view, so it's connected to the real world.
Woods: The lenses are just 1.
4 millimeters thick, and the frames look like ordinary sunglasses.
But their appearance belies their power.
Travers: There are nine sensors built into the glasses that measure the earth's magnetic field, acceleration, and rotational information.
There's a camera that's mounted right in the front of these glasses right here that looks out and can record experiences and be used for tracking the space.
There's a small display up here in the corner.
There's one each side of the glasses.
So when you look inside of these guys, right here, out in space, in 3-d out in front of you, is computer-generated information.
Woods: Users will be able to reach right into space and interact with that virtual information.
With the geospatial sensors, the glasses will know the user's position in the real world and give him real-time information about his environment.
For instance, you're in Washington, D.
C.
You're looking out in space.
You ask your glasses, Where's the Washington monument? and the arrow comes up.
It points to the left.
You look left, and then there's a balloon floating on the Washington monument, telling you, Hey, this is it.
the cool thing is these glasses can be set up so they can measure where your eyes are looking in space.
So, you can select objects and that sort of stuff just with your eyes.
Dr.
Kaku: The natural evolution of this technology is to become even smaller.
Imagine the Internet right inside your contact lens or a smart corneal implant.
The ultimate step will be when this technology merges with mind-reading technology.
Woods: Unlike cellphones or laptops, the only thing we'll need to do to access all that information on the web is think about it -- traveling to exotic places, experiencing the thrills of a lifetime, interacting with people from around the world without ever leaving your bed.
Such easy access to rich virtual worlds could turn us into really well-educated couch-potato consumers.
Or it could push our creativity to new heights.
Le: One of the critical aspects of this new world is this idea of the networked intelligence of millions, billions of people across the world, and that's really quite spectacular when you think about it.
What's interesting to me are the surprising potentials for the deep processing in our heads.
It may be something that allows you to come up with solutions that you could never have imagined on your own.
Woods: But this productivity comes with a price.
Glenn: If you upload your thoughts or create a record of your thoughts and put it into the cloud, it is there for everyone.
Schalk: If the thoughts of a billion people are connected, this would completely change the way society works because it would transform us from a society of a lot of individuals to really one super society that knows everything about everybody.
Le: It changes the whole paradigm of what makes us uniquely human.
Woods: Of course, for a complete global mind meld to happen, we'll need just one more thing -- a mind-reading supercomputer so powerful that it can instantaneously record, process, and respond to billions of brain signals from around the world.
Think that's science fiction? Think again.
Woods: Our species is headed towards a future of unprecedented connectivity A synergy forged among billions of individuals.
We'll be reading each other's minds, connecting to a World-Wide web, and enhancing our reality with a computer system so powerful it won't just know what we're thinking, it'll know our future before we do.
Dr.
Kaku: In the future, you'll be able to record your thoughts and desires, so the computer, in some sense, will be one step ahead of you.
It'll already know something about you that you may not even know.
Cascio: One of the ideas that we have about what the future could look like involve taking our brains out of ourselves, taking our minds out of our bodies and putting them somewhere in digital space, you know, putting our thoughts in the cloud.
Woods: Computers already use data stored in the cloud to anticipate our minds with a technique called predictive analytics.
But reading the mind of a nation will require the massive power of a supercomputer.
That would be sequoia, the supercomputer in residence at the Lawrence livermore national lab.
It has the power to analyze our collective consciousness.
Our brain activity, our dreams, our thoughts and feelings can be broken down into just ones and zeroes.
Woods: By crunching the data from billions of brains, supercomputers may become practically omniscient, godlike.
In fact, sequoia's predictions are already saving the planet from annihilation.
Streitz: What we do here at the national laboratory is one of the most challenging computational problems that you could imagine.
Woods: It's sequoia's job to guarantee the integrity of America's nuclear weapons without ever touching them.
Streitz: Let's use a car as an example.
So, suppose you have a car in your garage that was built in the '60s, which is about when much of our arsenal was designed.
And you have to certify to the president that if you put the key in the ignition, it's going to start, except you can't actually touch the car.
So, we have to understand everything about that car.
But it's sitting in your garage for 40 years now.
Well, the oil's slowly aging.
Does that matter? Is it still as viscous as it was supposed to be? Is it still gonna function at temperature? So, understanding the physics at that level of every little piece of the thing that has to all work together, that's what we use our giant supercomputers for.
Sequoia is capable of doing something on the order of 16 petaflops of calculation.
It would be the equivalent of the amount of work that a million laptops could do all working together to solve a single problem.
Woods: Its processing power comes from connectedness, much like the human brain and its synapses.
McCoy: There is a 5-d toroidal interconnect, which means, in some complicated way, any processor can talk to any other processor on the machine very rapidly.
Woods: As our thoughts become part of the dataverse, supercomputers will mine the cloud to predict how entire societies will behave.
In fact, a global mind reader is already in the works.
The national security agency is quietly building a million-square-foot complex in Utah to hold a supercomputer that will be 1,000 times faster than sequoia.
The Pentagon is already planning its communications network to handle yottabytes.
Think of the data held in 40 million four-drawer file cabinets all stuffed with documents.
A yottabyte is a million times bigger.
Cascio: This ability to construct much more sophisticated models of the world may be one of the more important results of this kind of technology.
Lightman: The world is more and more automated and ruled not by presidents, not by prime ministers, but by algorithms.
So, these algorithms are operating more and more of our transportation, our banking, financial markets, our medicine.
And that itself will change the world because they're not driven just by what their own desires are, their goals, but they're driven by how well their models predict the future.
[ Indistinct shouting ] Woods: With billions of minds connected directly to these supercomputers, even revolutions will be predicted.
Dr.
Kaku: That's what this technology can do.
The arab spring is just a taste of what's gonna happen in the future when we exchange not just words but thoughts and emotions and feelings, as well.
Schalk: If our thoughts are in the cloud, does everybody own their own thought? What is it, then, that makes us human? What is it that makes us individuals anymore? Or are we just part of a big, societal conglomerate? Woods: No matter how much of our thoughts, our minds we surrender to these supercomputers, there's still at least one part of us we'll keep to ourselves -- memory.
It may be the only part of who we are that can be locked inside our heads, unless, that is, science finds the key.
Woods: Imagine a world where every moment of solitude -- the joy, sadness, and wonder that was yours and yours alone [ Device beeping ] is suddenly up for review.
Our brain is a vault that holds an entire visual universe -- imaginations, dreams, memories.
It really is our most valuable resource.
And memory is our last bastion of privacy.
So, what happens when that bastion falls? [ Device beeps ] One day, we may have a library of souls.
You go to the library, and instead of checking out a book, you check out memories.
You check out personalities.
You're able to relive entire historical sequences.
In learning and in thought and in literature.
Think of the benefits we would have being able to share with the intimate thoughts, emotions, and feelings of some of the great figures of history.
Woods: This is the holy grail of mind reading -- to know not only what you're thinking now but to tap into the thoughts you have locked away in your memory.
Gallant: You may start the movie.
Woods: Jack gallant at the university of California Berkeley is decoding how our brains interpret the visual world.
My lab is a visual-neuroscience lab.
We try to understand how the world is represented inside your brain.
Woods: Visual thoughts are much more complex than verbal thoughts, so gallant is using the most powerful tool available, the FMRI.
You okay? I think that's it.
You ready? Gallant: Functional magnetic resonance imaging is a method for measuring blood flow in the brain.
Dr.
Kaku: Blood flow contains oxygen.
Oxygen, in turn, is the fuel that lights up the electrical firing within the brain.
And that's why you can literally see thoughts go ricocheting through the mind as it goes from one region of the brain to another region of the brain.
Not since the invention of the telescope do we have an instrument that can peer into some of the deepest secrets of all time, the living, thinking brain.
Woods: To peer into his subjects' brains, gallant plays them movie trailers while they lie stock-still in the fmri.
Gallant: We take movie trailers and we break them up into short, 20- or 30-second segments.
They tend to hold people's interest.
There it is, the entirety of shinji's head.
So, now we have a little brain-viewer application, and it allows us to watch the brain activity mapped on the surface of the cortex while the movie is being played.
And at the end of this process, we have a big, long list of movies that they saw and a bunch of brain activity, and we use those two pieces of data to build a model.
Woods: The model re-creates the images the subject saw on screen using a complicated algorithm based on the fact that every image produces a unique model of brain activity.
The model basically says this -- if you're seeing X, Your brain activity is Y.
and then it's simple to go in reverse.
If your brain activity is Y, Then you must be seeing X.
gallant uses this to mind-read what you're seeing at any given moment.
Gallant: On the upper left here is the movie that we showed people while they were lying in the magnet, and we're trying to find the one-second clip of video that most matches the brain activity we measure.
If the clip the person saw is more abstract, we actually take the top 100 clips, and we average them together.
And that gives us this reconstruction here.
Woods: Gallant is hoping that, one day, his research will allow stroke victims, coma patients, and people with neurodegenerative diseases to communicate once again.
Gallant: You can imagine that, if you can decode movies that people saw, you might be able to use these to decode other things that people didn't actually see.
For example, you could maybe use these models to decode internal imagery or to decode dreams.
Woods: Once gallant and his team can decode the internal language of the mind -- dreams, memories, imagination -- they may be able to translate that language into the digital world, store it, even alter it.
Hundreds of years ago, our ancestors lived and died without leaving a trace.
One day, it may be commonplace for all of us to put our memories into a gigantic file.
And, as the decades, as the century go by, wouldn't it be great if you could record your thoughts, your dreams, your aspirations so that your descendents would actually know who you really were? Woods: But there's a danger in preserving a digital version of us.
Who owns these memories? Who has access to your information? And what that leads to is a future where the only way to have some control over your information is to lie about it, is to flood the cloud with all sorts of misinformation about yourself so that ultimately, if somebody wants to know something, they have to go to you.
Dr.
Kaku: What happens if somebody could tamper with memories? Let's say that memories can be implanted that are false.
Our entire criminal-justice system could collapse.
[ Breathing heavily ] Woods: Today, we shred our credit-card receipts to protect our identities.
But what would it mean to shred your memories? Your innermost thoughts are the most personal things you have, and that, to me, should be considered to be an inviolate area that no one is allowed to go without permission.
[ Indistinct conversations ] Woods: Like it or not, our drive for information and craving for connection are leading us into a world where our minds may no longer be our own.
Some people say, Are we ready for a world where there are no boundaries, no boundaries between people and our own thoughts? well, right now, the answer is probably no.
Woods: Soon, our thoughts, our feelings, our memories will all be part of a shared, omniscient cloud.
Our need to innovate is destined to tear down the most fundamental barrier between us, the self.
And when we truly connect mind to mind, the differences between us may disappear, as well, both the ones that make us unique and the ones that tear us apart.