Making Mind-Reading Possible with the Technology behind ChatGPT


Advanced technology could soon make “mind reading” a reality. Researchers at the University of Texas in Austin have developed a technology that is able to scan brain activity and translate it into words with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. This breakthrough could change the game for people with speech impairments and revolutionize communication.

ChatGPT, an AI-powered chatbot, leads the development of this AI technology. Researchers used ChatGPT’s first language model, GPT-1, which was created with a huge body of data from books and websites, to study how brain activity is connected to human speech.

Volunteers, including Alexander Huth, an assistant professor at the University of Texas, spent numerous hours in an fMRI machine (a special type of scan). Afterwards, they wore earphones that played audio recordings such as a segment of The Wizard Of Oz. While the participants listened to the audio, their brain activity was recorded.

To understand these brain patterns, the AI model evaluated the recordings and accurately predicted the words the volunteers had engaged with. In short, the AI connected words to brain activity.

It is important to note, however, that the AI cannot “read minds” as it is oftentimes implied. It can only predict which words have struck a chord with the listener. Huth explains that the technology “can get the big ideas that you’re thinking about” and “the story that somebody is telling you,” but it cannot access one’s detailed thoughts or feelings. Nevertheless, “mind reading” technology could bring major benefits for people with speech impairments, allowing them to communicate effectively.

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OpenAI, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence company, has maintained that AI technology must not be developed without regulation—or it could cause significant harm to the world. Jerry Tang, the lead author of a paper published on this technology, also believes that individual brain data should remain private to prevent data misuse.

Although the technology is still in its early stages, regulators and tech innovators will have to create a balance between technological advancement and ethical standards to ensure that individuals’ privacy is respected and that development does not lead to the misuse of implicit mental activity. As this technology advances, it is important to recognize that it can be a boon for people who struggle to communicate effectively and it can also be a potential agent for mischief.

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