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Silicon Valley’s Latest Craze: Brain Tech

Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and other big Silicon Valley players want to make commercial gadgets for your brain

4 min read
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Open Your Mind: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg put the company's R&D team to work on a typing-by-brain project in April.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Silicon Valley’s biggestinfluencers want to get inside your head. Over the past year, four leading figures have announced plans to make gadgets that will either nestle into the fleshy folds of your brain or sit atop your head to read your thoughts from the outside.

The proposed hardware and applications are varied, but all signify ambitious—even audacious—undertakings. Whether working on medical devices to fix a neural deficiency or consumer gizmos to augment normal brainpower, each of the four Valley visionaries promises to have something ready for the market in just a few short years.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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