The University of Texas Austin has made a significant breakthrough in artificial intelligence technology by developing a semantic decoder capable of translating a person’s brain activity into plain, readable language. The AI system, similar to the technology utilized by ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, uses an fMRI scanner to transcribe a person’s thoughts into language, without the need for surgery or a special implant.
The device is a leap forward compared to previous methods that were limited to single words or short sentences. The research lead, Professor Alex Huth, said, “We’re getting the model to decode continuous language for extended periods of time with complicated ideas.”
Although the AI cannot yet provide a word-for-word translation, it captures the essence of what is being said or thought nearly half the time, providing an imperfect transcription.
The University of Texas’s breakthrough uses an fMRI scanner in tandem with the decoder to transcribe a person’s thoughts after a cumbersome process. A test subject listens to hours of podcasts while inside the scanner before having their thoughts decoded by either telling a story in their head or imagining a story. They are also shown silent video clips that allow the machine to generate corresponding text from brain activity alone.
The AI’s accuracy provides a real potential for it to be used for medically conscious individuals who cannot speak, like stroke victims. However, the researchers are also aware of the risks of the technology being misused.
The lead researcher, Jerry Tang, said in the report, “We take very seriously the concerns that it could be used for bad purposes and have worked to avoid that. We want to make sure people only use these types of technologies when they want to, and that it helps them.”
While the research team aims to use the technology for good, the potential for the technology to be used for malicious purposes is not lost on them. As such, they advocate for regulating what these devices can be used for, in addition to enacting policies that protect people and their privacy.
In conclusion, the University of Texas Austin has made a groundbreaking discovery in the world of artificial intelligence. The AI system they developed provides a real potential to assist medically conscious individuals who are unable to speak. However, it is also important to be proactive in enacting policies that protect people’s privacy and regulate the use of these devices to prevent malicious use.