My friends, we are living in the future.
Last year, Facebook poached the former head of the U.S. government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (who had also worked at Google) to lead its new hardware research division.
Now, the social media giant is looking for for an engineer to work on something straight out of science fiction: a project that many people think basically describes an attempt to develop "mind reading or telepathy."
If you happen to know anyone who thinks he or she can figure out to create a "brain-computer interface," and bring it from "inception to product" within the next two years, they can find the official job announcement here.
Other qualifications include:
- a PhD in neuroscience, computer science, electrical engineering,
- "slightly impatient individual willing to face down their fear of failure to accomplish bold things,"
- "familiarity with commercial or open source software packages for artificial speech recognition, natural language processing, or computer vision methods,"
- must be willing to travel
In other words, it sounds like English majors are out. The job is in Facebook's "Building 8" group.
"Better than humans"
Business Insider, which spotted the job ad, reached out to Facebook for comment. They got none, but dug up Mark Zuckerberg's comment two years ago that "suggests that the company could indeed be working on some kind of brain-controlled, telepathic communication device."
In a 2015 Q&A, Zuckerberg said: "One day, I believe we'll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology. You'll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you'd like," Zuckerberg said in a 2015 Q&A.
In another part of that same session, he added:
"Our goal is to build AI systems that are better than humans at our primary senses: vision, listening, etc. For vision, we're building systems that can recognize everything that's in an image or a video. ...
For listening and language, we're focusing on translating speech to text, text between any languages, and also being able to answer any natural language question you ask."
The "moonshot" division
If you're not familiar with Building 8, it's sort of Facebook's answer to Google's Alphabet X, or DARPA, and harkens in a way back to the U.S. government's massive research projects of the 20th century, like the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb during World War II.
Shrouded in secrecy for obvious reasons, Facebook's job listings emphasize that it's a place that works on "aggressive, fixed timelines, with extensive use of partnerships in universities, small and large businesses."
That suggests, according to Business Insider, that Building 8 will operate on a model that puts fixed time frames on projects "before either shutting them down or spinning them out as standalone businesses."