Synthetic telepathy, the foundations of which lie in neuroscience and signal processing, is the subject of a $4 million grant awarded by the US Army Research Office.
The intent is to develop a system that could equip soldiers with portable noninvasive brain imaging technology able to interpret thoughts related to speech and commands. The decoded thoughts could then be transmitted wirelessly.
The lead researcher Michael D’Zmura, chair of the UCI Department of Cognitive Sciences, is confident that the technology can be made to work.
“Such a system would require extensive training for anyone using it to send and receive messages,” D’Zmura says. “Initially, communication would be based on a limited set of words or phrases that are recognized by the system; it would involve more complex language and speech as the technology is developed further.”
SF readers might be a bit concerned that the military might be thinking that, rather than have a fighting force consisting of thousands of individuals, it would be more convenient to have a hive mind, with all of the individuals linked with "synthetic telepathy."
(Borg documentary video [start around 3:30])
An implanted neuro-transceiver in the upper spinal column connects each drone to the rest of the collective.
In a less paranoid vein, this kind of technology has already been under investigation to help people who are "trapped" in their minds by extreme degrees of paralysis.
SF readers may also recall the well-imagined communications implant from Pournelle and Niven's Oath of Fealty.