The system is entirely non-invasive and could have near-term applications for some.
The new system combines a non-invasive brain scanning method called magnetoencephalography (MEG) with an artificial intelligence system.
This work leverages the company’s previous work decoding letters, words, and audio spectrograms from intracranial recordings.
According to a Meta blog post,
“This AI system can be deployed in real time to reconstruct, from brain activity, the images perceived and processed by the brain at each instant.”
A post from the AI at Meta account on X, formerly Twitter, showcased the real-time capabilities of the model through a demonstration depicting what an individual was looking at and how the AI decoded their MEG-generated brain scans.
Today we’re sharing new research that brings us one step closer to real-time decoding of image perception from brain activity.
Using MEG, this AI system can decode the unfolding of visual representations in the brain with an unprecedented temporal resolution.
More details ⬇️
— AI at Meta (@AIatMeta) October 18, 2023
It’s worth noting that, despite the progress shown, this experimental AI system requires pre-training on an individual’s brainwaves. In essence, rather than training an AI system to read minds, the developers train the system to interpret specific brain waves as specific images. There’s no indication that this system could produce imagery for thoughts unrelated to pictures the model was trained on.
However, Meta AI also notes that this is early work and that further progress is expected. As such, the team has specifically noted that this research is part of the company’s ongoing initiative to unravel the mysteries of the brain.
Related: Neuralink gets FDA approval for ‘in-human’ trials of its brain-computer interface
And, while there’s no current reason to believe a system such as this would be capable of invading someone’s privacy, under the current technological limitations, there is reason to believe that it could provide a quality of life upgrade for some individuals.
“We’re excited about this research,” read a post by the Meta AI team on X, adding that they “hope that one day it may provide a stepping stone toward non-invasive brain-computer interfaces in a clinical setting that could help people who have lost their ability to speak.”
Meta AI unveiled a new artificial intelligence (AI) system designed to decode imagery from human brain waves on Oct. 18 via a blog post.