Valve Founder Says Brain-Computer Interfaces Could One Day Replace Our ‘Meat Peripherals’

Valve Founder Says Brain-Computer Interfaces Could One Day Replace Our ‘Meat Peripherals’
Screenshot: 1 News / Kotaku

In an interview with New Zealand’s 1 News, Valve co-founder and president Gabe Newell talks about engineering a future where brain-computer interfaces create better-than-reality visuals and can actively edit who we think we are. You know, terrifying science-fiction stuff, only real.

Why use your eyes and ears — which Newell sinisterly refers to as “meat peripherals” — to experience a game when you can have the visuals, sounds, and even feelings fed directly into your brain. That’s the idea of a brain-computer interface or BCI. Long-time proponents of body-interface technology like eye-tracking, Newell and Valve are currently working on an open-source BCI software project to give developers easy access to brain-reading tech. Using a headset like the ones developed by OpenBCI, developers can read signals from users’ bodies and minds, telling them if players are sad, surprised, scared, or bored. Armed with such data, developers could then adjust the game to ramp up the excitement or invoke the desired emotion.

This isn’t the science fiction part. This is technology that already exists. Newell tells 1 News that, “If you’re a software developer in 2022 who doesn’t have one of these (headsets) in your test lab, you’re making a silly mistake.” You’re also from a year in the future, but that’s not the scary part. The scary part is when Newell starts talking about where BCIs will lead next.

Speaking of visuals, Newell talks about our eyes, “created by this low-cost bidder that didn’t care about failure rates and RMAs, and if it got broken there was no way to repair anything effectively.” BCIs beaming signals directly into the brain would be able to create visuals beyond what our flawed orbs could see. “The real world will seem flat, colourless, blurry compared to the experiences you’ll be able to create in people’s brains.”

This is the point in the Black Mirror episode where things start to go horribly wrong. Addiction, deception, brainwashing, that sort of stuff. Newell continues, “Where it gets weird is when who you are becomes editable through a BCI.” He says people will soon be able to edit the way they feel through an app. That’s just great.

Other nightmare scenarios mentioned in the interview include giving people tentacles and using a BCI to generate real physical pain. You can watch the video interview below, complete with a generous view of Newell’s fleshy walking platforms.

Comments

  • Jesus Christ, can’t we just aim for safe holodeck or matrix like virtual reality instead of dangerous, 1984 meets Black Mirror, darkest timeline bullshit all the time.

    • Matrix VR was pretty dark, and the most invasive way of doing this stuff. This here is just a helmet it seems.
      Also Holodeck will never exist because hard light does not exist 😉

      • None of this exists yet…the point was to aim for the positive technology, not the batshit insane dystopian nightmare angle every time.

        Also, hard light is theoretically possible, the foundations for the technology have been observed.

        • The tech is neither positive nor negative – it’s all in the slant that it’s presented with and how its implemented.

  • “Where it gets weird is when who you are becomes editable through a BCI.”

    I saw a trailer for a movie like this the other day, about an implant that connects your brain up to this kind of tech. It was about the psychosis that arises from living someone else’s memories, having fake memories implanted, and not being able to tell what is real or not anymore.

    Even if psychosis wasn’t an issue, TPTB already have a huge amount of information about us just from social media and our web habits, and they don’t use it for good. Think of what they will do if they get access to your actual brain!

    • That reminds me of the book The Lathe of Heaven – the main character has dreams that change reality around him and by the midpoint of the book he can barely function because his memories of all the past versions of his life have no bearing on the current version.

      Any sort of BCI that’s not just an output, but an input too, scares the hell out of me. I imagine the impact on mental health and long-term concerns in that sort of area would be a major point of concern.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!