Intel’s mind-reading smart phones of the future

Intel researchers are delving into the creepy but promising “contextually aware” computing of the future – machines that would know who you are and what you’re doing.

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On the third day of their Developer Forum in San Francisco, Intel researchers described “contextually aware” tech products of the future that would know who you are and what you’re doing.

These long-term projects might include a TV remote that recommends channels based on who is holding it, or a smart phone that gives travel recommendations based on past driving behavior.

The most tantalizing – or spooky – set of ideas Rattner discussed was a joint project with Carnegie Mellon University that take a shot at actually reading human minds. In a brief video, the researchers showed off some early success, with a computer accurately scanning a subject’s brain to determine whether the person was thinking of one word or another.

It’s obvious, of course, that a mind-reading computer isn’t something everyone would want. It invites all kinds of science fiction horror scenarios. When Rattner showed a man-on-the-street video (filmed at Pioneer Courthouse Square) asking passers-by about their appetite for contextual awareness, one of the first comments was from a woman who said she didn’t want her smartphone knowing her Social Security number.


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