Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday his tech company is developing a futuristic new technology during an annual conference, a concept the Russians may have tried to bring to fruition decades ago.
“We’re building further out beyond augmented reality, and that includes work around direct brain interfaces that are going to eventually one day let you communicate using only your mind,” Zuckerberg said, admitting, though, that such “stuff is really far out.”
Zuckerberg’s presentation primarily focused on a preliminary augmented reality platform, showing the audience that users of its technology may soon be able to overlay a virtual world on top of the physical one. He used Pokémon Go as an example, a mobile game that places digital fictional creatures on top of the real scenery around a player. (RELATED: Zuckerberg’s Newest Monster Idea: ‘Telepathic Sharing’)
Eventually, the “direct brain interface” (or DBI) will be embedded on their augmented reality platform, meaning communicating will potentially only require the brain.
Similar technology was once purportedly created by a Russian doctor, and the U.S. government actively explored the possibility of utilizing it.
Dr. Igor Smirnov, a Russian scientist at the Moscow Medical Academy, conducted substantial amounts of research on a field of human behavior he called “psychoecology.” He eventually developed an acoustic mind control device, which was claimed to be most effective for treating drug and alcohol addiction.
FBI officials wanted to meet with Smirnov because it considered testing the technology on cultist David Koresh, the self-proclaimed final prophet for the religious sect known as the Branch Davidians.
“It was suggested to us [by other federal officials] that they bring in the FBI, which was looking for a viable option to deal with Koresh,” said an anonymous participant in meetings with Smirnov, according to a 1994 Defense Electronics (DE) article written by Mark Tapscott, who is now the executive editor and chief of The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group. (The article is featured in the CIA’s Electronic Reading Room, which is a digital database of thousands of once-secret documents.)
“There was a strong interest among the intelligence agencies because they had been tracking Smirnov for years and because we know there is evidence the Soviet Army’s Special Forces used the technology during the conflict in Afghanistan,” the participant explained, adding that officials from the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Advance Research Projects Agency (ARPA) also attended the meetings.
DE obtained a copy of a Psychotechnologies memo, which was reportedly circulated among the leaders of the federal agencies.
The U.S. government was somewhat assertively trying to employ the technology on Koresh while a standoff between the religious leader and law enforcement authorities near Waco, Texas, was ongoing.
The FBI “wanted the Russians to promise zero risk” in using the allegedly telepathic device on Koresh, but they refused.
Smirnov did not have access to the more sophisticated hardware required, and the time it would take to be sent over from Russia would have taken too long relative to the speed U.S. authorities sought to end the standoff, according to Tapscott, who was then DE’s Washington Bureau Chief.
Smirnov also suggested blasting a cacophony of pig squeal-like sounds over loudspeakers to persuade Koresh to surrender, according to Wired. Intelligence officials, worried about what would have happened if the subliminal signals didn’t work, asked Smirnov what would happen if Koresh was unaffected. Smirnov reportedly said that Koresh’s followers might ultimately slit each other’s throats.
The FBI was so turned off by these factors and Smirnov’s responses that it decided to pass on using the device, reports Wired.
The 51-day siege between the FBI and Koresh’s Branch Davidians ended up fatally, as a fire broke out, engulfing the building and killing 81 members of the cult.
While the technology’s effectiveness and legitimacy has not been proven, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to award a contract for testing an airport screening system with the Psychotechnology Research Institute, which Smirnov founded. The blueprint for the security system is partly based on Smirnov’s original mind control concepts, according to Wired.
As Zuckerberg continues to develop his DBI technology, it remains to be seen if such futuristic capabilities were exactly what Smirnov and the Russians were trying to (or perhaps did) accomplish.
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