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As time goes on, technology becomes more advanced, leaving many people without a full understanding of how to use the gadgets that fill their homes and workplaces. In many science fiction universes this problem has been addressed by creating ways for people to control machines with their thoughts, allowing them to tell a device exactly what they want it to do instead of worrying about controls. Besides simply allowing people to use technology better, telepathic control mechanisms are also used in science fiction to make machines that would be too complex to control through any other method feasible. An example of this is the gigantic Jaegers of Pacific Rim, which use a neural bridge between two pilots to allow the massive machines to move with a human level of grace.
The advantages of a telepathic control system are many and varied, but the one that would see the most use in daily life would be to make machines and computers easier and more intuitive to use. If a person could simply think a command and have the computer follow it, there would be no need for people to memorize complex sequences of commands. Another advantage would be that people would not need to learn a new interface for every program and device they use. The use of telepathic controls could also make computers smaller, by eliminating the need for mice and keyboards, and protect operators from injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Making complex technology easier to use is one facet of telepathic control systems, but another even more exciting one appears when the technology is brought out of the home and workplace. Creating telepathic interfaces allowing people to control vehicles with their minds will improve reaction time and reduce accidents by freeing people from having to use bulky controls like steering wheels. The use of these control systems would also make vehicles otherwise be too difficult to control, such as giant robots, viable.
Controlling a machine with a person’s mind may seem far-fetched and bizarre, but modern scientists have already made significant strides to make this idea a reality. A German system currently under development, called Brainflight,allows an operator to control an aircraft through an EEG cap. The system is currently only being used with flight simulators, as opposed to actual planes, but it has so far showed a very high level of success. The pilots had varying levels of flight experience, and one had none whatsoever, but they were able to learn how to use this system with a high level of precision. Some were even able to perform low-visibility landings using only their thoughts. Similar systems are also being tested to drive cars through neural input. In some ways this technology is already more advanced than versions used in some science fiction stories, such as the implanted cyber-jacks Exosquad pilots used to control their Exoframes, and the promised future of telepathic controls will look more like Pacific Rim, with its drive helmets, than the Matrix’s headjacks.
The ability to use the mind to control machinery opens up all kinds of fascinating possibilities, from controlling emergency response robots from a safe distance to allowing quadriplegics to use technology more easily and precisely. As this technology continues to develop, the possibilities will continue to grow with it.