Even as global social media bellwether Facebook talks of a technology that may turn human thoughts into written words with no physical intervention, it is time to revisit the exotic space of mind-reading. For centuries humans have sought to read minds either with supra-natural mental powers, acquired through ages of tapasya, or very advanced technologies, with varying degrees of success. What is known to science currently is simple: thought is the result of a mind-boggling process of information gathering, processing, analysis and interpretation that involves coordinated action of presumably millions of neurons residing in various parts of the brain.
Specific, specialised areas in the brain receive, compile, collate and process inputs from auditory, olfactory, sensory and several other internal and external sources, turning random data into actionable intelligence, which is then passed on the frontal lobe…the source of thought. In an unending process the frontal lobe receives countless bits of intelligence cross-refers them with past experiences and produces thought. The process is also responsible for the uniquely human power of imagination that can often result in life-changing ideas.
The relentless cerebral drama that turns sensory inputs into intelligence and thought, overlaid with imagination and intuition, is so complex and inscrutable that (as far as our knowledge extends) only great rishis vested with paranormal powers have ever succeeded in penetrating to its depths. Our scriptures say that they could read and even control the minds of others. According to calculations of quantum physicists 10 to the power of 12000X10 thoughts can issue from the brain in just a day!
However, most of these thoughts are so scattered that it is impossible to make sense of them even for the individual in whom they originate. Only ancient saints are known to have had the powers by which they could focus their minds on thought streams of their choice…they could even go into a state of thoughtlessness. Many such illuminated souls, like Ramana Maharishi for example, could read and control the minds of themselves and of people around them. Well known saint, sage and humanist of our times, Sri M recollects and narrates experiences of several past janmas or rebirths stretching back thousands of years in his books.
Thus far, despite sustained efforts, science has succeeded only to a very small extent in replicating such supranatural powers with practical, workable technology. But armed with miniature chip implants, advanced imaging and nano technologies, scientists continue in their relentless pursuit to unravel the mystery. Techniques like Kirlian photography to study and understand waves emanating from the brain have failed.
The application of electrophysiological studies which track changes in the brain in response to visual and auditory stimuli has remained confined to the very limited space of lie-detection and criminal investigation. Software programs that use voice detection and other advanced associated technologies to navigate through pre planned actions of the mind too have met with limited success.
In living memory only rishis are known to have had the power and the technology to see through a subtle body like mind. Replicating this would require us to scale seemingly insurmountable and unprecedented levels of technological sophistication. But nothing is ever impossible and, therefore, it would be interesting to watch the Facebook space!
Also read Now type with your mind not fingers!