Below are some questions that are frequently asked about the topic of neurogames or neurotechnology for commercial purposes.
Can neurogames read my thoughts?
Not in the way you imagine.
The brain cannot be read like a book, mainly because science has not yet found a way to interpret the electrical pulses in the brain the same way we interpret letters and numbers. We know roughly where certain functions are located in the brain and we can detect electrical interaction between these regions. The best we can do is read electrical impulses to the jaw and mouth and interpret them as sounds that would be emitted during speech, then pass that information through a voice recognition program (AlterEgo). But even that requires very good calibration. Decryption of visual stimuli is in its infancy and abstract thought remains a challenge to decrypt.
To this day, the most efficient way to find out what a brain is thinking is to listen to the person speaking their thoughts, or reading their written thoughts like you're doing right now.
Can neurogames write into my brain?
Neuromodulation may affect overall brain function but current neurotechnology is very blunt when it comes to introducing an idea or picture into someone's brain. The best technique to influence people's thoughts is right before you. For instance: "think of a bear dancing in a pink kimono". Did you picture it in your mind? With today's neurotechnology, the same process would have taken me years of probing into your brain to make sure you see a bear dancing in a pink kimono.
Are neurogames safe?
Commercial neurogames in 2021 are safe to play with.
Not unlike any other technology, there are inherent risks if the devices are misused or defective. But accidents with government approved devices are very rare. Custom devices, home-made devices and experimental devices may be riskier to use. Neurofeedback devices may only carry small risks like irritation and discomfort in pressure areas. Neuromodulation devices carry other risks if misused such as headache, dizziness, superficial burns and irritations, benign seizures and unexpected cognitive function in the short term. Long term effects of neuromodulation are still insufficiently studied. It is not yet known what adverse long-term effects may come from neuromodulation in children and teenagers.
Can neurogames be used to control people and society?
Commercial neurogaming hardware cannot be used to control people or their thoughts. However, people may misuse and abuse the information gathered from such devices to negatively affect their users. This is why a robust neurorights policy is key to safeguarding human rights.
On the software side, all games can have a message that changes the way people think, learn and behave. This is the nature of all media, like books, paintings, films, music, and speech, just to name a few. It is up to game designers to decide what message they want to give to the players. It is up to the players to be critical of the content they consume.
If you're a parent and you're concerned about the games you buy for your child, google the age rating of the game or check reviews of the game on YouTube.
Can the Neuralink be used to play games?
Only if you're a monkey. Humans will have to wait.
Neuralink is still in its infancy. While a demonstration has shown a monkey using the Neuralink to play a rudimentary videogame, the technology is currently being developed to help disabled people interact with smart devices connected to the Neuralink. While the project envisions a way to surgically replace the devices for upgrades, the procedure is still very invasive and not approved for the general public.
How long until we can play games like Sword Art Online or The Matrix?
It may take a few decades to a century, if we start developing the technology right now. Current neurotechnology and understanding of the human brain is not refined enough to be able to feed the brain detailed information to simulate a virtual environment directly inside the brain. Besides, brain-to-brain communication (BrainNet) is also particularly rudimentary as of right now. On top of that, world-wide telecommunication systems are not robust enough to support a Massive Multiplayer Online Fully-Immersive Neurogame.