Two faculty members at the University of Washington have apparently succeeded in executing the first non-invasive, brain-to-brain interfacing between humans, via the internet. The experiment involved two men in separate labs across campus who were not in communication, but whose brain activity was connected via an electroencephalography (EEG) machine and transcranial magnetic pulses.
One man, the researcher who began this project two years ago, was researcher Rajesh Rao, was sitting with the EEG monitoring cap on his head while playing a simple video game using only his mind. He directed his right hand to move without actually moving his hand, in order to hit a target on a screen. In a separate lab, researcher Andrew Stocco, wore a cap with a coil over the part of his brain that triggers right hand movement. And via a computer code written by several undergraduates, Rao's brain directive was translated into a command for Stocco's brain, that command was sent from one computer to another, and his hand performed the movement in the game even though he was not looking at a computer screen at the time.
As the UW news site reports, Stocco compares the feeling of having his right hand controlled by someone else to an involuntary jerk like "a nervous tic."
Researchers caution that this is nothing akin to reading another person's thoughts, but only deals with the crude brain function of stimulating hand movement, but I think we can all imagine where this kind of research might lead. Maybe paraplegics will be able to command others to do specific tasks, or our city government could collectively cause us all to take out our recycling on command. Or, obviously, many worse things.