Arnav Kapur, a Delhi-born graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), invented an artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled device that allows humans and machines to communicate without verbally speaking.
AlterEgo: The device, known as “AlterEgo,” is a wearable headset that captures peripheral neural signals during a human’s internal articulation of words. The device enables the user to transmit and receive information from machines, AI assistants, services or people without “opening their mouth and without externally observable movements-simply by articulating words internally,” according to MIT.
The project’s goal: The device was created to support the communication of those with speech difficulties, including people suffering from diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and multiple sclerosis.
Beyond the main goal, the system can potentially seamlessly integrate humans and computers, with MIT noting that “the Internet and AI would weave into our daily life as a ‘second self’ and augment our cognition and abilities.”
About the inventor: Kapur is currently studying Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab for his PhD at the university. He was previously featured in Time’s list of 100 Best Inventions of 2020 for his device.
According to MIT, Arnav has an extensive list of inventions, including a 3D printable drone, a platform to measure gene expressions at a large scale and a device that helps to rehabilitate the visually impaired.
“He has also worked on a lunar rover that is intended to land on the moon and relay pictures back to Earth. In addition, Arnav co-developed a new age art installation that has been on display at the Tate Modern in London and at the alt-AI conference in New York,” according to MIT.
AlterEgo goes viral: A clip of Kapur’s 2018 interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” recently went viral on social media.
“You can be an expert in any subject. You have the entire internet in your head,” reporter Scott Pelley remarks in the clip.
The clip was reposted on Wealth’s Instagram account, where many users expressed fear of the new technology.
“Protect your mind and inner thoughts, that is your only true freedom. DESTROY THIS,” one user said.
“Smart people about to make new generations brainless,” another person wrote.
“Now that literally has to be the most dangerous invention in this world’s history,” a user commented.