Brain stimulation HRL labs
Is Facebook working on a mind-reading communications system? John Enete/HRL Laboratories

Facebook may be working on a revolutionary type of computer interface that will allow people to communicate with each other using thought alone. The social media company is building a secretive team of engineers tasked with developing a "brain-computer interface" based on neuroimaging technology that will be used for a so-called "communications platform of the future".

The project is being spearheaded by Facebook's Building 8 team. Similar to Google's X division and Amazon's Lab126, Building 8 is a clandestine development unit charged with creating new innovations and developing "Darpa-style" breakthroughs for Facebook.

A job listing posted to the unit's Facebook page reveals the company is currently on the lookout for an engineer capable of developing data processing systems for a "communications and computing platform of the future".

Another position seeks a "Brain-Computer Interface Engineer" with a PhD in neuroscience, computer science or electrical engineering, while a third reveals the company is looking for a haptics specialist capable of creating "realistic and immersive" experiences involving touch interactions.

While a mind-reading computer might sound like the stuff of science-fiction, comments from Mark Zuckerberg in the past suggest that the Facebook CEO wants to make such concepts a reality. During a Facebook Q&A session in June last year, Zuckerberg said he envisioned a future where "you're going to be able to capture a thought... in its ideal and perfect form in your head and share that with the world".

At the time, Zuckerberg claimed that Facebook was not working on such technology. Despite this, the Building 8 job listings, spotted by Business Insider, suggest that the social media company is running with the idea. The communications platform project specifically relates to neuroimaging, a relatively new yet highly advanced scientific field that involves using technologies like ultrasound, x-rays and magnetic resonance to map the brain.

Exactly when we might see new communications technology appear and in what form is anyone's guess. The positions listed are advertised as two-year roles; this by no means guarantees we'll see a finished product in two years' time, but Facebook does note that the project "will operate on aggressive, fixed timeless" and that it is seeking "slightly impatient" individuals to fill the roles.