Nobody cares about the metaverse. Neurotechnology is the big deal of AR/VR headsets.

I have a confession to make. I have always dreamed of gluing tiny screens in front of my eyes in order to escape the real world and join virtual ones with blue grass, pink elephants, microtransactions everywhere and purple aliens with too many nipples but no legs.

Just kidding.

Nobody cares about the metaverse other than those trying to get rich with it by selling apps, subscriptions and courses about how to build an AI generated NFT empire in the blockchain's matrix.

And yet, you can be sure that Auguemented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will be pushed hard by Big Tech, despite the headsets being cumbersome and uncomfortable.

Not because they are a revolutionary interface enabling us, poor piece of meat, to finally merge with the global network of machines that we call the internet, but because they are, in the short term, the smoothest and stealthiest way for tech giants to access the ultimate trove of data they will ever be able to collect, store and analyze: our neural activity.

The problem is that today, nobody wants to wear an headband for the sole purpose of measuring our brain activity. But wait, we have this shiny new "spatial computer" that will magically make you a 10x programmer/lawyer/soldier/student/bureaucrat by letting you have a 360° landscape wallpaper.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that AR and VR have some great use cases for education and entertainment. But I believe that these use cases will only stay niches and there are no reasons that AR/VR headsets become mainstream other than exploitative companies trying to impose their vision on the world.

In the long term, they will be replaced with direct neural implants, so if one day ChatTGP-42 think that we are no longer required to achieve its plans, it can "turn us off" in a blink.

Actually, they are very open about that. In 2021, when discussing AR and VR, Mark Zuckerberg stated that "In some ways, the holy grail of all this is a neural interface".


Our brains are constantly transmitting signals to our body via the nervous system using electricity which can be measured.

By placing electrodes on our head, we can product an Electroencephalogram (EEG) which is a trace of the electrical activity of the brain. These signals, known as brainwaves, are generated by the synchronized activity of our of neurons. Today, just by putting a connected headband (or a smart cap) we can measure the level of you attention, if you are excited, angry or sleepy.

While in university, with researchers from the "Institut Pasteur" in Paris, we built an EEG headband to monitor our brain activity during sleep and record the data on our phones to understand if autistic persons present distinctive patterns. It was disconcertingly easy: a few electrodes, some signal analysis and done! While we built our own headband using off the shelf components, there are open source projects such as Open BCI (for Open Brain-Comuter Interface) which let you buy such headbands. And guess what? Their latest product is an AR/VR headset for "biosensing and spatial computing".

The temptation is too strong to resist. Having connected devices this close to our brain and that only need $10 electrodes to record our brain activity, from a Sillicon Valley point of view, it would be pure madness to not try to tap into this "new new oil" (after ads, big data, AI and many other things...).

Even better, AR/VR headsets with electrodes can not only record your brain activity, but they can also stimulate it with the screens and know exactly how you react to this or that image, this or that sound. What is your reaction to this politician? How you feel when you see this advertisement for this new car? What kind of man/woman you prefer (which can then be used to make tailored ads) and so on... In neurosciences, this practice is known as probing: analysing how your brain reacts to controlled stimuli.

On the other hand (pun not intended), Electromyogram (EMG) is a measure of the electrical activity of our muscles and the nerves controlling them. Today there are a few wristbands/connected watches that allow you to measure this activity and control a computer just by thinking about moving your hand, but without needing to actually do it.

In 2019 Facebook bought the brain-interface company CTRL-labs for between $500 Millions and $1 Billion which developed a smart wristband. They claim that their long-term goal is to develop a silent, non-invasive speech interface that would let people type just by imagining the words they want to say. But honestly I have a really hard times believing that these claims are nothing but a distraction. Thomas Reardon, the CEO and co-founder of neuroscience startup CTRL-Lab alleges that "there’s nothing you can do with a chip in your brain that we can’t do better", and it's now common sense to take everything that Facebook/Meta claims with a big grain of salt. They are trying to get your brain data by all means. Period.

Why should I care?

If you are still reading, you may be starting to wonder if widespread neurotechnology controlled by companies putting profit before everything else does not bring more problems that it solves.


It's Tuesday morning, you are attending your 10th VR meeting of the week with your Pineapple Vision Ultra, generously provided by your company. You don't actually really like these VR meetings. At least, before, with Soom, you could turn off the camera and clean your house while pretending to listen this other team leader explain for the 100th time how increasing the engagement of your free users is an extremely important milestone for the strategic plan of your company.

But now, with these headsets and the 50 embedded cameras and sensors, you have no other choice but to to stay sit and listen to everything. Until you notice this new colleague with small eyes, a large smile and beautiful hairs. "Woah, Sexy" you think.

But it's too late, your headset already has recorded your brain waves with this very specific pattern that can be only seen when people have "strong feelings".

In the afternoon, your boss calls you in her (virtual) office and shows your her (virtual) monitor displaying a graph. "Bob" she starts, "You know what is the company's policy on inappropriate thoughts, can you give me one reason to not fire your after this morning's incident?" Your heart rate accelerate, your brain too. "Ho my god, if I'm fired and my wife learn the reason, she will leave me" you think, so you do your best to control your emotions and try to be convincing: "You know my professionalism. Never I would do anything against the company's policy! Maybe it was a bug?". She stops for 5 seconds, look at her screen, and finally at you: "I'm sorry Bob, look, NeuroSentinel™ is clearly indicating that you are lying right now. I can't allow this behavior here. Today is you last day, and you should be happy that I don't report your to HR which would trigger a serious investigation. Take care."


One of the main particularities of the digital revolution is that now, companies no longer want to only provide transactional products. Before, when you bought a book and walked out of the bookstore, the deal was done. Terminé. Today, when you buy a book, the bookstore record, store, aggregate and mine much more data that what is really needed to let you simply acquire the book that was recommended by your friend. After the transaction, the bookstore follows you to your home and most intimate moments with all kinds of notifications and trackers. For what? To sell you more books and services that you don't want.

What can go wrong when this kind of companies will record, store indefinitely, share with an undisclosed amount of affiliates and analyze your brain data to try to influence you? What can go wrong when this data will be hacked, leaked or fall in the hands of people, AIs and robots who lack genuine interest in your well-being? What can go wrong when your government and its police have the legal right to hack any of your connected devices?

What about the day where they will not only be able to precisely know what's inside your brain, but also to directly write into it?

Some may say that neurotechnologies and becoming cyborg is the only forward way for us to "compete" with AIs, and thus to survive as a specie. I will ask in return if they think that recent technologies have empowered them more than they have empowered those who use these technologies to control us: some soulless companies, overreaching governments, stalkers and other crazy wannabe dictators? Who serves your connected fridge? Who benfits from the constant tracking of entire Nations?

Can AI destroys humanity if we don't implant chips in our brains and don't build ourselves the autonomous robots and drones able to kill us?

Some closing thoughts

Bulky AR/VR headsets are just a temporary step in the battle for our brains. First they will be presented as a very cool way to watch funny videos while writing this report increase your productivity, until they become mandatory in companies so bosses can monitor in real time the thoughts engagement of their employees.

Neurotechnology are not something to take lightly, they give the possibility of those controlling it to completely eradicate the last hopes we may have of reconciling a desirable future, democracy and technology. These gadgets are pushed very hard because they will enable those in control to not only siphon your wallet but also your mind.

That being said, I want to conclude with a positive note: opting out is actually really simple (for now): don't fall for the latest tech scam that promise you the moon sand stars.

Refusing to buy and use gadgets designed to be addictive and extract as much as they can from you give you more quality time to spend on our beautiful planet with the people that matter to you and doing things that you actually enjoy.

I'm an high-tech entrepreneur and I don't event have a phone. I prefer to spend my limited time in agreeable places in the real world rather than having my nose glued to the 100th useless notification of the day.

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Tags: privacy, ar, vr, neurotechnology

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