A research project at Stanford University enables paralyzed people to type on computers by moving a cursor with their thoughts:Brain-Computer Interface
This technology, according to the article, produces the desired output up to four times as fast as previously existing methods. It's supposed to be superior to the eye-tracking method of operating a computer, which sounds to me as if it would be tiring as well as difficult to master.
Imagine combining a perfected brain-computer interface with the Second Life environment discussed a few weeks ago. Individuals locked into their bodies without even the ability to speak might be able to live a fulfilling life in a virtual environment that feels as multidimensional as the "real world."
Or consider the shell people in Anne McCaffrey's THE SHIP WHO SANG series. Such artificial bodies for people with no control over their physical bodies might become more feasible in actuality once the robotic form could be completely operated by thought alone.
Does the interface described in the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN article allow speechless people to communicate (through a computer) with something like telepathy? Well, not exactly. The user doesn't beam thoughts through the ether. Wired connections between brain and machine have to be installed. Still, it's an exciting beginning.
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt