Facebook's Building 8 takes its own moonshots

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Facebook created a test to see if you could "hear" language through your skin. It looks like just another beige office park building next to a dental office in Menlo Park, California. Yet Building 8, across the street from Facebook's main campus, houses the social network's biggest bets on out-there products. The tech industry has a term for what people inside Building 8 work on: moonshots. Think potentially groundbreaking projects that could reshape Facebook's long-term future and even how all of us communicate.


Future Facebook users may someday connect to social network with just their minds

The Japan Times

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook on Wednesday unveiled projects aimed at allowing users to use their minds to type messages or their skin to hear words. "Speech is essentially a compression algorithm, and a lousy one at that," Facebook executive and former DARPA director Regina Dugan told a packed audience at its annual conference for developers. "That is why we love great writers and poets, because they are just a little bit better at compressing the fullness of a thought into words. The project grew from being an idea six months ago to being the focus of a team of more than 60 scientists, engineers, and system integrators, according to Dugan, who heads a Building 8 team devoted to coming up with innovative hardware for the social network's mission of connecting the world. "We have a goal of creating a system capable of typing 100 words-per-minute straight from your brain."


Facebook reveals its radical 'mind reading' system

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Facebook has revealed the first details of a secretive project to develop a radical'mind reading' system that would allow people to communicate via thought. It is developing optical sensors to allow people to type at speeds of 100 words per minute simply by thinking, and radical touch interfaces that transmit information by putting pressure on skin, rather like a'super braille'. 'We want to create products that recognise we are both mind and body, said Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook's secretive building 8. Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook's secretive building 8, revealed the project at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference in San Jose It sounds impossible, but its closer that you might realise,' she said. Dugan outlined a'silent typing' system, and said it could mean an end to constantly checking our phones. 'In my entire career I've never seen something as powerful as the smartphone that doesn't have unintended consequences,' she said.


Evidence Rebuts Chomsky's Theory of Language Learning

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The idea that we have brains hardwired with a mental template for learning grammar--famously espoused by Noam Chomsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology--has dominated linguistics for almost half a century. Recently, though, cognitive scientists and linguists have abandoned Chomsky's "universal grammar" theory in droves because of new research examining many different languages--and the way young children learn to understand and speak the tongues of their communities. That work fails to support Chomsky's assertions. The research suggests a radically different view, in which learning of a child's first language does not rely on an innate grammar module. Instead the new research shows that young children use various types of thinking that may not be specific to language at all--such as the ability to classify the world into categories (people or objects, for instance) and to understand the relations among things. These capabilities, coupled with a unique hu man ability to grasp what others intend to communicate, allow language to happen. The new findings indicate that if researchers truly want to understand how children, and others, learn languages, they need to look outside of Chomsky's theory for guidance.


What's universal grammar? Evidence rebuts Chomsky's theory of language learning

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This article was originally published by Scientific American. The idea that we have brains hardwired with a mental template for learning grammar -- famously espoused by Noam Chomsky of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- has dominated linguistics for almost half a century. Recently, though, cognitive scientists and linguists have abandoned Chomsky's "universal grammar" theory in droves because of new research examining many different languages -- and the way young children learn to understand and speak the tongues of their communities. That work fails to support Chomsky's assertions. The research suggests a radically different view, in which learning of a child's first language does not rely on an innate grammar module. Instead the new research shows that young children use various types of thinking that may not be specific to language at all -- such as the ability to classify the world into categories (people or objects, for instance) and to understand the relations among things. These capabilities, coupled with a unique hu man ability to grasp what others intend to communicate, allow language to happen.