A mind-reading AI (Artificial Intelligence) that turns thoughts in your mind into words could be the future of meditation technology and therapy.

A new artificial intelligence can accurately translate words in an individual’s mind into sentences. The AI currently supports 250 words. It is actually designed to be used as a way for people who have lost speech ability because of paralysis to regain that skills. However, there are direct ways in which this technology could be applied to cognitive behavioural therapy, and could, in coming years, form the basis of the future of meditation technology.

How A.I Can Turn Thoughts Into Text

Joseph Makin at the University of California, San Francisco, and a team of colleagues created the AI thoughts-to-text technology by using deep-learning algorithms to study the brain signals of women as they spoke. The brain creates specific signals based on words that are being spoken [1].

The women already had seizure-monitoring electrodes attached to their brains. They were asked to read of up to 250 unique words aloud as the researchers measured brain activity. That brain activity was then fed into a neural network algorithm, which enabled the algorithm to learn regularly occurring patterns that linked to words. A second neural network then converted the data into words to create sentences.

The technology is currently being develop with the aim of helping individual’s who have lost their speech. Makin said, “We want to deploy this in a patient with an actual speech disability.”

However, if we consider future possible applications of this technology, it is clear to see how it could be readily adapted to cognitive behavioural therapy and meditation

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Why this is the future of meditation

Meditation is increasingly being used in therapy as a way to help individuals recognise their thought patterns and thereby to change negative thoughts into healthier and more positive ones [READ: Types of negative thinking and negative self talk].

The idea is that by slowing the mind down through meditation we start to a) think more clearly and b) perceive our thoughts with more clarity. This enables us to change those thoughts.

Many different meditaiton techniques specifically focus on this idea of monitoring our thoughts and then labelling them to gain more self awareness. Vipassana, for instance, is a Buddhist method that revolves around obsering the mind and labelling both thoughts and emotions. An A.I that helps us go further with that practice could very well push meditation into the future.

The key to many meditation and therapy techniques is specifically to monitor our thoughts, label them, and then change them, which is remarkably inline with this new A.I thought-to-text technology.

There are many ways people currently record their thoughts, such as by using a thought journal to record thoughts. But what if an AI was capable of automatically turning our thoughts into words? And perhaps then recording those words (and thoughts) into an app or other storage device? This would enable us to monitor our thoughts throughout the day and then return to them later to study them and change our negative thinking patterns. Essentially, this is a thought journal done automatically that records our every thought.

The implications of this would be huge from a therapy viewpoint. And I do believe it could represent the possible future of meditation, as we combine technology like this with ancient meditation techniques to better understand our own minds and thereby improve our mental health.

It’s some way off though. At present, the A.I thought-to-text technology is only capable of recognising 250 words. Sophie Scott at University College London said, “You probably know around 350,000 words, so it’s still an incredibly restricted set of speech that they’re using.”

It could be many years until this technology is able to recognise an individual’s complete vocabulary. But, somehow, I get the impression that in years to come we will look back on this new development as a milestone for therapy and the future of meditation.

What do you thinking about this new tech? Leave a comment and remember to subscribe.

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Written by Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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