Mind control remains one of the more amusing (though sometimes horrific) plot devices in media. As a process, mind control can be used to dupe and deceive people into doing things, and sometimes causes them to perform banjo duels. However, while brainwashing (or mind conditioning) has been used by intelligence agencies, militaries, and Scientology to advance one agenda or another, the process of controlling one's mind externally has remained the realm of fiction. But now, science, as usual, is moving closer to making mind control a reality, with researchers at the University of Washington demonstrating what they believe to be the first direct brain-to-brain communication through a special device over the Internet.
The scientists, Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco, were using equipment and theories previously established by the scientific community, and have been used to control the minds of lab rats. The rudimentary mind control process, as shown below, uses a device that records information from someone's brain activity, and then transfers it to a device that stimulates the other person's brain into performing an action.
In order to demonstrate mind control, Rao, Stocco, and their team set up two labs across the University of Washington campus, with only a Skype connection that the two scientists did not see to coordinate the effort. The two scientists were seated, with Stocco seated in front of a keyboard On one side, Rao played a basic video game with his mind, using a device to record his thoughts. At a critical moment, Rao, without moving his body, imagined moving his right hand to hit an imaginary button to fire a weapon. Stocco's brain responded to the activity by involuntarily moving his finger to hit the spacebar.
However, the process remains inherently basic. Rao spent a lot of time training his mind so he could send the proper brainwave for moving the right hand to the device being used. While technologies are continuing to develop that improve the detection of specific brain activity (such as moving the body or performing complex functions), the process of full mind control remains a long ways away. Furthermore, the current design requires that the target subject is a willing participant Still, this is a very big first step towards developing the means of controlling another person's mind, which has plenty of uses.