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This article was published on January 26, 2021

Valve co-founder says brain-computer interfaces will let you ‘edit’ your feelings

Gabe Newell expects the devices to personalise gameplay and modify your mood


Valve co-founder says brain-computer interfaces will let you ‘edit’ your feelings Image by: Official GDC
Thomas Macaulay
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Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW Writer at Neural by TNW

The head of video games giant Valve says future brain-computer interfaces could change how players feel.

Gabe Newell believes BCIs will soon create superior experiences to what we can perceive through our eyes and ears alone.

“But that’s not where it gets weird,” he told New Zealand’s 1 News. “Where it gets weird is when who you are becomes editable through a BCI.”

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Newell envisions the devices detecting a gamer’s emotions and then adjusting the settings to modify their mood — like ramping up the difficulty when they’re getting bored.

But they could also be applied to everyday aspects of our lives, from turning up our focus to altering our sleep patterns through an app.

[Read: How this company leveraged AI to become the Netflix of Finland]

Valve is currently developing its own BCIs. The company behind Half-Life and Counter-Strike is working on “modified VR head straps” that developers can use to experiment with signals from the brain.

“If you’re a software developer in 2022 who doesn’t have one of these in your test lab, you’re making a silly mistake,” said Newell.

He nonetheless acknowledges that BCIs are fraught with risks:

Nobody wants to say, remember Bob? Remember when Bob got hacked by the Russian malware? Yeah that sucked. Is he still running naked through the forests.

I don’t wanna end up like Bob, but the focus enhancer sounds particularly appealing during the inspiration vacuum of pandemic life.

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