@ Suricou Raven
Is this actually picking up brain activity (Very hard to do reliably) or just reacting to muscle contractions?
A most relevant question. From the description in the article it appears that the device is simply responding to signals. Without knowing the details of the sensor design it is impossible to know whether those are generated in the brain, from control signals being conveyed to the muscles, or from electrical measurement of some physical parameter associated with the physical movement of the face.
The use of any and all of these as inputs for control of devices and systems is a field of serious study. Ultimately, I believe, millions will benefit. But what can and cannot be done is limited by basic principles of science and mathematics.
Even if the device in question is responding to electrical signals from the brain, Raven is on the mark. I took a cursory look at the research at TU Berlin touted by another commenter. It appears to have involved using brain signals to provide guidance direction to a flight simulator. To quote from one article:
Reportedly one of the subjects was able to follow eight out of ten target headings with a deviation of only 10 degrees.
I believe this is representative of the state of the art--which is to provide simple inputs to control the operation of a system where other essential functions are preprogrammed. Even then, the results touted fall considerably short in term of what I would want as a passenger in a plane on approach to a major airport.
Modern commercial fly-by-wire/light-computer-mediated passenger jets are not operated in fully autonomous flight mode for liability reasons. But my understanding is that, this technology has had the capability of flying takeoff-to-landing, completely hand's off. To evaluate the real significance of thought-control experiments one has to know--at the system level--exactly what inputs were controlled by the brain, and which by other sophisticated automation.
As for reading and understanding the information content of a person's thoughts, as another commenter pointed out in so many words, "Good luck with that."
I remember my grandmother used to say . . . I do wish someone had gotten her cookie recipe before she . . . Which reminds me, MUST remember to pick up something for desert from . . . Holy ----, is she wearing anything under that . . . Oh Look!! A squirrel!!! . . . What was I saying? . . .
Oh yes, good luck with that.
The greatest potential problem with use of this technology lies not in what it can do, but in what those who are using it believe it can do . . .and how they act as a result of those beliefs.