How secure messaging will evolve in a world of brain-computer interfaces?

As brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) move from science fiction to reality, the way we communicate securely will be transformed. In a world where thoughts can be directly transmitted between minds, protecting the privacy of our inner lives will take on existential importance. And that’s where the future of secure messaging comes in. Today’s encrypted messaging apps, like those discussed by the author at, offer a glimpse of how we might safeguard our neural data in a BCI-enabled world. Just as these tools use end-to-end encryption to protect messages in transit, future BCI communication platforms must incorporate advanced cryptographic techniques to prevent brainwave interception and ensure only intended recipients can access our thoughts.

But encryption alone won’t be enough. In a world of brain-to-brain communication, we’ll need ephemeral messaging more than ever. The ability to send self-destructing brainwaves that disappear after being “read” by the recipient’s mind will be crucial for preventing neural data from being stolen, misused, or lingering indefinitely in someone else’s head. An app that lets you share a passing thought with a friend and have it vanish from their memory after a pre-set interval would enable radically candid communication without compromising long-term mental privacy. Beyond ephemerality, BCI messaging platforms will need to grapple with thorny questions of consent and mental autonomy. If someone sends you an unwanted thought that gets automatically deleted, have you still been harmed by the momentary exposure? Can a brainwave be considered “read” and ready for deletion if the recipient was asleep or unconscious when it was transmitted?

Establishing clear protocols for neural consent and designing BCI messaging interfaces that prioritise user agency will be essential. We may need “do not disturb” settings for our minds, letting us specify our openness to incoming brain-to-brain communication at any given moment. Filters that screen out potentially harmful or triggering thoughts while allowing essential crisis messages through could help balance mental well-being with neural connectivity. Authenticating the identity of a brain-based message will be another critical challenge. In a world of deepfakes and AI-generated content, how can we be sure a brainwave comes from a trusted source? Digital signatures for neural messages and biometric authentication could help verify the provenance of incoming thoughts. But we’ll need robust standards and governance frameworks to prevent forged mental identities and neural impersonation.

Ultimately, secure BCI messaging must be built on a foundation of radical transparency and control for users. Individuals should be able to inspect the code behind their neural communication apps to ensure no hidden backdoors or data siphons. Decentralised, open-source BCI messaging protocols could help prevent any single company or government from monopolising control over our innermost thoughts. As the author advocates at, putting users in the driver’s seat of their mental data is non-negotiable. The road to secure BCI messaging will be long and winding, with plenty of ethical potholes to navigate along the way. But the potential benefits are immense. Imagine sharing a wordless surge of empathy with a grieving friend or collaborating on a complex problem by seamlessly merging your mental models. Secure, consensual BCI messaging could bring us closer together as a species while still preserving the sanctity of our minds. More about the author here