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Our expert voices conversation on "When computers merge with our minds."

The realities of brain-computer interfaces are far from the frightening scenarios laid out in science fiction. The potential for improving the human condition far outweighs that for misuse but fears abound.

Fear #1: Can your thoughts be hacked? The short answer is… yes. If the brain signals recorded by the device are streamed to a computer, it's conceivable they could be intercepted. The real question is who would want to? Those signals carry information about how to move the device, period. Your innermost thoughts and secrets are not decoded. Scientists don't know where in the brain your innermost dialogue is occurring or how to read it.

Fear #2: Can someone place thoughts in your head? Yes, and no. Given that some interfaces stimulate the brain and that computers can be hacked, it is theoretically possible for a third party to take control. But it's no different from someone opening a picture on your computer screen for you. What a hacker couldn't do is trick you into thinking the placed perception was natural. Your inner thoughts are safe for now.

The other voices in the conversation:

Sridevi Sarma, biomedical engineer, Johns Hopkins University: How and how much to change the brainAndrew Hires, neurobiologist, University of Southern California: An optical link to the brainSliman Bensmaia, neurobiologist, University of Chicago: The internet inside your mind

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Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

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Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.

Biden taps former Obama communications director for press secretary

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Jen Psaki, who previously served as Obama's communications director, will serve as President-elect Joe Biden's press secretary, the transition team announced Sunday.

The big picture: All of the top aides in Biden's communication staff will be women, per the Washington Post, which first reported Psaki's appointment.