Soon We Will Be Cyborgs: The Great Advances In Brain-Machine Interfaces

Soon We Will Be Cyborgs: The Great Advances In Brain-Machine Interfaces

“A cyborg (from the acronym in English cyborg: from cyber [‘cybernetic’] and organism [‘organism’], ‘cybernetic organism’) is a creature composed of organic elements and cybernetic devices generally to improve the capabilities of the organic part through the use of technology”. –Wikipedia _

Yes, it sounds like science fiction, but… if there is something that has been happening nonstop so far in the 21st century, it is that factual science is making science fiction reality.

Well, brain-machine interfaces aren’t new, but it’s time to pay close attention to them because of the extremely rapid and dramatic advances in neurology and computing.

I have already written about what the Artificial Intelligence revolution implies in a previous article. Only Super AI seems so out of the realm of science fiction that one of Google’s former CTOs, Ray Kurtzweil, first applied the term to Artificial Intelligence: Imagine connecting your brain to the cloud and a  server farm of Artificial intelligence. It is so unimaginable that it is called a singularity (as in black holes and the big bang), the third singularity recognized by humanity, which he dubbed the “Kurzweil Singularity.”

Well, to reach that singularity, it is necessary to connect the brain to the cloud and the server farm through ultra-fast interfaces so that an enormous amount of data travels back and forth between both bits of intelligence (the human and the digital).

Today the most common brain-machine interface is the keyboard, another is the mouse, and today computers, mobile phones, and other devices have voice recognition algorithms. Fingerprint and facial recognition only serve as access keys. So, the first application (for me the most interesting) is Human<->Artificial Intelligence.

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But imagine the human<->robotic connection. A blind man could connect his brain to a set of cameras, a deaf person to microphones, a mute person to loudspeakers, the paralyzed would use exoskeletons, and a thousand other applications.

But to make this possible, the limitation has always been the interface, that is, the ideal digital material that can connect our tiny neurons with computers. It is estimated that the human brain can process only 74 Gigabytes of data in a day, which is approximately 120 bits per second. But if we think that only the human body transmits 11 million bits to the brain, equivalent to 1,375,000 bytes, or approximately, just 1712 Kb or 0.1782 Megabytes.

These types of interfaces are called ( brain-computer interfaces or BCI) and two companies have been leading the race in this field:  Neuralink and  Paradromics. The first was founded by none other than the expert generalist  Elon Musk, the second by  Dr. Matt Angle  (who studied at the  Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Germany and his postdoc at  Stanford University ).

The first commercial versions of BCI are already announced for the year 2022, where a third company in the field, Blackrock Neurotech, will launch products that will allow patients with the fatal disease suffered by  Stephen Hawking,  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, and other spinal conditions dorsal recover their motor functions.

Do they imagine? Terminally ill patients recover life expectancy, paralytics recover their motor functions, people who were born or became blind, deaf, or dumb recover or acquire the ability to see, hear or speak. Science fiction? No! factual science.

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Neuralink promises to solve the following health problems:

  • Memory loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Blindness
  • Paralysis
  • Depression
  • Insomnia (I’ll fall for a goatee!)
  • extreme pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Brain damage

But I better leave you with the presentation of Neuralink by Elon Musk.

 

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