1999 book 'The Age of Spiritual Machines'
Ray Kurzweil, Technological Futurist with an accuracy rate of 86% out of over 170 technological predictions states in his book 'The Age of Spiritual
Machines' that computer implants designed for direct connection to the brain are available by 2029. They are capable of augmenting natural senses and
of enhancing higher brain functions like memory, learning speed and overall intelligence.
June 10th 2015
An incredible new study from an international group of researchers has created a thin polymer mesh that can be embedded with dozens of
nano-scale electronic devices, rolled up, then safely injected onto the surface of the mammalian brain. Evidence suggests the mesh can be completely
accepted by mouse neural tissue, and once there, the network of tiny electronics can wire up whole brain regions, or even focus on individual neurons.
If confirmed through further study, this team’s findings could help treat a myriad of brain diseases, and constitute an incredibly important step
forward for brain science.
Prior research with test-tube cultures had already shown that mammalian neurons can grow on and around these nets (at least for a few weeks) as cells
seem to treat the polymer structure almost as like the natural protein scaffolds they often build themselves. The mice used in this study remained
brain-healthy for a full five weeks after implantation, and while that could still easily fall apart at the six-week mark or beyond, it’s an
impressive achievement. If the net is proven to be safe for long-term use, humans patients might be able to use the net’s excitatory abilities to
offset the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and perhaps even certain types of damage from stroke.
March 27, 2017
Last month Elon Musk announces his newfound company, 'Neuralink Corp'.
Neuralink is a neurotechnology company that's going to be developing implantable brain–computer interfaces (BCIs) initially for treating serious
brain diseases, but with the future goal of enhancing human cognitive performance.
Elon predicts that the technology will be available to all of the public within a decade.
April 19, 2017
Facebook’s Building 8 research group, Regina Dugan, said they are also working on this kind of neural technology, though they want to create a
non-invasive headset rather than an implant. They envisage people being able to use their thoughts to control a cursor in augmented reality or type
100 words per minute.
So what does this mean for us?
We are inevitably moving towards the convergence from pure biological thought, to a merge with technological enhancement. I know what you're all
thinking "this is a hacker's/government's wet dream; being able to control the masses like never before", and really, you're not entirely wrong.
That scenario could very well become reality. The thing is, technological advancement is unavoidable, and the good thing is, you wont be forced to get
From a positive outlook, this is a huge step for humanity. We are in desperate need to speed up how quickly we make decisions, how accurately we solve
problems, and how massively we can expand our ability to process information and create new ideas. We, frankly, think too slowly, and act far slower
than we thing. It can take years to collectively come to a decision that should have been made long ago, and our biological processing is holding us
Many people will reject this type of technology, and that's perfectly reasonable. But, many will opt for it, and that means we need to look at a few
social matters that will eventually need to be implemented.
Fortunately, Marcello Ienca, a neuroethicist at the University of Basel, and Roberto Andorno, a human rights lawyer at the University of Zurich, have
outlined four new human rights in the journal Life Sciences, Society and Policy designed to protect us from the potential pitfalls. You can view the
entire journal entry here
To summarize, here are 4 new human-rights implementations we may need to look into:
1. The Right to Cognitive Liberty
The first proposed new right is the right to “Cognitive Liberty,” which states that people have the right to use emerging neurotechnology to
modify their mental activity. But it also protects the right to refuse to use it in situations such as an employer requiring workers to take advantage
of devices that would improve their performance.
2. The Right to Mental Privacy
Second on the list is the right to “Mental Privacy,” which would protect people from third parties accessing data about their mental activity
collected by a neurotechnology device without their consent.
The impulse for this protection is obvious; tech giants are already hoovering up huge amounts of our behavioral data in their efforts to divine our
innermost desires and sell us stuff. Brain data could let them bypass this guesswork and precisely tailor our online experiences in pursuit of their
The authors debate whether this right should be absolute or relative, though. In certain situations, allowing the state to access the thoughts of
criminals and terrorists could have obvious benefits for society. But the researchers suggest this could erode the already well-established right not
to incriminate oneself, which is widely recognized across the democratic world and enshrined in the Fifth Amendment.
3. The Right to Mental Integrity
The last two rights are intertwined and deal with the emerging ability to not just record mental activity, but directly influence it. The right to
“Mental Integrity” effectively protects against people hacking brain implants to hijack or interfere with their mental processes or erase
4. The Right to Psychological Continuity
The right to “Psychological Continuity” deals with the vaguer notion of attempts to alter someone’s personality or identity, either through
similar brain hacking approaches or more subtle ones like neuromarketing, which can involve companies using insights from neuroscience to try and
alter unconscious behavior and attitudes in consumers.
So, given the option, would you use this technology once it comes out?
Personally, I can't wait! (but I may wait at least until all the bugs are fixed)