Imagine this: You wake up in the morning and think you would like to check the weather, and immediately your brain is directly connected to Weather.com and you peruse the weather in your immediate location, and then think to check the weekend forecast at your cabin, and that information is presented to you as well. You think about checking your email, and so it happens, right in your brain, without the need for a monitor, a keyboard, or a mouse. You log into a virtual team site with your coworkers, and spend a productive day “at the office” without actually going anywhere. This and so much more is possible through your Brain-Machine Interface, an implanted bio-electronic bridge between your brain and all the information of the Internet, and any other computer network that you have privileges to access..
I just finished several articles on a concept called the Brain-Machine Interface (BMI). This is technology a number of companies are working on, including heavy hitters such as IBM, Intel, Samsung, and Elon Musk’s startup, Neurolink. The immediate research has medical goals, such as restoring mobility to people with spinal cord injuries or birth defects. Eventually we could expect other non-medical commercial enhancements, that will provide an integrated machine-enhanced human existence.
The human brain is already capable of processing 7,500 terabytes of information per second, which is faster than the fastest stable Internet connection. So the limiting factor will continue to be network speeds. Connecting speeds to BMI implants and devices will probably be as quick as necessary.
There are already devices, such as cochlear implants for those with profound hearing loss, which are wired directly to an area in the brain. In addition to overcoming mobility issues, scientists working in this field see the potential for curing other sorts of brain and neurological syndromes.
There are ethical issues involved with BMI, such as creating advanced super-humans. Would this be a technology affordable only by the wealthy? Would BMI have military applications that turned out to be undesirable? Eventually, how would you distinguish a human from a machine? Would there even be a difference anymore? Would you be a cyborg? Yes, that is exactly what you would be.
The IEEE, an Internet standards body, has already held a symposium about creating standards and common language around BMI. And it looks Like DARPA is involved as well, which answers the question about military applications.
Then there are the security ramifications. Hate it when your computer is hacked? How about if someone hacked your brain? I think that could be a truly bad day. Presumably, we should have the capability, at our own “fingertips,” to install whatever level of security we think our BMI connection would need.
I found a trio of interesting articles while researching this topic, so if you find this compelling, please link through to go deeper.