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Brain-Computer Interface Technologies:
Have We Quite Approached to Making a Computer Understands What We Are Thinking About
As the power of modern computers grows alongside our understanding of the human brain, we move ever closer to making some pretty spectacular science fiction into reality. As the proliferation of technology dramatically infiltrates all aspects of modern life, in many ways the world is becoming so dynamic and complex that technological capabilities are overwhelming human capabilities to optimally interact with and leverage those technologies. Fortunately, these technological advancements have also driven an explosion of neuroscience research over the past several decades, presenting engineers with a remarkable opportunity to design and develop flexible and adaptive brain-based neurotechnologies that integrate with and capitalize on human capabilities and limitations to improve human-system interactions. Major forerunners of this conception are brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), which to this point have been largely focused on improving the quality of life for particular clinical populations and include, for example, applications for advanced communications with paralyzed or “locked in” patients as well as the direct control of prostheses and wheelchairs. Near-term applications are envisioned that are primarily task oriented and are targeted to avoid the most difficult obstacles to development. In the farther term, a holistic approach to BCIs will enable a broad range of task-oriented and opportunistic apps by leveraging pervasive technologies and advanced analytical approaches to sense and merge critical brain, behavioral, task, and environmental information. Communications and other apps that are envisioned to be broadly impacted by BCIs are highlighted; however, these represent just a small sample of the potential of these technologies.
Magnetic Fields Can Remotely Control Brain Cells in Mice
Using magnetic fields, scientists can activate specific brain cells in mice and make them run, spin and freeze, new research shows. This could help scientists pinpoint the specific brain circuits animals use for certain behaviors, which could in turn help scientists pinpoint with greater accuracy which brain areas are involved in those same behaviors in humans, said Arnd Pralle, a biophysicist at the University at Buffalo in New York. The main goal is to develop tools that can help scientists study the brains of laboratory animals to see how they encode emotions and behaviors, Pralle told Live Science. "We can translate a lot of that to human brains," he added. Scientists have used implanted electrodes to control the movement and thoughts of monkeys,

while others have genetically engineered brain circuits that turn on with a beam of laser light. Brain implants have even allowed one monkey to control the movements of another. However, those methods involve either implanting electrodes into the brain or hard-wiring a bulky cable into the brain. But those procedures can do damage to the animals, and essentially keeps them tethered to a cable all the time, Pralle said. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, meanwhile, is FDA-approved to treat depression that does not respond to medication, but it acts on a wide area of the brain and is not targeted to specific networks. In the current study, Pralle and his colleagues used magnetic fields to turn on individual brain cells. Ordinarily, magnetic fields pass through biological tissue without affecting it, so the team needed a way to translate the magnetic stimulation into heat energy. To accomplish this task, they injected tiny magnetic nanoparticles that translated oscillating magnetic fields into heat energy. Using this technique, the team manipulated the mice’s specific movements, causing them to spin around, run, and even freeze and lose control of their extremities. "The new technique has advantages over other methods for manipulating brain function in animals. For instance, the magnetic field they use operates over a larger region of the brain, meaning they could target separate brain regions at the same time," Pralle points out. The technique, with its use of genetic engineering and nanoparticles, is not intended to be used in human brains, and certainly not to manipulate or conduct mind-control on humans, Pralle said. Instead, inducing certain behaviors in animals is a way to pinpoint the brain regions responsible for these tasks, he said. One day, the understanding of brain function gleaned from these animals could pinpoint the brain circuits needed to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s in humans, Pralle said.

Elon Musk Neuralink Venture: Merging the Brain with a Computer
Elon Musk is rather concerned about the fate of humanity, given the extreme advancements being made in artificial intelligence (AI). Ultimately, he fears that our AI will, one day, overtake us. When this happens, he claims that humans will likely become second class citizens (or slaves, or something even worse). Now, reports have surfaced which assert that he is backing a brain-computer interface venture that is founded to allow humans to keep up with the advancements made in machines. The interface is intended to work by augmenting that which makes us human: our brains. The find comes from The Wall Street Journal. According to them, the company, which is called Neuralink, is still in the earliest stages of development. To that end, it has no public presence at all. For a meaningful partial brain interface, I think we are roughly four or five years away, Elon Musk says. What we do know is that its ultimate goal is to create a device (or possibly a series of devices) that can be implanted in the human brain. These will serve a multitude of purposes; the final end being to help humans merge with our software and keep pace with artificial intelligences so we do not get left in the dust. Initially, these enhancements will likely assist in smaller ways, such as helping us improve our memories by creating additional, removable storage components. Notably, this is not the first that we have heard of Musk working on such a device. Previously, he mentioned a device called the “neural lace.” In the race to beat AI, unsurprisingly, Musk is not the only one worried about AI. In a video posted by Big Think, Michael Vassar, the chief science officer of MetaMed Research, stated that AI will likely kill us all (literally): “If greater-than-human artificial general intelligence is invented without due caution, it is all but certain that the human species will be extinct in very short order.” Essentially, he is warning that an unchecked AI could eradicate humanity in the future. Similarly, Stephen Hawking famously stated that AI is one of the biggest threats to humanity: “The development of artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. It would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, could not compete, and would be superseded.” To that end, Musk is not the only person working to ensure that humanity can keep up with AI. Braintree founder Bryan Johnson is investing US $100 million to make a neuroprosthesis to unlock the power of the human brain and, ultimately, make our neural code programmable.
In DARPA Pocket: A Brain Implant Program for Super Soldier Project
The U.S. military, DARPA, is disclosing a super soldier project, revealing to have allocated funding of $65 million dollars for a program to develop a ‘Brain-Computer Interface’ that would allow participants to plug into a computer like the movie The Matrix. No this is not science fiction Neo, this is the future that the MIC wants for its soldiers. Some time ago, DARPA launched Neural Engineering System Design to research technology that could turn soldiers into cyborgs. The military wants to use these programs to “give soldiers supersenses and boost brainpower.” Four teams will be responsible for increasing vision and two on hearing and speech. The military adds that this will help develop “new treatments for patients with sensory disorders.” The program is being backed by Brown University, Columbia University, The Seeing and Hearing Foundation, the John B. Pierce Laboratory, Paradromics Inc. and the University of California. These organizations have formed teams to develop the fundamental research and component technologies required to pursue the NESD vision of a high-resolution neural interface and integrate them to create and demonstrate working systems able to support potential future therapies for sensory restoration,’ official said. The goal of the project is ‘developing an implantable system able to provide precision communication between the brain and the digital world,’ DARPA officials said. “Today’s best brain-computer interface systems are like two supercomputers trying to talk to each other using an old 300-baud modem. Imagine what will become possible when we upgrade our tools to really open the channel between the human brain and modern electronics,” Phillip Alvelda, NESD manager for DARPA, said to The Guardian. They allege that this new study into technology and the human mind “will help treat people with blindness, paralysis and speech disorders.” Advancing neuroscience is not the only experiment that DARPA has been up to; they are also actively trying to merge man with machines … essentially transhumanism.
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