Neural interfaces: the state of the art

Paul Raven @ 28-05-2010

Some heavy but fascinating reading over at h+ Magazine, in the form of James Kent’s round-up of where we are with technologies for interfacing the human brain with technological hardware, and where we’re going with it. The big take-away point for me is that the more fidelity you want from the interface, the more invasive the interface needs to be, though that might change as the technology advances.

And here’s your slice of sf-nal thinking from the conclusion:

While the primary purpose of neural interface research is putatively therapeutic, the functional potentials and ethical concerns of neural porting are problems looming in the future. Right now these are hypothetical concerns, but if a single-access embedded neurode procedure could be perfected and automated and performed at a local clinic in two hours for around a thousand dollars, and it was covered by insurance, the temptation for cosmetic and personal use of such a procedure becomes clear. Neural interfaces can be abused, obviously, and can be hacked into to enslave and torture minds, or drive people intentionally insane, or turn them into sleeper assassins or mindless consumers. Security is an inherent problem of any extensible exo-cortical system that must be addressed early in the engineering and testing stages, or anyone with an exo-cortical input would be ripe for exploitation. Sensory discrimination is an ongoing problem in any media environment, so individual channel selection, manual override, and the ability to shut down device input should be an integral part of any embedded system.

Probably not a system you want Microsoft writing the OS for, then…

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One Response to “Neural interfaces: the state of the art”

  1. Montie says:

    Right now there are game controllers that have a basic ability to read brainwaves and provide a means of thinking your way through a game rather than mash buttons. People walk around wearing glasses or they have those Bluetooth things on their ear. I see no reason why such technology developed further could lead to glasses or ear pieces than can read your brainwaves and let you think to the Internet wherever you may be rather than have brain implants that would allow for brain hacking and mind control.