Elon Musk’s brain-machine interface technology could bring humans and computers closer together than ever before.
Some weeks ago, a nine-year-old macaque monkey called Pager successfully played a game of Pong with its mind.
While it may sound like science fiction, the demonstration by Elon Musk’s neurotechnology company Neuralink is an example of a brain-machine interface in action (and has been done before).
A coin-sized disc called a “Link” was implanted by a precision surgical robot into Pager’s brain, connecting thousands of micro threads from the chip to neurons responsible for controlling motion.
According to Neuralink, its technology could help people who are paralysed with spinal or brain injuries, by giving them the ability to control computerised devices with their minds.
This would provide paraplegics, quadriplegics and stroke victims the liberating experience of doing things by themselves again.
Prosthetic limbs might also be controlled by signals from the Link chip.
And the technology would be able to send signals back, making a prosthetic limb feel real.
Brain-machine interfaces could bring tremendous benefit to humanity. But to enjoy the benefits, we will need to manage the risks down to an acceptable level.
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