The dawn of the neuro-computer technologies: how far can we go?

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2017-11-06 10:30:08

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The dawn of the neuro-computer technologies: how far can we go? Source:

What separates Elon musk as an entrepreneur from others is the fact that any enterprise which he undertakes, is born of bold and inspiring vision for the future of our species. Recently, Musk announced the creation of a new company Neuralink, which will deal with the merging of human intelligence with AI. Given the track record of the Mask, which is constantly trying to achieve the impossible, the world should pay extra attention to the words of a man who wants to connect our brains to computers.

Neuralink registered as a medical company in California. Yet its goals are relatively vague in the short term and too ambitious in the long term. She will try to create a "neural lace" — brain-computer interface that will be implanted directly into the human brain for its monitoring and enhancement.

In the short term, this technology will definitely find medical use, and can be used for the treatment of a stroke or diseases like Parkinson's disease. In the coming decades, it may allow us to exponentially enhance our mental abilities, or even to digitize human consciousness. In fact, it is a step towards convergence of people and cars and maybe the leap in human development — which will allow to solve many problems that we face.

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Current status research

Musk is not the first and not the only one who wants to connect brains with machines. Another technology entrepreneur, Brian Johnson, founded a startup Kernel in 2016 to similarly explore the possibilities of brain-computer interfaces, and that the scientific community has made great strides in recent years.

In April scientists from Switzerland announced that paralyzed primates learned to walk with neuroprotheses system. CNN reported that the man, paralyzed in his shoulders, restored the right arm thanks to a brain-computer interface.

Over the last few years there have been significant changes both in hardware and in the software of the brain-computer interface. The experts develop more sophisticated electrodes and programming better algorithms to interpret the neural signals. Scientists have been able to provide paralyzed patients the opportunity to print the power of thought and even linked the brains of each other using brain waves. Until now, the most successful applications in this area was to provide management skills or simple communication between persons with brain injury.

However, before brain-computer interfaces worth many obstacles.

First, the most powerful and accurate NKI require invasive surgery. Another problem is the adoption of robust algorithms that can interpret the complex interaction of the 86 billion neurons of the brain. A large part of the progress also flowed in one direction: from the brain to the machine. We have not yet developed the NCI that can provide us with sensory information or allows us to feel the subjective experience of tactile sensations — touch, temperature or pain. Although progress in this direction has been made.

There is also a common problem: our understanding of the brain is in its infancy. We have a long way to go to fully understand how and where there are various functions like consciousness, perception, and awareness. To strengthen or integrate with machines these functions, we need to understand the physics that lies at their base. Designing interfaces that can communicate with individual neurons and safely integrate with existing biological networks requires significant medical innovation.

However, it is important to remember that technology is rapidly evolving.

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the uprising of the cyborgs

Hollywood often depicts a dystopian future where machines and people are fighting among themselves. But in fact, much more likely a completely opposite scenario in which people and machines come together.

In many ways, we are already cyborgs.

Futurists like Jason Silva noted that our device is essentially an abstract form of brain-computer interface. We use smartphones to store and retrieve information, perform calculations and communicate with each other. According to the philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers, according to their theory of the extended mind, we use technology to expand the boundaries of the human mind and beyond our skulls. We use tools like machine learning to improve their cognitive skills, or powerful telescopes to improve visual coverage. Technology has become part of our exoskeleton, allowing us to go beyond our limitations.

Musk noted that the merger of biological and machine intelligence may be necessary, if we want to remain "biologically valuable". Brain-computer interfaces will allow us to better take advantage of rapidly developing artificial intelligence. With increasing automation of jobs, this may be the best way to keep up with machines that solve problems much more efficiently than we do.

Technologist ray Kurzweil believes that by 2030-th year, we connect the neocortex to the cloud with the help of nanobots. He notes that the neocortex is the source of all "beauty, love, creativity and intelligence in the world." It is noteworthy that due to its predictive accuracy Kurzweil, in the opinion of bill gates and many others, is the best forecaster in the world of technology.

Rights Kurzweil or not, we'll find out. What will be the future?

We could have a thousandfold increase their intelligence and imagination. This radically changed the way of our thinking, the way we communicate and feel this world. The transfer of thoughts and emotions directly into the heads of others will reveal a new society and intimacy. End up loading ourselves in the car will allow us to go from biological skin and become immortal in the digital sense.

The Consequences are truly profound, and many questions remain unanswered. What will be the subjective experience of human consciousness when our brains are digitized? How can we hinder what our brains will try to hack and overwrite it of unwanted thoughts? How to provide access to brain-computer interfaces for all, not just the rich and those in power? A lot of questions and it's time to start looking for answers.

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