Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The Computer-Brain Interface.

   Many years ago, I had a friend who was an accomplished physicist.  We would sometimes prognosticate where computer technology was going.  He had no doubt that the next big breakthrough in computer science would be the computer-brain interface.  Communication would be developed between the brain neurons and and an electrode which would interpret the micro-electrical potentials without the requirement for keyboards or the various other devices that have been necessary to communicate with the computer until recently.  Thinking, he maintained, would be all that would be necessary to instruct the computer.  As mentioned, this was long ago, and and even he realized that this was the stuff that science fiction was made of.
    Recently, a Johns Hopkins surgeon implanted a brain 'pacemaker' for Alzheimer's Disease as part of a clinical trial to slow memory loss.  Similar devices have been used to provide deep brain stimulation in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease. It is hoped that this technique will be able to boost memory and reverse cognitive decline.   The research focuses on delivering low voltage electrical charges directly to the brain that will be encoded with the patient's recent memories, thus compensating for the memory loss of recent events that is typical of Alzheimer's disease.  
      Science fiction sort of stuff  that elicits the frightening prospect of  the possibility of inserting whole series of memories and thoughts once this science falls into  the hands of  the State.
     Our brain cells, or neurons connect to each other across connections called synapses by electrical signals.  We are just at the early stages of understanding how those signals can be detected and interpreted.  Signals can also be generated and sent in the other directions so that the brain could be 'fooled' into seeing or thinking something.  In other words, series of memories could be implanted into the brain enabling the subject to clearly remember their trip to the Bahamas, that never actually took place.

Let me know if you are interested in this sort of stuff, or have any comments.

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