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The marriage of brain and machine: past , present, future*
Gordy Slack | January 20, 2012
Via electrodes on the scalp, electroencephalography records electrical waves emitted by the brain, opening a window on neural activity.
Electrodes used on epilepsy patients stimulate parts of the brain, which helps neurologists map the brain and decipher its functions.
After implanting electrodes in the brain of a bull, neurologist José Delgado faces the charging animal in a ring and, just before being gored, administers a shock, stopping the bull in its tracks.
A single-channel cochlear implant hits the market. Plugged into nerves in the inner ear, it converts sound into electrical impulses,
enabling many deaf people to hear.
High-powered brain sensors allow a paralyzed patient to use a prosthetic arm and also move a computer cursor with only his
In North Carolina, the brain activity of a monkey with electrodes in its motor and sensory cortex is converted into remote signals that control the walking of a robot in Japan.
A Southern California–based company gets the green light in Europe to sell a retinal implant that partially restores lost vision to blind patients.
Rechargeable micro-implants in the brain allow severely disabled people to operate prosthetics and communicate simple commands
A device codeveloped by UCSF’s Edward Chang lets paralyzed, “locked-in” users speak through a voice synthesizer.
A wearable robot, or full-body exoskeleton operable by brain activity, allows disabled patients to be mobile. (Robert Downey Jr.
A wearable eeg device, which samples and analyzes brain activity, enables the direct manipulation of simple remote devices and computer applications, including texting.
Microscopic sensors distributed throughout the brain allow disabled people to control prosthetics— and all of us to plug virtual entertainment directly into our brains.
Networkable, synthetic eyes that switch to infrared, X-ray, or telescopic vision let users share what they’re seeing with other
Nanobot avatars, which send signals to microscopic brain sensors,
enable us to experience deep seas, outer space, the human body, or wherever else nanobots roam.
Brain-implant microchips permit mindto-mind communication between implantees.
Download your digitally converted brain for storage, to create a
cognitive twin, or, when your physical body dies, to resurrect yourself!
Boundaries between humans and machines have vanished, resulting in a new species of networked human with one fully integrated, boundless mind.
* sources for this story want to make it clear that the wild prognostication from 2021 onward is just that.