Humanity Version 2.0

HUMAN BRAIN INTERFACE AND BEYOND

GRANTING SUPER POWERS TO HUMANITY

 

Introduction:

 

The stuff ahead is about the marvels which can happen in the future to enhance the capabilities of human in a way we fancy sci-fi movies.

 

 

 

About Neuralink and Human brain interface:

 

There can’t be a person who is actively using social media and platforms like Quora and hasn’t heard about Elon Musk yet. Everyone knows that he is the CEO of companies like Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, founded Open AI. But do you know that Elon Musk has yet another Startup?

It is called as Neuralink.                                                                                                                                                   

I believe what this startup is working on will have a greater impact on humanity than Tesla, Spacex or any of these companies put together. So what is this Neuralink startup all about ? What I am going to say now will leave you in awe.

The aim of this startup is to develop something called as a “Wizard hat” which is basically a human brain interface. A human brain interface allows electronic devices to transmit and receive messages directly with the human brain!!! Here is a gist: Your thoughts can be converted to digital messages a.k.a binary. Once that is done, we know what to do after that don’t we? If you still don’t have a clue I will spoil a few for you: Telekinesis, Telepathy, Omniscience, Omnipresence, etc.

 

So let us get started.

This series will divided into the following topics:

  1. Working of the human brain and how to connect it with our computers.
  2. Are there any practical applications in this field as of now?
  3. What are the things we can do in the future if we are able to establish a strong connection between the brain and the computer?
  4. What can we do if we replace everything inside the human body except our intelligence and conscience with just metal and circuitry to hold a conscient mind?

And if you are someone who is worried about security issues and the threats of this technology and other fearsome stuff, let me get this straight for you:

I won’t be focussing on the moral concerns that arise out of this or the threats this technology can pose or the security concerns for this technology.

 

With that being said let’s get started with the first part of this series:

 

 

Understanding the Human Brain:

 

In order to understand the process of linking the brain with computers/AI, we have to have a small understanding of our brain. We are going to dive into biology right now. But don’t worry! I will try to make it as simple as possible.

 

The brain basically consists of billions of neurons interconnected together. These neurons are units in the brain firing tiny electric signals every second. Different signals lead to different consequences. These consequences can be anything ranging from lifting your arms, eating food, hearing a sound, seeing a picture to playing table tennis tournament.

 

Basically anything which a human experiences or performs is because of these neurons. These electric signals travel all over our human body from the brain to our hands, legs, mouth, and the reverse too happens that is, the brain receives signals from the various senses and organs in our body. All these signals are electrical signals travelling through the nervous system in our body to the brain which later processes them or from the brain to the parts of our body which perform the functions of our body. So where are these neurons present in our brain and how are they functioning?

 

Cortex and its regions:

 

The neurons are present in the outer layer of the brain which is called as cortex. Cortex is like a sheet of paper with lots of folds and crumples covering the brain. There are several regions of the cortex which take care of specialised functions in our body.

 

For example the motor cortex is a small region which takes care of the motor functions in our brain(moving the limbs). The sensory cortex takes care of the sensory functions like vision, smell, hearing, etc. The following image shows which part of our brain deals with which function:

 

 

 

 

Let us take a few situations to understand this better. When you are currently looking into the screen in your computer or smartphone, the brain sends signals to the muscles in your eye to move towards left and right to scan across the page, the eyes in turn receive visual data due to light falling on the retina and converts this data to an appropriate form and sends it to the brain through the optic nerve. The occipital lobe receives this data from the eyes and processes the information and you see what you are currently seeing.

 

In order to swipe the screen or scroll the mouse, rather than receiving data from an organ we have to send signal to an organ. Here we have to send signals to our hands to control our fingers, which swipe the screen or scroll the mouse. This is taken care of by the motor cortex which sends signals to the finger. So when try to move your fingers, your are sending signals to your fingers from the brain. So what if we were able to generate these signals on our own and interrupt the original signals and instead feed our version of electric signals to the brain?

 

Sounds like a fiction?  – Well there are a few practical examples where this has happened.

 

 

Current BMI technologies:

 

i) Brain Port (The alternate eye):

 

Brain Port is a device which aids blind people to see through their tongue!!! Yeah you heard it right and this is not a typo. Brain port consists of a camera and a processor.

 

 

The camera gets the live feed of the surrounding and the processor converts it to electric signals and these signals are sent to the human brain via a lollipop which is an electrode array which is placed on the tongue and the CPU send a series of shocks to the tongue which inturn are sent to the human brain and it ‘sees’ the image. So you don’t see with your eyes. The actual seeing takes place in your brain. Apparently, the eyes are just like the camera here.

Don’t believe me yet??? Click here to watch Brain Port Vision Device

 

ii) Bionic Arm:

 

Another example where we can receive messages from the brain and perform various action is the Bionic arm. An amputee can buy this bionic arm and fit it as a replacement to his lost arm and it would work based on the signals sent from the brain.

 

When you are moving your arm, basically your brain is sending signals to the arm, these signals can instead be sent to the limb and it would work exactly like the human arm. When we touch something hot or cold or rough or smooth, the arm send signals accordingly and our brain will interpret it as hot or cold or rough or smooth respectively. So if our bionic arm could replicate these signals, it becomes indistinguishable from the human arm and we can even make it better than the human arm by giving it more degrees of freedom, more grip, more power, more flexibility, etc.

 

 

Check out this video for more details : Mind controlled Bionic Arm

 

There are more such applications like cochlear implants for aiding the human hear, etc. We just looked at the possibility of replacing the human organs with electronics. This is the door to cybernetics. We have come to an end of the first part of this article.

 

The developments in BMI  can be seen in the near future which will bring cures for stroke and paralysis yet the long term goal will take place only after a minimum of 70 years. That is due to Stevenson’s law. What is Stevenson’s law? Read the second part to learn about it and we shall also focus on what it means to strengthen this connection between the brain and the computer, what it can achieve.

 

Stay tuned.

 

If you are interested in learning python visit my youtube channel (Bilingual in english and Thamizh): MITRoboticsAssocition (MITRA)

 

Written by Kishore.K, Third year,  Electronics and Communication Engineering

 

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