Watch this video on YouTube, before reading todays blog. The video features research work being done on monkeys involving placing electrodes in their brains and “reading” their thoughts. Their thoughts were then plotted against their actions, and slowly (over 5 years) interpreted, to reveal the “alphabet of the brain”.
In this amazing video, a monkey is taught to play a computer game with a joystick. Simultaneously it’s thoughts are decoded by a computer which drives a robotic arm (which is actually out of it’s line of vision at this stage). Suddenly the monkey stops physically moving the joystick, but the game on the computer screen in front of it, continues, and the monkeys brain realizes that it can play the game merely by thought.
In a later video which you can see here, the monkey is now in full control of the robotic arm, and actually takes pieces of fruit with it, and pops them into it’s mouth, by thought alone.
In the words of the researcher, “the brain is finally free of the body.” Amazing stuff, but what practical applications can flow from this research?
For starters, the paralyzed could walk again, amputees could have fully-functional arms and legs, controlled by their brains, like ordinary flesh and blood limbs. Could the brain thus become the ultimate joystick? Of course it could.This simple experiment, in my opinion, has huge implications.
The tricky part would probably be cutting open our skulls and implanting the electrodes, but I’m sure that a helmet containing the electrodes could be designed, which would be non-intrusive. As with all technology, the helmet will get gradually smaller, and eventually the electrodes would probably all be contained in an implantable chip.
With bluetooth and other wireless technology, even wires wouldn’t be necessary to connect to the prosthetic limbs. It is also clear that a period of training would be necessary, but we can’t just get into a car and start driving without training, so what’s new?
Taking this idea to it’s logical conclusion, as our bodies age and fail, and if our brains could just be kept functioning, instead of dying (how old-fashioned) we could just become the machines of the future.
P.S. If you do have the time watch this video of a quadraped robot (petrol-powered) which looks like two men carrying a couch. Hilarious, but just a reminder, that the robots of the future are going to be functional (this one is to carry heavy loads over rough terrain) rather than created in our image.