Brain implants are happening.

A number of startups have recently chosen to leap into a market that many would consider science fiction, developing implantable systems that are able to listen to, interpret and speak with individual neurons within the brain. Their research is guided by recent advancements in our understanding of the human neural network, in combination with advancements in computing capability, mathematical modeling and machine learning.

Some of these startups have very targeted goals, such as treating one particular condition, under one Medicare code, in one specific region of the brain. Still, all seem to share a common end goal – to understand the functional system of the brain and interact with it. Companies, such as Ni2o.com and Neuralink, are looking towards even more futuristic implants, reading and writing to thousands or even millions of individual neurons with extremely high precision and bandwidth, with very different approaches.​

These products will eventually provide continuous analysis and regulation of firing signals in realtime, a capability that will greatly enhance both the effectiveness of the implant and greatly improve the quality of life for millions of chronic patients around the world. Professor Newton Howard from the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences and Elon Musk see these implantable devices as being the inevitable future of a “digital tertiary layer” that we are already embedding ourselves within, with email, mobile phones and technology in general. Elon has often spoken about his concerns over the potential dangers of AI and now believes that humanity will eventually require this type of radical cognitive enhancement if it hopes to ever keep up. While Professor Howard sees the new developments as departure into a middle lane approach, from the classical AI of either augmenting human or augmenting a Machine.

They both could be right.

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