The U.S. Defense Department’s research arm DARPA recently revealed that the U.S. military plans to implant chips in soldiers’ brains to help them remotely access data stored in computers, which could make the difference between a successful and a failed mission.
Via the chips, service men could gain important info on the enemy’s position, weaponry instructions, maps, and many more. Phillip Alvelda, head of DARPA’s Neural Engineering System Design project, explained that modern-day attempts to make computers and the human brain communicate are based on antiquated methods.
Alveda likened the human brain and a computer it tries to connect to to a pair of supercomputers trying to communicate via an ‘old 300-baud modem.’ This is why DARPA is set to come up with a new interface that would allow the brain directly communicate with machines at unprecedented resolution and data transfer speeds.
DARPA researchers explained that the interface, or the chip would simply translate digital data into electrochemical signals, and back. The federal agency, which is specialized in finding innovative ways to use technology for defense purposes, plans for the chip to be the size of a cubic centimeter.
Other attempts to develop similar interfaces between the brain and computers so far failed. The human recipient often ended up with a lot of useless data such as noise, rather than coherent information.
DARPA engineers are now working on improving the technology and allow computers to connect to each of the millions of neurons in a specific brain area. The idea is not new since defense agencies worldwide have been touting the idea of a mix between neurology and artificial intelligence as the most powerful technology on the battlefield for years.
In 2009, Intel has advanced the idea that chips in the brain could be the best solution to allow people mind control their computers, rather than using traditional input devices such as a keyboards and computer mice. Back then, the company estimated that the idea could become a reality by 2020.
In 2012, Northwestern researchers said that they restored a paralyzed patient’s ability to move his hand via an implanted device that allowed his brain to beam signals to his muscles.
Last fall, a professor at University of California at Berkeley estimated that our houses’ walls and furniture could come equipped with sensors that would communicate with chips inserted in our brains by 2025.
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