You are here:  Home  >  Featured News  >  Current Article

[SUNDAY FEATURE-EDITORIAL] Using thought to control machines

Posted by   /  January 7, 2018  /  No Comments

    Print       Email

A researcher uses a Brain-Computer-Interface helmet, which detects the signals of the brain with electrodes placed on the scalp. /Photo- Jean-Pierre Clatot /AFP via Getty Images.

Brain-computer interfaces may change what it means to be human

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussions purposes only.)

The Economist

Technologies are often billed as transformative. For William Kochevar, the term is justified. Mr Kochevar is paralyzed below the shoulders after a cycling accident, yet has managed to feed himself by his own hand. This remarkable feat is partly thanks to electrodes, implanted in his right arm, which stimulate muscles. But the real magic lies higher up. Mr Kochevar can control his arm using the power of thought. His intention to move is reflected in neural activity in his motor cortex; these signals are detected by implants in his brain and processed into commands to activate the electrodes in his arms.

An ability to decode thought in this way may sound like science fiction. But brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) like the BrainGate system used by Mr Kochevar provide evidence that mind-control can work. Researchers are able to tell what words and images people have heard and seen from neural activity alone. Information can also be encoded and used to stimulate the brain. Over 300,000 people have cochlear implants, which help them to hear by converting sound into electrical signals and sending them into the brain. Scientists have “injected” data into monkeys’ heads, instructing them to perform actions via electrical pulses.


    Print       Email
  • Published: 3 months ago on January 7, 2018
  • Posted by:
  • Last Modified: January 7, 2018 @ 8:55 am
  • Filed Under: Featured News, Science

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You might also like...

Jason and Jordan Rose among America’s 100 Best Party Hosts

Read More →