Widgets Magazine

Can we 'upload' our thoughts on computer?

Computers and brains have already begin talking to each other in high-tech labs

Author Mukul Vyas
Is it possible to upload and download our thoughts to or from a computer? Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk thinks so and he has embarked on an ambitious project to turn this science fiction stuff into reality.

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX has acquired Neuralink, a company which aims to establish a direct link between the brain and the computer. Computers and brains have already begin talking to each other in high-tech labs and the results are getting better and better. For example, disabled people can now learn to govern robotic limbs by the sheer power of their mind. As the technology gets more sophisticated, one day we may be able to operate spaceships with our thoughts and upload our brains to computers. But just how feasible is Musk's latest endeavour? Musk has already shown how expensive space technology can be run as a private enterprise. 
 
Brain-interfaces available today have driven a revolution in the area of assistive technologies. With their help, people with disabilities feed themselves and even walk again. In the past few years, major investments in brain research from the US and the EU have further advanced research on them. Foundation for neurotechnology was laid in the 1970s when Jaques Vidal proposed that electroencephalography (EEG) could be used to create systems that allow people to control external devices directly with their mind. EEG tracks and records brain-wave patterns via sensors placed on the scalp.The idea was to use computer algorithms to transform the recorded EEG signals into commands.Since then, interest in this wonderful technology has been growing rapidly.
 
However, despite investments, the transition from using the technology in research labs to everyday life is still slow. The EEG hardware is totally safe for the user, but records very noisy signals. Also,research labs have been mainly focused on using it to understand the brain and to propose innovative applications without any follow-up in commercial products. Musk’s “neural lace” technology involves implanting electrodes in the brain to measure signals. This would allow getting neural signals of much better quality than EEG – but it requires surgery.

The  is still quite mysterious. Last year he stated that brain-computer interfaces are needed to confirm humans’ supremacy over artificial intelligence.The project may sound ambitious, seeing  the limits of current technology. Brain-computer interfaces also face major ethical issues, especially those based on sensors surgically implanted in the brain. Most people may not like brain surgery for this purpose. This could significantly limit the number of potential users of Musk’s neural lace technology.
 
We need non-invasive techniques to measure brain activity. We also need to improve our understanding of the brain processes and how to decode them.The idea of uploading or downloading our thoughts to or from a computer is simply impossible with our current knowledge of the human brain. Many processes related to memory are still not understood by neuroscientists.According to most optimistic forecasts, it will be at least 20 years before brain-computer interfaces will become technologies that we use in our daily lives.
 
But that doesn’t make Musk’s initiative useless. The neural lace could initially be used to study the brain mechanisms and treat disorders such as epilepsy or major depression. Musk says his latest endeavor, Neuralink is four years away from introducing its first product to market.The initial version of the Neuralink device would focus on people with severe brain injuries. "The first use of the technology will be to repair brain injuries as a result of stroke or cutting out a cancer lesion,where somebody’s fundamentally lost a certain cognitive element," said Musk. Rather than dismissing Musk’s initiative, let’s remember that these visions help researchers set long-term goals.
Widgets Magazine
Widgets Magazine
Widgets Magazine
Widgets Magazine