For most of human history, technology has largely been focused on inventing things that people could use externally, like refrigerators, computers, cars, and so on. But now, scientists are exploring ways to embed technology into human bodies and improve human capacity. Organizations like DARPA, Neuralink, and Open Water are leading the way in this revolution.
The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is reportedly funding research of a high-resolution brain interface that would not require any kind of surgical intervention. Though earlier experiments to this end were mostly focused on helping wounded soldiers, the new project is aimed at improving combat capabilities of military personnel.
“A neural interface that enables fast, effective, and intuitive hands-free interaction with military systems by able-bodied warfighters is the ultimate program goal,” Next Big Future says about the DARPA project.
DARPA also wants the man-machine interface to interact with AI and other systems in an intuitive manner that is currently impossible with existing interfaces. The project has secured funding for four years of research and is expected to deliver a “complete integrated bidirectional brain-machine interface system.”
Elon Musk’s Neuralink is another major player in this field and has set a target of building a brain-computer interface that would expand the intellectual capacity of a person. Musk believes that human beings are already machines and that by using technology, we can be improved.
“You can answer any question pretty much instantly. You can remember flawlessly. Your phone can remember videos [and] pictures perfectly. Your phone is already an extension of you. You’re already a cyborg. Most people don’t realize that they are already a cyborg. It’s just that the data rate… it’s slow, very slow. It’s like a tiny straw of information flow between your biological self and your digital self. We need to make that tiny straw like a giant river, a huge, high-bandwidth interface,” CNBC quotes Musk.
The Neuralink is expected to give humanity a better chance of survival against AI. Since humans will be incapable of matching the intelligence of an advanced AI, Musk feels that the only way for humanity to move forward is by blending itself with the AI. In short — if you can’t beat it, merge with it.
Open Water is currently in the process of creating an optical imaging system that will be capable of creating holograms of not only medical conditions, but also thoughts.
“Our goal is to create a wearable to enable us to see the inner workings of the body and brain at high resolution. Using novel opto-electronics, we aim to replace the functionality of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) with a true wearable enabling constant monitoring. Implications are broad for detection and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, internal bleeding, mental diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and beyond — for communication via thought,” the company says on its website.
Current MRI technologies are very expensive and only a few people have access to the equipment. The company aims to make the end product as cheap as possible so that even the poorest of areas will have clinics equipped with their tech.
And while the Open Water imaging system will create a big impact in the field of medical imaging, it will be its ability to create images of your thoughts that will attract large-scale attention. The startup plans on releasing the developer kits in just a year and to launch the fully developed product a year after that.