Would you have a computer chip implanted in your brain? Now, what if that tech could combat paralysis, crippling depression, deafness or blindness? Sounds like a science fiction novel, but the tech is here.
A Utah company has already placed brain chips in about three dozen patients. So far, it’s allowed people to control robotic arms and wheelchairs, play video games and even feel sensations in paralyzed areas of the body. Truly amazing stuff.
The NeuroPort Array was developed by Salt Lake City-based Blackrock Neurotech (no, not that Blackrock). It attaches to the brain via 96 tiny needles (yikes!) and reads electrical signals, i.e. thoughts, that translate into real-world action.
Say someone is learning to use a robotic arm. They may think, “Lift hand.” AI software decodes the signal, then relays it to the prosthetic and boom, in a nanosecond, that hand is lifted.
What’s on the horizon?
Blackrock Neurotech’s first chip was implanted in a human back in 2004. Now, they’re seeking FDA approval for brain chips designed for at-home use, to help patients with paralysis move independently again.
They’re also developing microchips to restore hearing and vision, improve memory, and battle anxiety, PTSD and depression.
Pump the brakes, Elon
Elon Musk’s company, Neuralink, has similar plans. But the FDA rejected the company’s human-implant trial in 2022, citing dozens of issues to be addressed before human testing.
Chief among those? The fact that it runs on a lithium battery (I don’t want one of those in my brain, thanks), the potential for the wires to move to other parts of the brain and whether it can be removed without damaging brain tissue. No bueno.
Elon thinks they’re on track for approval this spring, but staffers are reportedly more skeptical — rightfully so.
Listen, Tesla isn’t exactly known for its attention to user safety … they’ve been working on self-driving cars since 2014 and last I checked, they were still dealing with issues like steering wheels flying off. Personally, I think I’ll pass on the “self-thinking” brain software.
But I want to know what YOU think. Come tell me here on Twitter!
By the way, jellyfish have survived over 650 million years despite not having brains. This gives me hope for humanity. Now, share this story with your peeps.