May 20, 2021
5 mins

Would you connect your brain to the cloud?


A week ago, 4 metal screws were taken out of my body. The same week, Elon Musk shared news about a chimpanzee, whose brain had been implanted with a chip. Here's the video; it's worth a watch.

As I've written about extensively in previous newsletters, science is overhauling how we interact with the world around us. Watching this chimpanzee playing a game telepathically opened my eyes to both the potential and the risks of technologies such as computer-brain interfaces.

As ever, Elon Musk has done an extraordinary job of communicating the story, but it would be a mistake to assume that this kind of innovation is only happening on the west coast of the States. Let me share a couple of examples of similar innovations in China and South Korea, which are pushing the boundaries.

1. Wireless Brain-Computer Interface Chip for Animals

This brain-interface chip measures, with minimal noise interference, neural signals. The chip can work within a radius of four meters measuring signals over a 24 hour time period. Weighing three grams, the chip is bluetooth-enabled and so small that it can be connected to the brain of a mouse. This technology, which was showcased last week in Shanghai (it was developed by Fudan University), will be rolled out at a commercial scale in September.

Bluetooth chip which can connect to a mouse's brain.

2. An electric eye to replace a damaged eye

South Korea is developing an implantable eye device that generates bioelectrical signals on behalf of damaged optical cells; in other words, this technology can act as a replacement for a damaged eye. This project is still a long way from commercialization and lags behind competition worldwide in terms of resolution, but the technology is advancing at a rapid rate.

Cellico's electronic eye generates bioelectrical signals on behalf of damaged optical cells. (Photo Credit=Cellico)

What does all this mean?

Humanity is getting closer and closer to being able to connect interactively to computers. The most significant implication of this is the ability to access computing power.

Imagine a world in which you could :

- Send messages just by thinking about them; say, notifying your friends you will be late for dinner by thinking about it, rather than with a WhatsApp message;

- Remember anything you want; rather than rely on reminders, you could remember by connecting to the cloud. This would overhaul how we think about memory;

- Be notified immediately if one of your relatives were to fall down in the bathroom;

- And much more...

At a personal level, I've undergone a number of surgeries. It's fair to say that scientific advancement has transformed the quality of my life. As we approach this future, we need to ask ourselves what role these innovations should play in our lives. The possibilities are endless. The ethical and security questions are equally endless.

We need to start thinking about these questions seriously.

Thanks as ever for reading and, if you like what you see, please consider sharing!