It is early days, but we may be close to brain implants that enhance the physical capabilities of humans via computer. Neuralink, the brainchild of EV entrepreneur Elon Musk, has said it expects to trial its first human brain chip at some point in 2022, having successfully deployed one in a monkey. The monkey was able to play a primitive computer game simply with the power of its thoughts.
Musk has claimed that the work of his brain-interface start-up will have important use cases in sectors like healthcare where it could assist people who have suffered spinal cord injuries and cannot perform bodily tasks for themselves.
The technology still has hurdles to clear, not least approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. There is also further R&D to be done to ensure that once a chip has been implanted it can be safely removed.
Neural implants are designed to adapt the parts of the nervous system responsible for seeing, thinking, moving and feeling, helping to control cardiovascular, inflammatory, respiratory, and immune systems. By their nature they are highly invasive, so while they have huge medical potential, their use to date has been severely limited. The success of Neuralink and similar start-ups will depend on developing minimally invasive implants. It may be some time before brain implants are a tool at the disposal of the average CIO for everyday enterprise applications.
Image courtesy of Live Science