The idea of a microchip inside the brain may soon become reality. In an environment where the self-driving car is soon to become a feature of our everyday lives, there are several projects aimed at designing a microchip for implantation into the cerebral cortex.
According to one respected business journal, a company has been set up which is focusing on the creation of tiny electrodes to implant into the brain. This technology would be destined above all for therapeutic purposes. The company which is developing it is also working on ways to enhance the power of the human brain so as to avoid the possibility of it being dominated, one day, by Artificial Intelligences.
Microchips in military healthcare programmes
When discussing microchips in the brain and nanotechnologies which enable an interface between man and machine, it is important to remember that, as early as 2014, the US administration announced the implementation of a five-year research project aimed at preventing suicides among military personnel.
The project in question, conducted by a Pentagon agency which deals with the development of cutting-edge technologies for the US army, involves the production of various types of chip which are capable of influencing the functioning of the central nervous system, with the objective of helping soldiers recover from several conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and post-traumatic stress disorder. This would involve the use of electromagnetic components which are able to control the organs of the human body.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks related to this project is the size of the chips, which, in order to be implanted under the skin, need to be very small. It is important to note that this kind of technology is already in use in medicine to treat various kinds of illness. The chips however, are about the size of a playing card and when surgically implanted, they often lead to side effects.
It is for this reason that some researchers working for the Pentagon’s scientific department, have stated that the chips used in this project will be significantly miniaturised and they will be designed for insertion under the skin using a needle.
Neural microchips: cinematic make-believe and reality
Microchips in the brain and in other parts of the body have been the subject of several recent films. Such storylines have been an incentive for scientific debate during which experts in physiology, neuroscience and bio-engineering have swapped notes and focused on the current situation, including technology such as cochlear implants, which work like electronic ears, thanks to a tiny chip which allows hearing-impaired patients to hear again.
Research in this area has been making giant steps and, according to several experts, has already demonstrated the potential to increase human memory capacity via the use of a chip in the brain. The fields of research are many and include the possibility of granting vision to the visually-impaired. Artificial Intelligence, despite its need for additional fine-tuning, has already been used in cerebral decoding, with the specific purpose of rebuilding what some people had been able to see during their lives before experiencing problems with their sight.
Experts have been focusing on the development of Brain – Computer Interface systems, in other words neural interfaces between the brain and a computer which could prove especially useful for the disabled, allowing tetraplegic patients to move robotic arms thanks to chips connected to the brain, which can translate thoughts into actual movements.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith