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Tech News of the Week: Brain-Computer Interface

Cisco Employee
Cisco Employee


The first Terminator movie was released in 1984, nearly 40 years ago. Back then, the concept of the human body being implanted with chips seemed like pure science fiction, something we might never see in our lifetimes. However, just this week, Neuralink announced that they are beginning human clinical trials for a coin-sized chip that can be surgically embedded under the skull.

As you may have guessed, the company was founded by Elon Musk.

According to their website, "The PRIME Study (short for Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface) is a groundbreaking investigational medical device trial. It aims to evaluate the safety of our implant (N1) and surgical robot (R1), as well as assess the initial functionality of our brain-computer interface (BCI) for enabling people with paralysis to control external devices with their thoughts."

The device essentially provides a brain-computer interface that measures brain activity, decodes intended movements, and then controls external devices like computers. According to Neuralink, various brain signals—such as whether your eyes are closed or open, whether you're in a relaxed or deep-sleep state, or whether you're in an action or focus state—can all be detected. The initial goal of this trial is to enable people to control a computer cursor or keyboard using only their thoughts. According to the company, "Those with quadriplegia resulting from cervical spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may qualify for this trial."

I believe that this BCI technology could function similarly to APIs. If it allows individuals to control a computer's keyboard and cursor, it could eventually enable the control of prosthetics or exoskeletons. Such advancements would restore a degree of mobility to those with paralysis or amputations, and that would be a wonderful development to see.

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