Humanity can be on the brink of an unprecedented merger of human biology with advanced technology, the merging of our thoughts and knowledge directly with the cloud in real time – and this remarkable turning point may be only decades, the scientists say.
In a new study that examines what they call the "human brain / cloud interface," scientists explain the technological fundamentals of such a future system, and address the barriers we need to address before this science fiction dream becomes reality.
The core, the brain / cloud interface (B / CI) may be made possible by the impending advances in nanotechnology, a team led by senior author and nanotechnology researcher Robert Freitas Jr. from the California Institute of Molecular Production.
Nanobots – incredibly tiny machines smaller than the width of human hair – are expected one day in favor of humans and the planet in all ways, but it will take a certain type to achieve the B / CI: neuralnanorobotics.
"These devices will move through human blood vessels, crossing the blood-blood barrier, and the autopsy itself between brain cells, or even within brain cells," Freitas said.
"They then transmit coded information to a cloud-based network of computers for real-time monitoring of brain state and data generation."
So far, so Matrix, Then screw. But just because it sounds amazing like fantastic science fiction, does not mean it's just a fantasy. In a sense, we're already half there.
Take it just a few decades ago, the Internet as we know it today did not exist at all. In the rapid evolution of technology since then, we are now interfacing with this connected hub of information through most of our life from remarking.
For better or for worse (in better hope), this hypothetical medium of B / CI will represent the ultimate continuation of this path, and while we are not there yet, we are very close.
Last year, scientists announced a three-way brain-connecting technology called Bryant, which allowed three people to share their thoughts and even play games together through the cloud, using only their brains.
Such milestones are simultaneously, and to some extent primitive, in that they represent only infant steps in what advanced B / CI vision can someday become.
"[BrainNet] Used electrical signals recorded through the skull of "senders" and magnetic stimulation through the skull of "receivers", allowing performing cooperative tasks, "says Nano scientist Nuno Martins from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
"With the progress of neuralnanorobotics, we predict the future creation of" superbrains "that can harness the thoughts and thinking power of any number of humans and machines in real time.
According to Martins, these technologies of brain connections – built by a variety of visions from futurists like Ray Kurzweil and technological entrepreneurs like Ayalon Mosk and his NewLink – can one day revolutionize democracy and unite people over cultural disputes.
When we expect that a technological utopia of the B / CI type will emerge, the researchers can not say for sure, but expect their newspaper that this could be an option within the "coming decades".
Whether we meet that ambitious goal will involve devising the right kind of scientific and technological solutions to make the B / CI work as expected.
Perhaps the biggest obstacles will be finding ways to safely integrate nano-robots into the human brain tissue, allowing these small assistants to transfer vast amounts of data generated by supercomputers into our gray matter without creating a bottleneck effect.
"This challenge includes not only bandwidth for global data transmission, but also how to enable data exchange with neurons using tiny devices embedded deep in the brain," Martins said.
All in all, we are still far from realizing the wild techno dream. But we are also closer than we have ever been – an exciting and frightening place.
The findings are reported in Limits in the field of neuroscience.