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Source Code: how close are we to there?

Published by under Articles,Bio-Sciences,Communications categories on June 21, 2011

Head connected by optical fibers “Source Code” story revolves around a U.S. army captain drafted to have his consciousness sent repeatedly via computer into the mind of a dead man, where he lives through the last eight minutes of the victim’s life before he was killed in a train bombing. Could something like that happen in the near future?  by Amina Ahmed.

Though some of the technology in Source Code will remain purely fiction, researchers are already using brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to treat diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and provide therapy for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Recently, researchers at the University of Plymouth developed a computer-music system, which interacts directly with the user’s brain by picking up the tiny electrical impulses of neurons and allowing paralysed patients to play music just by thinking about it.

Possibly one day we might be able to chat with our friends on the other side of the world just with our thoughts. Then it would not be brain-machine interfaces anymore, but brain-machine-brain interfaces.

Obviously, with such dramatic change a complete shift in thinking will be necessary when it comes to product design. For instance, it would be crucial to tackle design challenges like accidental activation. In other words, how much of our input should be automatic and how much should be intentional and how can we separate between the two? Also, if people are communicating through their thoughts, how can we ensure that their fleeting thoughts do not become unintended messages?

At the moment some of the devices used for BCI research are intrusive, expensive, or just uncomfortable (wired skull caps). However, in the next few years we will see the technology shrink to be able to fit into a pair of glasses or even a comfortable “thinking cap”, and may be the day when we might have nano-computers running around in our bodies and tapping into our brains might be just around the corner.

By Amina Ahmed , Expert in Neuroscience.



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