Could Neural Lace Connect Our Brains To The Internet?


Shh, I’m drafting an email about the gif
vs jif debate. Sent, Our brains are individuals. Little gelatinous masses… But Silicon Valley superstars want to create
something from science fiction that would change all that — a new tech called neural
lace. “Neural lace” was coined by Iain Banks
in a long running set of science fiction novels. In the books, the tech helps brains interact
with AI, and with each other. Back in the real world, tech companies want
to give your brain this same upgrade! No, thank you, I say. Good day, sir. Neural lace might sound shiney, but it’s
just another way of saying, Brain Computer Interface — something scientists have experimented
with for decades. This totally took off in the 90s, and by the
late 2000s there were more than 100 new, peer-reviewed papers a year just looking at how to hook
up man to machine… We’ve hooked up rats to these things with
mixed results. We’ve made it so paralyzed people could
move a cursor or feel sensations. We’ve even made the whole thing wireless! Right now, tbh, BCI’s are not awesome. They suck up information about brain activity…
like brainwaves with EEGs, or blood flow with fMRIs. They can measure activity with electrodes,
but to date no BCI can directly interconnect and read neurons in the brain. We just get a general idea of what’s going
on. And that’s what neural lace is promising. A direct, hard connection. Right now, it’s sort of like we’re watching
the brain through binoculars, rather than going over and just having a chat. Which makes humanity sound like real creepers. Neural lace’s promise, is that the lace
would be injected into the brain, embed itself, and then live in there, intertwined with your
brain cells — translating your thoughts into computers, uploading and downloading information
from networks and so on. This could improve memory, and allow us to
keep up with AI — we could even communicate with each other! I know, it sounds amazing. But it doesn’t exist, yet. Not in the way you’re thinking. Yes, Elon Musk, the Lex Luthor slash Tony
Stark of our day has teased it. But we’re not there yet. Here’s where we are: A prototype of brain-injectible
technology was published in Nature Nanotechnology in 2015. After injection, this nanoscopic plastic-and-metal
mesh embedded itself in mouse brains. That’s it. We’ve invented a plug. A socket. A place where we can start to connect a brain
to something else. This seems akin to learning how wires work,
and saying we’ve invented the internet, computer and the smartphone. The paper made a splash, because it’s the
first successful embedding. Right now, BCI’s require invasive brain
surgery, massive computers, or are just too crude to be useful. This is just an injection. Which is a huge win! But… Being able to add an interface right into
the brain is a step down the path to The Singularity — when man and machine become one… but
it’s just ah- step. Think about it… what’s the lace going
to run on? glucose from the brain? It would need to be more efficient than the
brain itself. It would need to communicate out of the head
reliably, and would need to not cause the immune system to reject it, or adapt if cells
moved or died nearby. Right now, it’s being seen as a way to deliver
drugs or therapy for Parkinson’s, diagnose head injuries or treat cancers, at the moment
it’s still fairly science fictional. But the promise of being completely interconnected
is pretty incredible! So count on hearing about it, a lot, in the
coming years. I mean, we’re basically cyborgs already…
using phones and computers to augment our brains, so why not just plug them right in? Look, we’re doing all this to better integrate
man and machine so we can compete with AI, right? Well, we might be out of luck because robots
can sense emotions via radio waves. We’re screwed. Check out this video, here for more info. And let us know down in the comments if you
are worried about AI, cause some of you probably are, and please subscribe for more Seeker.

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