New steps to meld mind and machine
Until now we’ve seen the types of brain-computer interface where the human has to put on some sort of bulky hat full of wires to control a machine. It won’t be like that for long: the future of organic electronics may already be here. In 2009, a team of Swedish scientists created the first artificial nerve cell that communicates with nerves in their own language of neurotransmitter chemicals, rather than with electrical impulses. More recently, another team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison scratched the surface of a new kind of brain-machine interface by wiring computer chips with living nerve cells.
These technologies are radically shifting conventional brain-computer interfaces. Not only can they help people with diseases such as schizophrenia or Parkinson’s, but they also present exciting possibilities for neurotypical humans. For example, such devices could allow you to control the machines around you, and to communicate with them as well. Yes, creepy if it gets hacked. Or here’s another idea: what if you could communicate your thoughts to another person just by thinking? Then it wouldn’t be brain-machine interfaces anymore, but brain-machine-brain interfaces.