This is how brain computer interfaces work
The moon landing, cyberspace, the iPhone: just three developments among many that have come straight into our lives out of imaginative stories. Should this trend also apply to communication between humans and machines, we are heading towards interesting times: plugs behind the ear connect us to database worlds. A successor to the WLAN enables us to control artificial body parts, if necessary two Milky Way further. And about everything on the body is replaceable. The brain, too, assuming a backup.
There is no question that we are still a long way from this future. But communication between man and machine is already a reality today. Brainwaves control cursors; Chips on the cortex help write emails; Rats practice a type of telepathy. Many questions are still open, many problems still have to be solved, but on the horizon there are also concrete applications on this side of science fiction.
However, what can be a real blessing for patients in the clinic confronts us with serious ethical questions elsewhere: for example those about human dignity and identity or those about military capabilities. But there is no question about it: Computer-brain interfaces are an exciting topic with the potential of the old Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times".
An introduction by Manuela Lenzen can be found here.
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