Read/write access to the brain?

Oct 22, 2020Philosophy/Ethics, Tech0 comments

“Elon Musk has recently announced a breakthrough in his Neuralink project. Besides several interesting technological innovations, there is a lot of hype about what it could all mean in the future. Will we truly be able to read and write memories, emotions, knowledge in the brain?”

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

Manuel

Hi Cho, have you seen Elon Musk’s announcement?

Today 21:30   

Manuel

Any comments on the neuralink?

Today 21:30   

Cho

Hi Manuel, yes I did, I found it quite amusing                           

Today 21:34   

Manuel

Amusing? Amazing! He called it “A fitbit in your brain”! Don’t you think it is a major breakthrough?

Today 21:34   

Cho

Well, in some respects. It is smaller and receives more signals, but a lot of his claims are overblown.

Today 21:35   

Manuel

What do you mean? It can read a thousand neurons, that’s ten times better than what we have now!

Today 21:35   

Cho

Sure, but to help a paraplegic patient, we likely need to read amillion, so it needs to be at least thousand times better.

Today 21:37

Manuel

Ah, I see. But still, isn’t that amazing, that we can read and write brain signals wirelessly now?

Today 21:38   

Cho

Sure, it is very practical to be able to do so live and wirelessly, instead of with cables or antenna sticking out of your skull …

Today 21:40   

Manuel

I feel like you’re going to say “but …” now … 🥺

Today 21:40   

Cho

Indeed! We still need a lot of work to interpret the data, to understand what it means

Today 21:41   

Cho

And I’m not so sure about the “writing” part…                                         

Today 21:41   

Manuel

Musk said we could save and replay memories one day!

Today 21:41   

Cho

Maybe in a hundred years, not with this device, and not with our current understanding of the brain

Today 21:42

Manuel

Why not? What’s the problem?  😨

Today 21:44   

Cho

We don’t know how brain activity causes mental processes.
We might be able to correlate neurons firing with limbs moving, but memories are far more complex

Today 21:45   

Manuel

It would need even more channels, like, billions?

Today 21:45   

Cho

Not just that, but we don’t know which ones.                                     

Today 21:46   

Cho

It is not likely that something as complex as a memory would be localized in on small area of the brain…

Today 21:47   

Manuel

OK, thanks for the info. I’ll have to do some digging on my own and will come back to you!!

Today 21:48   

Cho

Sure, anytime!  ☺️☺️☺️                                                              

Today 21:49   

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