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Linking Human and Machine Brains

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1 Author(s)
K. Warwick ; Department of Cybernetics, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AY, United Kingdom

A look is taken here at how the use of implant technology is rapidly diminishing the effects of certain neural illnesses and distinctly increasing the range of abilities of those affected. An indication is given of a number of problem areas in which such technology has already had a profound effect, a key element being the need for a clear interface linking the human brain directly with a computer. In order to assess the possible opportunities, both human and animal studies are reported on. The main thrust of the paper is however a discussion of neural implant experimentation linking the human nervous system bi-directionally with the Internet. With this in place neural signals were transmitted to various technological devices to directly control them, in some cases via the Internet, and feedback to the brain was obtained from such as the fingertips of a robot hand, ultrasonic (extra) sensory input and neural signals directly from another human's nervous system. Consideration is given to the prospects for neural implant technology in the future, both in the short term as a therapeutic device and in the long term as a form of enhancement, including the realistic potential for thought communication -potentially opening up commercial opportunities. Clearly though, an individual whose brain is part human - part machine can have abilities that far surpass those with a human brain alone. Will such an individual exhibit different moral and ethical values to those of a human? If so, what effects might this have on society?

Published in:

2006 IEEE International Conference on Engineering of Intelligent Systems

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