Experts Predict Mind-Controlled Devices May Be Common By 2040s

Authored by Isabella Rayner via The Epoch Times (emphasis ZeroHedge),

Experts predict that by 2040, people will control smart devices with their thoughts due to advancements in “smartbrain” technology.

A smartbrain, or Brain-Machine Interface (BMI), is a wearable or implanted device that directly links the human brain to smart devices like phones, computers, and robotic limbs.

It would allow people to navigate the internet, send texts, and adjust thermostats by merely thinking, blurring boundaries between humans and machines.

University of New South Wales (UNSW) biomedical engineering expert Mohit Shivdasani said scientists are “very close” to mind-controlled devices becoming an everyday reality rather than a science-fiction concept.

We’re not far off from seeing someone walking around with a brain-machine interface outside of a lab,” he said.

“We have computers all around us. They are in our pockets and travelling everywhere we go, but to think of integrating that directly with the brain to use the technology … it’s pretty amazing.”

He said disabled people would particularly benefit from mind-controlled devices after a successful test on two paralysed people.

One particular [paralysed] person was able to control a robotic arm just by thinking about it, while another person was able to move a cursor on a computer screen and read his email,” he said.

He explained that the technology worked by unblocking signals from the brain to the limbs.

“There are situations where the brain can send signals, but those signals can’t get to limbs for the person to be able to then walk for themselves. So what a brain-machine interface would do is read those thoughts and convert those thoughts to an action,” he said.

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Further, he is improving smart brain bionic eyes for blind people and devices for chronic pain and inflammatory bowel disease.

He believes using smartbrains widely can significantly help people with different issues affecting their quality of life.

“I’ve had a lot of chats with blind patients. When you ask them what they want from a bionic eye, they’ll say: ‘I want to see my family,'” he explained.

“I remember one conversation with a lady, and she said: ‘I would love to be able to see the Target sign again, because when I go into the shopping centre, I want to be able to find Target really easily.”

“As an engineer, I would never have thought about that, but that could be so important.”

Future of Connected Health

UNSW PhD candidate Claire Bridges weighed in on some other benefits.

She mentioned that smartbrains help the future of connected health, like telehealth.

With COVID, we saw a big expansion in the need for and provision of telehealth, which has been incredibly beneficial. To further expand that and improve our ability to provide health care to people who might not be able to see a clinician or undergo a test in person, we can use wearable devices,” she explained.

She said smartbrain watches, or implanted blood glucose monitors and sensors, would change how doctors communicate with patients.

“Devices like these can collect huge amounts of data as they continuously monitor the person wearing them. AI could be a big help with this, analysing these big data sets to identify relevant health information and sending it to a patient’s treating clinician,” she added.

She said doctors could then intervene in near-real time when people are unwell.

“Whether it’s inflammatory markers in the blood or hormone secretion or neurotransmitter issues, we could catch things earlier and get that early diagnosis so that we can have more effective preventative health,” she explained.

“On average, Australians spend about 11 years of their life in poor health, but with the advances we’re seeing in our biomedical technology, both in terms of physical, actual hands-on implanted treatment or drug delivery or other developing technology, we have a lot of opportunity to improve things.”

Expert Warns of Risks

However, biomedical researcher Christina Maher likened smartbrains to someone “speaking” for people, causing invasive ethical problems.

“For example, a brain-computer interface (BCI) may generate the output “I’m good” when the user intended it to be “I’m great”. These are similar, but they aren’t the same. It’s easy enough for a non-disabled person to physically correct the mistake—but for people who can only communicate through BCIs, there’s a risk of being misinterpreted,” she said.

Further, she said people can’t choose which brain signals to share with the smartbrain.

Brain data are arguably our most private data because of what can be inferred regarding our identity and mental state,” she said.

“Yet private BCI companies may not need to inform users about what data are used to train algorithms.”

She said ethical challenges raise questions about what is best for people and society.

“For instance, should individuals in the military be equipped with neuroenhancing devices so they can better serve their country and protect themselves on the front lines, or would that compromise their individual identity and privacy? And which legislation should capture neurorights: data protection law, health law, consumer law, or criminal law?”

Nevertheless, she said smartbrains are unlikely to launch people into a dystopian world, in part due to computer limits.

“After all, there’s a leap between a BCI sending a short text and interpreting one’s entire stream of consciousness … making this leap largely comes down to how well we can train algorithms, which requires more data and computing power,” she explained.

Neuroscientist Andrew Jackson added society has nothing to fear yet.

“When it segues into talk of enhancement—the idea that we might be able to, for instance, write new memories into our brain or upload our memories onto a hard drive or into the cloud—we know a lot less about how those brain systems work,” he told ABC News.

He explained the human body is still a lot more capable than machinery.

At the moment, he said, the benefits of using a brain-machine interface are “still nothing like the sophistication of a normally functioning nervous system.”

“I think we have to be realistic,” he said.

Sourced from ZeroHedge

Isabella Rayner is a reporter based in Melbourne, Australia. She is an author and editor for WellBeing, WILD, and EatWell Magazines.

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