We humans have evolved a rich repertoire of communication, from gesture to sophisticated languages. All of these forms of communication link otherwise separate individuals in such a way that they can share and express their singular experiences and work together collaboratively. In a new study, technology replaces language as a means of communicating by directly linking the activity of human brains. Electrical activity from the brains of a pair of human subjects was transmitted to the brain of a third individual in the form of magnetic signals, which conveyed an instruction to perform a task in a particular manner. This study opens the door to extraordinary new means of human collaboration while, at the same time, blurring fundamental notions about individual identity and autonomy in disconcerting ways.
Direct brain-to-brain communication has been a subject of intense interest for many years, driven by motives as diverse as futurist enthusiasm and military exigency. In his book Beyond Boundaries one of the leaders in the field, Miguel Nicolelis, described the merging of human brain activity as the future of humanity, the next stage in our species’ evolution. (Nicolelis serves on Scientific American’s board of advisers.) He has already conducted a study in which he linked together the brains of several rats using complex implanted electrodes known as brain-to-brain interfaces. Nicolelis and his co-authors described this achievement as the first “organic computer” with living brains tethered together as if they were so many microprocessors. The animals in this network learned to synchronize the electrical activity of their nerve cells to the same extent as those in a single brain. The networked brains were tested for things such as their ability to discriminate between two different patterns of electrical stimuli, and they routinely outperformed individual animals.
If networked rat brains are “smarter” than a single animal, imagine the capabilities of a biological supercomputer of networked human brains. Such a network could enable people to work across language barriers. It could provide those whose ability to communicate is impaired with a new means of doing so. Moreover, if the rat study is correct, networking human brains might enhance performance. Could such a network be a faster, more efficient and smarter way of working together?
Image Credit: C. Lagattuta
News This Week
The University of Queensland (UQ) is confident it can develop a vaccine for the potentially deadly coronavirus in as few as 16 weeks are two more people in Brisbane are monitored for the virus. [...]
University of Seville researchers, in collaboration with the University of Nottingham, have managed to create the first image of nanoparticles of stabilised gold with biodegradable and biocompatible systems that have been obtained with 3D-printng [...]
Researchers have used liquid metals to develop new bacteria-destroying technology that could be the answer to the deadly problem of antibiotic resistance. The technology uses nano-sized particles of magnetic liquid metal to shred bacteria [...]
Lithium ion batteries often grow needle-like structures between electrodes that can short out the batteries and sometimes cause fires. Now, an international team of researchers has found a way to grow and observe these [...]
Researchers from ETH Zurich and the National University of Singapore have developed a new kind of bandage that helps blood to clot and doesn’t stick to the wound (Nature Communications, "Superhydrophobic hemostatic nanofiber [...]
Some quantum computers and networks store their information in an electron’s spin, which can be up or down – like the zeros or ones in a conventional computer. They can also be a combination [...]
The device uses lasers to accelerate electrons along an etched channel. In a full-scale particle accelerator, electrons fly along a kilometers-long path as microwaves bombard them, boosting the particles to near light speed. Such a [...]
Researchers found a way to create lasers smaller than red blood cells. These microlasers convert infrared light into light at higher frequencies. Made from nanoparticles, these are among the smallest, continuously emitting lasers of [...]
AS artificial intelligence technology continues to develop, like any new tech, questions begin to arise on its capabilities in warfare. Technology could ultimately be catastrophic for mankind. During an interview with Express.co.uk, he argued [...]
The University of Surrey has developed a robust multi-layer nano-barrier for ultra-lightweight and stable carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CFRPs) that could be used to build high precision instrument structures for future space missions. CFRP [...]
Scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand say they have discovered how viruses that specifically kill bacteria can outwit bacteria by hiding from their defenses. These findings are important for the development [...]
Most synthetic materials, including those in battery electrodes, polymer membranes, and catalysts, degrade over time because they don't have internal repair mechanisms. If you could distribute autonomous microrobots within these materials, then you could [...]
For the first time, researchers have been able to record, frame-by-frame, how an electron interacts with certain atomic vibrations in a solid. The technique captures a process that commonly causes electrical resistance in materials [...]