Tagged With brain-computer interface

Imagine for a minute that you survive a terrible accident, and lose function of your right arm. You receive a brain implant able to interpret your brain's neural activity and reroute commands to a robotic arm. Then one day, someone hacks that chip, sending malicious commands to the robotic arm. It's a biological invasion of privacy in which you are suddenly no longer in control.

Back in April, at Facebook's annual developer conference, the company announced an ambitious -- and very creepy! -- plan to read its users' minds. Facebook's secretive hardware R&D division, Building 8, planned to develop its own "brain-to-computer interface" hardware that would allow a user to send words straight from her brain to a computer by merely thinking. But until now, we've heard scant details as to how exactly Facebook plans to accomplish this.

These days, it seems you're nobody if you're not working on a way to merge machines with the human brain. Earlier this year, both Facebook and perpetual moonshot-enthusiast Elon Musk announced plans for brain-computer interfaces that could allow us to read the thoughts of others and improve our capacity for learning. Today, the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency announced plans to spend $US65 million ($85.5 million) developing advanced neural implants that connect our brains to computers in order to treat sensory deficits such as blindness.

Locked-in syndrome leaves people completely paralysed, but with full awareness, brain function and sometimes eye movement. And until now, communication was thought to be impossible.

But a recent study saw researchers set up four patients with a brain-computer interface, allowing a computer to measure their brainwaves. They then asked the patients a series of simple, fact-based, "yes" or "no" questions - and the computer was able to detect the correct response seven times out of ten. One of those questions was "Are you happy?"

Using a brain implant, Stanford researchers have developed a mind-machine interface that allows monkeys to text at the very reasonable rate of 12 words per minute. Eventually, the system could be used to help people with movement disorders to communicate more efficiently.