Rajesh Rao, researcher at the University of Washington (UoW) sent a signal to flicker a finger to his colleague, Andrea Stocco to demonstrate that he can interface with another brain.
Using a brain-computer interface, the device reads rain signals and translates them into motions that robotic limbs can react to.
Rao was able to move Stocco’s finger by thinking about moving his own while watching a video game.
Through an electrical brain-signal reading cap, Rao told Stocco’s body to move. Rao’s thoughts were transferred via the internet.
Stocco remarked that the feeling was completely involuntary; just as a twitch.
Stocco said: “The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains. We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain.”
Rao said: “This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains.”
Miguel Nicolelis, neuroscientist at Duke University (DU), commented: “What they did is kind of like using a phone signal to trigger a magnetic jolt to the brain. It’s not a true brain-to-brain interface where you would have communication of signals between people. This is one-way. So, I would say it is a little early to declare victory on creating a true human brain interface.”
Last February, DU researchers linked two rats in separate locations through telepathy facilitated with electrodes.
One rat was identified as an “encoder” for being the originator of the electrical brain activity (or thoughts) and a “decoder” who received no visual prompt. In a 70% success rate, the rats were able to transit information telepathically; with the encoder influencing the choices of the decoder.
Using electrodes connecting the rat’s brains, a “super brain” was created by these researchers in the quest to understand the “organic computer” we utilize every day. The incredible aspect of the experiment arrived when the rats were electrically connected from one laboratory in Brazil and the other at Duke in North Carolina. Information was transferred through the rats successfully 7 times out of 10 which led to the conclusion that the thoughts of one animal were influencing the thoughts of another – even over a great distance.
Nicolelis has been at the forefront of biotronic engineering for amputees with robotic limbs that are controlled by the user’s thoughts. He pioneeredexperiments in 2008 using the brain signals of monkeys that led to the creation of robotic limbs.
Anders Sanberg, professor of ethics of neurotechnologies at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, said that Nicolelis’ work was “very important” and the implications for future applications can define whatever limitations we counter while understanding how the brain encodes information.
Sanberg said: “The main reason we are running the planet is that we are amazingly good at communicating and coordinating. Without that, although we are very smart animals, we would not dominate the planet. I don’t think there’s any risk of supersmart rats from this,” he added. “There’s a big difference between sharing sensory information and being able to plan. I’m not worried about an imminent invasion of ‘rat multiborgs’.”
Headed by Dimitry Itskov, the Avatar Project, an off-shoot of 2045, will house human brains in disembodied vehicles.
They will initially be transplanted into robots, then humans by 2045 with the advancement of reverse-engineering; an effective “downloading” of human consciousness onto a computer chip.
DARPA is extremely interested in Avatar for the allocation of bi-pedal robots and essential super-soldiers and have devoted $7 million of its $2.8 billion 2012 budget to developing “interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier’s surrogate.”
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