NEWS: Implant computer telepathy

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Thu, 15 Oct 1998 11:08:08 -0500

No, not just neuroimaging. There's an actual implant, and the brain adapts to it, with information coming out. As far as I know, this is the first neurosilicate interface. (There have been siliconeural stimulators, but that hasn't involved any information transfer.) I believe this is the first device to get information directly from the brain.


      So far, two incapacitated people have received the
      implants. This gave them the power to control a cursor
      on a computer screen by thinking about moving parts
      of their body. By pointing the cursor at different
      icons, the patients could make the computer voice
      phrases such as "I'm thirsty" or "Please turn off the
      light". "If you can run a computer, you can talk to the
      world," says Roy Bakay of Emory University in Atlanta,
      Georgia, whose team developed the implants. 

      The implants consist of two hollow glass cones, no
      bigger than the tip of a ballpoint pen, placed into the
      brain's motor cortex, which controls body movements.
      The glass cones are laced with neurotrophic chemicals
      extracted from the patients' own knees. These

-> chemicals encourage nerve growth so, over several
-> months, neurons in the cortex grow pathways into the
-> cones and attach themselves to tiny electrodes
-> mounted inside.


Vingean, isn't it? As far as I can tell nothing is being "decoded", so there isn't any complex information tranfer, or two-way transfer. It is a long way from here to semantic telepathy. Still, this is an astonishing proof-of-concept.

Crude. Blunt. Unthinking. But we are now officially living in the age of implants and computer telepathy.

--         Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.