Well, not quite yet, but we’re getting closer. Years of study have demonstrated over and again that there is huge potential in the concept of a mind-machine interface, allowing people to communicate with, and control, computers using only their thoughts. Past experiments have shown how it’s possible to control robotic arms and legs using the same parts of your brain that control your real arms or legs. Not only does this technology hold a lot of promise for handicapped people – imagine a paraplegic being given robotic legs to replace his originals – but it has also led to a series of really cool videos of monkeys.
And now, a new study from St. Louis demonstrates how a brain-to-computer connection can be set up allowing people to communicate with machines simply by thinking words. In this study, the computer was able to “listen” to the patient’s thoughts and accurately interpret what sounds they were thinking. Further development of this technology could allow people to send commands to a computer just by thinking them, and has major implications for people who have lost the ability to speak through injury or disease.
As these exciting technologies improve in the future, the advancements they bring in the fields of medicine and computing will of course be accompanied by a gradual blurring of the man-machine boundary. Now whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen.
Let me know what you think! What implications do you see for a world where people and machines are inseparably connected?
If you like the robot topic, here are some other links to check out:-It looks like a bird, and flies like a bird, but it’s actually a robot!
-These flying robotic construction workers take time off to play catch.