I’m doing a short presentation on Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) tomorrow. Sshhh, don’t tell anybody but I did a short paper on it last year for the intro class, and I still have an outline of the thing – a.k.a no work put into it other than about 3 minutes of googling any new articles that might have popped up since then. I feel that having to publicly speak is punishment enough, so it balances out. Putting my poor work ethic aside, this topic is actually pretty fascinating because of what it offers to people with disabilities. In a nutshell – electrodes, either implanted directly into the grey matter of the brain or placed non-invasively on the head, interpret manifestations of brain activity without the user needing to use voluntary muscles. Communication-wise, it’s like a God-send for people with ALS or who have locked-in syndrome. Their having access to a means of communication (other than an eye blink system) is such an essential aspect to their quality of life. And it’s also fantastic that BCI/neuroprosthetics are being developed for people who are paralyzed, or have damaged sight/hearing. Seriously exciting times.
Of couse there are other groups who will benefit from this too, like PC gamers (my brother’s eyes lit up when I told him about it), the military, etc. There’s also an ethical debate to this because things like brain pacemakers, which work to control a person’s depression or epilepsy, could eventually be used to change a person’s behaviors. Science fiction = now, y’all.
A 60 Minutes segment on BCI:
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