The human brain has centralized control over all the other organs of the body. Our brain is both complex and simply amazing. We function and perform because of our brain, we store information in our brain and as our brain evolves all our other personality traits and our intelligence evolves too. When a person dies, essentially all their intelligence is lost, it leaves with the person that contains it.
However, what if there was a way to save this intelligence, to keep is safe even after a person passes away? This kind of idea is shown in the 2014 film “Transcendence”. In the movie Dr. Will Caster essentially uploads his consciousness into a quantum computer which his wife then connects to the internet.
In the film Will’s brain is able to control other people who are infected with his nano-particles, thus allowing him to control humans as well as machines. This idea of uploading a person’s brain into a computer is very suspicious but it is not all that far from reality.
Ray Kurzweil noted author, scientist, and futurist , who freely acknowledges that, “Science fiction is the great opportunity to speculate on what could happen.”
The idea of a brain-computer interface (BCI) is a very real and achievable idea. This idea of programming a machine to replicate brain transmissions is astonishing. Transmitting signals directly to someone’s brain that would allow them to see, hear or feel specific sensory inputs would be a revolutionary advancement. In theory this machine will work by transmitting signals to the brain, a device known as an electroencephalograph (EEG) attaches to the scalp and send specific electric signals to the brain (Grabianowski). This might seem like the opposite to uploading consciousness but when we find a way to download it, it won’t take long to upload something either.
Furthermore Google-owned artificial intelligence (AI) startup DeepMind has unveiled a computer prototype capable of mimicking properties of the human brain’s short-term memory. The Neural Turing Machine learns and stores algorithms and data as “memories” which it then retrieves’ to perform tasks it is not previously programmed to do. (Anthony Cuthbertson;2014). These artificial brains are not yet fully developed but there are many more similar ones such as DARPA SyNAPSE Program, SpiNNaker brain simulation machine and Brain Corporation. There are a lot of them being researched so hopefully an artificial brain will no longer be a foreign concept in the near future.
Another real life example of a device that can lead to the technology shown in “ Transcendence ” is the iBrain created by neurovigil. ” The iBrain™ – A device for at-home sleep monitoring and diagnosis
The iBrain™ device can provide easy to use, accurate, at-home sleep monitoring. The SPEARS algorithm applied to the iBrain™ data is used to offer insight into a myriad of medical pathologies and to monitor a patient.s brain following drug intake.”
This device is especially interesting as outlined in the article ” Reading Stephen Hawking’s Mind to Keep His Voice Alive“.
The articles describes how Stephen Hawking , who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis(ALS) uses the movement in his cheek muscle, to trigger an infrared sensor that selects words on a screen attached to his wheelchair. As Hawking has ALS eventually he won’t be able to move the cheek muscle he uses to control this device. Hence the iBrain will let him bypass his body and tap directly into his brain. Its “something made easier with technology that can measure brain activity without the need to connect electrodes to someone’s scalp.”( Wagstaff,2014)
This is really interesting as the purpose of the iBrain was only to detect diseases and monitor the effects of drugs on the brain not to become someone’s voice.
There are works on iBrain 2 and iBrain 3 which will connect to your mobile device and make monitoring brain waves easier than ever( Keith Wagstaff;2012). This might not be the amazing technology we were hoping for but it’s a start. It’s a way further into keeping great minds alive for centuries to come. We need to start somewhere to get to a truly revolutionised stage.
- Depp Impact: The Science Behind ‘Transcendence’: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/weird-science/depp-impact-science-behind-transcendence-n82431; By Keith Wagstaff,2014
- How Brain-computer Interfaces Work ;by Ed Grabianowski; http://computer.howstuffworks.com/brain-computer-interface1.htm
- Google’s DeepMind Builds Artificial Intelligence Computer That Mimics Human Brain; By Anthony Cuthbertson;2014; http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/googles-deepmind-builds-artificial-intelligence-computer-that-mimics-human-brain-1473488
- Reading Stephen Hawking’s Mind to Keep His Voice Alive;By Keith Wagstaff;2012; http://techland.time.com/2012/07/02/reading-stephen-hawkings-mind-to-keep-his-voice-alive/