DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) recently announced the teams that will receive funding under the Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology program.
Participants are developing technology for rapid and seamless communication between the human brain and machines, without requiring surgery.
One team wants to inject people with genetically modified viruses that will interact with neurons in the brain. When the viral injection is coupled with nanoparticles and a special headset, the team hopes a telepathic link will be created between humans and machines. These genetically modified “viral vectors” have unique characteristics and behaviors. When coupled with a headset that fires a powerful infrared beam through the skull, an “image” of the brain is created.
The team hopes the headset and injection pairing can also be used to introduce sounds, images or messages into the subject’s mind. The end result would be something similar to an electroencephalogram (EEG), but super accurate and capable of two-way communication.
A different team’s plan does not require genetically modified viruses. This other group is hoping to let humans command and control multiple robots with their thoughts. This group of researchers is relying on nanoparticles injected or nasally administered into a subject and a headset generating magnetic fields to guide the particles into specific neurons in the brain.
As smart machines and a tidal wave of data threaten to overwhelm humans, brain-machine interfaces are seen by many as the only way for human beings to be capable of participating in future wars and keep up with the A.I. gods. These technologies could ultimately find applications in both military and civilian domains.
While there have been breakthroughs in the ability to read and even write information to the brain, the advancements of the past rely on surgical brain implants.
Elective brain surgery is generally seen as too risky and current external brain-monitoring approaches are too inaccurate. So, DARPA wants a breakthrough in noninvasive or minimally invasive brain-computer interfaces. Injecting people with brain-controlling particles, according to DARPA’s judgement, is considered to be superior to brain-controlling surgery.
In the future, there will be more and more people in military power that control humans through machines, and these humans will control other machines, and these machines will control other humans.