A lot of sci-fi ideas seem to have their roots in the ’70s. We don’t know whether it’s the availability of mind-bending drugs at the time, or the free love, or the fashions, but something seems to have sparked off a load of ideas that still seem modern today.
One of those ideas is the brain/computer interface (BCI), which you kind of expect Elon Musk to talk about in the same way he might discuss hollowing out a volcano, but sit up and take notice when Valve starts talking about it too. Research into them began in the ’70s, and earlier this year the UK Government received a report into them from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, in which it was stated that entertainment companies are developing non-invasive BCIs “to play computer games”. This no doubt made a few honorable members wonder what a ‘computer game’ was, but the next sentence is even better: These products are currently being offered to consumers.
Non-invasive BCIs, which use sensors worn on the skull, are a world away from the invasive type Musk is implanting in the skulls of pigs, which he describes as “kind of like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires”. We’re not sure we’d want that, but for anyone who’s suffered a disconnection between their brain and the rest of their body, perhaps as a result of an accident, an implant may be able to reconnect the nerve signals.
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